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Introduction ix 

I. Westminster Abbey i 

II. Poets' Corner 7 

III. Old Westminster 10 

IV. The Clock Tower 13 

V. The Foreign Office 16 

VI. Whitehall Court 19 

VII. St. James's Palace 22 

VIII. Hanover Square 28 

IX. Hyde Park 32 

X. Piccadilly 35 

XI. The Haymarket Theatre 42 

XII. Trafalgar Square . . . . . .46 

XIII. Charing Cross 50 

XIV. Magnificent Kensington 54 

XV. Cheyne Walk 59 

XVI. Villiers Street 63 

XVII. The Strand 70 

XVIII. The Law Courts . 75 

XIX. The Temple 77 

XX. Lincoln's Inn 81 

XXI. Fetter Lane ........ 84 




XXII. Fleet Street 87 

XXIII. Ludgate Hili 93 

XXIV. St. Paul's . . 96 

XXV. St. Bartholomew's 10 1 

XXVI. Cloth Fair 106 

XXVII. The City Churches no 

XXVIII. The Guildhall 115 

XXIX. The Royal Exchange 119 

XXX. Aldersgate Street 122 

XXXI. Leadenhall Market 126 

XXXII. The Post Office 131 

XXXIII. The British Museum 136 

XXXIV. Euston Station 139 

XXXV. Bankside 142 

XXXVI. The Tower Bridge 145 

XXXVII. Whitechapel 151 

XXXVIII. East London 155 

XXXIX. The River 159 

XL. Greenwich 164 

XLI. The Crystal Palace 170 

XLII. Hampton Court . 173 



Classic London 

West Front, Westminster . 
Poets' Corner, Westminster 
Cowley Street 

The Cathedral, Westminster 
The Clock Tower . 
The Foreign Office . 
Whitehall Court 
St. James's Palace . 
Hanover Square 
Hyde Park Corner . 
Marble Arch . 
Piccadilly Circus 
Haymarket Theatre . 
Sunset, Trafalgar Square . 
Charing Cross 
Magnificent Kensington . 
Sloane Street 
Cheyne Walk . 
Shops, Villiers Street 
The New Strand . 
The Law Courts 
The Gate of the Temple . 
Lincoln's Inn Gateway 
Fetter Lane 

Fleet Street, St. Dunstan's 







. I 4 
. 16 

. 28 

• 32 

• 34 

• 38 

• 42 
. 46 

• 50 

• 54 
. 56 
. 60 
. 64 
. 70 
. 76 
. 78 
. 82 
. 84 
. 88 

\ 11 

viii LONDON 


Ludgate Hill .......... 94 

St. Paul's 96 

Chapel St. Paul's 98 

St. Paul's Churchyard . . . . . . .100 

St. Bartholomew's . . . . . . . . .102 

St. Bartholomew's Churchyard . . . . . . .104 

Cloth Fair .......... 106 

St. Michael Royal no 

St. Augustine and St. Faith . . . . . . .112 

The Guildhall 116 

Portico, the Royal Exchange . . . . . . .118 

New Broad Street .120 

Aldersgate Street . . . . . . . .122 

Leadenhall Market .126 

The Post Office 132 

British Museum Steps . . . . . . . -136 

Euston ........... 140 

Railway Arch, Bankside . . . . . . . .142 

The Tower Bridge 146 

Whitechapel High Street . . . . . . . .152 

Butchers' Row, Whitechapel . . . . . . . 154 

East London . . . . . . . . . .156 

Shot Tower 158 

Below Bridge .......... 160 

Limehouse .......... 162 

Greenwich .......... 166 

Greenwich Observatory . . . . . . . .168 

The Crystal Palace 170 

Hampton Court, the Garden 174 

The drawings illustrating this volume were made by Mr. Pennell 
in 1908, but have not been reproduced before. 


There are libraries of London books, but this is the one 
London book illustrated by Mr. Pennell. That is its reason 
and its justification. I have been much in the position of 
the dramatist hired to write a play round a poster, but, 
with a proper modesty, I have realised that the poster is 
too much for me. There is indeed no connection between 
illustration and letterpress except that they deal with the 
same scenes. 

There are a dozen ways in which a London book can 
be written. My plan has been to go, one after the other, 
to the scenes made vivid by Mr. Pennell's genius, to con- 
jure up visions of the men and women whose lives have 
been associated with each place and to recall something of 
their past. Most of the fascination of every city is in its 
past. It must be dull and lonely to live in a new city, 
while to live in an old city like London is to enjoy the 
society of a very noble army of ghosts. It has been 
a fascinating adventure to follow in Mr. Pennell's foot- 
steps and mingle with the ghosts of London. I have 
not attempted to be comprehensive. I have only met the 
ghosts who interest me. I have only recalled the events 
that are important to me. I am conscious of the fact that I 
am far too prejudiced and far too lazy to write a reliable 
and all-inclusive reference book. Many of the great and 
good have passed me by unseen. But certainly, thanks to 
Mr. Pennell, I have had thrilling visions. I have seen old 
Talleyrand with his weary eyes looking out of the windows 
of a house at the corner of Brook Street and Hanover 




Square ; I have watched Ben Jonson busy with his trowel 
in the building of the gate of Lincoln's Inn ; I have seen 
Addison going to church at St. Mary Abbots ; I have 
followed Pepys in many of his cheery jaunts. The book is 
the story of my adventures. 

London is a city of constant change. Hardly anything 
remains of Norman London. It is only by seeking diligently 
that it is possible to find a vestige of Chaucer's London. 
Even Dickens's London has almost disappeared, and in a 
few years the housebreaker and the juggler in reinforced 
concrete will have combined together to make Mr. Pennell's 
London a thing of the past. So it is good to have this 
series of drawings, which in their fine understanding are a 
revelation not only of the appearance but also of the spirit 
of the London that had learned just a little from the Boer 
War and was preparing for the great tragedy of our times. 
Mr. Pennell has obviously been moved by the beauty of 
London and has felt its mystery. London's beauty generally 
appeals more to the stranger within its gates than it does 
to the native of the city. To me, London is homely, 
comfortable, friendly, but never mysterious as Paris is 
mysterious. I see its beauty only rarely and I feel its 
strumpet's fascination, apparently so real to the foreigner, 
hardly at all. 

Perhaps because it appears to be obvious, London is a 
very difficult city to know — a city of bewildering contrasts, 
often tragically monotonous in its mean ugliness, but with 
beauty hidden away in the most unlikely spots ; hard in its 
materialism, yet always genial ; vulgarly emphatic in its 
pleasures, but shyly modest in its good works ; a busy city, 
but, unlike Paris, busy against its will, working throughout 
the week merely in order to loaf on Saturday and Sunday ; 
a city without much tenacity of purpose, easily amused, 
easily bored, always running after some new thing ; at times 
" the stony-hearted stepmother" that De Quincey called 
it and George Gissing found it, but at times abounding in 
kindness ; a democratic city, because while it may often be 


purgatory for the unusual, it is comparative paradise to the 
simple rut of men. There are a dozen cities in London, 
but none the less London has its characteristic qualities to 
be discovered east and west, in slum and comfortable square. 
From Hampstead to Sydenham, from Chiswick to Canning 
Town, London is brave, good-tempered and humorous. It 
is a city of kings and great commercial magnates, but it is 
above all things the city of Sam Weller, and the spirit of 
Sam Weller remains the spirit of its people. 



Westminster Abbey is the one supremely beautiful thing 
that London possesses. Misused, choked with what William 
Morris called " the beastly monuments to fools and knaves/ ' 
a show place, alas, far more than a church, it stands austere 
in its beauty, a monument of the past, a pledge of the 
future. The spiritual history of mediaeval Europe is told 
by its cathedrals. Of them Hugo has said, " Time is the 
architect — and nation is the builder.' ■ They are the gifts 
to the world of the ages of faith. What have the ages of 
disbelief given comparable to them ? They were founded 
by the pious great ; they were built by the pious poor, each 
man giving of his best ; they are the result of the most 
magnificent and inspired co-operation that the world has 
ever known. There is something of comfort and explana- 
tion in the west front of the Abbey for the man troubled 
by modern chaos, perplexed by modern problems, making 
his way from the commonplace meaninglessness of Victoria 
Street (escaping maybe as by a miracle from death by a 
motor omnibus). Here is the soul of a real England — an 
England that was, an England that may be again. 

Edward the Confessor, monarch and saint — a rare man, 
indeed — rosy-cheeked, with white hair and beard, spent 
the tenth of his substance in building the Collegiate Church 
of St. Peter at Westminster. He had vowed to make a 
pilgrimage to Rome, but his nobles insisted that his presence 
in his kingdom was necessary, and he was released from his 
vow on condition that he built a church in honour of 
St. Peter. He chose Westminster because near where the 
Abbey now stands a church dedicated to the Apostle had 
been built four hundred years before by the Saxon king, 

1 B 




Sebert. St. Peter, so the legend runs, had bestowed his 
special favour on this church at Westminster. On the eve 
of the day fixed for its consecration, a stranger appeared 
on the river-bank at Lambeth and demanded to be ferried 
across. When he had landed, the ferryman was astounded 
to see a host of angels descending with flaming candles 
from the heavens and grouping themselves round the 
stranger, while he dedicated the church that had just been 
completed. Afterwards the stranger said to him, " I am 
Peter, keeper of the Keys of Heaven. I have consecrated 
my own church of St. Peter, Westminster, and have antici- 
pated the Bishop of London. For yourself, go out into the 
river ; you will catch a plentiful supply of fish whereof the 
larger part shall be salmon. This is only granted on two 
conditions — first, that you never fish again on Sundays ; 
secondly, that you pay a tithe of them to the Abbey of 

It is pleasant to think as one walks by the Thames 
at Westminster, watching the grubby, overloaded barges, 
that St. Peter once crossed from Lambeth and was ferried 
back again, and that, remembering the days when he 
himself fished on the Sea of Galilee, he did not forget 
the ferryman's reward. On the other hand, it is very 
aggravating to know that the now turgid river was once 
so well stocked with salmon ! Indeed, centuries after St. 
Peter's visit, salmon was so plentiful in the Thames that 
their masters were forbidden to give it to the London 
apprentices more than a certain number of times a week ! 

King Edward the Confessor knew the legend and 
believed it — as, indeed, I do — and it therefore seemed to 
him that Westminster was the fittest place for his great 
church to stand. He died eight days after it was finished. 
" St. Peter, his friend, opened the gate of Paradise, and St. 
John, his own dear one, led him before the Divine Majesty." 
He was first buried before the high altar. The corpse was 
removed to the shrine east of the altar by Henry III. 
Edward was the last but one of England's Saxon kings. 
His Westminster Abbey was a Norman church erected by a 
Saxon king, a suggestive fact since the two nations were 
destined in a few generations to become one. In the 
thirteenth century Henry III. pulled down the church that 
the Confessor had built, and rebuilt it. Of his rebuilding, 




the Confessor's chapel and the choir and transepts remain. 
The Jerusalem Chamber and part of the cloisters were built 
in the fourteenth century ; Henry VII.'s chapel was built 
in the seventeenth, and in the eighteenth Sir Christopher 
Wren tinkered and defaced. 

All the world knows that for over six hundred years 
all the English kings have been crowned in Westminster on 
the sacred stone of Scone, purloined by Edward I. from 
Scotland. These wonderful colourful ceremonies have been 
described at one time or another by such varied observers 
as Pepys, Horace Walpole and Walter Scott. Where 
kings were crowned many kings lie buried — the Confessor, 
Henry III., Edward I., Edward III. and his good queen, 
Philippa of Hainault, Richard II., that artistic decadent, 
Henry V., " Harry of England,' ' the mean-souled Henry 
VII., the boy Edward VI. and his sisters the tragic Mary 
and subtle, masterful Elizabeth, James I., Charles II., 
William and Mary, stout good-tempered Queen Anne, 
little George II., the hero of Dettingen. At the dissolution 
of the monasteries the greedy thieves, whom Henry VIII. 
abetted, worked their sacrilegious will within the Abbey, 
naturally stealing silver plate with even greater zest than 
sacred relics. At the funeral of Queen Mary the burial rite 
of the Roman Church was celebrated in the Abbey for the 
last time. 

Dean Stanley, that Victorian Erastian, joyed in the fact 
that Westminster Abbey has become a glorified graveyard, 
filled with monuments of the dead, some worthy of re- 
membrance, many not. He says that the Abbey " is not 
only Rheims Cathedral and St. Denys in one ; it is also 
what the Pantheon was intended to be to France, what the 
Valhalla is to Germany, what Santa Croce is to Italy." 
Steele and Addison and Charles Lamb and Washington 
Irving all anticipated the Dean in his satisfaction in the 
memorials. Westminster Abbey, indeed, moved Addison 
to appropriate graveyard reflections — " When I read the 
several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, 
and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great day 
when we shall all of us be contemporaries and make our 
appearance together." With the American's characteristic 
reverence for the past, Washington Irving wrote : "In 
glancing over this scene, so strangely populous, yet where 




every form is so still and silent, it seems almost as if we 
were treading a mansion of that fabled city where every being 
has been suddenly transmuted into stone. " Despite Haw- 
thorne and the Dean, I confess that I resent the fact that 
the Abbey is primarily a cemetery, even though the cemetery 
be a Valhalla. It is true that to be buried in Westminster 
is an honour that has inspired the greatest of England's 
sons. The tomb of the Unknown Warrior is the nation's 
tribute to the simple soldiers whose valour won the war. 
" Victory or Westminster Abbey " was Nelson's cry at 
Trafalgar. But burial at Westminster is an honour that 
has fallen to many of the not too worthy, and I have con- 
siderable sympathy with Sir Godfrey Kneller, who declared 
with Teutonic bluntness, " By God, I will not be buried 
in Westminster ; they do bury fools there." Edward 
the Confessor and pious Henry III., " a short, stout and 
ungainly old man with a blinking left eye," intended 
a house for the worship of God, not for the burial of 

My own interest is in the Abbey as a church, retaining 
its pre-Reformation independence, the Dean, as the Abbot 
before him, being in subjection neither to Bishop nor to 
Archbishop. The Abbots of Westminster ranked next after 
the Abbots of St. Albans. The distinction had its incon- 
venience, because each Abbot was compelled to travel to 
Rome for confirmation of his appointment and to revisit the 
Papal city every two years. This was particularly awkward 
for one Peter of Lewisham, who was too fat to make the 
journey and whose position was accordingly in constant 
jeopardy. During the Black Death the Abbot and twenty-six 
of his monks died and were buried beneath a large stone slab 
in the southern cloister. The one Abbot who rose to the rank 
of Cardinal was Simon Langham, who lived in the middle 
of the fourteenth century and left a huge fortune to the 
Abbey. Neither the Abbots nor the monks of Westminster 
played much part in English history. They were properly 
content to spend their lives in the service to which they 
were devoted. 

The Abbey with thirty other English monasteries pos- 
sessed the right of sanctuary, a right not always regarded 
by the lawless nobles of the Middle Ages. Elizabeth 
Woodville, the wife of Edward IV., took sanctuary at West- 





minster, and it was here that poor little Prince Edward V. 
was born. Shelton, the first of the Poet Laureates, took 
refuge in the Abbey from the vengeance of Cardinal Wolsey, 
whom he had fiercely attacked. He was a poor enough poet, 
and Wolsey, who was a man of taste, was probably justified 
in his wrath. It was in his house at Westminster that the 
last Abbot spent four whole days with Sir Thomas More, 
urging him to admit the King's supremacy in the Church, 
and urging in vain. 

The House of Commons had its first separate meeting 
in the Chapter House at Westminster, which the Abbot lent 
to the King for the use of the Commons on condition that 
the Crown should repair it. But the pious monks com- 
plained that their devotions were disturbed by the noise of 
the parliamentary discussions. Volumes would be required 
to recall all the great historical events that have happened 
within this famous church of St. Peter. It was here that 
with magnificent ceremony Wolsey received his Cardinal's 
hat, in a great assemblage that included eight abbots, to say 
nothing of earls and dukes and archbishops. It was here 
in the Almonry near the chapel of St. Anne that William 
Caxton set up the first printing-press in England. During 
the Commonwealth, Presbyterian ministers preached in the 
Abbey queer democratic sermons which gave joy to the gay 
heart of Dorothy Osborne, who records that one preacher 
declared " that if there were no kings, no queens, no lords, 
no ladies, no gentlemen or gentlewomen in the world, that 
it would be no loss at all to the Almighty." She adds : 
" This he said forty times, which made me remember it 
whether I would or not." Pepys, too, who often went to 
the Abbey, sometimes found amusement there. He writes 
in 1660 : " Before sermon I laughed at the reader, who 
in his prayer desired of God that He would imprint his 
word on the thumbs of our right hands and on the great 
right toes of our right feet. In the midst of the sermon 
some plaster fell from the top of the Abbey that made me 
and all the rest in our pew afraid, and I wished myself out." 
Evelyn's experiences were more pleasant. In 1661 he heard 
a sermon by Dr. Basire, a patriot, indeed ! Evelyn says : 
" He shew'd that the Church of England was for purity of 
doctrine, substance, decency and beauty the most perfect 
under Heaven ; that England was the very land of Goshen." 




The Church of England has few romantic records in 
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and, while other 
great English cathedrals have been beautified and inspired 
by the Catholic revival, Westminster, overweighted by its 
monuments, nowadays attracts the curious rather than the 

There is a story, which always occurs to me when I am 
in Westminster Abbey, of a pious person who was discovered 
by an indignant verger kneeling to say his prayers. The 
verger tapped him on the shoulder and told him that he 
must not do that sort of thing in Westminster Abbey. " If 
we once allowed it," he added, " people would be praying 
all over the place." 

So I go out and look up once more at the great west 
front which Mr. Pennell has so finely reproduced, and pray 
that the verger's fears may one day be realised, and that 
with appropriate ceremony and vestments and clouds of 
incense the Abbey will be restored to the Apostle and to his 
Master for whom it was designed. 



Poets' Corner is the eastern angle of the south transept of 
the Abbey. Here, as Addison said, " are many poets who 
have no monuments and many monuments which have no 
poets." Chaucer, the father of English poetry, was buried 
in the Abbey because he was a Court official and died near 
by. He was buried in 1400, and nearly two hundred years 
later he was followed by Spenser, at whose funeral a galaxy 
of Elizabethan poets, Jonson and Shakespeare among them, 
stood by the grave-side. In the succeeding years, Drayton 
— " I never heard of him before," Goldsmith said when 
he saw his monument — Ben Jonson, Cowley described 
with the proper exaggeration of the epitaph as " the fairest, 
sweetest flow'r that in the Muses' garden grew," and 
Dryden were buried in Poets' Corner, with many second- 
rate writers whose names are now forgotten. Addison was 
buried in the Abbey at midnight on January 26, 1719, after 
his body had lain in state in the Jerusalem Chamber. 
Never did there live " a fairer spirit." One recalls 
Macaulay's fine description of him : " The unsullied states- 
man, the accomplished scholar, the master of pure English 
eloquence, the consummate painter of life and manners . . . 
the great satirist, who alone knew how to use ridicule 
without abusing it, who, without inflicting a wound, effected 
a great social reform, and who reconciled wit and virtue, 
after a long and disastrous separation, during which wit 
had been led astray by profligacy and virtue by fanaticism." 
Congreve, the witty profligate, followed Addison, and then, 
after a long interval, Dr. Johnson, with Burke among the 
pall-bearers. Sheridan lies near the Shakespeare statue, a 
poor enough thing erected in 1740. While he was dying 





in extreme poverty it was suggested that it would be well 
to pit " life and succour against Westminster Abbey and a 
funeral." Bulwer Lytton was buried in the Abbey, and 
Macaulay, who lies near Addison. Dickens is among the 
Abbey's mighty dead, mourned by the people as never a 
great writer was mourned before or since. Purcell, still the 
greatest name in English music, Handel and Isaac Newton 
(Voltaire was at his funeral) have their graves near by. 
Browning and Tennyson are in the literary Valhalla, and 
Milton, Pope, Goldsmith, Scott, Burns, Wordsworth, 
Southey and Thackeray have their memorials. 

The omissions are, however, so many that Poets' Corner 
is really only a corner in English poets. There is no 
memorial of Marlowe or of Lovelace or Donne (a Dean as 
well as a poet) or Vaughan or Chatterton or, to come to 
the greatest, of Keats, Shelley or Byron, while memorials 
there are in plenty to poets of the calibre of Nicholas Rowe. 
It was natural, I suppose, that Byron, Macaulay's " most 
celebrated Englishman of the nineteenth century," should 
have been refused burial in the Abbey, the Deans of which 
have delighted to honour the futile and the commonplace. 
He was even (perhaps in this he was fortunate) denied a 
monument, the suggestion leading to a debate in the House 
of Lords, in which Brougham, that rough-tongued Whig, 
bitterly assailed one of the Bishops. But if not unreason- 
able religious feeling barred the Abbey to Byron and Shelley, 
how is it possible to explain the pagan pessimism of the 
lines on the tomb of Gay, the author of the " Beggar's 
Opera " : 

Life is a jest, and all things show it ; 
I thought so once, and now I know it. 

Garrick is buried near Poets' Corner, and one remembers 
that Charles Lamb was scandalised by discovering his 
monument. He says : " Though I would not go so far 
with some good Catholics abroad as to shut players alto- 
gether out of consecrated ground, yet I own I was not a 
little scandalised at the introduction of theatrical airs 
and gestures into a place set apart to remind us of the 
saddest realities. Going nearer I found inscribed under 
this harlequin figure a farrago of false thoughts and 





Alas, there are many false thoughts and much nonsense 
in Poets' Corner, to say nothing of the bad art, and, with 
William Morris, I look forward to the day when the interior 
of Westminster Abbey will be made beautiful by a great 
clearance " of the beastly monuments." 



The City of Westminster stretches from the Thames on 
the south to Oxford Street on the north, and from Kensington 
on the west to the City of London on the east. It used to 
be said that London was the city for trade and Westminster 
for the Court, but modern Westminster is the city of opulent 
squares, theatres, the most modern of shops and stores, the 
King's palace and the Government's offices, and not a few 
slums tucked away behind the facade of wealth. It has its 
foreign quarter in Soho. It has its market at Covent 

In his drawing, Old Westminster, Mr. Pennell shows us 
Cowley Street, within a stone's throw of the Abbey. The 
Westminster of outstanding interest is certainly within the 
precincts of the Abbey that gives the City its distinction. 
Cowley Street itself is named after Barton Booth of Cowley 
in Middlesex who was the original Cato in Addison's dreary 
play. Barton was a man of property, and his wife was at 
one time the mistress of the great Duke of Marlborough. 
It was natural, therefore, that he should be buried in the 

The oldest name in Westminster is Tothill, and Tothill 
Street remains. The Tothill Fields at one time covered a 
large area and included Vincent Square, where the West- 
minster boys now play cricket. On Tothill Fields the 
young men of Westminster practised archery on what was 
called the artillery ground, probably situated where Artillery 
Row now stands. There was a maze on Tothill Fields, 
and here the gentry came to play at bowls and golf and stow 
ball. Golf was played in Scotland as early as 1457, but it 
was unknown in England until James I., whose mother, 

11 ""PWURK 

* \ 




1 1 

Mary Queen of Scots, played the game, came south. In a 
letter to Stella, Swift describes a duel fought in Tothill 
Fields in 171 1. A hundred years earlier, the gardens in 
the Fields were famous for their fine melons. In the 
eighteenth century the people of Westminster petitioned 
the Dean to allow horse-racing on Tothill Fields, and a 
four days' meeting was permitted on condition that the 
booths used for the sale of meat, drink and other less 
reputable purposes should be shut at a reasonable hour. 
Victims of the Great Plague were hastily buried in Tothill 
Fields. Pepys says, " I was much troubled this day to 
hear at Westminster how the officers do bury the dead in 
the open Tuttle - Fields, pretending want of room else- 
where.' ' 

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Westminster now 
stands on part of Tothill Fields. The ground was bought 
by Cardinal Manning shortly before his death, and his 
successor, Cardinal Vaughan, decided that the Cathedral 
should be built in the early Christian Byzantine manner. 
Mr. John Francis Bentley was the architect. The founda- 
tion stone was laid in 1895. Mass was first celebrated in 
the Cathedral on Christmas Day, 1903. 

Rochester Row is another street that suggests memories 
of old Westminster. It owes its name to the fact that after 
the Restoration the Deans of Westminster were frequently 
also the Bishops of Rochester. Horseferry Road in the 
same neighbourhood, known to most modern Londoners 
from the fact that they pay their gas bills there, led to the 
ferry which was the only means of communication with the 
Surrey side above London Bridge. The tolls belonged to 
the Archbishop of Canterbury, and £3000 was paid to him 
as compensation when the first Westminster Bridge was 
built in the middle of the eighteenth century. Orchard 
Street stands where the Abbots of Westminster once grew 
their pear and apple trees ; near by it was Vine Street, 
now rechristened, the site of the monastery's vineyard. 
Palmer Street has a very pleasant history. At the end of 
the sixteenth century the Rev. Edwin Palmer founded a set 
of almshouses with a chapel and school. It became a small 
community with its own inn and shops, priding itself on 
its independence of its greater neighbour, Westminster. 
The Hotel Windsor stands on the site of what was once 




Palmer's village. In Duke Street, Westminster, Judge 
Jeffreys lived for a time. So did Matthew Prior, the poet, 
and years afterwards William Cobbett, the author of Rural 
Rides, a great, stubborn Englishman. 

Smith Square is remarkable for the possession of St. 
John's Church, one of the most hideous ecclesiastical build- 
ings in the world. Dickens said with entire justice that it 
resembled " some petrified monster frightful and gigantic 
on its back and with its legs in the air." Gibbon and Keats 
both lived in Great College Street, and in what is now called 
Little College Street lived the brothers Wesley. Great 
Smith Street runs into Great Peter Street, and here the 
wanderer finds himself in the heart of Westminster's slums. 
Let it be accounted to them for righteousness' sake that in 
St. Anne's Lane, Henry Purcell, probably the greatest of 
English musical composers, and Robert Herrick, the poet, 
had their homes. 

Westminster Bridge was first lighted with gas in 1814, 
after Napoleon's banishment to Elba. Byron remembered 
the glittering lights when he was living in exile on the 
Continent, and describing Don Juan's entry into London he 
writes : 

The line of lights, too, up to Charing Cross, 
Pall Mall, and so forth, have a coruscation, 

Like gold as in comparison to dross, 

Match' d with the Continent's illumination. 

But London's so well lit, that if Diogenes 
Could recommence to hunt his honest man, 

'Twere not from want of lamps. 

Much of old Westminster and much of its beauty 
have disappeared, but there is still enough of it to kindle 
intriguing memories. 




We went on a little farther, and I looked to the right again, and 
said, in rather a doubtful tone of voice, " Why, there are the Houses 
of Parliament ! Do you still use them ? " 

He burst out laughing, and was some time before he could 
control himself ; then he clapped me on the back and said : 

" I take you, neighbour ; you may well wonder at our keeping 
them standing, and I know something about that, and my old kins- 
man has given me books to read about the strange game they played 
there. Use them ! Well, yes, they are used for a sort of subsidiary 
market, and a storage place for manure, and they are handy for that, 
being on the water-side." 

So it is that William Morris, the Socialist poet and 
philosopher, contemptuously dismissed the Palace of West- 
minster in his News from Nowhere, his dream of a Socialist 
future when everything will be beautiful and everybody will 
be good. Morris had little belief in political democracy. 
He was a sentimental anarchist. As an artist he had an 
equal contempt for the palace itself, a building erected by 
Sir Charles Barry in 1840 at a cost to the nation of three 
million pounds. It is early Victorian in design, and as 
Mr. Augustus Hare naively says, " The style was much 
admired in the middle of the last century and has already 
ceased to be tolerated.' ' To Morris it was just " a silly 
old building. " 

The Clock Tower, to which Mr. Pennell's genius has 
given a beauty that without him it would be hard to dis- 
cover, is three hundred and twenty feet high and forty feet 
square, and Big Ben, the famous clock, is thirty feet in 
diameter. Big Ben is the successor of the more famous 
Great Tom of Westminster which sounded the hours for 




four hundred years until the old royal palace was burned 
down in 1834. Great Tom once saved a man's life. A 
sentry was accused of having slept at his post. He declared, 
as proof that he was awake, that he had heard Great Tom 
strike thirteen at midnight. It was proved by other wit- 
nesses that this eccentricity had occurred, and the man was 
acquitted. When Parliament is sitting a light appears at 
the top of the Clock Tower to let London know that its 
legislators are busy, making the world safe for democracy. 

It is interesting as one turns out of Whitehall and looks 
up to the Clock Tower, probably to discover whether one 
will or will not catch a train at Waterloo, to think of the 
statesmen and politicians who have also instinctively looked 
up to Big Ben on their way to the House of Commons, 
intent on serving their country or on securing their own 
careers. One thinks of the early days of the tower's 
history, of little Lord John Russell, the prim Whig, known 
to his own generation as " finality Jack " ; of Brougham, 
that restless inconstant politician with his prominent nose 
and tweed trousers, " forswearing like a chameleon every 
shade of opinion when for the moment he has ceased to 
wear it " ; of old Pam, dandy and statesman, who loved 
England and told the truth to princes ; of Benjamin 
Disraeli, that gorgeous political adventurer, the cynical 
loyalist who had an inexhaustible supply of flattery for a 
queen and genuine sympathy for the sufferings of her 
people ; of Gladstone, the fiercest political fighter in history, 
who imagined himself a hammer of the Lord, and was not. 
The shadows pass, a long procession, most of them now 
mere names, for the fame of politicians hardly exists longer 
than the fame of actors — Parnell, the cold, hard man who 
fought the might of England and would have beaten her if 
he had been as cold at heart as he looked and had not loved 
a woman as well as his country ; Lord Salisbury, large, 
ponderous, a good man with too much scorn in his heart for 
the rest of the world ; plain W. H. Smith, who started a great 
business and is mainly famous for inspiring W. S. Gilbert 
to write a great song ; Joseph Chamberlain with his orchid 
and eyeglass, a man made of metal all through, fine-tempered 
metal, but metal, a terrifying man preferring rather to hate 
than to love ; William Harcourt, Campbell-Bannerman, 
Heavens what ghosts they are ! Not only is it true that 







their parts are played now by other players, but a new 
drama has been written which it would be hard for them 
to understand. 

How often, too, must the living have glanced up at the 
Clock Tower — Lord Balfour, gently shuddering at other 
people's unnecessary energy ; Mr. Asquith hoping that he 
may continue to be Ciceronian ; Mr. Lloyd George thinking 
out new feats of wizardry ; Mr. Winston Churchill hesitat- 
ing which party he shall join next. And the new players ? 
The men from the mines and the cotton mills and the 
railway tracks and the office desks, the men who know the 
hard realities and are indifferent to convention and tradition, 
the men who have come and evidently have come to stay. 
I remember the advance guard, the arrival in the shadow 
of the Clock Tower of the late Keir Hardie escorted by 
brake-loads of charwomen from West Ham, a dreamer with 
wonderful eyes and a cloth cap. He has been followed by 
others less sentimental, less attractive maybe, infinitely 
more practical. Big Ben must look down upon them and 
wonder what is going to happen. Will they use the old 
machine, or will they scrap it ? Will the Mother of Parlia- 
ments bring forth a new and happier nation, or will she, 
as William Morris predicted, be condemned, and the place 
where Disraeli and Gladstone held combat be turned into 
a manure market ? Who can tell ? Certainly I cannot, — 
but William Morris was a poet, and poets are often the 
most reliable of prophets. 



There are ghosts in plenty in Downing Street, to-day 
perhaps the most important street in London. " There 
is," said Theodore Hook, " a fascination in the air of this 
little cul-de-sac/ ' a street a hundred yards or so in length 
running from Whitehall to St. James's Park. No. 10, the 
home of the Prime Ministers, and, in recent times at least, 
of much political intrigue, is mean without if spacious 
within. It is on the north side of the street, overshadowed 
by the more modern buildings on the south, of which 
perhaps the Foreign Office is the most important. Robert 
Walpole lived in Downing Street, and his son Horace wrote 
some of his letters " in one of the charming rooms toward 
the Park." Smollett set up as a surgeon in Downing Street. 
Lord Chatham was carried there after his seizure in the 
House of Lords, and his son, the more famous second 
William, lived in Downing Street for years in an amazingly 
extravagant household which horrified Wilberforce by its 
recklessness. The butcher's bill for twenty-eight days 
amounted to as much as £29 ! 

The ghosts of the present Foreign Office are all of them 
comparatively recent, for the building is not sixty years 
old. It was finished in the last year of Gladstone's 1868 
ministry, when Lord Clarendon was Foreign Secretary. 
Disraeli became Prime Minister in the next year, but he 
was already old and broken, no longer able to play the 
leading role in the international drama, and his Foreign 
Secretary was Lord Derby. Nevertheless, in the three 
years that he had still to live, Disraeli developed the 
Imperial foreign policy associated with his name, contriv- 
ing, among other things, to make the famous purchase of 





Suez Canal shares, and he must frequently have been busy 
with his subordinate at the Foreign Office. The relations 
1 between the two men were not particularly cordial. It 
must have been difficult to be cordial with Lord Derby. 
! In one of her letters Queen Victoria calls him " that very 
peculiar person Lord D." And Disraeli recorded that 
when he invited Derby to lunch " he replied that he never 
lunched, it prevented work." He is a hard man, indeed, 
who never lunches. 

The men who have reigned at the Foreign Office since 
Disraeli have included Lord Granville, Lord Salisbury, 
Lord Rosebery, Lord Lansdowne, Sir Edward Grey, Lord 
Balfour, Lord Curzon, and now Mr. Ramsay MacDonald. 
It is impossible to think of the history of recent years with- 
out speculating as to what might have happened if other 
men had sat in the seat of authority and if other policies 
had been pursued. Lord Salisbury, for example, perhaps 
the most considerable of modern Foreign Ministers, carried 
on the Victorian tradition of British subservience to Ger- 
many. If there had been no such subservience, how 
different the history of modern Europe must have been ! 
It was only with the accession of Edward VII. that the 
Foreign Office became pro -French, for Liberals like 
Lord Rosebery had quite as strong German proclivities 
as Tories like Lord Salisbury. King Edward and Lord 
Lansdowne were the engineers of the Entente. And 
another interesting speculation occurs to one's mind. If 
there had been no Entente, would there have been a great 
European war ? Who can tell ? 

Certainly the most dramatic meeting which can have 
taken place in the Foreign Office was that between Lord 
Grey and the German Ambassador, Prince Lichnowsky, 
before the war, both men dreading what they both felt was 
inevitable, the English Secretary hesitating, the German 
Ambassador only half informed. 

Now the Foreign Office has surrendered to the new 
democracy. Lord Curzon, mentally and physically an 
aristocrat of aristocrats, cold, precise, traditional, has left 
the Foreign Office to be succeeded by Mr. Ramsay 
MacDonald, a man of the people, a cautious enthusiast, 
inexperienced maybe in matters of diplomacy, but a 
Foreign Secretary with a unique knowledge of the minds 





of foreign peoples. The Foreign Office was aristocracy's 
last redoubt. The Diplomatic Service for years resisted 
the inroads of competitive examination and remained a 
comfortable refuge for well-born younger sons, difficult, 
indeed, for the man of undistinguished parentage to enter. 
So it may be said that few more revolutionary happenings 
have occurred in England than the arrival of Mr. Ramsay 
MacDonald, a Scottish peasant's son, as Secretary of State. 
The old order, for all its good intentions, made for war. 
Will the new order make for peace ? As one walks along 
Downing Street and regards the formidable facade of the 
Foreign Office, one prays, but not with a faith that would 
remove mountains, that it may ! 



Whitehall Court belongs to the London that was modern 
until 1914. As is fitting in a building of which part is 
occupied by the National Liberal Club, it is square and 
solid. It is, in fact (and in certain ways which it would be 
cruel to recall), the monument of late Victorian Liberalism. 
Only an artist like Mr. Pennell could find in it a certain 
beauty. The dull and heavy respectability of Whitehall 
Court is, however, spiritually mitigated by the fact that 
Mr. H. G. Wells, the scientific Puck of modern literature, 
a man of imagination all compact, lives there when he is in 

History delights in irony. The drab follows the 
picturesque. The flamboyant continually gives place to 
the dull. It is amusing to stand at the door of the National 
Liberal Club watching the pillars of Nonconformity and 
Free Trade hurrying in to their frugal lunches and to 
remember that the club stands near the western boundary 
of what was once the great palace of Whitehall, which 
occupied a large part of the ground between Charing Cross 
and Westminster. Nell Gwynne must have tripped in 
where National Liberals now heavily tread. 

Here Wolsey lived with a household of eight hundred 
persons. After his disgrace, Henry VIII. took over the 
palace, greatly enlarged it, and in Whitehall he was secretly 
married to Anne Boleyn. Here Elizabeth lived, ceaselessly 
plotting for the greatness of England. There were deer 
in Whitehall park in Elizabeth's days, and Ben Jonson's 
masques were performed in the palace. To Whitehall 
James I. hurried from Scotland after Elizabeth's death, 
shortly afterwards commissioning Inigo Jones to build 




a new banqueting hall, to-day all that is left of the 
palace, and now used as the Royal United Service 
Museum. The wall of this banqueting hall was broken 
through that Charles I. might pass out " into the open 
street before Whitehall " to be beheaded by Giles Dekker. 

Back to Whitehall came Charles II. after the Restoration 
with his retinue of sprightly ladies. The palace was fre- 
quently flooded by the Thames, and on one occasion the 
water invaded the kitchen of Lady Castlemaine, most 
arrogant of the mistresses of the king, and the mother of 
the first Duke of Grafton, and the chine of beef prepared 
for her royal lover's supper could not be roasted. Pepys 
was often at Whitehall, and he has left many descriptions 
of the life of the palace. Writing in July 1666 he says : 

" By and by the King to dinner, and I waited there his 
dining ; but, Lord ! how little I should be pleased, I think, 
to have so many people crowding about me ; and, among 
other things, it astonished me to see my Lord Barkeshire 
waiting at table, and serving the King drink, in that dirty 
pickle as I never saw man in my life. Here I met Mr. 
Williams, who would have me to dine where he was invited 
to dine, at the Backestayres. So, after the King's meat was 
taken away, we thither ; but he could not stay, but left me 
there among two or three of the King's servants, where we 
dined with the meat that come from his table ; which was 
most excellent, with most brave drink cooled in ice, which, 
at this hot time, was welcome ; and I, drinking no wine, 
had metheglin for the King's own drinking, which did please 
me mightily." 

Pepys was not easily shocked, but Evelyn was horrified 
by the Restoration Court. " I can never forget," he wrote, 
" the inexpressible luxury and profaneness, gaming, dis- 
soluteness and, as it were, total forgetfulness of God (it 
being Sunday evening) which this day se 'night I was witness 

With the coming of Dutch William the glory of White- 
hall departed, his precise and orderly mind revolting against 
the ramshackle palace and preferring the primness of 

The palace disappeared generations ago, and its place is 
taken by Government offices — and Whitehall Court. As 
one thinks of the past and of the present with its National 





Liberals and Mr. H. G. Wells planning the salvation of 
Europe, one wonders what next. There will come a time 
; when Mr. Pennell's picture will be studied with the same 
interest that we give to pictures of Whitehall Palace, and 
then what will be standing in the place of this monster 
block of clubs and flats ? The glory has gone — Wolsey 
and Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, James of Scotland and the 
martyr Charles, Charles II. and his strumpets, English Nell, 
the only one of them whose name is remembered ! The 
drabness will pass, too, and what will follow ? Something 
finer, or something meaner ? In a happier world or a 
sadder ? 



Buckingham Palace is a reminder that uneasy lies the 
head that wears a crown. St. James's Palace is a sugges- 
tion that a king's life has its compensations. It is impos- 
sible to imagine that any human being could want to live 
in so completely hideous a house as Buckingham Palace, and 
to pass it is to be moved to sincere sympathy for King 
George, particularly since the monstrous effigy of his 
grandmother was erected outside his windows. But I feel 
that to be a king and live in St. James's Palace with its 
attractive Tudor tidiness would be by no means insupport- 
able. It is a tribute to the taste of our sovereigns that they 
try to forget Buckingham Palace. Foreign ambassadors are 
accredited to " the Court of St. James," and State docu- 
ments regularly begin with the words, " Given at our 
Court of St. James." 

There is history enough and to spare in St. James's 
Palace and the streets that lead to it ; indeed, it might be 
said that every paving stone of St. James's Street has a 
story to tell. " It makes life worth living," Sinclair Lewis, 
the American novelist, once said to me, " to walk down 
St. James's Street and look at St. James's Palace once a day. 
It helps one to forget so many things that one hates to 

Ghosts positively jostle one's elbow, and, added to its 
many other interests, St. James's Palace has a genuine 
ghost of its own. She — for the ghost is feminine — is the 
wraith of the Duchess of Mazarin, one of the many 
favourites of Charles II., who haunted, or perhaps still 
haunts, the Palace. Royal mistresses have indeed often been 
housed in St. James's, among them, the long, thin German 






" Maypole " whom George I. brought with him from 
Hanover and afterwards created Duchess of Kendal. 

The site of St. James's Palace was for many centuries 
occupied by a hospital dedicated to the Saint and originally 
established for " fourteen maidens that were leprous." 
Henry VIII. bought the hospital and built the Palace in the 
same year as he married Anne Boleyn. Their love-knots 
are still to be seen on the gateway and the letters H. A. are on 
the chimney-piece of the tapestry room. Henry's daughter, 
Mary I., died at St. James's. " The Queen abandoning her- 
self to despair told them that she should die though they 
were yet strangers to the cause of her death ; but if they 
would know it hereafter, they must dissect her, and 
they would find Calais at her heart ; intimating that the 
loss of that place was her death's wound." Both Charles II. 
and James II. were born in the Palace, and it was from it 
that Charles I. was taken to Whitehall to be beheaded. 
The son of James II., the Old Pretender, as Macaulay has 
called him, " the most unfortunate of princes," was born 
in St. James's Palace, his father's enemies declaring that he 
was smuggled into the Palace in a warming-pan. There is 
in existence an old plan with a dotted line showing how it 
was suggested that the trick was worked. Queen Anne 
did not really believe the legend, but she admitted that 
the Palace was " as much the properest place to act such 
a cheat in." 

It was from St. James's Palace that James made his 
escape to France, and it was to the Palace that William of 
Orange came in 1688, filling the yards with his Dutch 
guards. " There I saw him," wrote Evelyn, " and several 
of my acquaintance did come over with him. He is very 
stately, serious and reserved." George I. was the last 
British sovereign to live permanently in St. James's Palace, 
though George IV. was born there. The first George's 
Teutonic thriftiness was outraged by an incident that 
happened on his first day in St. James's. He was told that 
the park with its walks and canals were all his. The next 
day, Lord Chetwynd, the ranger of the park, sent him a 
fine brace of carp. " And I was told I must give five 
guineas to Lord Chetwynd 's servant for bringing me my 
own carp out of my own canal in my own park. This is 
a strange country." Queen Victoria was married in the 

24 LONDON vn 

Chapel Royal, St. James's, and George III., pious farmer 
George, used regularly to attend service there in the winter, 
although the chapel was bitterly cold, so cold indeed that 
the Queen and the rest of the Court refused to attend, and 
left the King and his Chaplain to " freeze it out together." 

There is a story of one of George's many sons, those 
princes at whom Thackeray gibed, who had a habit of 
commenting audibly on the service. One Sunday morning 
after the reading of the seventh commandment, the Duke 
was heard to say : " Very proper, very proper, but damned 

The eighteenth century is eminently the century of St. 
James's, though its romance belongs to an earlier age. It 
suggests the cold formality of the Georges, and its spirit is 
surely more kin to Johnson than to Pepys. St. James's 
Street is indeed the street of the Regency. I never walk 
down it without thinking of Charles James Fox, the hard 
liver and generous thinker on whom at least one prominent 
modern politician has obviously sought to model himself, 
just as I never pass the Palace walking into St. James's Park 
without thinking of Austin Dobson, the poet of the Georges 
and St. James's. Has he not written the lines : 

The ladies of St. James's, 
They have their fits and freaks ; 
They smile on you— for seconds, 
They frown on you — for weeks. 

St. James's Street is a street of clubs, White's, the most 
famous of them, being a development of a chocolate house 
which was first opened in 1698. It soon became a famous 
gaming-house, and, according to Swift, it was described by 
Robert Harley as " the bane of half the English nobility." 
White's Club dates from 1736, and for many years the 
gambling tradition was carried on. White's, indeed, is 
famous for the strange wagers recorded in its betting book. 
Horace Walpole says : 

" They have put in the papers a good story made on 
White's. A man dropped down dead at the door was 
carried in ; the club immediately made bets whether he 
was dead or not, and when they were going to bleed him 
the wagerers for his death interposed and said it would 
affect the fairness of the bet." 

The Devonshire, on the other side of the street, was 




once the famous Crockford's, in the early days of the reign 
of Queen Victoria the most famous gambling house in 
London. After public gambling was prohibited by Act of 
Parliament, Crockford was kept on by the club — it was 
called the New Club — in a more or less honorary capacity. 
It had been his custom for many years to sit in the window 
of the club on the evening of Derby Day and to salute the 
drivers of the coaches as they came up St. James's Street 
from Epsom. He was very ill on the last Derby Day of 
his life, and died before the race was run. He had, however, 
backed the winner for a considerable sum of money, and in 
order that it might be supposed that he had lived until 
after the race, and that the winnings might be drawn by his 
family, his sons held up the dead body of their father in 
the window and moved his hand in salutation to the coaches 
in the ordinary way. 

Byron lived at No. 8 St. James's Street when Childe 
Harold was published and gave him instant fame. Moore 
says : " In place of the desert which London had been to 
him but a few weeks before, he now not only saw the 
whole splendid interior of high life thrown open to receive 
him, but found himself, among its illustrious crowds, the 
most distinguished object." It was from St. James's Street 
that Byron went in 1809 to take his seat in the House of 
Lords. The Lord Chancellor, Eldon, was an extreme 
Tory. The poet's friend, Dallas, has recorded : 

" The Chancellor quitted his seat, and went towards 
him with a smile, putting out his hand warmly to welcome 
him ; and, though I did not catch his words, I saw that he 
paid him some compliment. This was all thrown away 
upon Lord Byron, who made a stiff bow, and put the tips 
of his fingers into the Chancellor's hand. The Chancellor 
did not press a welcome so received, but resumed his seat, 
while Lord Byron carelessly seated himself for a few minutes 
on one of the empty benches to the left of the throne, 
usually occupied by the lords in opposition. When, on 
joining me, I expressed what I felt, he said : 4 If I had 
shaken hands heartily, he would have set me down for one 
of his party — but I will have nothing to do with them on 
either side. I have taken my seat, and now I shall go 
abroad.' We returned to St. James's Street, but he did 
not recover his spirits." 




Charles James Fox also lived in St. James's Street. 
In one of his letters Walpole says : 

" As I came up St. James s Street I saw a cart and 
porters at Charles's door ; coppers and old chests of 
drawers loading. In short, his success at faro has awakened 
his host of creditors, but unless his bank had swelled to the 
size of the Bank of England it would not have yielded a 
sop for each. Epsom, too, had been unpropitious, and one 
creditor has actually seized and carried off his goods, which 
did not seem worth removing. As I returned, full of this 
scene, whom should I find sauntering by my own door but 
Charles ? He came up and talked to me at the coach- 
window on the Marriage Bill, with as much sang-froid as if 
he knew nothing of what had happened.' ' 

Both Fox and Byron were friends of Samuel Rogers, 
the banker poet, at whose famous breakfasts at 22 St. 
James's Place one might meet at one time or another, in 
addition to Fox and Byron, Burke, Talleyrand, Words- 
worth, Scott and Wellington. Fanny Kemble said of 
Rogers : " He certainly had the kindest heart and un- 
kindest tongue of any one I ever knew." He paid Sheridan's 
debts, he helped Tom Moore, he procured a pension for 
Cary, the translator of Dante, and a sinecure for Words- 
worth, and he lived long enough to recommend Tennyson 
as Poet Laureate. In his Recollections Rogers collected 
many of the interesting sayings of several of the famous 
men whom he knew. " I love establishments and love 
law ; but I detest the priests and the lawyers " is a 
characteristic saying of Fox. Talleyrand told Rogers 
that Napoleon always shaved himself. " A king by 
birth," said he, smiling, " is shaved by another. He 
who makes himself rot shaves himself." The Duke of 
Wellington related to Rogers the story of the founda- 
tion of the fortune of the Rothschilds. After the battle 
a messenger was sent to Louis XVIII., who was at Ghent, 
to tell him of the victory, and the King embraced the 
messenger, who was a Russian, in a bow-window facing 
the street : 

" An Emissary of Rothschild was in the street ; and no 
sooner did he see these demonstrations than he took wing 
for London. Not a syllable escaped from his lips at 
Bruges, at Ostend or at Margate ; nor, till Rothschild had 




taken his measures on the Stock Exchange, was the in- 
telligence communicated to Lord Liverpool." 

Pall Mall, another street of famous clubs, derives its 
name from the game of pall mall played with " malls, 
bowls and scoops.' ' Nell Gwynne lived in Pall Mall. 
Evelyn says : 

" I thence walk'd with him (Charles II.) thro' St. 
James's Parke to the gardens, where I both saw and heard 
a very familiar discourse between (the King) and Mrs. 
Nellie, as they cal'd an impudent Comedian, she looking 
out of her garden on a terrace at the top of the wall, and 
(the King) standing on ye greene walke under it. I was 
heartily sorry at this scene." 

The great Duke of Marlborough built and lived in 
Marlborough House. Gainsborough lived in the western 
wing of Schomberg House, Lockhart at a house in Pall 
Mall where his father-in-law Scott stayed in 1826. Pall 
Mall was the first street in London to be lighted by gas. 



Thackeray has left us a deliciously satirical picture of George 
the First's arrival in England with " his faithful German 
chamberlains ; his German secretaries ; his negroes, cap- 
tives of his bow and spear in Turkish wars ; his two ugly, 
elderly German favourites, Mesdames of Kielmansegge and 
Schulenberg, whom he created respectively Countess of 
Darlington and Duchess of Kendal/ ' The strange retinue 
occurs to my mind whenever I walk across Hanover Square, 
and particularly the Duchess, " tall and lean of stature," 
and hence nicknamed the Maypole, and the Countess, " a 
large-sized noblewoman/ ' generally known as the Elephant. 

Hanover Square recalls George I., a German king, who 
never was hypocrite enough to pretend to be an Englishman, 
because it was built in 171 8 and named after our first 
Hanoverian monarch. Fashionable London was already 
beginning to move westward when George arrived from 
Germany, though the district west of Regent Street was still 
spoken of as " suburban territories/ ' which were to be 
rapidly developed in the early years of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. A contemporary diarist wrote of the new London 
growing round him with far more enthusiasm than we can 
write of the new London created since the war. Writing 
of a walk towards Hyde Park he says : "In the tour I 
passed an amazing scene of new foundations, not of houses 
only, but as I might say of new cities, new towns, new 
squares and fine buildings, the like of which no city, no 
town, nay, no place in the world can show ; nor is it possible 
to judge where or when they will make an end or stop 
building." Of the new squares, Hanover Square was one 
of the first and remains one of the most attractive. " What 






do you think of Hanover Square ? " asks one of the char- 
acters in Swift's Polite Conversations. " Why, Sir John, 
London is gone out of town since you saw it." 

Hanover Square is not too large — the large square 
rambles away any impression of individuality. It remains 
properly formal. Its suggestion of the era of the Georges 
is emphasised by the statue of William Pitt by Sir Francis 
Chantrey which was erected in 183 1 . It is not a particularly 
good statue — one does not expect good statues in London — 
but it is appropriate to its setting. Sir Francis Chantrey 
was the proper sculptor for Hanover Square. I, at least, 
am grateful for his Pitt (in Hanover Square), as we all should 
be grateful for the Chantrey Bequest that has provided the 
nation with a few good pictures, and a great many bad ones, 
all preserved with equal care in the Tate Gallery. 

Hanover Square has had many famous inhabitants, 
among them two great sailors, Lord Anson, who defeated 
the French off Cape Finisterre, and Lord Rodney, who beat 
the French fleet in the West Indies in 1782. Both of them 
died in houses in the Square. Single-speech Hamilton, the 
model for all time for loquacious legislators, also died in 
Hanover Square. When Talleyrand came to England as 
French Ambassador after the Revolution of 1830, he lived 
in a house in Brook Street at the corner of Hanover Square, 
and in this placid retreat that amazing old sinner must 
have lived over again the events of his unparalleled career 
with its varying allegiance to Kings, Emperor and Republic. 

Thomas Campbell, once judiciously described as " one 
of the most chaste of modern poets," whose famous 
" Mariners of England " has, alas, lost most of its significance 
since the invention of the aeroplane, lived for some time 
with Lord Minto at No. 20 Hanover Square, and in the 
Hanover Square Rooms on the east side, for years London's 
most popular concert hall, Johann Christian Bach, the son 
of the great Sebastian, gave several series of subscription 

Nowadays Hanover Square has lost most of its glory, 
though it retains its attractive primness. It is no longer 
the home of peers nor, so far as I know, of poets, though 
Mr. Arnold Bennett carries on its literary tradition. 
Hanover Square is homely — pleasantly ugly, and the note 
of homely ugliness which carries with it the reminder of 




British prosperity and hums at you " Britons never will be 
slaves " is repeated when the Square is crossed and one is 
suddenly confronted by the portico of St. George's, where 
for generations every self-respecting peer was married. 
The love of the aristocracy for St. George's is evidence of 
the common Victorian horror of art, for St. George's is 
surely the ugliest church in the world ! The steeple placed 
above a Greek portico is an abomination. As Leigh Hunt 
said : " The finest steeple with a portico to it is but an 
excrescence, a horn growing out of the church's neck." 

It is to me quite natural and proper that George Eliot, 
after the death of George Henry Lewes, with whom she had 
had an irregular connection for many years, should have 
selected St. George's, Hanover Square, to be married to 
the highly respectable Mr. J. W. Cross, and the solidity of 
St. George's would naturally attract the vigorous " no damn 
nonsense " Theodore Roosevelt, afterwards to be President 
of the United States, who was married there in 1886, 
describing himself in the register as " widower and ranch- 
man." But even St. George's has had at least one half- 
hour of romance. It was here in 1791 that the elderly 
Sir William Hamilton married the beautiful Emma Hart. 
Did ever woman have so amazing a life as Nelson's Emma ? 
The daughter of a blacksmith, entirely illiterate, she passed 
from one lover to another, beginning her amorous adventures 
when she was still a child. Romney was fascinated by her 
beauty, which his many portraits of her have immortalised. 
Charles Greville sold her to his uncle, William Hamilton, 
who took her with him to Naples, where he was British 
Minister. There the Queen was soon on terms of intimate 
friendship with the beautiful English adventuress, and, in 
order to make her position at Court possible, the marriage 
at Hanover Square took place during a visit to England. 
All the world knows the events that followed — Emma's 
ascendancy over the Queen of Naples, her personal inter- 
vention in the course of European affairs, her subjection of 
Nelson, the great sailor. Their connection became a 
European scandal, but to Nelson she was " my dearest 
beloved Emma and the true friend of my bosom," and she 
was foremost in his thoughts, she and his country, when he 
lay dying on board the Victory. Then the finale after her 
husband's and Nelson's death — years of extravagance and 




gambling, imprisonment for debt, and, finally, death in 
penury in Calais when she was barely fifty. The marriage 
at St. George's to her elderly diplomat must have seemed to 
the woman of twenty-six the culmination of her life. But 
how much was to follow of thrills and of pain ! 

In Hanover Square there is still sometimes a suggestion 
of romance, for, of an afternoon, elderly proconsuls, no 
longer prancing, may be met crossing the Square on their 
way to the Oriental Club. If they are imaginative — I fear 
that retired Indian officials rarely are — they may perhaps 
conjure up visions of Campbell, Anson and Rodney — may- 
be too of the beautiful Emma — and others of the dead who 
have walked there before them, and may imagine that 
Talleyrand looks out of his window at them with a cynical 
and rather weary smile. 



The Marble Arch is the northern end of Hyde Park, and 
Hyde Park Corner its southern end. From Hyde Park 
Corner one proceeds to the respectable dullness of Belgravia, 
comforted by Gilbert's assurance that " hearts just as pure and 
fair may beat in Belgrave Square as in the lowly air of Seven 
Dials.' ' The Marble Arch was originally a part of Bucking- 
ham Palace and was removed a generation or so ago. From 
the Marble Arch the traveller passes to the prosaic neigh- 
bourhood of the Edgware Road, about which no poet has 
ever sung. Hyde Park, part of the ancient manor of Hyde, 
belonged to the Abbey of Westminster, from which it was 
stolen by Henry VIII., that prince of royal thieves. In the 
time of Charles I. it was thrown open to the public. 
Charles I., obsessed though he was with the divine right 
of kings, had a proper consideration for the comfort of his 
people. When he was beheaded and Puritanism triumphed, 
the Park was sold for private uses. Such was the " de- 
mocracy " of the Commonwealth ! Evelyn bitterly com- 
plained that under Cromwell he had to pay a shilling for 
a coach and sixpence for a horse " to the sordid fellow who 
had purchased it of the State.' * Hyde Park was a fashion- 
able meeting-place as early as the time of Ben Jonson, who 
wrote : 

Alas, what is it to his scene, to know 
How many coaches in Hyde Park did show 
Last Spring ? 

Pepys makes frequent reference to Hyde Park. Once 
he went there by coach, " and saw a fine foot race three 
times round the park between an Irishman and Crow that 
was once my Lord Claypoole's footman." In 1669 he wrote 






in his Diary : " Thence to the Park, my wife and I ; and 
here Sir W. Coventry did first see me and my wife in a 
coach of our own." That was a great day for Pepys. De 
Grammont, w r riting about the same time, says : " Hyde 
Park every one knows is the promenade of London ; nothing 
was so much in fashion during the fine weather as this 
promenade which was the rendezvous of fashion and 
beauty.' ' Evelyn records that he went to Hyde Park to see 
a coach race. Millamant in Congreve's Way of the World 
says : " Mirabell, don't let us be familiar or fond, nor kiss 
before folks, like my Lady Fadler and Sir Francis ; nor go 
to Hyde Park together the first Sunday in a new chariot to 
provoke eyes and whispers ; and then never be seen there 
together again.' 1 

Cromwell was often in Hyde Park. Once his horse ran 
away with him and nearly killed him. On another occasion 
George Fox, the Quaker, waylaid him and insisted on telling 
him of the persecution of his people and " how contrary 
this persecution was to Christ and His Apostles and to 
Christianity.' ' Duels were often fought in Hyde Park. In 
one famous duel in 171 2 between the Duke of Hamilton 
and Lord Mohun, both combatants were killed. Fifty years 
later John Wilkes, the demagogue, was wounded in the 
stomach in a duel in Hyde Park with one Samuel Martin. 
Charles James Fox fought in the Park with Adam the nephew 
of the architect of the Adelphi. Horace Walpole was 
particularly pleased with this encounter. He says in one 
of his letters : "Of all duels on true or false record this 
was the most perfect. So much temper, sense, propriety, 
easy good humour and natural good nature on a base of 
firmness of spirit never were assembled." 

The name Rotten Row is said to be derived from 
route du rot, the route of the kings from Westminster to 
the hunting forests. The Serpentine, the scene of vigorous 
if not too deft sculling, has its tragic memories, for there 
Harriet, Shelley's first wife, drowned herself in 181 6. It is 
the luck of Hyde Park that it has escaped only by a yard or 
two the possession of the Albert Memorial. The statue of 
Achilles near Hyde Park Corner, erected in honour of the 
Duke of Wellington by " the women of England " (poor 
misguided females), is, however, sufficiently appalling. 
Nowadays there are wondrous flower-beds in Hyde Park, 





charming glades, fashionable women, more or less inexpert 
equestrians and loquacious orators near the Marble Arch. 

Hyde Park, indeed, plays a very important part in the 
democratic history of London. It is there that the gentle- 
man who is described in America as the " social kicker " 
lets off his steam, generally much to his relief and to no 
one else's harm. It has been an English habit, puzzling to 
foreigners, that whenever a number of citizens are annoyed 
by the Government they should march to Hyde Park, now 
to listen to fierce speakers, and in a more vigorous age to 
pull down the park railings. 

All instinctive democratic movements have a very deep 
and sometimes mystical meaning, and such is the irony of 
human affairs that practical people like the English are 
always more mystical than imaginative people. It would 
seem that if there was a bad king at Buckingham Palace or, 
what is far more likely, a bad Prime Minister in Downing 
Street, popular indignation would be logically and force- 
fully expressed by breaking the windows of the Palace or of 
10 Downing Street. The English prefer to pull down the 
railings in Hyde Park. That is a fine gesture, an expression 
of democratic power. It is also a practical hint to rulers 
to mend their ways lest the railings that had been pulled 
down should be thrown through their windows. 

Plutocrats in the Row and proletarians at the Marble 
Arch ! The plutocrats are not very expert horsemen, the 
proletarians are rarely eloquent orators. But they are both 
very English. 




Piccadilly derives its name from Piccadilly House, which, 
in the middle of the seventeenth century, stood on the 
north-east corner of the Haymarket. It is described in 
Clarendon's History as " a fair house for entertainment 
and gaming with handsome gravel walks with shade and 
where were an upper and a lower bowling green whither 
very many of the nobility and gentry of the best quality 
resorted both for exercise and conversation." Sir John 
Suckling, the poet, often gambled at Piccadilly Hall, and 
on one occasion his sisters came to the gaming house and 
implored him to leave before he lost their portions as well 
as his own fortune. We remember Suckling by his 

Why so pale and wan, fond lover ? 

Prythee, why so pale ? 
Will, if looking well can't move her, 

Looking ill prevail ? 

Prythee, why so pale ? 

There have been many guesses as to the derivation of 
the word " Piccadilly," some of them entirely fantastic. I 
incline to the belief that it is derived from " picadillo," the 
Spanish name for minced meat, and that this was the plat 
de la maison at Piccadilly Hall and gave it its name. 

Piccadilly originally ran from the top of the Haymarket, 
across what is now Piccadilly Circus, to Sackville Street, 
the road westward from there to Devonshire House being 
called Portugal Street. Piccadilly Circus, or Regent s 
Circus as it used to be called, with its fountain designed 
by Gilbert, stands at the junction of Regent Street, Picca- 
dilly, Lower Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, and 





Coventry Street. Shaftesbury Avenue is comparatively 
modern. It was completed in 1886, and was cut through a 
congeries of mean streets. At the corner of Great Windmill 
Street and Shaftesbury Avenue stands the Trocadero 
Restaurant, which used to be the famous Argyll Rooms, 
where the Philharmonic gave its early concerts and where 
Mendelssohn appeared in 1829. The Criterion Restaurant 
and Theatre were built in 1873 on tne of the White 
Bear Inn. Benjamin West, the American painter, who 
became President of the Royal Academy, slept at the White 
Bear Inn on the first night of his arrival in London. The 
Criterion was built by two Australians, Spiers and Pond. 
Christopher Pond, one of the partners, cultivated " literary " 
society, George Augustus Sala being one of his cronies, and 
he was something of a humorist. " Pond," said one of his 
clients to him one day, " that waiter of yours is a damned 
fool." " My dear friend," replied Pond, " he wouldn't 
be a waiter if he weren't." 

Few London streets have as interesting a history as 
Piccadilly. Theodore Hook used to say that the London 
that mattered was bounded on the north by Piccadilly, on 
the south by Pall Mall, on the east by the Haymarket, and 
on the west by St. James's Street, and certainly all the 
streets in this small area bear the names of the great if not 
of the good. In Piccadilly itself every house tells a story. 
On the site of what is now the Piccadilly Hotel, the St. 
James's Hall used to stand, for many years London's chief 
concert hall, famous for the Monday " Pops," the haunt of 
the Victorian intellectuals, and for the Christy Minstrels. 
Wagner was once engaged by the Philharmonic Society to 
conduct a series of concerts in St. James's Hall, and he 
annoyed the precisians by conducting a Beethoven Sym- 
phony with no score on his desk. The Secretary remon- 
strated with him, and at the next concert, when another 
symphony was in the programme, Wagner had a score and 
turned over its leaves as he conducted. Afterwards, the 
secretary thanked him for submitting to the wishes of the 
London Committee, and the sardonic German showed him 
the score. It was Offenbach's " Tales of Hoffman." 

St. James's Church, on the other side of the street, was 
designed by Wren. James Gillray, the caricaturist, is buried 
there. The Albany was originally Melbourne House and 




was converted into chambers early in the last century. 
Byron wrote Lara while he was living at A. 2, the Albany. 
George Canning, the statesman, lived at A. 5. Canning 
was an enlightened Tory who suggested Roman Catholic 
emancipation and the rights of small nations, but who is 
nowadays remembered for his much quoted assertion : " I 
called the New World into existence to redress the balance 
of the 01d. ,, Lord Macaulay lived at different times in 
two separate sets of Albany Chambers, where he wrote the 
first half of his History. " Monk " Lewis, the author of 
perhaps the most famous of all shockers, lived at K.i for 
some years. Bulwer Lytton is another literary celebrity 
who lived in the Albany. 

Burlington House, the home of the Royal Academy, 
belonged in the seventeenth century to the Earl of Burling- 
ton, whose son was a friend of Pope and Gay and Walpole 
and Handel, and a generous patron of the arts. On the 
second Lord Burlington's death the house passed into the 
possession of the Cavendishes, and in the later eighteenth 
century Whig party meetings were held there, attended by, 
among others, Burke and Fox and Sheridan. The house 
was bought by the nation in 1854. 

The New White Horse Cellar is now Hatchett's Res- 
taurant. It was the most famous of all the coaching houses 
in the west end of London. There is an amusing descrip- 
tion of the White Horse Cellar in the Pickwick Papers : 

" The travellers' room at the White Horse Cellar is of 
course uncomfortable ; it would be no travellers' room if it 
were not. It is the right-hand parlour, into which an 
aspiring kitchen fire-place appears to have walked, accom- 
panied by a rebellious poker, tongs, and shovel. It is 
divided into boxes, for the solitary confinement of travellers, 
and is furnished with a clock, a looking-glass, and a live 
waiter ; which latter article is kept in a small kennel for 
washing glasses, in a corner of the apartment.' ' 

Devonshire House, now abandoned and falling into 
decay, stood on the site of Hay Hill Farm. Berkeley 
House was first built on the site occupying the ground from 
Piccadilly to Berkeley Square. Evelyn said of this house, 
" It is very well built and has many noble rooms, but they 
are not very convenient." The present house was built for 
the third Duke of Devonshire in 1743. It was here that 




the famous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, held her 
court, returning Fox to Parliament for Westminster with 
her smiles and kisses. A poet said of this election : 

Array'd in matchless beauty, Devoirs fair 

In Fox's favour takes a zealous part ; 
But oh ! where'er the pilferer comes beware, 

She supplicates a vote and steals a heart. 

In 1857 Lytton's play, " Not So Bad as We Seem," 
was acted at Devonshire House by a company of amateurs 
which included Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Douglas 
Jerrold, Mark Lemon and John Tenniel. 

Sir Francis Burdett, the Radical, and father of the 
Baroness Burdett-Coutts, was living at 80 Piccadilly when 
he was arrested by the Serjeant-at-Arms for an alleged 
breach of the privileges of the House of Commons. For 
two days he barricaded himself in his house, spending his 
leisure reading the Magna Charta to his children. 

81 Piccadilly was occupied by Watier's Club. Watier 
had been cook to George IV. when he was Prince of Wales, 
and his club was for a dozen years notable for its high 
gambling. Among its frequenters were Byron, and Beau 
Brummel who, in the manner of dandies, after a picturesque 
career in London, died in poverty at Caen in Normandy. 

Palmerston lived at 94 Piccadilly and gave his famous 
parties there. If ever there was a typically impetuous 
Englishman, it was " Old Pam." Of all modern statesmen 
he was perhaps most popular among his fellow country- 
men, and he owed most of his popularity to the fact that he 
was so often pitted against Queen Victoria's precise German 
husband, who, until nearly the end of his life, suffered from 
an unpopularity that he certainly did not deserve. 

Nathan Rothschild lived at 107 Piccadilly, a financier 
with a sense of humour. He told Spohr that the only 
music he cared for was the rattling of money. One day a 
foreign prince called to see him. Rothschild nodded 
casually and told him to take a chair. The prince repeated 
his name with emphasis. " I beg your pardon," said 
Rothschild, " take two chairs." 

The Duke of Queensberry, disreputable, evil-living " Old 
Q.," lived at 138 Piccadilly. Leigh Hunt says : 

" In the balcony of No. 138 Piccadilly, on fine days in 





summer, used to sit, some forty years ago, a thin, withered 
old figure, with one eye looking on all the females that 
passed him, and not displeased if they returned him whole 
winks for single ones. . . . He had been Prince of the 
Jockies of his time, and was a voluptuary and a millionaire. 
* Old Q.' was his popular appellation. He died at the age 
of eighty-six. We have often seen him in his balcony — 

Sunning himself in Huncamunca's eyes, 

and wondered at the longevity of his dissipation and the 
prosperity of his worthlessness. Stories were told of his 
milk baths, his inhaling the breath of dairymaids, and his 
getting up interludes of Paris and the Golden Apple, the 
part of Paris by himself. The last, it seems, was true. 
His dying bed was covered with billets-doux ; that is to say, 
with love-letters addressed (as Moliere has it) to the * sweet 
eyes of his money-box/ " 

A groom on horseback always stood outside " Old Q.'s " 
window to carry his messages to any one he noticed in the 
street. He kept a physician in the house to whom he paid 
a heavy daily fee so long as he was well, but who was not 
to receive a shilling on his death. He was enormously 
rich and enormously selfish. The only good thing that can 
be said of him is that he fixed the stone stand that is still 
opposite his house in Piccadilly on which porters may rest 
their loads. 

Lord Byron went to live at 139 Piccadilly in 181 5 and 
spent most of his married life there. Byron, the centenary 
of whose death has been celebrated this year, remains one 
of the tragic figures of the nineteenth century. He was 
the victim of an upbringing in an atmosphere of dull and 
repellent Puritanism that antagonised him against religion, 
and afterwards of the rakishness of the Regency which 
made vice fashionable and sneered at virtue as dull. Sir 
Walter Scott suggested to Byron that before his death he 
would find refuge, explanation and comfort in the arms of 
the Catholic Church. In his later days it almost seemed 
that this might have happened. But everything went awry 
for the unhappy poet, whose life, after so many sordid 
episodes, ended in an act of fine generous heroism. 

In the days of my youth the Egyptian Hall stood on the 




south side of Piccadilly, almost opposite the end of Bond 
Street. It was opened in the year 1805 as Bullock's Liver- 
pool Museum, with a varied collection of attractions. The 
advertisements declared : 

" This museum contains curiosities not only from Africa 
but from North and South America, amphibious animals in 
great variety, with fishes, insects, shells, zoophytes, minerals, 
etc., ad infinitum, besides the Pantherion intended to dis- 
play the whole of the known quadrupeds, in a state of 
preservation hitherto unattempted. For this purpose the 
visitor is introduced through a basaltic cavern, similar to 
the Giant's Causeway, or Fingal's Cave, in the Isle of 
Staff a, to an Indian hut. This hut is situated in a tropical 
forest, in which most of the quadrupeds described by 
naturalists are to be seen, with models from nature of 
the trees and other vegetable productions of the torrid 
climes, remarkable for the beauty of their fruit and 

The Siamese twins were exhibited at the Egyptian Hall, 
and so was General Tom Thumb, who was brought there 
by the famous Barnum. Artemus Ward gave his entertain- 
ment there, and it was for many years the home of 
Maskelyne and Cook's illusions. 

The Haymarket, the other famous street abutting on 
Piccadilly Circus, has its own collection of interesting ghosts. 
Addison once lived there in an attic over a small shop. 
George Morland, one of the greatest of English landscape 
painters, was born there. Charles II. and his brother 
James often walked from Whitehall up the Haymarket to 
a tennis court which stood in what is now James Street. 
In the middle of the nineteenth century, before Acts of 
Parliament were passed regulating the hours of licensed 
houses, the Haymarket was the centre of London's rather 
dull debauchery. 

Regent Street was built in 181 3 ; most of it has been 
pulled down in 1923. In Lower Regent Street, in the 
Gallery of Illustration, in its later years a club, and now 
demolished, Mr. and Mrs. German Reed gave their enter- 
tainment for many years, and here Gilbert first met 

Since London was London all its notable citizens must 
have made their way across Piccadilly Circus, now vulgar- 


ised by grotesque electric signs. " Farewell Piccadilly, 
good-bye Leicester Square " was the song of the Cockney 
soldier during the war, and Gilbert makes his aesthete 
sing : 

Though the Philistines may jostle, you will rank as an apostle in the 

high aesthetic band, 
If you walk down Piccadilly with a poppy or a lily in your mediaeval hand. 



The Haymarket Theatre with its pillared portico is one of 
the few remaining relics of Regency London. It was built 
from designs of John Nash, whose Regent Street is no more, 
and the front of the theatre is almost exactly as it was when 
it was first opened to the public in 182 1. It was built on 
the site of an older playhouse, known as the Little House, 
opened exactly a hundred years earlier. The Little House 
has an interesting place in theatrical history because, owing 
to the production there of Fielding's caustic satires, an Act 
of Parliament was passed forbidding the production of any 
stage plays without the licence of the Lord Chamberlain. 
That law has never been revoked despite years of protest 
from self-respecting dramatists and advocates of the literary 
theatre. The British playwright has still to submit his 
manuscripts to a Court official and to pay for them to be 
read and approved or disapproved by the Lord Chamber- 
lain's reader of plays. The vagaries of the censorship have 
brought the eighteenth-century system into disrepute, but 
it continues. Thanks to the indignation caused by Fielding, 
Ibsen's " Ghosts," Mr. Bernard Shaw's " Widowers' 
Houses," and Brieux's " Les Avaries," have all been 
banned in England, and before it was allowed to be played 
here, " Les Demi-Vierges " had to change its name to 
" Maud." 

Mozart played at the Little House in 1765, when he 
was eight, and in 1767 it was made a royal theatre. At that 
time the theatre was under the management of Samuel 
Foote, an amazing creature, who went on the stage after he 
had run through two fortunes, and who became famous 
mainly through his extraordinary power of mimicry. From 




Foote the theatre passed to George Colman the elder, who 
dramatised " Tom Jones/' and in the manner of his age 
" adapted " Shakespeare for the stage; and from him to his 
son, George Colman the younger, another prolific dramatist. 
The only play of his which is remembered is " The Heir at 
Law," which gave the character of Dr. Pangloss to the 

In his later years George Colman, the younger, became 
play reader to the Lord Chamberlain, and was most 
punctilious in cutting out such words as " God " and 
" Heaven " from the manuscripts submitted to him. 

The Haymarket Theatre, as we now know it externally, 
was opened in 1821 with the production of " The Rivals," 
and in 1825 tne famous play " Paul Pry " was produced 
there with Madame Vestris in the cast. Madame Vestris 
was a sister of the great Bartolozzi, and at the Haymarket 
she was paid the enormous salary in those days of £240 a 
week. She married Charles Mathews as her second hus- 
band. Benjamin Webster became manager of the theatre 
in 1837, and among the players who appeared under his 
management were Macready, Helen Faucit, a beautiful 
woman who married Sir Theodore Martin, the biographer 
of Prince Consort, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kean and Samuel 
Phelps. Among the plays he produced was Lord Lytton's 
" Money." 

Webster was followed by Buckstone, who was connected 
with the theatre until 1877. In Buckstone 's day the per- 
formances began at seven and were rarely over until mid- 
night. The two principal events of his management were 
the appearance of Sothern in the famous part of Dundreary, 
and the appearance of Mr. and Mrs. Kendal in several of 
Gilbert's early plays, including " Pygmalion and Galatea." 
In 1880 the Bancrofts began their connection with the 
Haymarket Theatre, and after they retired in 1885 it passed 
first to Herbert Tree and then to Cyril Maude and Frederick 
Harrison, the latter of whom still remains the manager of 
the house. On no other English stage except Covent 
Garden have so many famous actors stepped. 

Madame Vestris married Charles Mathews some years 
after her Haymarket appearances and when she was nearing 
forty. She was a lady of many love affairs, and in his 
recollections the actor VandenhofF records a conversation 




that took place after her marriage between three of her 
rivals, Mrs. Glover, Mrs. Humby and Mrs. Orger. " They 
say," said Mrs. Humby, " that before accepting Mathews, 
Vestris made a full confession to him of all her lovers. 
What touching confidence." " What needless trouble," 
said Mrs. Orger. " What a wonderful memory," said Mrs. 
Glover. Macready, a vain, touchy, sensitive creature who 
despised the theatre and disliked all actors, had a particular 
objection to Madame Vestris and Charles Mathews, with 
whom he had many professional connections. In his diary 
he records a scene with Madame Vestris and her husband 
which lasted two or three hours. " On the lady's part 
much Billingsgate and false assertion; on his, much weak- 
ness and equivocation." But Macready must have been a 
hard man to act with. " Mother Shipton, by God ! " he 
once said to an unfortunate actor who came on the stage as 
Cardinal Campeius in " Henry VIII." Actors were not the 
only people he disliked. " What is there more vile and 
worthless than a newspaper writer ? " is another entry in 
his diary. 

Charles Mathews was a very different type of man — a 
large-hearted, generous spendthrift. His managerial enter- 
prises with Madame Vestris generally ended in financial 
disaster, and he was more than once imprisoned for debt. 
He said himself of their management of Covent Garden : 
" The first season sowing ; the second season hoeing ; the 
third season owing." After the death of Madame Vestris, 
Mathews married an American woman who contrived to 
get his affairs into something like order. 

Charles Kean, the son of the great Edmund Kean, was 
a little precise man, a model husband, devoted to his 
rather fearsome wife, known on the stage as Miss Ellen 
Tree, who was always most correctly dressed in a poke 
bonnet and a crinoline. Mrs. Kean was a tragic actress on 
and off the stage. On one occasion a young provincial 
actor who was to play Horatio to Kean's Hamlet had 
ordered some new silk tights for the occasion. They did 
not arrive in time, and he went to Kean's dressing-room to 
apologise for wearing rather worn woollen ones. He 
knocked at the door, and Mrs. Kean answered, asking him 
in a deep, tragic voice, " Well, sir ? " The young man 
haltingly explained the trouble. " I will," said the lady, 


" inform Mr. Kean of what you say." And the door was 
shut. After a while it was opened again and the lady 
said : " Under the circumstances, young gentleman, Mr. 
Kean will pardon you — but what will you say to One 
above ? " Perhaps the greatest achievement in the career 
of Charles Kean was his engagement of Ellen Terry, then 
a child, at the Princess's Theatre, Oxford Street. 

How little the actor leaves behind him ! The record of 
a few eccentricities and maybe some kindliness and nothing 
more. His art dies with him. And this seems harder, not 
of the men of long ago who are just names to this genera- 
tion, but of the players of yesterday, of one's friends, of 
whom, as I write of the Haymarket, I think most of Herbert 
Tree, in many respects a player of genius, the kindest 
hearted of all eccentrics, of whom it was once said that he 
advertised everything except his good deeds. 

As one stands under the unchanged portico of the 
Haymarket, Henley's lines come to one's mind : 

Where are the passions they essayed, 

And where the tears they made to flow ? 
Where the wild humours they portrayed 

For laughing worlds to see and know ? 

Othello's wrath and Juliet's woe ? 
Sir Peter's whims and Timon's gall ? 

And Millamant and Romeo ? 
Into the night go one and all. 



Trafalgar Square, as Mr. Pennell has realised, is far more 
attractive in the half lights than in the glare of the sun. 
Trafalgar Square should be a restful oasis in the desert of 
bustling streets. As a matter of fact, it is hard and ugly, 
a place where no man can rest. Yet in its way it is im- 
pressive, a reminder of some of the finer qualities of the 
nineteenth century, as the Albert Hall and the Albert 
Memorial are the reminders of all that was worst in that 
age. Trafalgar Square is dominated by the Nelson Column. 
It is curious that in erecting a monument to the greatest 
of its heroes, England should have placed his effigy so high 
in the sky that no man can possibly see it except from an 
aeroplane. Nelson was intensely human. Few great fight- 
ing men have been less aloof. He was, as Mr. Bernard 
Shaw has pointed out, the supreme sentimentalist. And 
there he is left alone, a secular Simon Stylites, no man ever 
less resembling that saint. But perhaps it is as well that 
Nelson should be " skyed," for the statue has been well 
described as " the beau ideal of a Greenwich pensioner." 

To cross Trafalgar Square is to realise what a fearful 
risk men run in serving England. Unless their descendants 
are very obstinate some awful statue is sure to be erected 
to their memory. Of all the penalties of greatness, London 
statues must surely be reckoned as among the most grievous. 
There is, however, in Trafalgar Square one statue with 
genuine human interest. George IV. was perhaps not 
quite so detestable as Thackeray painted him, and if he had 
few virtues he had few illusions. He realised that it was 
most unlikely that posterity would erect a statue in his 
honour, and, odd fellow that he was, yearning for a statue, 

4 6 





he erected one in Trafalgar Square during his own lifetime 
and partially at his own expense. 

No place where men have lived and moved and had 
their being can be entirely without romance or without a 
suggestion of irony. Trafalgar Square is one of London's 
little ironies. Planned and constructed eighty years ago as 
a memorial of the greatness of England, it has become 
London's open-air forum, where enthusiastic ladies and 
gentlemen are permitted on occasion to preach revolution 
and to emphasise the joys of internationalism in defiance of 
Landseer's lions, those massive circus effigies. Here the 
Red Flag frequently wags. From the plinth of the Nelson 
column orators denounce institutions for which Nelson 
fought and died. And in a way it is all very appropriate 
and very English, for when the flags are furled up and the 
orators go home, nothing ever happens. Great Britain, like 
Trafalgar Square, is very solid, very massive, and very hard 
to move. It was in connection with one of these meetings 
of protest that years ago Trafalgar Square had its moment 
of romance when Mr. Cunninghame Graham, great traveller, 
fine writer and handsomest of revolutionists, chained him- 
self to the railings before Morley's Hotel and defied the 
London police. It was a splendid beau geste and Mr. 
Cunninghame Graham enjoyed it immensely. Unfortun- 
ately, the London police are horribly practical. They 
simply unchained the Scottish revolutionist and took him 
to Bow Street. 

There is a fine description of Trafalgar Square on an 
autumn day in W. E. Henley's London Voluntaries : 

Trafalgar Square 

(The fountains volleying golden glaze) 

Gleams like an angel-market. High aloft 

Over his couchant lions in a haze 

Shimmering and bland and soft, 

A dust of chrysoprase, 

Our Sailor takes the golden gaze 

Of the saluting sun, and flames superb 

As once he flamed it on his ocean round. 

The National Gallery is the chief possession of Trafalgar 
Square. It is just a hundred years old, the beginning of 
the collection being made by the purchase for sixty thousand 
pounds of the pictures collected, with the help of Benjamin 




West and Thomas Lawrence, by Angerstein, a Russian 
merchant who lived in Pall Mall in a house that stood on 
a portion of the site of the Reform Club. In acquiring 
this collection, the House of Commons showed an en- 
thusiasm for art which it has rarely shown since, and the 
purchase was made in the face of considerable expert 
opposition. Constable denounced the whole idea of a 
National Gallery, declaring that with its institution " there 
will be an end of art in poor old England and she will 
become, in all that relates to painting, as much a nonentity 
as every other country that has one." 

Twenty-three years after its opening, Ruskin described 
the National Gallery as a " European jest." But the collec- 
tion has grown with the years and, despite the constant 
hampering of Treasury officials, the purchases have generally 
been worthy, until now it may safely be said that the collec- 
tion of pictures in the British National Gallery is unrivalled 
in the world. There are three thousand five hundred works 
in the National Gallery, most of them of great value, a few 
of them bad. It is a misfortune that most of the bad 
pictures are so extraordinarily large. There are certain 
omissions, the saddest being that the Gallery does not own 
a Giotto, 

. . . with his saints a-praising God 
That set us praising. 

" Let everybody," as one of Mr. Henry Arthur Jones's 
characters says, " be artistic in his own way," and, for me, 
the chief glory of the National Gallery is the wonderful 
collection of great altar-pieces exhibited together under the 
central dome. Here Raphael, Crivelli, Romanino, Schiavone 
and Marziale can be seen in something like their original 
setting, and the Gallery has the atmosphere and the serenity 
of a great church. As has been well said, " we lose the sense 
of mere earthly canvas and pigment, deft craftsmanship and 
scientific construction. These pictures glow with the spirit. 
Their painters had seen Heaven open." 

On the north-east corner of Trafalgar Square stands the 
church of St. Martin 's-in-the-Fields, the parish church of 
the King. The present church was completed in 1726 and 
it is a typical eighteenth-century building. Jack Sheppard, 
the notorious highwayman, was buried in the churchyard 




of the old church, and Nell Gwynne was buried in the church 
itself. So was Rose, the famous gardener of Charles II., 
properly remembered because he contrived to grow pine- 
apples in England, and many men are famous for far less 
doughty deeds. The Thames-side watermen used to have 
the right to be buried in St. Martin's churchyard, and a 
portion of the burial ground was specially reserved for them. 

St. Martin's has an interesting connection with the 
practice of the law. Francis Bacon was baptized there, and 
it used to be a custom when barristers were appointed 
King's Counsel for them to go to St. Martin's Church (I 
quote Lord Campbell), " pay their guinea and bring away 
a certificate of their having taken the Sacrament of the 
Last Supper according to the rites and ceremonies of the 
Church of England." Owing to the energy and devotion 
of its present vicar, St. Martin's has become one of the best 
known of London's central churches. 

It is impossible not to associate every place that one 
knows well with one particular incident. Whatever may 
be the weather, when I walk across Trafalgar Square I 
always think of one broiling summer's day and a number 
of grubby little boys slithering quickly out of their ragged 
clothes and jumping into the fountains. They were 
promptly chased out of the water by a hot and weary 
policeman, but he was obviously performing an unpleasant 
duty while considerably envying the wet nakedness of the 
law-breaking children. 




In the year 1291, Eleanor, the wife of Edward I.," mulier 
pia y modesta, misericors, Anglicorum omnium amatrix" died 
at Lincoln. Her body was brought to London for burial, 
and her husband erected a cross at every place where the 
body rested on the journey. There were twelve of these 
crosses, only three of which remain. The last was set up 
at Cherringe, a village just outside the borders of the city 
of Westminster. The statue of Charles I., which Mr. 
Pennell has drawn and which is one of the few really 
beautiful statues in London, was afterwards erected exactly 
on the spot where King Edward had raised his cross. The 
cross was pulled down by the iconoclasts of the Long 
Parliament with their curious hatred for the monuments of 
piety. It disappeared in 1647 and the statue of Charles I. 
was erected in 1674. ^ n tne Y ears between, Charing Cross 
was selected as the execution place for the regicides who 
had contrived the Stuart king's death. The statue of 
Charles has a curious history. It is the work of a French 
sculptor called Hubert le Sceur, a pupil of John of Bologna, 
who came to this country about 1630. Le Soeur received 
from the Earl of Portland a commission to cast the figure of 
the King on horseback in yellow and red copper, his fee 
being settled at £600. It was the intention of Lord Port- 
land to erect this statue in the garden of his house at 
Roehampton, but it was not finished until the Civil War 
had broken out, and it was sold by the victorious Parliament 
to one John Rivet, a brazier, who lived in Holborn. Rivet 
contracted to break the statue in pieces, but being a man of 
taste and feeling, he carefully preserved it, and after the 
Restoration it was set up in its present position, Grinling 
Gibbons making the pedestal. John Rivet's loyalty had a 





poor reward, for the statue which he had bought from the 
Puritans was taken from him by the Royalists without any 

Charing Cross has been for generations the centre of 
London's life. " I think, " said Dr. Johnson, " the full tide 
of human existence is at Charing Cross. " Ben Jonson 's 
mother took for her second husband a bricklayer, and went 
to live with him in Hartshorn Lane, near Charing Cross, 
and it was from here that the dramatist was sent daily to 
school in St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. The first perform- 
ance of " Punchinello/ ' the Italian puppet play, took place 
near Charing Cross, and, as was natural from its central 
position, several taverns and coffee houses stood there, 
among them Cannon's Coffee House, The Hare Running 
over the Heads of Three Nuns, The Swan, and the Golden 
Cross. Ben Jonson was the author of a famous grace which 
ran : 

Our King and Queen, the Lord God blesse, 

The Palsgrave and the Lady Besse ; 

And God blesse every living thing 

That lives and breathes and loves the King. 

God blesse the Councill of estate, 

And Buckingham the fortunate. 

God blesse them all, and keepe them safe, 

And God blesse me, and God blesse Raph. 

James I., before whom the grace was repeated, asked 
the poet who this Raph was, and was told that he was the 
drawer of the Swan Tavern by Charing Cross, who supplied 
very good canary. For his little joke Jonson received a 
reward of £100. Even in these days this would be a 
Kiplingesque payment for eight lines of verse, and it was 
a great sum indeed to have extracted from that thrifty 
Scot, King James. 

The Golden Cross Hotel was perhaps the best-known 
coaching inn in the West End of London. It used to stand 
at the back of the statue of King Charles. Madame de 
Stael slept there when she came to London for the pious 
purpose of weeping over the tomb of Richardson, whose 
Clarissa had moved her sensitive soul. In David Copper- 
field Dickens wrote : " We went to the Golden Cross at 
Charing Cross. It is a mouldy sort of establishment in a 
close neighbourhood. A waiter showed me into the coffee 




room and a chambermaid introduced me to my small bed- 
chamber, which smelt like a hackney coach and was shut 
up like a family vault.' ' When the railways drove the 
coaches from the road, a poet lamented : 

No more the coaches shall I see 

Come trundling from the yard, 
Nor hear the horn blown cheerily 

By brandy-bibbing guard. 

Charing Cross station was built in 1863, and North- 
umberland Avenue was constructed eleven years afterwards. 
Charing Cross Hospital was founded over a hundred years 
ago. On one part of what is now the hospital, Charing 
Cross Theatre, afterwards called Toole's Theatre, used to 
stand. It was originally a chapel of the Fathers of the 
London Oratory, and it was here that, in 1850, Cardinal 
Newman delivered his famous lectures on " The Present 
Position of Catholics in England." 

So time works its changes in a great city. On one site 
and within a man's lifetime, first a great ecclesiastic defend- 
ing his position with keen and subtle eloquence; then a 
great comedian, who among other things produced Sir 
J. M. Barrie's first play, " Walker, London," at this theatre; 
then a hospital. Newman's tall ascetic figure must have 
attracted attention as he made his way from Charing Cross 
to King William Street, where he established the Oratory 
five years after his conversion to Rome. Father Faber, the 
author of " Sweet Saviour, bless us ere we go," and many 
other hymns, was the first Superior. His King William 
Street lectures brought Newman a very peck of trouble. 
He was prosecuted for libel by an ex-Dominican and was 
fined £100, the legal expenses amounting to the colossal 
sum of £14,000. Those were the days of bitter anti- 
Catholic prejudice, and Newman's conviction was an 
evident miscarriage of justice. He was, indeed, an unhappy 
man vowed to misunderstanding and disappointment. 
Lytton Strachey says of him : " He was a child of the 
Romantic Revival, a creature of emotion and of memory, a 
dreamer whose secret spirit dwelt apart in delectable 
mountains, an artist whose subtle senses caught, like a 
shower in the sunshine, the impalpable rainbow of the 
immaterial world." 


Newman must often have passed the statue of King 
Charles in the tempestuous early days of his communion 
with Rome, and he must surely have understood that un- 
lucky monarch, not a wise man but assuredly a good man, 
and a king who died for his faith. 



The adjective is Mr. Pennell's. It is admirably apposite, 
even though the magnificence is now blurred by the Albert 
Memorial, the most hideous monument in the world. The 
Victorians were perhaps happier than we are, and they were 
certainly more prosperous, but the Albert Memorial is far 
too high a price to pay for happiness and prosperity. To 
an extent Kensington's glory has departed. Great men 
have lived in its streets, but now, many of its mansions 
are boarding houses. Thackeray and Macaulay are only 
memories. Mr. Chesterton, who was born in Kensington, 
now lives at Beaconsfield, but the Museum remains, a 
mighty and ever-growing treasure house, the younger sister 
of the British Museum, and almost as distinguished. 

The centre of Kensington is the church of St. Mary 
Abbots. There was a church of St. Mary Abbots as long 
ago as the twelfth century. A new church was erected at 
the end of the seventeenth century, and the foundation stone 
of the present church was laid in 1870. Henry Cromwell, 
the youngest son of the Protector, was married at St. Mary 
Abbots, and Queen Anne was christened there. Addison 
was among its worshippers, and the Duchess of Kent was 
churched there after the birth of Queen Victoria. Wilber- 
force, Canning, Thackeray and Macaulay were attendants 
at its services. 

Kensington is Thackeray's London. The novelist him- 
self went to live at 13 Young Street, Kensington Square, 
in 1846, with his two young children and a little black cat. 
In a letter to his mother he said : 

" There are 2 capital bed-rooms & a little sitting room 
for you & G.P. — a famous bed-room for G.M. on the first 




floor — 2 rooms for the children on second very airy and 
comfortable ; a couple of rooms big enough for servants, 
& 2 little ones quite large enough for me — There's a good 
study down-stairs & a dining room & drawing room, and 
a little court yard & garden and a little green house ; and 
Kensington Gardens at the gate, and omnibuses every 2 
minutes. What can mortal want more ? " 

He wrote Vanity Fair, Esmond and Pendennis in Young 
Street. Kensington is the scene of Esmond, and it will be 
remembered that Lady Castlewood lived in Kensington 
Square, close to the novelist's own house. Dickens wrote 
Edwin Drood at 5 Hyde Park Place. 

Church Street, Kensington, which I love for its admir- 
able second-hand shops, was the home of David Wilkie 
the painter, and near by lived Jean Ingelow the poetess. 
Macaulay lived for three years in Holly Lodge at the end 
of Campden Hill Road. Isaac Newton died in Kensing- 
ton, and, of course, Pepys often went there. He records in 
his Diary that he took Mrs. Knipp " by coach 6s. 6d. to 
Kensington and there to the Grotto and had admirable 
pleasure with their singing and some fine ladies listening 
to us ; with infinite pleasure I enjoyed myself : so to the 
tavern there and did spend 16s. 6d. and the gardener 2s." 

Kensington Palace is prim and tidy like the Dutch king, 
William III., who built it. Evelyn, who was almost as pre- 
cise as William himself, describes Kensington Palace as " a 
very swete villa," but he adds, " it is very noble but not 

Queen Anne died in Kensington Palace, her last thoughts 
being for her brother, the unlucky Old Pretender. There 
is no doubt whatever that Queen Anne was a Jacobite, and it 
is possible that if she had lived a little longer England would 
have had no Hanoverian kings. Kensington Palace was 
the birthplace of Queen Victoria, and it was there that she 
was awakened early in the morning to be told that she was 
Queen of England, and where she held her first Council, 
astonishing Lord Melbourne, that sage and kindly worldling, 
by her self-possession. 

Kensington Gardens is perhaps the most attractive of 
the London parks. As late as the end of the eighteenth 
century foxes were hunted in the gardens, and it is recorded 
that an unfortunate woman was awarded an annuity of £18 




because her husband was accidentally shot while the keepers 
were hunting foxes in Kensington Gardens. The hunting 
was evidently entirely unorthodox. 

It was of Kensington Gardens that Matthew Arnold 
wrote : 

Here at my feet what wonders pass, 
What endless, active life is here ! 
What blowing daisies, fragrant grass ! 
An air-stirr'd forest, fresh and clear. 

Scarce fresher is the mountain-sod 
Where the tired angler lies, stretch'd out, 
And, eased of basket and of rod, 
Counts his day's spoil, the spotted trout. 

I, on men's impious uproar hurl'd, 
Think sometimes, as I hear them rave, 
That peace has left the upper world, 
And now keeps only in the grave. 

Yet here is peace for ever new. 
When I, who watch them, am away, 
Still all things in this glade go through 
The changes of their quiet day. 

Then to their happy rest they pass. 
The flowers close, the birds are fed ; 
The night comes down upon the grass : 
The child sleeps warmly in his bed. 

Calm soul of all things ! make it mine 
To feel, amid the city's jar, 
That there abides a peace of thine, 
Man did not make, and cannot mar. 

The will to neither strive nor cry, 
The power to feel with others give ! 
Calm, calm me more ! nor let me die 
Before I have begun to live. 

The Palace Hotel stands on the site of the King's Arms 
mentioned by Thackeray in Esmond. Gore House that used 
to stand in Kensington Gore was for years the home of 
William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery enthusiast. Afterwards 
it passed into the possession of the beautiful Countess of 
Blessington. In the Rejected Addresses James Smith 
wrote : 

The chains from which he freed the Blacks 
She rivets on the Whites. 



Was there ever a more wonderful woman ? The daughter 
of a small Irish landlord, she first married a drunkard who 
died a prisoner for debt in the King's Bench, and at the 
age of twenty-nine she became the wife of the Earl of 
Blessington. In four years they had spent all his fortune 
and were obliged to live on the Continent, where Lady 
Blessington became intimate with Byron and was mightily 
disappointed with his appearance. While she was away 
from England she met Count D'Orsay, the last of the 
dandies. D'Orsay married a daughter of Blessington 's by 
a former wife, soon separated from her and came back to 
England with Lady Blessington, with whom he lived until 
her death. Gore House was for years the centre of all that 
was dazzling and fascinating in London life. Dickens went 
there, and Disraeli and Macready and every one worth 
knowing, or rather every man worth knowing, for the ladies 
were " very few." The end came in 1849, when D'Orsay was 
obliged to fly to the Continent from his creditors, and the 
contents of Gore House were sold by auction for £13,385. 

Holland House is the second of Kensington's famous 
houses. Addison died there in 17 19, and Lord Holland, 
the father of Charles James Fox, died there fifty-five years 
later. The famous George Selwyn had a particular fond- 
ness for seeing dead bodies. He called on Lord Holland 
during his last illness, and the dying man told his servant : 
" If Mr. Selwyn calls again show him up ; if I am alive 
I shall be glad to see him, and if I am dead he will be glad 
to see me." A few years later, in the days of the third 
Lord Holland, Holland House attained unrivalled splendour 
and fame. Sydney Smith declared that he had heard " five 
hundred travelled men assert that there was no such agree- 
able house as Holland House." Macaulay tells us of one 
evening there : " Wilkie gazed with modest admiration on 
Sir Joshua's Baretti, while Mackintosh turned over Thomas 
Aquinas to verify a quotation ; while Talleyrand related 
his conversations with Barras at the Luxembourg or his 
ride with Lannes over the Field of Austerlitz." 

At Holland House in his great days one might meet 
Lord Eldon, the great Tory Chancellor, and Brougham, 
the freakish Whig, Byron and Washington Irving, Humphry 
Davy, Samuel Romilly, the law reformer, Tom Moore, 
the Irish poet, and the " sensitive " Madame de Stael. 



Magnificent Kensington indeed ! There is thrilling 
adventure for the imaginative in a walk westward from 
Knightsbridge. Sloane Street on the left is long and 
straight, and happy in so far as it has no history. It is 
named after Sir Hans Sloane, and was planned in 1780. 
At its southern end in Sloane Square stands the Court 
Theatre, where theatrical history was made when Mr. 
Granville Barker produced the Shaw plays. The only 
great figure associated with Sloane Street is Byron. When 
he was a sickly little boy of ten he was brought to London 
on the doctor's advice. His mother took apartments at 
Sloane Terrace, and there he spent his week-ends and 
holidays during the two years he was at school at Dulwich. 
Leaving Sloane Street one walks, with Hyde Park and 
Kensington Gardens on the right, conjuring up visions, 
until one has traversed the magnificence and arrived at 
the borders of plebeian workaday Hammersmith, now re- 
christened West Kensington, and coyly claiming relation- 
ship with its great neighbour. 



Cheyne Walk is the most aristocratic street in Chelsea. 
It has its literary traditions, else Chelsea would disown it. 
But its stately nouses fronting the river have nothing in 
common with the bobbed-haired young women and the 
young men in black flannel shirts who live in Chelsea's 
meaner streets, convinced that vers libre is poetry, that there 
is no art without eccentricity, that Chelsea is the London 
Quartier Latin and that it is still possible to live la vie de 
Boheme. There is nothing, indeed, remotely suggesting 
Henri Miirger in Cheyne Walk. 

In the Manor House which stood on part of what is 
now Cheyne Walk, Anne of Cleves, the German wife 
chosen for Henry VIII. by Thomas Cromwell, died in her 
bed, which must have been a matter of congratulation for 
a princess married to that matrimonial enthusiast. Poor 
Anne was too ugly for Henry's taste, and she plays her part 
in English history because the King's resentment against 
the Minister who had brought her to England was one of 
the causes that brought about the downfall of Cromwell, 
the most unmitigated ruffian who ever held a high place in 
English government. 

Thomas More lived in a house on the site of what is 
now called Beaufort Row, near the end of Cheyne Walk. 
There he lived his pleasant family life with his books and 
his friends, among them Erasmus, Dean Colet and Holbein, 
until he was taken away for execution in the Tower because 
he would not admit that the King was the supreme head of 
the Church. More was one of the few saints of the Re- 
naissance, a kindly, humorous scholar. His life at Chelsea 
was ideal. " I have given you kisses enough," he said to 





one of his daughters, " but stripes hardly ever." It was at 
Mores Chelsea house that Erasmus wrote his Praise of 
Folly. More's own Utopia is a plea for toleration and 
liberty, and for those yoked to " a life so wretched that even 
a plant's life seems enviable." Such a humanist could not 
be tolerated by Henry VIII. and Thomas Cromwell, and it 
was inevitable that he should be taken from Chelsea by 
river to the executioner's block. 

Swan House, still to be seen in Cheyne Walk, is a 
reminder of the famous Swan Tavern where Pepys, who 
never missed a place of entertainment in London, used 
frequently to go. The Swan Tavern is mentioned by 
Marryat in his novel Jacob Faithful. But the most famous 
refreshment house that Cheyne Walk ever knew was Don 
Saltero's, which was opened in 1695 as a coffee house and 
a museum. Don Saltero's right name was Salter, and by 
trade he was a barber, who played the fiddle and was an 
excellent mixer of punch. The museum consisted of a 
number of curiosities, many of which were given to Salter 
by Sir Hans Sloane. Steele devoted one whole number of 
the Tatler to Don Saltero, Swift refers to him, Smollett 
mentions the museum in Peregrine Pickle, and Benjamin 
Franklin paid a visit to the coffee house when he first came 
to London. 

In the eighteenth century Chelsea Manor passed into 
the hands of Sir Hans Sloane, the famous physician and 
collector who, among other things, was the first doctor on 
whom a hereditary title was bestowed. His name, nowa- 
days, belongs to several streets in Chelsea. It is to him 
that London owes the preservation of the attractive Apothe- 
caries' Garden, a few minutes' walk from Cheyne Walk. 
Chelsea has many cherished possessions — a Royal Hospital, 
red-coated pensioners, great artists, humorous eccentrics 
— but the Apothecaries' Garden is certainly among the 
choicest. The garden has an interesting history. In the 
reign of James I. the London apothecaries broke away 
from the great Grocers' Company and formed a society of 
their own. The grocers attempted to persuade the King 
not to grant them a charter. But James, albeit he has been 
described as " the wisest fool in Christendom," made the 
common-sense observation that " grocers are not competent 
judges of the practice of medicine," and the charter was 




granted. The first thing that the new Society did was to 
buy a State barge and to build a house for it on the river- 
side at Chelsea. The ground round the house was planted 
with fruit trees and herbs, and the Apothecaries ' Garden 
came into existence. The first gardener was one Thomas 
Johnson, who lives in history because at his shop in Snow- 
hill he sold, in 1633, the first bunch of bananas that London 
had ever seen. 

Sir Hans Sloane came to the help of the apothecaries 
when they were in financial straits, and secured the garden 
for them for ever. The extent of their experiments in 
culture in the eighteenth century is indicated in a letter 
from Horace Walpole in 1742, in which he says : " I 
forgot to tell you that I have left a particular commission 
with my brother Ned, who is at Chelsea, to get some tea 
seed from the Physic Garden/ 1 The Apothecaries ' Garden 
no longer runs down to the river, but it is a delightful and 
most useful institution which supplies rare plants to schools 
and colleges all over the country. 

Cheyne Walk owes its name to Charles, Viscount 
Cheyne, who was Lord of the Manor of Chelsea towards 
the end of the seventeenth century. Turner lived at 119, 
and died there in 1851. Daniel Maclise lived and died at 
No. 4, and ten years after his death George Eliot died 
in the same house. No. 16 will always be associated with 
the pre - Raphaelite movement, for it was the home of 
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Ford Madox Brown, William 
Morris and Edward Burne- Jones stayed with him there. 

The waterside at Chelsea is no longer picturesque. 
The old wharves and water stairs have given place to a 
wide, modern, entirely unromantic embankment. Yet 
Chelsea has an air. Just as it is said that houses carry with 
them in a queer way the suggestion of men and women 
who have lived in them in days long ago, so neighbourhoods 
are spiritually affected by their inhabitants. It is impossible 
to walk along Cheyne Walk in the mood that one has 
in traversing Belgrave Square, with its oppressive, dull 
prosperity. Its atmosphere has been affected for all time 
by Turner and Burne- Jones and Rossetti, by Whistler, who 
lived round the corner in Tite Street, as well as by old 
Thomas More, who loved learning and friendship and his 
God most of all. 




A hundred yards or so away from the opulence of 
Cheyne Walk is the narrow Cheyne Row, the aspect of 
which suggests hard living and high thinking, because all the 
world knows that it was once the home of Thomas Carlyle. 
But it was also, for a while, the home of Leigh Hunt, 
Charles Dickens's Harold Skimpole, who certainly suggests 
neither. His household, Carlyle said, was " hugger-mugger 
unthrift and sordid collapse. " Dickens cruelly lampooned 
Leigh Hunt, and Carlyle naturally could not understand 
him, but Shelley described him " as one of those happy 
souls who are the salt of the earth/ ' He was certainly 
feckless and knew nothing of business, but who loves him 
any the less for that ? On one occasion George Smith, 
the head of the publishing house of Smith & Elder, paid 
Leigh Hunt a cheque for some contribution to Cornhill. 
" What am I to do with this little bit of paper ? " asked the 
poet. Smith took the cheque back and changed it for 
bank notes, which Hunt accidentally burnt. He came back 
to the publisher in a great state of mind, stopping on the 
way to buy a delightful little statuette of Psyche. Publisher 
and poet went together to the Bank of England to see what 
could be done, and Smith has left an account of what 
happened : 

" They kept us waiting for some time, and Leigh Hunt, 
who had meanwhile been staring all round the room, at 
last got up, walked to one of the staid officials, and address- 
ing him said in wondering tones, * And do you sit here all 
day and never see the woods and the trees and the charming 
country ? ' Then, in tone of remonstrance, he demanded, 
* Are you contented with such a life ? 1 All the time he was 
holding the little naked Psyche in one hand, and with his 
long hair and flashing eyes made a surprising figure/ ' 

The good and the bad, the Carlyles and the Leigh 
Hunts, the feckless and the thrifty, live side by side in great 
cities, and life has its priceless variety. 



It would be difficult to find a meaner street in London than 
Villiers Street, the west side of which is now completely 
taken up by Charing Cross railway station and the staircase 
leading to Hungerford Bridge, almost the only footbridge 
that now crosses the Thames. Certainly it is the measure 
of Mr. Pennell's genius that he can find interest in this 
tawdry thoroughfare along which crowds hurry night and 
morning to the District Railway station at its southern end. 

Hungerford Market stood on the site now occupied by 
Charing Cross station. The market was built in 1680, 
rebuilt in 1831 and removed in i860. At the end of the 
seventeenth century Sir Christopher Wren was one of its 
proprietors. Shortly before the end of its history the 
original Gatti, the first of a family of famous London 
restaurateurs, opened a shop in Hungerford Market, where 
Londoners were for the first time served with chops and 
steaks and ices on marble-topped tables while sitting on 
plush-covered seats. The enterprise was a success, and 
Gatti sent to Switzerland for two of his nephews, who 
became his waiters, and two brothers called Monico, who 
came from the same Italian Swiss canton to become his 
cooks. The Gatti nephews afterwards founded Gatti 's 
Restaurant in the Strand on premises which had formerly 
been a waxwork show, and the Monicos started the Cafe 
Monico at Piccadilly Circus. Nothing, perhaps, in a city's 
history has a greater human interest than the development 
of its restaurants. Nowadays Italian eating places with 
plush seats and marble-topped tables are to be found all 
over London, and it is one of Villiers Street's few distinctions 
to have possessed the first. 


6 4 



Drab as the street is to-day, it has its little history. 
Evelyn took a house in Villiers Street for the winter of 1683, 
and Richard Steele of Spectator and Tatler fame lived there 
from 1 72 1 to 1724. But if Villiers Street itself is dull, it 
has its great neighbour. It is near the western boundary of 
the Adelphi, one of the most interesting and distinctive of 
London's possessions. Durham House, the residence of 
the Bishop of Durham, occupied the whole site of the 
Adelphi from the fourteenth century until the middle of 
the seventeenth. In the reign of Henry VIII. Cuthbert 
Tunstall, the then Bishop of Durham, conveyed Durham 
House to the King in exchange for another house in Cold 
Harbour, now Upper Thames Street. Tunstall was one of 
the men of the new learning and the friend of Erasmus and 
Thomas More. Henry VIII. granted the house to the 
Earl of Wiltshire, the father of Anne Boleyn, and Anne 
spent part of her childhood at Durham House. On one 
occasion the King ordered Wiltshire to entertain Cranmer, 
" to the intent he may bee there quiet to accomplish my 
request and let him lack neither bookes, ne anything 
requisite for his studies." 

Edward VI. gave Durham House to his sister Elizabeth, 
and after her succession she gave it to Walter Raleigh, and 
it remained in his possession for twenty years. " After he 
came to his greatness," wrote Aubrey the antiquary, " he 
lived there or in some apartment of it. I well remember 
his study which was on a little turret that looked into and 
over the Thames and had the prospect which is as pleasant 
perhaps as any in the world." Durham House and the 
little turret have disappeared, but the prospect is as pleasant 
as ever. I have written at length of Raleigh in another 
part of this book, and all that need be added here is that 
it is probable that it was in Durham House that his servant 
saw Raleigh smoking a pipe and threw a tankard of spiced 
ale over his master's head lest he should be burnt to death. 

The stabling of Durham House faced the Strand, and 
at the beginning of the seventeenth century it was converted 
into what was called the New Exchange or the New Burse, 
which consisted of two rows of shops, one above the other. 
The first edition of " Othello " was published in 1622, six 
years after Shakespeare's death, at " The Eagle and Child " 
in Brittans Burse. The New Exchange is mentioned in the 





Spectator, where it is complained that young fops spend half 
their time buying gloves in the shops. 

" It is no small Addition to the Calamity, that the 
Rogues buy as hard as the plainest and modestest Customers 
they have ; besides which, they loll upon their Counters 
half an Hour longer than they need, to drive away other 
Customers, who are to share their Impertinencies with the 
Milliner, or go to another Shop." 

In the year 1 667 Pepys visited the office of the Commis- 
sioners for Accounts in Durham Yard, which had been part 
of the grounds of Durham House. In his diary he records : 

" Presently I was called in, where I found the whole 
number of Commissioners, and was there received with 
great respect and kindness ; and did give them great satis- 
faction, making it my endeavour to inform them what it 
was they were to expect from me, and what was the duty 
of other people ; this being my only way to preserve myself, 
after all my pains and trouble. They did ask many ques- 
tions, and demanded other books of me, which I did give 
them very ready and acceptable answers to ; and, upon the 
whole, I do observe they do go about their business like 
men resolved to go through with it, and in a very good 
method, like men of understanding/ ' 

Godfrey Kneller, the German portrait painter, lived in 
Durham Yard when he first came to England, and Garrick 
in his early twenties was in partnership there with his 
brother as a wine merchant. Samuel Foote, Garrick 's 
bitter-tongued rival, used to say that he remembered David 
when he lived in Durham Yard, " with three quarts of 
vinegar in the cellar calling himself a wine merchant." 

The New Exchange provided a scene in the life of a 
famous Restoration beauty. The Duchess of Tyrconnel, 
finding herself without any income after a long absence from 
England, hired one of the stalls " above stairs at the New 
Exchange in the Strand," where she sold " small articles of 
haberdashery." She wore a white dress and a white mask 
and was known as the white milliner. The Duchess of 
Tyrconnel was the famous Frances Jennings, sister-in-law 
of the Duke of Marlborough and one of the maids of honour 
at the Court of Charles II. Evelyn describes her as " a 
sprightly young lady," and Pepys tells of her mad freaks. 
She astounded de Grammont by her virtue and pride, 






successfully resisting the advances both of the King and 
his brother the Duke of York. He says in his memoirs : 

" Although from her great vivacity one might suppose 
that she was not capable of much reflection, yet she had 
furnished herself with some very salutary maxims for the 
conduct of a young person of her age. The first was, that 
a lady ought to be young to enter the court with advantage, 
and not old to leave it with a good grace : that she could 
not maintain herself there, but by a glorious resistance, or 
by illustrious foibles ; and that in so dangerous a situation, 
she ought to use her utmost endeavours not to dispose of 
her heart, until she gave her hand." 

Frances Jennings married as her second husband Richard 
Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnel, who is so fiercely attacked by 
Macaulay in his history. After her adventure in the New 
Exchange, she was allowed to go to Dublin, where she died 
in 1 73 1 and was buried in St. Patrick's Cathedral. 

By the year 1768 the whole of the streets on what had 
been Durham House had fallen into dreadful decay, and 
in that year the brothers Adam, two Scotch architects, 
obtained possession of the estate from the Duke of St. 
Albans and started to build what has since been called the 
Adelphi. They had to contend with many difficulties. 
They had to obtain a special act of Parliament. They were 
opposed by the usual vested interests that stand in the way 
of all city improvements. But they were Scotch and 
persistent. Their money failed before the scheme was 
completed, but they contrived to raise over two hundred 
thousand pounds by means of a lottery. 

Horace Walpole described the Adelphi buildings as 
" warehouses laced down the seams like a soldier's frill in a 
regimental old coat." The Adams were continually attacked 
on account of their nationality. The following is a con- 
temporary lampoon : 

Four Scotchmen, by the name of Adams, 
Who keep their coaches and their madams, 
Quoth John, in sulky mood, to Thomas, 
Have stole the very river from us ! 
O Scotland, long has it been said, 
Thy teeth are sharp for English bread ; 
What ! seize our bread and water too, 
And use us worse than jailors do : 
'Tis true, 'tis hard ; 'tis hard 'tis true. 




Ye friends of George, and friends of James, 

Envy us not our River Thames ; 

Thy Princess, fond of raw-boned faces, 

May give you all our posts and places ; 

Take all to gratify your pride, 

But dip your oatmeal in the Clyde. 

The Society of Arts, which still has its home in John 
Street, Adelphi, first moved there in 1774. Samuel Johnson 
appeared before the Society of Arts, oddly enough making 
a speech on mechanics. The speech was not a success, 
Johnson himself admitting that " all my flowers of oratory 
forsook me." 

Mr. Wilfred Whitten has called the Society of Arts " the 
whipper-in of the industrial age." He says : 

" The Society, for example, has at one time or another 
set itself to increase the supply of pickled sturgeon at 
Billingsgate, to standardize the number of vibrations for 
the middle C of the pianoforte, to introduce public lava- 
tories to London, to stimulate the straw bonnet industry, 
to promote the cultivation of rhubarb, to find an invariable 
standard of weights and measures, to establish a botanic 
garden in the Bahamas, to improve medals, varnish, milk- 
cans, and the curing of herrings, to improve the four- 
wheeled cab, to fix memorial tablets, to instruct soldiers in 
shorthand, to provide English children with paint-boxes, to 
evolve an improved machine for slicing turnips, and to 
accomplish a thousand tasks as worthy in all the fields of 
art and industry." 

David Garrick spent the last seven years of his life in a 
house on Adelphi Terrace, where Dr. Johnson often visited 
him, and there he died in 1779. Garrick 's funeral pro- 
cession must have been the most wonderful pageant that 
the Adelphi ever saw, as it wended its way from Adelphi 
Terrace by Adam Street into the Strand. I quote the 
description at length from the late Austin Brereton's 
History of the Adelphi : 

" First of all, came four porters on horseback, their 
staffs, or wands of office, covered with black silk and 
scarves. Then came six other men, with mourning cloaks, 
followed by another official bearing a heavily-draped pennon. 
Then came other six men carrying a surcoat of arms, a 
helmet with crest, wreath, and mantlet. A state lid of 




black ostrich feathers, surrounded by escutcheons, immedi- 
ately preceded the hearse, which was ' full-dressed ' — that 
is to say, it bore at each corner and on the sides waving 
black ostrich plumes. A state-coach, empty, and with a 
page on each side, was followed by a mourning coach con- 
taining the clergy from St. Martin 's-in-the-Fields. Then 
came six more mourning coaches ' with the pall-bearers, 
two in each coach, six pages on each side. A ditto, with 
the chief mourners, a page on each side. A ditto, with 
three family ditto. A ditto, with three physicians. A 
ditto, with surgeon and apothecaries, a page on each side. 
A ditto, with Messrs. Sheridan and Harris, a page on each 
side. Three ditto, with a deputation of twelve gentlemen, 
performers from Drury-Lane theatre, three pages on each 
side. Two men in mourning, on horseback with cloaks, 
etc. Three ditto, with a deputation of twelve gentlemen, 
performers from Covent-garden theatre, three pages on 
each side. Two men in mourning, on horseback with 
cloaks, etc. Four mourning coaches, with the members of 
the literary club, four pages on each side. Two men in 
mourning, on horseback, with cloaks. Seven coaches with 
intimate friends of the deceased, seven pages on each side. 
Mr. Garrick's coach, empty. All the gentlemen's family 
coaches, empty.' The body was received at the great west 
door of the Abbey, about three o'clock, by the Bishop of 
Rochester, Dean of Westminster, who, attended by the 
clergy and choir, preceded the corpse up the centre aisle, 
during which time Purcell's funeral music was played and 

Johnson and Burke were among the mourners. Two 
years after her husband's death, Mrs. Garrick gave a dinner 
party in Adelphi Terrace, the guests including Johnson, 
Boswell, Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Burney and Hannah More. 
Boswell records : " In addition to a splendid entertainment 
we were regaled with Lichfield ale which has a peculiar 
appropriate value." 

In the summer of 1780 Dr. Graham, a Scottish quack, 
was living in the middle house on Adelphi Terrace. He 
called his house " The Temple of Health," where he 
advertised he had the honour " of explaining the true 
nature and effects of electricity, of air, music and magnetism 
when applied to the human body." " Vestina, the rosy 


goddess of health, " presided at the doctor's lectures, and 
Vestina was Emma Lyon, afterwards Emma Hamilton, 
Nelson's mistress. 

Tom Hood lived in chambers at 2 Robert Street, 
Adelphi, where he was visited by Lamb, Hazlitt and De 
Quincey. The Adelphi was very familiar to Dickens, 
and it was at Osborne's Hotel, now the Adelphi Hotel, 
that, at the end of the Pickwick Papers , Mr. Wardle found 
Mr. Snodgrass hiding in his bedroom, and was virtuously 
indignant until Mrs. Winkle put things right, and the evening 
ended as all evenings do in the Pickwick Papers. 

Gibbon stayed at Osborne's Hotel when he came back 
from Switzerland with the completed manuscript of the 
Decline and Fall. So did George Crabbe, and in the same 
rooms the King and Queen of the Sandwich Islands died of 
smallpox in 1824. 

The Adelphi Arches are still under the Adelphi streets, 
dark and mysterious, as they have been called, a subter- 
ranean city. Thomas Hardy lived for a time in Adelphi 
Terrace when he was practising as an architect. Mr. 
Bernard Shaw and Sir James Barrie live there now, and on 
Adelphi Terrace is situated the Savage Club, the members 
of which strive hard to persuade themselves that Bohemian- 
ism has not yet gone down before the advance of a civilisa- 
tion that cares nothing for good cheer. 

The Adelphi proper is bounded on the west side by 
Buckingham Street and York Buildings, and between them 
and Villiers Street used to stand York House, associated 
with Francis Bacon and the Duke of Buckingham, the bad 
genius of Charles I. York House has disappeared, but the 
beautiful water-gate, designed by Inigo Jones, remains. 
Pepys lived in Buckingham Street from 1684 to 1700. 

When Peter the Great came to England in 1698, he 
stayed in a house overlooking the water-gate, where every 
night, when he returned home from the Deptford ship- 
yards, he refreshed himself with a pint of brandy seasoned 
with cayenne pepper. Rousseau and Hume once quarrelled 
in Buckingham Street. 

What a medley of ghosts ! Bacon and Buckingham, 
Johnson and Garrick, Rousseau and Peter the Great, with 
the ubiquitous Pepys gossiping to them all. 



The new Strand of Mr. Pennell's drawing has already 
become the old Strand, for no street in London, with the 
exception of Regent Street, has been more affected by post- 
war destruction and rebuilding. The Strand, which runs 
eastwards from Charing Cross station to Temple Bar, has 
several curious characteristics. It does not, for example, 
contain one draper's shop. There is nowhere in the Strand 
where a woman can buy a reel of cotton or a yard of tape. 
It is a street of theatres, restaurants and innumerable 
hosiers. There must be twice as many hosiers in the 
Strand as in any other street in London of the same length. 
There are unfathomable mysteries in every city, and I 
have never been able to understand why the draper care- 
fully avoids the Strand, while hosiers flock to it in whole 

Until the reign of Henry VIII. the Strand was an un- 
paved road between Westminster and London. In the days 
when it was unsafe for nobles to live outside the city walls, 
bishops, whose persons were sacred, could safely build 
their houses on this London- Westminster road. Eight of 
them, indeed, lived there at the time of the Reformation — 
the Bishops of Exeter, Bath, LlandafF, Chester, Carlisle, 
Durham, Worcester and the Archbishop of York. It is sad 
to note the too evident fact that the bishops did not leave the 
Strand any heritage of saintliness, though it still possesses 
two churches. 

After the Reformation, the Protector, Somerset, built 
himself a palace on the site of the present Somerset House, 
and the great Lord Burghley lived on the site of the present 
Exeter Street. 

7 o 





The Strand acquired something like its present character 
in 1829. Coutts 's Bank, which represents high finance in 
the Strand, was established in the middle of the eigh- 
teenth century. The house was originally called Campbell 
& Coutts, and the male line of the Coutts became extinct 
in 1822. I have always liked to think of the precise noble- 
man who wrote to Messrs. Coutts to apologise for the fact 
that by inadvertence he had allowed his current account to 
fall below five hundred pounds, and that such a thing should 
never occur again. 

The original Coutts, the son of a Lord Provost of 
Edinburgh, married the niece of a London banker, and the 
firm of Campbell & Coutts came into existence at 59 Strand 
in 1754. When Campbell died, the first Coutts took his 
brother Thomas into partnership, and the brother inherited 
the {whole business in 1778. Many stories are told of 
Thomas Coutts, known as " the richest man in London.' ' 
By his first wife he had three daughters, one of whom 
married Sir Francis Burdett, the father of the Baroness 
Burdett-Coutts. His second wife was Harriot Mellon, the 
actress, to whom he left his fortune, and who after his death 
married the Duke of St. Albans. Sir Walter Scott spoke 
of her as " a kind friendly woman without either affectation 
or insolence in the display of her wealth,' ' but she was 
certainly ostentatious. Lockhart describes a visit that she 
paid to Scott at Abbotsford. She arrived with a train of 
three carriages, each drawn by four horses, and she was 
attended by her future husband, the Duke of St. Albans, 
one of his sisters, who acted as her lady-in-waiting, two 
physicians, and a host of servants, including two lady's 
maids. The Duchess left her whole fortune to her step- 
daughter, the Baroness Burdett-Coutts. 59 Strand was on 
the south side. The Bank crossed the road some years ago, 
and the old premises are now pulled down. Coutts 's have 
had many famous customers, — Pitt, Walter Scott, Welling- 
ton, Nelson, Charles James Fox, Charles Dickens, Alfred 
Tennyson, to say nothing of all the English kings since 
George III. 

For generations the Strand has been the centre of 
theatrical and Bohemian London. In it and near it were 
many famous taverns, including Simpson's, which still re- 
mains, and the Albion, situated a hundred yards or so to 




the north of the Strand, where Charles Dickens and Wilkie 
Collins often dined in the fifties and sixties of last century. 
The Bohemianism of the street was emphasised by the fact 
that the Insolvent Debtors Court stood on the site after- 
wards occupied by the Strand Theatre and now by a Tube 
railway station. Thirty years ago there were seven theatres 
and one music-hall in the Strand. Nowadays there are five 
theatres and a monstrous cinema house. 

The Adelphi was first opened in 1806, and was originally 
called the Sans Pareil. Some years later the famous play 
" Tom and Jerry " was produced there, and a few years 
afterwards Sir Walter Scott had a financial interest in the 
theatre, with the result that he lost nearly two thousand 
pounds. In its palmiest days the Adelphi was the home of 
robustious melodrama, and it was just outside its stage-door 
that William Terriss, the most famous of melodramatic 
heroes, was murdered. 

At the Vaudeville, a little farther east, Sir Henry Irving 
made his first London success in 1870 as Digby Grant in 
James Albery's " The Two Roses." It was here, too, 
that the famous Victorian farce " Our Boys " was produced 
by three actors called Tom Thorne, David James and 
Henry Montague. David James was a Jew, and Montague 
had very impressive manners, and the trio were known on 
the stage as " the Jew, the Gent and the Gentile." 

The first Lyceum Theatre was built in 1765, provided 
a miscellaneous entertainment, and was a sort of cross 
between a Mechanics' Institute and Madame Tussaud's. 
Charles Dibdin, the writer of sea songs, gave his musical 
entertainment in the original Lyceum. It is said that 
Dibdin 's sea ditties, " 'Twas in the Good Ship Rover," 
" Saturday Night at Sea," and the immortal " Tom 
Bowling," vastly stimulated the spirit of the navy during 
the French wars, and it is a historic fact that for his patriotic 
services Dibdin was given a Government pension of two 
hundred a year. 

The Lyceum was burnt down and rebuilt in 1830. Part 
of the site of the new theatre had been occupied before by a 
menagerie. The genius of Sir Henry Irving has given the 
Lyceum Theatre a prominent place in theatrical records. 
He gave back dignity to the theatre, attracting to the 
Lyceum all the intellectuals of his time. Irving was indeed 




a great man. In his old age he was tremendously im- 
pressive. He had imagination and enthusiasm, and with 
them a more bitter sardonic wit than any other man whom 
I have known. 

The Gaiety Theatre was first built in 1868 and rebuilt 
in 1903. In its early days it was largely associated with 
burlesques, those remarkable Victorian entertainments in 
which atrocious puns had so large a part. It was at the 
Gaiety that W. S. Gilbert's first serious comedy, " An Old 
Score/ ' and the first Gilbert and Sullivan collaboration, 
" Thespis, or The Gods grown Old," were produced. It 
was at the Gaiety that Charles Mathews made his last 
appearances on the stage, and where Sarah Bernhardt was 
first seen in London. It was at the Gaiety in the nineties 
that musical comedy was invented, a fact for which there 
is perhaps no reason to be grateful, except that the musical 
comedies of a generation ago were one degree less banal 
than the revues of to-day. 

On part of what is now the Gaiety site there used to 
stand the office of Household Words, of which Charles 
Dickens was the editor, and the Gaiety was the last theatre 
which Dickens visited. He went there in 1869 to see a 
play called " Uncle Dick's Darling." One of the characters, 
Mr. Chevenix, was played by Henry Irving, and Dickens 
saw in it a reflection of his own Mr. Dombey. 

The Savoy Theatre was built in 1881 by Mr. D'Oyly 
Carte, particularly for the production of the Gilbert and 
Sullivan operas, which had already established themselves 
in popular favour. Gilbert, as Mr. William Archer has 
said, restored the literary self-respect of the English stage," 
and since the Gilbert and Sullivan operas are now recognised 
as among the theatre's choicest possessions, the Savoy 
Theatre, where so many of them had their birth, has a 
position of the first importance among English playhouses. 

The Tivoli was an " old-fashioned music-hall," with a 
performance lasting from eight till eleven, no one performer 
remaining for more than ten minutes or so on the stage. 
In my time the English music-hall has, I think, produced 
quite as much genuine histrionic ability as the theatre, if not 
more, and it is impossible not to feel regret for the passing 
of an institution in which artists like Dan Leno, Albert 
Chevalier and Marie Lloyd found their home. Alas, the 




old order changes, giving place to the new. The comic 
singer is ousted by the cinema. 

Newspaper land, refusing to confine itself within its own 
Fleet Street, overflows into the Strand with the Morning 
Post, which generations ago was inspired by Lord Palmerston 
and now stands for die-hard Toryism. It used to extend 
still farther west to the office of the Globe, which now has 

The Strand is a street of many restaurants, (jatti's was 
once a waxwork show. Romano's, founded by a particu- 
larly shrewd Italian, was in the eighties and nineties of last 
century the favourite resort of theatrical and journalistic 
Bohemians, feckless folk, the males of them generally 
alcoholic enthusiasts. Simpson's retains something of the 
character of the old-fashioned English tavern, eschewing 
kickshaws and confining itself to roast and boiled. The 
two great Strand hotels, overwhelming in their gorgeous 
modernity, have no interest and suggest no dream. 

Of the two Strand churches, the most western, St. 
Mary-le- Strand, was consecrated in 1723, and was built by 
the architect of St. Martin 's-in-the- Fields. Pope says in 
his Dunciad — 

Amid that area wide they took their stand, 
Where the tall Maypole once o'er-looked the Strand. 
But now (so Anne and piety ordain), 
A church collects the saints of Drury Lane. 

St. Clement Danes has a much longer history. Accord- 
ing to Stow the church derives its name from the fact that 
a Danish king was buried in it. The present church was 
built in 1680 and restored in 1879. Evelyn calls it " that 
prettily built and contrived church, " and Dr. Johnson 
regularly attended its services, sitting near the pulpit in the 
north gallery. The fact is commemorated by a particularly 
futile statue of Johnson, behind the railings at the church's 
eastern end. 

During his stay in England — 1 726-1 729 — Voltaire lodged 
over a French barber's in Maiden Lane, just north of the 
Strand. From there he wrote to Swift and visited Congreve 
in his house in Surrey Street on the Strand's south side. 



It is singularly appropriate that the Law Courts — " a 
massive pile," as the house agents would say, at the extreme 
eastern end of the Strand — should be externally not without 
a certain dignity, but internally a maze of tortuous passages 
and dark corners. The style of the building, which was 
finished in 1883, is described as " early continental Gothic," 
whatever that may be. As you enter by the broad entrance 
into the central hall, the building's spaciousness and fine 
lines impress you and you say, " Here's dignity, here's a 
proper home for justice." Then you turn to the right or 
to the left and find yourself in dingy corridors that at once 
suggest meanness and intrigue and silly subtlety, and if you 
have, for your sins, experience of the ways of lawyers and 
the pitfalls of the law, you will instinctively feel that the 
architect builded better than he knew. The maze of the 
law courts, the scared appearance of litigants and witnesses, 
the hard indifference of the counsel, the perkiness of 
lawyers' clerks, the kin of the persistent Mr. Guppy, 
all suggest to me that the lawyer would find no place in a 
sane society, for to the layman it appears that the chief 
business of the lawyer is to twist the law either into ineffec- 
tiveness or into gross injustice. Beneficent legislation is 
devised and placed on the Statute Book, but rarely does its 
administration carry out its intentions. The lawyer sees to 
that. It would be a thousand times better, too, for the 
litigant, if judge and counsel were not bound together by 
the ties of a common profession, and if the layman was not 
the obvious sport of the expert. The condemnation of the 
administration of justice in England lies in the fact that it is 
commonly and properly considered sheer madness to bring 
actions in the law courts unless you are compelled. Litigation 





is grossly expensive. Decisions depend far too much on 
the temper and character of the judge. But perhaps it is all 
for the best, because a greater confidence in the law courts 
would certainly lead to an increase in quarrels and disputes. 

The practice of the law appears to lead either to brazen 
bullying — Serjeant Buzfuz still has a large practice at the 
Bar — or to dried-up mustiness. The late Charles Gill was 
once standing outside the Law Courts with the late 
Montagu Williams, both of them lawyers who, as by a 
miracle, had contrived to retain a measure of their humanity. 
Two Lords of Appeal, prematurely old gentlemen with 
parchment faces, drove by in a brougham, wrapped up in 
heavy rugs. " That, Charles/ ' said Williams, " is what 
they call success in life." 

The Law Courts are just over forty years old, and they 
possess no ghosts of the smallest interest to me. I cannot 
think of a single spirit of recently departed judges or counsel 
with which it would please me to converse . Westminster Hall , 
however, that noble Norman building in which justice was 
administered before the Law Courts were built, has many fine 
associations. Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher were con- 
demned to death at Westminster Hall, as were Strafford and 
Charles I., and it was the scene of the trial of those great and 
good men, the seven bishops. Before their removal in 1883, 
there were in Westminster Hall at its western end, the Court 
of Queen's Bench, the Court of Common Pleas, the Court of 
Wards and Liveries, and the Court of Requests. Before 
1883 the Chancery Courts sat in Lincoln's Inn Hall, as all 
readers of Bleak House will remember, and certain other 
causes were tried in the city. For example, that famous 
trial of Bardell v. Pickwick was heard in the Guildhall. 

It was convenient for the public, and to a much larger 
extent for the lawyers, that the Courts should all be housed 
under one roof in a building close to the Inns of Court, 
and it is, I admit, pleasant for the monotony of modern 
costume to be broken in the Strand by hurrying lawyers 
in wigs and bands. But I dread experts, and legal experts 
most of all. Peter the Great was amazed when he saw the 
number of lawyers in Westminster Hall. " I have only 
two lawyers in all my kingdom/' he said, " and when I 
get home I intend to hang one of them." Not without 
reason was Peter called the Great. 




It is one of the ironies of London that the precedent-loving 
lawyer, the most prosaic of men, should have toiled with 
his dull briefs for centuries in one of the most romantic 
spots in the whole city. The Temple was from 1184 to 
13 13 the home of the Knights Templars, the warrior monks, 
unmatched in history for courage and for pride, who were 
the bulwark of Europe against the Moslems both in the 
Near East and in Spain. Ten years after the suppression 
of the Templars, the Temple was leased to the students of 
the Common Law, and in the reign of James I. the pro- 
perty was made over to the Benchers of the two societies 
of the Inner and the Middle Temple and their successors 
for ever. The chief relic of the Knights Templars is the 
Temple Church, which just escaped from the Great Fire, 
the flames almost reaching its eastern walls. Alas, for the 
vandalism of our immediate ancestors, the Temple Church 
was spoiled a hundred years ago by abominable restorations. 

The entrances to the Inner and Middle Temples are 
almost side by side. The Middle Temple entrance was 
erected by Wren, the Inner Temple entrance, drawn by 
Mr. Pennell, is older. It was built in the reign of James I. 
It was Shakespeare, or whoever else wrote the first part of 
" King Henry VI.," who made the Temple Gardens the 
scene of the brawl between Plantagenet and Somerset that 
was the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. 

This brawl to-day, 
Grown to this faction in the Temple garden, 
Shall send, between the red rose and the white, 
A thousand souls to death and deadly night. 





Lawyers have never been popular. It will be remem- 
bered that although there is at least one lawyer in most of 
the Dickens novels, few of them are drawn as attractive 
personalities. The unpopularity of lawyers is no new 
thing. In the second part of " King Henry VI./ ' in 
the scene between Jack Cade and his associates, occur the 
lines : 

Dick. The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. 

Cade. Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable thing, that of 
the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment ? that parchment, 
being scribbled o'er, should undo a man ? Some say, the bee stings : 
but I say, 'tis the bee's wax, for I did but seal once to a thing, and I was 
never mine own man since. 

It was to the Inns of Court that Cade directed his 
followers, and in another popular revolt Wat Tyler burnt 
the lawyers' books in Fleet Street. Apart altogether from 
law and lawyers, and the names of few of them are any- 
thing more than names, the Temple has a host of interest- 
ing associations. Dr. Johnson lived in what is now called 
Johnson's Buildings from 1760 to 1765. Boswell visited 
him there. He says : 

" His brown suit of clothes looked very rusty ; he had 
on a little old shrivelled unpowdered wig, which was too 
small for his head ; his shirt neck and the knees of his 
breeches were loose ; his black worsted stockings ill drawn 
up ; and he had a pair of unbuckled shoes by way of slippers. 
But all these slovenly particulars were forgotten the moment 
he began to talk." 

In 1775 Charles Lamb was born at 2 Crown Office Row. 
The iron gates, which are dated 1730, leading to the gardens 
opposite the house are exactly as they were when Lamb 
was a small boy. He himself has said : "I was born and 
passed the first seven years of my life in the Temple. Its 
church, its halls, its gardens, its fountain, its river, I had 
almost said — for in those young years, what was this king 
of rivers to me but a stream that watered our pleasant 
place ?— these are my oldest recollections." To Charles 
Lamb the Temple was the most delightful place In London. 
In February 1801 he went with his sister Mary to live at 
16 Mitre Court Buildings, and they stayed in the Temple 
for sixteen years. In a letter written to Manning he said : 





" When you come to see me, mount up to the top of the stairs. 
I hope you are not asthmatical — and come in flannel for it's 
pure airy up there. And bring your glass, and I will show 
you the Surrey Hills. My bed faces the river, so as by 
perking up upon my haunches, and supporting my carcase 
with my elbows, without much wrying my neck, I can see 
the white sails glide by the bottom of the King's Bench 
Walks as I lie in my bed." Mary Lamb loved the Temple. 
" I wish to live and die in the Temple where I was born/' 
she said, but in 1817 she and her brother were forced to 
move to Great Russell Street owing to the bad state of their 
rooms. Lamb wrote to Dorothy Wordsworth, " I thought 
we could never have been torn up from the Temple. In- 
deed it was an ugly wrench, but like a tooth now 'tis out 
and I am easy. We never can strike root so deep in any 
other ground." 

Goldsmith lived at 2 Brick Court, over the chambers of 
Sir William Blackstone, the famous lawyer, where he died 
in 1774. Eighty years afterwards Thackeray had chambers 
in the same house. He writes in his English Humourists : " I 
have been many a time in the chambers in the Temple 
which were his, and passed up the staircase, which Johnson 
and Burke and Reynolds trod to see their friend, their 
poet, their kind Goldsmith — the stair on which the poor 
women sat weeping bitterly when they heard that the 
greatest and most generous of all men was dead within the 
black oak door." Goldsmith had lived before at 3 King's 
Bench Walk, where Sir Joshua Reynolds dined with him 
one night in 1765. 

George Canning had chambers in Paper Buildings, and 
Samuel Rogers, the banker poet, lived there before removing 
to St. James's Place, the scene of his famous breakfasts. 
Chaucer was a student at the Middle Temple, so, at one 
time or another, were Sir Walter Raleigh, John Ford the 
dramatist, Congreve, Edmund Burke, Sheridan and Tom 
Moore, a wondrous company if one could have met them 
all together. Dickens, who knew the Temple well, placed 
one of his few effective love scenes by the Temple fountain. 
After Mr. Pecksniff had been found out and, as he said, had 
been struck by old Martin " with a walking-stick, which I 
have every reason to believe has knobs upon it, on that 
delicate and exquisite portion of the human anatomy, the 




brain," Ruth Pinch and John Westlock took a walk by the 
Temple fountain : 

" Brilliantly the Temple Fountain sparkled in the sun, 
and laughingly its liquid music played, and merrily the idle 
drops of water danced and danced, and peeping out in sport 
among the trees, plunged lightly down to hide themselves, 
as little Ruth and her companion came towards it. 

" And why they came towards the Fountain at all is a 
mystery ; for they had no business there. It was not in 
their way. It was quite out of their way. They had no 
more to do with the Fountain, bless you, than they had 
with — with love, or any out of the way thing of that sort. 

" It was all very well for Tom and his sister to make 
appointments by the Fountain, but that was quite another 
affair. Because, of course, when she had to wait a minute 
or two, it would have been very awkward for her to have 
had to wait in any but a tolerably quiet spot ; and that was 
as quiet a spot, everything considered, as they could choose. 
But when she had John Westlock to take care of her, and 
was going home with her arm in his (home being in a 
different direction altogether), their coming anywhere near 
that Fountain, was quite extraordinary.' ' 

So in the Temple, though lawyers have been there for 
so many centuries, we can forget them and their parchments 
that Jack Cade hated and the briefs that so often cause 
confusion, and recall the Templars and honest old Johnson, 
and Goldsmith and gentle Charles Lamb, and little Ruth 
Pinch. It seems to me, indeed, that no London scene is 
quite complete unless it carries with it some touch of the 
magic of Dickens, the greatest Londoner of them all. 



Great lawyers have for generations passed in and out of 
the gateway of Lincoln's Inn, but to me the Inn is most 
closely associated with poor, crazy Miss Flite, the victim of 
the dilatoriness of the Court of Chancery, which Dickens 
pilloried in Bleak House, The Court of Chancery is no 
longer dilatory, but Miss Flite still haunts Lincoln's Inn. 
In the Temple, law may be exciting and thrilling. In its 
chambers barristers consult with solicitors concerning 
murders and other human occurrences. But Lincoln's Inn 
is the home of the conveyancer, often musty-looking and 
generally with a musty soul. There is a fine passage in 
Bleak House which summarises the spirit of the Inn : 

" It is night in Lincoln's Inn — perplexed and troublous 
valley of the shadow of the law, where suitors generally 
find but little day — and fat candles are snuffed out in offices, 
and clerks have rattled down the crazy wooden stairs, and 
dispersed. The bell that rings at nine o'clock, has ceased 
its doleful clangour about nothing ; the gates are shut ; 
and the night-porter, a solemn warder with a mighty power 
of sleep, keeps guard in his lodge. From tiers of staircase 
windows, clogged lamps like the eyes of Equity, bleared 
Argus with a fathomless pocket for every eye and an eye 
upon it, dimly blink at the stars. In dirty upper casements, 
here and there, hazy little patches of candle light reveal 
where some wise draughtsman and conveyancer yet toils for 
the entanglement of real estate in meshes of sheepskin, in 
the average ratio of about a dozen of sheep to an acre of 
land. Over which bee-like industry, these benefactors of 
their species linger yet, though office-hours be past ; that 
they may give, for every day, some good account at last." 

81 G 




Lincoln's Inn is chock-full of literary associations. On 
the gateway in Chancery Lane, through which Mr. Stephen 
McKenna, who lives in the Inn, frequently passes, Ben 
Jonson worked as a bricklayer with a trowel in one hand 
and a Horace in the other. Afterwards " some gentlemen, 
pitying that his parts should be buried under the rubbish 
of so mean a calling, did of their own bounty manumize 
him freely to follow his own ingenious inclinations.' 9 
Thomas More, wittiest of the saints, was a student of 
Lincoln's Inn ; so was Dr. Donne, poet and Dean of St. 
Paul's, whose sermons are sufficient to prove that the com- 
bination of gloominess and deans is by no means modern. 

Lincoln's Inn was closely associated with the Puritan 
revolution. William Prynne, the fiercely fanatic author of 
Histriomastix, was a bencher and was buried in Lincoln's 
Inn chapel. His book is dedicated to the " Right Christian 
Generous Young Gentlemen Students of the 4 Famous Innes 
of Court and Especially Those of Lincoln's Inne." Another 
Puritan student was Colonel Hutchinson, the Memoirs of 
whose life written by his wife are among the most interesting 
human documents of the seventeenth century. Rarely has 
a woman raised a more enduring monument to a man's 
memory. " A naked undressed narrative speaking the 
simple truth of him, will deck him with more substantial 
glory, than all the panegyrics the best pen could ever con- 
centrate to the virtues of the best men." Hutchinson found 
the study of the law unpleasant and contrary to his genius, 
and so a century afterwards did Horace Walpole, who was 
entered at Lincoln's Inn in 175 1. " I never went thither," 
he says, " not caring for the profession." There is a tradi- 
tion that Oliver Cromwell was a student at Lincoln's Inn, 
and his dull son Richard certainly studied there. Matthew 
Hale, who defended both Archbishop Laud and Strafford, 
and who was afterwards Chief Justice, was a member of 
Lincoln's Inn. A voluminous writer, he is eulogised by 
Cowper in The Task : 

Immortal Hale ! for deep discernment praised, 
And sound integrity, not more than famed 
For sanctity of manners undefiled. 

Pitt and Canning were both Lincoln's Inn students. So 
was David Garrick, the actor, anticipating H. B. Irving in 
deserting the brief for the buskin. 



A great and interesting procession has passed through 
the Lincoln's Inn gateway^ in Chancery Lane, over which 
hovera thf ghost of Ben )onson with pm*^** 
hnnW and the entrance from Lincoln s Inn fields mat 
Ml - Pennell l£s drawn. But in Lincoln's Inn I remember 
Miss Flite best of all. 



Fetter Lane is a narrow, grubby and busy thoroughfare, 
and it is pleasant to remember, as one makes one's way 
with many jostlings from Fleet Street to Holborn, that 
Fetter Lane was once the site of one of London's most 
famous gardens. It belonged to Gerard, the Elizabethan 
naturalist, and in Fetter Lane he grew daffodils, and violets, 
and gillyflowers, and rosemary and thyme. No gardener 
was ever a greater enthusiast. He says in his famous 
Herbal : " What greater delight is there than to behold the 
earth apparelled with plants as with a robe of embroidered 
works, set with Orient pearls and garnished with great 
diversitie of rare and costly jewels ? But these delights end 
with the outward senses. The principal delight is of the 
mind, singularly enriched with the knowledge of these 
invisible things, setting forth to us the wisdom and ad- 
mirable workmanship of Almighty God." 

Gerard was a barber-surgeon, but he was more interested 
in gardening than in his own profession. He was for a 
time a neighbour of Shakespeare, and it is more than likely 
that Shakespeare often walked with Gerard in the Fetter 
Lane Garden, and that he may have learnt from him the 
herb lore that is so evident in his plays. In his Herbal 
Gerard gives a fascinating list of the wild flowers that grew 
in London in Tudor times. There was bugloss to be 
picked in Piccadilly, mullein at Highgate, the yellow 
pimpernel at Highgate and Hampstead, sagittaria in the 
Tower Ditch, white saxifrage at Islington, water ivy at 
Bermondsey, and dozens of other wild flowers that have 
disappeared not only from London but from England. 

To-day Fetter Lane certainly does not suggest wild 

8 4 





flowers, but when one remembers that they grew there 
generations ago, one feels that its ugliness has been forced 
upon it against its better nature. According to Stow, 
Fetter Lane derived its name from the fact that it was the 
home of the Feuters, the idle people. It was apparently 
the Grosvenor Square of the fourteenth century. Strafford, 
who lives in history from the policy of " Thorough/ ' which 
was finally his own undoing, had a house in Fetter Lane, 
and so had that unattractive Puritan, Praise-God Barebone. 
Dryden lived there, as did Tom Paine, the author of The 
Rights of Man. In the life of Lord Eldon, the great Tory 
Lord Chancellor, there is a story which reminds us of the 
inconveniences of the " good old days." Lord Eldon and 
his brother were staying at the White Horse at the Holborn 
end of Fetter Lane and one night went to Drury Lane 
Theatre. He records : " There were then few hackney 
coaches and we got both into one sedan chair. Turning 
out of Fleet Street into Fetter Lane there was a sort of 
contest between our chairmen and some persons who were 
going up Fleet Street whether they should first pass Fleet 
Street, or we in our chair first get out of Fleet Street into 
Fetter Lane. In the struggle the sedan chair was overset 
with us in it." 

Fetter Lane used to own a garden ; now it owns a Record 
Office, a modern building of dignity and a certain beauty, 
that houses the original documents in which the history of 
England may be read. The Record Office stands on the 
site of the Rolls Chapel, which was rebuilt by Inigo Jones, 
and in which at one time or another Dr. Donne, Butler 
the frigid theologian and Burnet the eager Whig politician 
preached their sermons. While the Rolls Chapel was used 
for religious purposes, the Master of the Rolls sometimes 
held his Court in it, and there, too, were stored documents 
of great value. The records of the Chancery Court were 
kept in presses underneath the worshippers' seats. The 
Public Record Office was finished in 1899, and it now 
contains all the national archives that were previously kept 
in the Tower, the Chapter House, Westminster Abbey, and 
in dozens of other places. In the Record Office, one may 
find the original Domesday Book, and letters of Chaucer, 
the Black Prince, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Essex, 
Raleigh, Nelson, and Napoleon. Here too are the originals 




of all the treaties between England and foreign powers, the 
log-books of the ships of the Royal Navy, the despatches 
of Marlborough, Wellington and other great generals. 
Here are the State papers of Wolsey and Thomas Crom- 
well, and the confessions of many traitors including 
Guy Fawkes. Here too is one of the few magnificent 
statues that London possesses, the effigy and tomb of Dr. 
John Yonge, Master of the Rolls in the reign of Henry 
VIII., executed by the Italian sculptor Torrigiano. And 
here in this fine building lawyers come every day to 
discover the rights of property in an age which thinks so 
much more of the rights of men, and industrious old 
gentlemen endeavour to find honourable pedigrees for 

Certainly the new Record Office is a monument of 
interest, but when I walk up Fetter Lane (I do it as rarely 
as possible) I prefer to think of Gerard strolling with 
Shakespeare along the paths of his garden, showing the 
poet his violets and his gillyflowers, his rosemary and his 



Sir Philip Gibbs has called Fleet Street the ' ' Street of 
Ad venture.' ' It might well be called the Street of Tragedy. 
Since Robert Pynson, Caxton's apprentice, set up a printing 
press at Temple Bar in 1492, and produced the first book 
printed in London away from Westminster, Fleet Street 
has been intimately associated with books and newspapers. 
Almost all London newspapers are now published either in 
the Street itself or in some of the side turnings that run off 
it. Fleet is the Street of the journalist, and failure is 
easier and more common in journalism than in any other 
profession. It rejects the commonplace and breaks the 
weak, and the tragedies of Fleet Street, petty tragedies but 
pitiful, would fill many volumes — heart-breaks following 
high hopes, struggles with poverty, the scenes of which 
move from the barred doors of newspaper offices to dull 
little suburban villas with half-filled larders. 

No street in London has a more interesting history. It 
was here, in the reign of Charles I., that Francis Child, in 
the accepted manner of the industrious apprentice, married 
his rich master's daughter and founded the famous Child's 
Bank, which counted among its early customers Charles II., 
Nell Gwynne, Pepys and Dryden. When Nell Gwynne 
died, by the way, she owed her bankers £6900, from which 
fact it is clear that overdrafts are not a modern institution. 
Hoare's Bank now stands on the site of the Mitre Tavern, 
where Johnson was oft^n to be found. At the Devil 
Tavern, which was next door to Child's Bank, Ben Jonson 
and his cronies used to meet, and years afterwards Swift 
and Addison dined there, to be followed in after years by 
Dr. Johnson, who remains the greatest of Fleet Street 
worthies. The last of the old Fleet Street taverns, the 





Cock, which stood on the north side of the street, was 
pulled down in 1886. It will be remembered that domestic 
trouble occurred when the amorous Pepys took the pretty 
Mrs. Knipp to the Cock and " was mighty merry till almost 
midnight. " 

Goldsmith lived in Wine Office Court near the Cheshire 
Cheese Tavern, where hero-worshipping Americans gaze at 
the seat reputed to have been regularly occupied by Dr. 
Johnson. It was in Wine Office Court that Johnson and 
Goldsmith first met. The friendship between the two men 
was very real. It is possible, as Boswell suggests, that 
Goldsmith, a sensitive excitable Irishman, was sometimes a 
little jealous of Johnson's fame, but to no man was the 
literary dictator so sympathetic and helpful. Leslie Stephen 
well described him as " a rough but helpful elder brother," 
and Goldsmith's famous " he has nothing of the bear but 
his skin " shows that he thoroughly appreciated his friend's 
character. Johnson's appreciation of Goldsmith's literary 
genius was unbounded. " He was a man," he said, " who, 
whatever he wrote, always did it better than any other man 
could do." In the riot of conversation that surrounded 
Johnson, Goldsmith could only play an ineffective part. 
" He wrote like an angel but talked like poor Poll," said 
Garrick, but he was perhaps the most lovable man in the 
Johnson circle. Austin Dobson has left an admirable 
summary of his character : 

" He had been an idle, orchard-robbing schoolboy ; a 
tuneful but intractable sizar of Trinity ; a lounging, loiter- 
ing, fair-haunting, flute-playing Irish * buckeen.' He had 
tried both Law and Divinity, and crossed the threshold of 
neither. He had started for London and stopped at 
Dublin ; he had set out for America and arrived at Cork. 
He had been many things — a medical student, a strolling 
musician, a corrector of the press, an apothecary, an usher 
at a Peckham * academy.' Judged by ordinary standards, he 
had wantonly wasted his time. And yet, as things fell out, 
it is doubtful whether his parti-coloured experiences were 
not of more service to him than any he could have obtained 
if his progress had been less erratic. Had he fulfilled the 
modest expectations of his family, he would probably have 
remained a simple curate in Westmeath, eking out his 
' forty pounds a year ' by farming a field or two, migrating 





contentedly at the fitting season from the * blue bed to the 
brown/ and (it may be) subsisting vaguely as a local poet 
upon the tradition of some youthful couplets to a pretty 
cousin, who had married a richer man. As it was, if he 
could not be said ' to have seen life steadily, and seen it 
whole/ he had, at all events, inspected it pretty narrowly 
in parts ; and, at a time when he was most impressible, 
had preserved the impress of many things which, in his 
turn, he was to re-impress upon his writings. 1 No man ' — 
says one of his biographers — * ever put so much of himself 
into his books as Goldsmith/ To his last hour he was 
drawing upon the thoughts and reviving the memories of 
that * unhallowed time ' when, to all appearance, he was 
hopelessly squandering his opportunities 

Izaak Walton lived for eight years in Fleet Street, 
where he had an ironmongery shop near the church of St. 
Dunstan-in-the-West. Baxter used to preach in the old 
church. It is interesting to recall that St. Dunstan's marks 
the western limit of the Great Fire of London. 

Izaak Walton was born in 1593 and died in 1683. He 
thus lived in the reigns of Elizabeth, James I., Charles I., 
under the Commonwealth, and under Charles II. He was 
a High Churchman and a Royalist, but his peaceful life was 
passed through all these political changes in perfect tran- 
quillity and in apparent content. After he had settled in 
Fleet Street, he became on terms of close friendship with 
Dr. Donne, the poet, who was then Vicar of St. Dunstan's- 
in-the-West and afterwards became Dean of St. Paul's. 
Walton's life in Fleet Street was marred by much domestic 
trouble. While he was living there he lost seven children, 
his wife and his mother-in-law. He left Fleet Street in 
1644 an d retired from trade. He married again, in 1646, a 
lady " of n.uch Christian meekness/' and seven years after- 
wards, when he was sixty, he published his famous Compleat 
Angler. The last years of his life were spent in Winchester. 
In his will, written shortly before his death, Walton pro- 
fessed his attachment to the Anglican Church, though he 
had had " a very long and very trew friendship for some of 
the Roman Church," and declared that he had acquired his 
fortune " neither by falsehood or flattery or the extreme 
crewelty of the law of this nation." Andrew Lang says of 
him : 

9 o 



" Without ambition, save to be in the society of good 
men, he passed through turmoil, ever companioned by 
content. For his existence had its trials ; he saw all that 
he held most sacred overthrown ; laws broken up ; his 
king publicly murdered ; his friends outcasts ; his worship 
proscribed ; he himself suffered in property from the raid 
of the Kirk into England. He underwent many bereave- 
ments ; child after child he lost, but content he did not 
lose, nor sweetness of heart, nor belief. His was one of 
those happy characters which are never found disassociated 
from unquestioning faith." 

Walton lives in English literary history as the gentle 
fisherman who seems to have been, perhaps, more en- 
thusiastic than skilful. He loved fishes though he caught 
them. " God is said to have spoken to a fish, ,, he once 
said, " but never to a beast." This reminds one that 
Johnson laughed at Goldsmith because he admired the 
skill with which the little fishes talked in the fable, and 
that Goldsmith retorted, " Why, Dr. Johnson, this is not 
so easy as you seem to think, for if you were to make little 
fishes talk they would talk like whales." In a letter written 
to Coleridge in 1796, Lamb said : 

" Among all your quaint readings did you ever light 
upon Walton's Compleat Angler ? I asked you the question 
once before ; it breathes the very spirit of innocence, purity 
and simplicity of heart ; there are many choice old verses 
interspersed in it ; it would sweeten a man's temper at any 
time to read it ; it would Christianise every discordant 
angry passion ; pray make yourself acquainted with it." 

St. Bride's Church, on the other side of the street, was 
rebuilt by Wren after the fire. Milton lodged for a while 
in a house in St. Bride's Churchyard, and here Samuel 
Richardson, the industrious little bookseller who wrote 
Clarissa Harlowe, lies buried. There is a story told that after 
his death, Madame de Stael, who fully shared the almost 
hysterical eighteenth-century admiration for Richardson's 
writing, came specially to London to weep on his tomb, 
and that she was found by the sexton weeping on the wrong 
tomb, that of another Richardson who was a Smithfield 
butcher. Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins's father was among 
the recent vicars of St. Bride's. 

Praise-God Barebone was a Fleet Street leather seller. 



9 1 

Michael Drayton the poet, and James Shirley the drama- 
tist, both lived in Fleet Street. Pope was often to be seen 
in Robinson's bookshop on the west side of the gateway 
leading down to Inner Temple Lane. John Murray, the 
first, started his famous publishing house at No. 32 Fleet 
Street. Byron often came there, and there Wilkie first met 
Sir Walter Scott. Childe Harold was published while 
Murray was still in Fleet Street, but Scott and Byron did 
not meet until he had moved to Albemarle Street. The 
following is an entry in Murray's diary : 

" 181 5, Friday, April 7. — This day Byron and Walter 
Scott met for the first time and were introduced to each 
other by me. They conversed together for nearly two 
hours. There were present at different times Mr. Gifford, 
James Boswell, William Sotheby, Robert Wilmot, Richard 
Heber and Mr. Dusgate." 

The Duke of Wellington used often to go to Peers 
Tavern to read the newspapers, and Chaucer once thrashed 
a Franciscan friar in Fleet Street and was fined two 
shillings for the offence. So the centuries jostle one another 
as one walks from Temple Bar to Ludgate Circus. 

For many years Fleet Street was famous for its wax- 
works exhibitions. They are mentioned in the Tatler and 
the Spectator, and one of them existed as late as 1850. 

East of the Temple the White Friars' monastery was 
founded in 1231. After the dissolution of the monasteries 
this part of London became the haunt of rascaldom, its 
Alsatia and place of sanctuary, where criminals were free 
from the officers of the law. Fleet Street itself has some- 
times had its own criminals, among them the notorious 
Jack Sheppard. In Carmelite Street, on the site that once 
was a monastery and afterwards the hiding-place of thieves, 
the offices of the Daily Mail now stand. 

The Street of Adventure, the Street of the Press ! 
Many years of my own life were spent in Fleet Street, and 
many memories has it left me. The roistering days are 
no more, or perhaps I think they are because I am older, 
and certainly journalism is a harder and more strenuous 
business than it was twenty-five years ago. I have seen 
many strange sights in Fleet Street, but none stranger or 
more memorable than Mr. Chesterton one evening reading 
the proof of his Daily News article under a Fleet Street 




lamp-post and chortling with glee at his own jokes. It is 
good indeed that the modern Fleet Street should be 
associated in one's mind with Mr. Chesterton, since of all 
the Fleet Street ghosts, one thinks most often of Dr. 
Johnson walking from his house in Gough Square, now a 
dull museum, attended by the faithful Boswell. Boswell 
records : " We walked in the evening in Greenwich Park. He 
asked me, I suppose by way of trying my disposition, * Is 
not this very fine ? ' Having no exquisite relish for the 
beauties of nature, and being more delighted with the busy 
hum of men, I answered, * Yes, very, but not equal to 
Fleet Street.' Said Johnson, 4 You are right, sir/ " 



If one were asked to find in London a striking proof of the 
soulless materialism that accompanied Victorian prosperity, 
one might well select the railway bridge across Ludgate 
Hill. St. Paul's Cathedral, Wren's masterpiece, is a splen- 
did English creation, massive and solid in its impressive 
dignity — I do not agree with Mr. Wells that it is the most 
beautiful building in the city — and it was truly Victorian to 
allow a hideous railway bridge to mar its main approach in 
order that passengers might be carried less than half a mile 
farther into the heart of London. 

The old Lud Gate, from which Ludgate Hill has its 
name, stood half-way up the hill at the corner of the street 
that is still called Creed Lane. In mediaeval times the 
monks attached to the Cathedral started their outdoor pro- 
cessions here by reciting the Creed. The Ave Maria was 
chaunted in what is now Ave Maria Lane ; the Paternoster 
was said in Paternoster Row, and the prayers were finished 
in Amen Corner, nowadays a quiet oasis where the Dean 
and Canons of St. Paul's have their houses in the midst 
of bustling streets mainly devoted to the book trade. These 
streets are all on the north side of Ludgate Hill, as is 
Stationers' Hall, built in 1670 after the Great Fire on the 
site of a former hall of a much earlier date. Samuel 
Richardson, the bookseller novelist, was Master of the 
Stationers' Company in 1754, and his portrait now hangs in 
the hall. The Archbishop of Canterbury used to be the 
patron of the Company, and before the Reformation it 
exercised a very real censorship of books, heretical volumes 
being burned in the Company's garden. 

The monastery of the Dominicans or Black Friars stood 





on the south side of what is now Ludgate Hill, east of the 
present Blackfriars Station. St. Dominic was a contem- 
porary of St. Francis, and the Dominican Order grew out 
of a band of preachers who joined the saint in his unsuccess- 
ful attempt to convert the Albigenses from the error of their 
ways. It may incidentally be pointed out that the Albigenses 
are quite wrongfully regarded as a sort of pre-Reformation 
Protestants. They were, as a matter of fact, Manichaeans, 
that is to say they believed that all matter is evil. Modern 
teetotallers are also Manichaeans in so far as they believe 
that matter in a bottle is essentially evil. The Dominican 
Friars first came to England in 1221 and established a 
house at Oxford. They first settled in London in Lincoln's 
Inn, and in 1275 they established the Black Friars' monastery 
on the site of what is now Printing House Square, the office 
of the Times newspaper. The divorce proceedings against 
Catherine of Aragon were heard in the great hall of the 
monastery, and after the dissolution it was here that 
Shakespeare built a playhouse where he produced " Henry 
VIII.," the trial scene of Catherine being acted on the very 
spot where it had actually taken place. Van Dyck, the 
painter of the Stuart kings, had his studio at Blackfriars. 
It was at Blackfriars that David Copperfield began to earn 
his living at the age of ten as " a little labouring hind in 
the service of Murdstone and Grinby." 

" Murdstone and Grinby 's trade was among a good 
many kinds of people, but an important branch of it was 
the supply of wines and spirits to certain packet-ships. I 
forget now where they chiefly went, but I think there were 
some among them that made voyages both to the East and 
West Indies. I know that a great many empty bottles were 
one of the consequences of this traffic, and that certain men 
and boys were employed to examine them against the light, 
and reject those that were flawed, and to rinse and wash 
them. When the empty bottles ran short, there were labels 
to be pasted on full ones, or corks to be fitted to them, or 
seals to be put on the corks, or finished bottles to be packed 
in casks. All this work was my work, and of the boys 
employed upon it I was one." 

There is a legend that Ludgate derives its name from a 
British King Lud who flourished nearly a century before 
the birth of Christ. The gate marked the boundary of the 





City of London from very early days. It was rebuilt in 
121 5 and again in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when it 
was ornamented with the statues of Lud and his two sons 
and of the Queen. The gate was finally taken down in 
1761. The statue of Queen Elizabeth was then placed in 
front of St. Dunstan-in-the-West in Fleet Street, where it 
still may be seen, but poor King Lud and his sons were 
bundled into the City bone-house until some kind soul 
found them a refuge in St. Dunstan's Lodge, Regent's 
Park, made famous by the late Sir Arthur Pearson's work 
for blinded soldiers. For many years there was a debtors' 
prison at Ludgate, and an ordinance published during the 
year when Sir Richard Whittington was Lord Mayor of 
London quaintly orders " that the said Gate of Ludgate 
shall be a Prison from henceforth, to keep therein all citizens 
and other reputable persons whom the Mayor, Aldermen, 
Sheriff or Chamberlain of the City shall think proper to 
commit and send to the same." Sir Richard Whittington 
lived in the early years of the fifteenth century and was one 
of London's great merchant statesmen. He built Newgate 
Gaol, and added to St. Bartholomew's hospital, Christ's 
Hospital and the Guildhall. Alas (for it grieves me when 
busybodies prove that old legends are inventions) ! he was 
never a poor apprentice, he never heard the bells on High- 
gate Hill bidding him to turn again, and it is quite likely 
that he never had a cat. There is a grain of comfort in the 
fact that he was Lord Mayor three times. 

Nowadays, despite the grandeur of St. Paul's, Ludgate 
Hill is over-bustling and unimpressive, but it is pleasant to 
think of Shakespeare hurrying up the hill to rehearsals at 
his own theatre ; of the precise Evelyn, the diarist, staying 
when in London " at the Hauk and Pheasant on Ludgate 
Hill " ; of seventeenth-century ladies shopping there when 
it was London's Regent Street. 



The solid, unimaginative, sometimes truculent prosperity of 
Great Britain is broad-based on the City of London. In 
the heart of the City stands St. Paul's Cathedral, magnificent 
in its dingy grandeur. St. Paul's does not suggest to me 
dreams or fantasy or mysticism. It is a monument of solid, 
immovable faith. I am among those who dream of the 
days when the great English cathedrals will again be filled 
with priests and gorgeous vestments, the singing of the 
Mass and the sweet odour of incense. Already at Win- 
chester and Chester the people of England may worship 
much as their fathers worshipped, with dignified and sug- 
gestive ritual and ceremony, and the Catholic revival is 
having its influence in other cathedrals. St. Paul's is, 
however, the only cathedral in England that is essentially 
and for all time Protestant. I am sensitive in these matters, 
but, so far as I am concerned, a Baptist minister might 
preach from its pulpit and I should make no protest. St, 
Paul's suggests the comprehensiveness of an empire, not 
the natural and proper exclusiveness of a religion. 

On the site where Wren built his church after the Great 
Fire there first stood, so it is said, a temple dedicated to 
Diana. This gave place in a.d. 6io to a Christian church. 
The building of the old cathedral began just after the 
Norman Conquest and was not completed for two hundred 
years. It must have been a magnificent building, erected 
in the Golden Age of Europe, in the era of faith. Old 
pictures show that it had a graciousness, the suggestion of 
reaching towards the skies just as the present St. Paul's 
suggests a firm grip on the earth. It was in old St. Paul's 
before its completion that King John made his kingdom 
over to Pope Innocent and received it back as a papal 






vassal. It was at St. Paul's that John Wycliffe was tried 
for heresy ; it was in St. Paul's that the citizens of London 
paid homage to the great King Edward IV. after the battle 
of St. Albans. It was in St. Paul's that Jane Shore was 
ordered to do penance in a white sheet, " the gaze of the 
people flushing her pale cheek with exquisite colour." In 
1505 Dean Colet, one of the few fine, unselfish Renaissance 
figures, became Dean of St. Paul's. Colet was the friend 
of More and Erasmus, and the founder of St. Paul's School, 
now near Hammersmith. 

The pulpit at Paul's Cross was a sort of national forum. 
Famous preachers came from all parts of the world to 
preach there, the sermons being often listened to by the 
King and his Court. The Lord Mayor of London was 
required to provide for these preachers " sweet and con- 
venient lodgings with fire, candles and all other neces- 
saries." It was from Paul's Cross that Papal bulls were 
read and excommunications declared. Kings were pro- 
claimed there and traitors sometimes denounced. Exalted 
sinners made their penances at Paul's Cross and heretics 
made their recantations, but, as Dean Milman recalled with 
considerable satisfaction, the Cross never had martyrdoms. 
The final act of the drama of heresy was always played at 

The Reformation brought turmoil to St. Paul's. At 
the Cross Catholics and Protestants preached against each 
other, and there were wrangles inside its sacred walls. Dean 
Milman says that Sunday after Sunday the Cathedral was 
thronged, not with decent and respectable citizens, but with 
a noisy rabble, many of them boys, come to hear and enjoy 
the unseemly harangues. In 1561 old St. Paul's was 
seriously injured by fire, and it was never properly restored. 
It was entirely destroyed by the Fire of London. Dry den's 
lines are familiar : 

The daring flames peep'd in and saw from far 
The awful beauties of the sacred quire, 
But since it was profan'd by civil war, 
Heaven thought it fit to have it purged by fire. 

The profanation occurred during the Commonwealth, 
when soldiers and their horses were quartered in the 


9 8 



After the Reformation, indeed, the old Cathedral had 
almost entirely lost its sacred character and had become a 
mere meeting-place, where lawyers waited for their clients 
and where gallants endeavoured to attract the notice of 
their ladies. Ben Jonson, it will be remembered, has laid 
a scene of his " Every Man out of his Humour " in St. 
Paul's. Part of the nave was used as a market, where there 
were sold not only food-stuffs, but also horses and mules, 
and John Evelyn has described the Cathedral as a den of 
thieves. The choir of the new Cathedral was consecrated 
in 1697, in the reign of William and Mary. The Cathedral 
was not completed until Wren was seventy-eight. It was 
paid for by a special tax levied on coal brought into the 
City of London. 

The interior of St. Paul's is cold, bare and colourless. 
It has none of the romance of Westminster Abbey, and it 
certainly does not inspire to penitence and prayer. The 
chapels, one of which Mr. Pennell has drawn, suffer badly 
for want of light, and it would be idle to suggest that they 
have any great beauty or attraction. Yet everything in St. 
Paul's has its dignity. There is nothing that jars. The 
great building is consistent. In it there is the continual 
emphasis of solidity and character. But with all its grandeur 
there is none of the fascinating colour of St. Peter's at Rome, 
none of the beauty of any of the Gothic cathedrals. St. 
Paul's is not cumbered with gravestones as Westminster is, 
but, appropriately since it is the Imperial Cathedral, it 
shelters the bodies or contains the monuments, usually 
meretricious and often ludicrous, to the memory of the 
Empire's great fighting men, of Wellington and Nelson, of 
St. Vincent and Rodney, of Sir John Moore and " Lucknow " 
Lawrence. Literature is represented by Dr. Johnson, who 
was a regular communicant at the Cathedral; art by Sir 
Joshua Reynolds and Turner ; philanthropy by John Howard, 
the Quaker crusader against prison abuses ; the Church by 
John Donne, Dean and poet, Milman, Dean and historian, 
Heber, whom Thackeray described as " good divine, a 
charming poet and beloved parish priest, " and Liddon, 
greatest of modern preachers. Wren, Landseer the animal 
painter, and George Cruikshank are buried in the Cathedral. 
St. Paul's contains no memorial of Marlborough and none 
of Dean Colet, truly amazing omissions. 





Large as it is, St. Paul's is little more than one-third of 
the size of St. Peter's at Rome, and it is smaller than the 
cathedrals of Milan, Seville and Florence. St. Paul's moved 
Hawthorne to that intense admiration that he always felt 
for everything that was characteristically British : 

" St. Paul's appears to me unspeakably grand and noble, 
and the more so from the throng and bustle continually 
going on round its base, without in the least disturbing the 
sublime repose of its great dome, and indeed of all its massive 
height and breadth. Other edifices may crowd close to its 
foundation and people may tramp as they like about it ; 
but still the great cathedral is as quiet and serene as if it 
stood in the midst of Salisbury Plain. There cannot be 
anything else in its way so good in the world as just this 
effect of St. Paul's in the very heart and densest tumult of 
London. It is much better than staring white ; the edifice 
would not be nearly so grand without this drapery of black." 





Before the Great Fire, St. Paul's Churchyard, now the 
home of the wholesale draper, was mostly inhabited by 
stationers. The first editions of Shakespeare's Venus and 
Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published at the Sign 
of the White Greyhound in St. Paul's Churchyard. The 
first edition of The Merry Wives of Windsor was published 
at the Flower de Luce and the Crown ; the first edition of 
The Merchant of Venice at the Green Dragon ; the first 
edition of Richard III. at the Angel ; the first edition of 
Richard II. at the Fox ; the first edition of Troilus and 
Cressida at the Spread Eagle ; the first edition of Titus 
Andronicus at the Gun, and the first edition of King Lear 
at the Red Bull. These were the signs of the St. Paul's 
Churchyard bookshops. 

After the fire the stationers and publishers moved to 
Paternoster Row, where they still are. A few, however, 
remained. Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield was sold for 
sixty guineas to Newbery, whose shop was on the north 
side of the Churchyard. There is a curious reference to 
St. Paul's Churchyard during the Commonwealth in a 
manuscript in the British Museum : 

May 27, 165 1 : — Forasmuch as the Inhabitants of Paul's Church- 
yard are much disturbed by the souldiers and others, calling out to 
passingers and examining them (though they goe peaceably and 
civilly along), and by playing at nine pinnes at unseasonable houres ; 
These are therefore to command all souldiers and others whom it 
may concern, that hereafter there shall be no examining and calling 
out to persons that go peaceably on their way, unlesse they do 
approach their Guards, and likewise to forbeare playing at nine 
pinnes and other sports, from the hours of nine of the clocke in the 
evening till six in the morning, that so persons that are weake and 
indisposed to rest, may not be disturbed. Given under our hands 
the day and yeare above written. JOHN BARKESTEAD. 


The Chapter House, on the northern side, was recently 
let to a bank in order that the Chapter might have sufficient 
money to retain the famous choir. 




The Church of St. Bartholomew the Great is, with the 
exception of the chapel in the Tower, the oldest church in 
London. As it exists to-day, it consists of the choir and 
transepts of the church of the Priory of St. Bartholomew, 
founded by one Rahere in the eleventh century. The First 
Crusade was preached while Rahere was a boy. His was 
the age of chivalry and the troubadours, and he possessed 
the qualities of his time. Although not of noble birth, by 
his address as a courtier and his gifts as a musician, Rahere 
attached himself to the Court of Henry L, the youngest 
son of William the Conqueror, whose name, Henry Beau- 
clerk, indicates his love of learning and the polite arts. A 
chronicler tells us that Rahere, " amongst the joyful noise 
of that tumultuous court drew to himself the hearts of 
many and was foremost in mirthful shows, in banquets, in 
plays and in other courtly trifling. Thus he became known 
to the King and great men, gentles and courtiers and was 
familiar and friendly with them." Henry's gay Court 
became sad and gloomy when the King's only son was 
drowned when the White Ship was wrecked in 1120, and 
this catastrophe first turned Rahere 's thoughts to religion. 
Leaving the Court he made a pilgrimage to Rome, where he 
fell ill and thought that his last hour had come. In his 
distress he made a vow that if he recovered he would, on 
his return to England, build a hospital for the poor and 
devote the rest of his life to their service. One night, 
during the return journey, he had a vision. A four-footed 
winged beast carried him to a high place where he saw a 
deep pit into which he feared that he would be cast. In 
his terror a stately figure appeared to him and said, " Oh, 





man, what wilt thou do for him who saves thee from the 
peril that threatens thee ? " Rahere replied that he would 
do all that he could. Then the apparition said, " I am 
Bartholomew, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, who am come to 
succour thee, and to show thee the hidden mysteries. By 
command of the Trinity on High, I have chosen a place at 
Smithfield, in London, where in my name thou shalt build 
a church and it shall be a house of God, a tabernacle of the 
Lamb, and a temple of the Holy Ghost. Of this work thou 
shalt be the servant and I the lord." 

After the vision Rahere hastened to England, eager to 
obey the saint's command. The King gave him a grant of 
land at Smithfield, the highest part of which had been a 
place of execution, while the rest, " right unclean it was," 
was covered with pools of stagnant water. Rahere dressed 
in workman's clothes and went through the city urging the 
faithful to join him. The fervour of his preaching and the 
sanctity of his life persuaded both simple labourers and 
well-born youths to help him in clearing the land and 
building the church. The work of piety, born in faith, to 
become a refuge for the afflicted for centuries to come, was 
completed, and the church was founded " in the year from 
the Incarnation of the same Lord and Saviour, 1123." 
The church and the other buildings became a Priory of 
Augustinian Canons, with Rahere as its first Prior. 

The first establishment of the Canons Regular of St. 
Augustine in England was at Colchester, and St. Bartholo- 
mew's Priory came into being thirty years later. Rahere 
and his companions, in their black cassocks and white 
rochets, spent their days tending the sick, who made their 
way to the Priory on foot, on mules and sometimes by 
barges from the Thames by way of the Fleet River. 
Medical treatment was a strange thing in the Middle Ages. 
In the fourteenth century one of the Canons was thrown 
by his horse on his head. The right side of his head was 
injured and he became paralysed in the left side of his body. 
The Master " ordered the Canon's head to be shaved, 
rubbed oil of roses and a quart of warm vinegar on to the 
scalp, powdered it, and bound it up with a cloth soaked in 
oil and vinegar, and then thoroughly bandaged the head in 
linen, covering the whole with a lambskin. Twice a day 
he rubbed his neck and spine with ointment. Next day 




the patient opened his mouth, but the physician refused to 
give him food. The patient spoke imperfectly on the third 
day and rather better on the fourth day, when he swallowed 
a little warm drink. He took some chicken broth on the 
sixth day and thenceforward grew gradually stronger." 
The Master afterwards advised him " to eat the brains 
of fowls and kids so as to repair the damage done to his 

The church was not completed until the middle of the 
thirteenth century. In the fifteenth century a Chantry 
Chapel and a Lady Chapel were added. The dissolution 
of the monasteries brought the beneficent services of the 
Augustinian Canons to an end. After some hesitation 
Henry VIII. granted the hospital to the citizens of London. 
For years there had been no one to help the helpless, and 
the streets were filled with the sick, for whom there was no 
shelter. The greater part of the Priory with the Lady 
Chapel was sold for a song to Richard Rich, an admirable 
name for one of Cromwell's followers, for Rich certainly 
became richer. For a while during the reign of Queen 
Mary, Church and Priory were again occupied by the 
religious, the Dominicans moving from their monastery 
which stood near the north end of Blackfriars Bridge. 
Their stay, however, only lasted for a year or two and came 
to an end with the accession of Queen Elizabeth. Rich 
and his successors pulled down the Priory building and part 
of the church in order to build new houses for the new 
rich, and in a few years the church had fallen into such a 
dilapidated state that it seemed likely to disappear. For 
centuries, indeed, it suffered from neglect and desecration 
until, towards the end of the eighteenth century, a series of 
restorations was begun, the last completed in 1896. 

The little of the church that is left is a thing of appealing 
beauty, bringing back memories of Rahere and the other 
pious, and calling to mind the fact that in the neighbour- 
ing hospital the sick have been cared for almost continually 
for eight hundred years. The present church, which Mr. 
Pennell has drawn, occupies part of the nave of the old 
building. A mutilated portion of this nave is within the 

For a few years after the dissolution of the monasteries, 
Smithfield, round which nowadays are so many of London's 

104 LONDON xxv 

most interesting historic buildings, was what house agents 
call " a desirable residential district, " but, both before and 
since, its reputation has not been of the best. In the early 
Middle Ages murderers were hanged at Smithfield. It was 
in Smithfield that Wat Tyler was struck down by Sir 
William Walworth. He was carried into the hospital and 
laid in the chamber of the Master, but the Lord Mayor 
caused him to be taken out again into the street, where he 
was beheaded. The Smithfield martyrs were burned just 
outside St. Bartholomew's. 

Tournaments were often held in the open space, now 
the market, before St. Bartholomew's. There is some- 
thing very attractive in the following : 

" One winter's day at the end of January 1442, a 
challenge was done in Smithfield within the lists before 
King Henry Vlth between Sir Philip la Beaufe of Aragon, 
Knight, and John Astley, an esquire of the King's house- 
hold. They came to the field all armed, the Knight with 
his sword drawn, the Esquire with his spear, which spear 
he cast against the Knight, but the Knight avoided it with 
his sword and cast it to the ground. Then the Esquire 
took his axe and smote many blows on the Knight and 
made him let fall his axe and brake up his visor three 
times and would have smote him on the face with his 
dagger for to have slain him, but that the King cried ' Hold ' 
and so they were departed. And when the said John had 
done (his feat of arms) it pleased the King of his highness 
to make him a knight the same day and gave him a hundred 
marks for the term of his life." 

Smithfield has been a market for centuries. " Where's 
Bardolph ? " asks FalstafT of the page-boy. " He is gone 
into Smithfield to buy your Worship a horse." In Oliver 
Twist Dickens has a description of Smithfield Market as it 
existed in the early years of the Victorian era : 

" It was market morning. The ground was covered 
nearly ankle-deep with filth and mire ; a thick steam 
perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle, and 
mingling with the fog which seemed to rest upon the 
chimney-tops, hung heavily above. All the pens in the 
centre of the large area, and as many temporary pens as 
could be crowded into the vacant space, were filled with 
sheep ; tied up to posts by the gutter-side were long lines 



of beasts and oxen, three or four deep. Countrymen, 
butchers, drovers, hawkers, boys, thieves, idlers and vaga- 
bonds of every low grade, were mingled together in a 
mass : the whistling of drovers, the barking of dogs, the 
bellowing of plunging oxen, the bleating of sheep, the 
grunting and squeaking of pigs, the cries of hawkers, the 
shouts, oaths and quarrelling on all sides ; the ringing of 
bells, the roar of voices that issued from every public-house ; 
the crowding, pushing, driving, beating, whooping, and 
yelling ; the hideous and discordant din that resounded 
from every corner of the market ; and the unwashed, un- 
shaven, squalid, and dirty figures constantly running to and 
fro, and bursting in and out of the throng ; rendered it a 
stunning and bewildering scene, which quite confounded 
the senses.'' 

In Bartholomew Close, a square occupying part of the 
old Priory's ground, Milton lived for some months in 1660, 
the Close being " a place of retirement and abscondence." 
Le Soeur the sculptor modelled his statue of Charles I. that 
is now at Charing Cross in the Close. Benjamin Franklin 
worked there as a journeyman printer, and Hogarth was 
born there and was baptized in the church. 



Cloth Fair is a reminder of the great Bartholomew Fair, 
and was once the centre for French and Flemish merchants 
settled in London. 

The mediaeval fairs nearly always had a triple attrac- 
tion, religious, commercial and dramatic, and in this re- 
spect the famous Bartholomew Fair followed the general 
rule. Before Rahere founded the Priory, a fair which was 
called King's Market had been regularly held near Smith- 
field, and after the foundation of the Priory the traders in 
the King's Market were joined by the pilgrims to the shrine 
of St. Bartholomew, and Bartholomew Fair began its seven 
centuries of fame. The fair was proclaimed on the eve of 
the feast of St. Bartholomew and lasted for three days. It 
was a cloth market above everything else, and booths 
within the Priory Churchyard were hired by cloth manu- 
facturers from all over England, as well as by the London 

Again, like all mediaeval fairs, Bartholomew Fair had its 
own Court of Justice, which punished persons who dis- 
obeyed the rules of the Fair, and which decided disputes 
between buyers and purchasers. The Court was called the 
Pie Powder — Pied-Poudre — and was held at the " Hand and 
Shears " in Cloth Fair, and was the most expeditious Court 
in the kingdom. 

While the pilgrims were praying before the shrine and 
the traders were bargaining in their booths, jugglers and 
actors and minstrels and acrobats were performing on the 
outskirts of the crowds. It must have been an amazing 
and many-coloured scene. The late Henry Morley says, 
in his Memoirs of St. Bartholomew Fair : 






" Thus we have in the most ancient times of the Fair, 
a church full of worshippers, among whom were the sick 
and maimed, praying for health about its altar ; a graveyard 
full of traders, and a place of jesting and edification, where 
women and men caroused in the midst of the throng ; 
where the minstrel and the story-teller and the tumbler 
gathered knots about them ; where the sheriff caused new 
laws to be published by loud proclamation in the gathering 
places of the people ; where the young men bowled at 
nine-pins, while the clerks and friars peeped at the young 
maids ; where mounted knights and ladies curveted and 
ambled, pedlars loudly magnified their wares, the scholars 
met for public wrangle, oxen lowed, horses neighed, and 
sheep bleated among their buyers ; where great shouts of 
laughter answered to the * Ho ! Ho ! ' of the devil on the 
stage, above which flags were flying, and below which a 
band of pipers and guitar bearers added music to the din. 

" That stage also, if ever there was presented on it the 
story of the Creation, was the first Wild Beast Show in the 
Fair ; for one of the dramatic effects connected with this 
play, as we read in ancient stage direction, was to represent 
the creation of beasts by unloosing and sending among the 
excited crowd as great a variety of strange animals as could 
be brought together, and to create the birds by sending up 
a flight of pigeons. Under foot was mud and filth, but the 
wall that pent the city in shone sunlight among the trees, 
a fresh breeze came over the surrounding fields and brooks, 
whispering among the elms that overhung the moor glitter- 
ing with pools, or from the Fair's neighbour, the gallows. 
Shaven heads looked down on the scene from the adjacent 
windows of the buildings bordering the Priory enclosure, 
and the poor people, whom the friars cherished in their 
hospital, made holiday among the rest. The curfew bell 
of St. Martin's-le-Grand, the religious house to which 
William the Conqueror had given with its charter the 
adjacent moorland, and within whose walls there was a 
sanctuary for loose people, stilled the hum of the crowd at 
nightfall, and the Fair lay dark under the starlight. " 

After the Reformation and the dissolution of the mon- 
asteries the religious aspect of Bartholomew Fair was lost, 
and with the passing of the monks the traditional restraint 
that had ensured a certain measure of decency and order 




came to an end. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth the 
Fair's importance as a cloth market considerably declined, 
and the old-time mysteries with their religious motives gave 
way to the performance of regular drama. The mounte- 
banks and the conjurers remained, and one of the attractions 
during the latter part of the sixteenth century was a tent in 
which the rabble hunted unfortunate rabbits for the special 
delectation of the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen of London. 

Ben Jonson has described the Fair, as it existed in his 
time, in his play, " Bartholomew Fair," and a generation 
later Evelyn was shocked by the excesses that took place 
during the fortnight to which the Fair had been extended. 
Pepys frequently mentions the Fair, the delights of which 
pleased his simple pleasure-loving heart. In one entry in 
his diary he records seeing Lady Castlemaine, the famous 
mistress of Charles II., visiting a puppet show in the Fair, 
with " the street full of people expecting her," just as if she 
were a modern professional beauty. In Pepys's time the 
shows at the Fair included wild beasts, dwarfs, tight-rope 
dancing, Punch and Judy shows and the performance of 
plays and operas. Puppet plays were particularly popular, 
and so great was the attraction of the Fair that the public 
theatres were always closed during Fair time, the actors 
finding it more profitable to perform in the booths. During 
Bartholomew Fair an ox was always roasted whole, and 
roast pig was among the luxuries sold to the people. The 
Bartholomew pigs were denounced by the Puritans and the 
eating was described as " a species of idolatry." Never- 
theless, these Bartholomew pigs remained popular until the 
beginning of the eighteenth century. 

In the British Museum there is a Bartholomew Fair 
play-bill of the time of Queen Anne, advertising the per- 
formance of " A little opera called ' The Old Creation of 
the World Newly Revived,' with the addition of * The 
Glorious Battle obtained over the French and Spaniards by 
His Grace the Duke of Marlborough/ " Between these 
two plays there were dances and acrobatic feats, and the 
entertainment concluded with " The Merrie Humours of 
Sir John Spendall and Punchinello." Our ancestors cer- 
tainly had their money's worth at Bartholomew Fair. 
Edmund Kean, before he became famous, frequently acted 
at Bartholomew Fair. 


The Fair was often marked by considerable disorder 
regularly contrived by journeymen tailors, whose habit it 
was to assemble at the " Hand and Shears " and to indulge 
in a mild sort of riot, which the authorities were quite unable 
to suppress. 

On September 2 the Lord Mayor with his officers and 
trumpeters proceeded in state to the Fair, stopping on the 
way at Newgate Gaol, where the keeper of the prison pro- 
vided him with " a cool tankard of wine, nutmeg and sugar." 
The Fair was formally proclaimed by the Lord Mayor, and 
the City Treasurer paid a fee of three and sixpence to 
the Rector of St. Bartholomew the Great for making the 
proclamation in his parish. 

The Fair grew smaller year by year. In 1830 there 
were two hundred booths for toys and gingerbread, and 
Richardson's Show and Womb well's Menagerie were among 
the attractions. In 1840 the City Corporation bought the 
ground on which the Fair was held, and in order to bring 
it to an end it limited the Fair to one day, and refused to 
allow booths to be set up except on exorbitant terms. In 
1849 tne Fair consisted of nothing but one or two ginger- 
bread stalls, a few fruit barrows, one puppet show and 
gambling tables where one could play for nuts. The Fair 
was proclaimed for the last time in 1855. 



Mediaeval London was a city of churches. The area of 
the City is about a square mile. In the fourteenth century, 
when the population was between forty and fifty thousand, 
the City possessed one hundred and twenty -six parish 
churches. Eighty -six churches were burnt during the 
Great Fire. Before the Reformation there were at least 
five monastic establishments within the City boundaries — 
the Dominicans or Black Friars, whose monastery, as I have 
already said, stood where Printing House Square now is ; 
the Augustinian Friars at St. Bartholomew's and also in a 
house near Bishopsgate, which gave its name to Austin 
Friars — the Dutch Church in Austin Friars is the nave of 
the Old Priory Church ; the Grey Friars or Franciscans in 
Newgate Street — Christ's Hospital, the Blue Coat School, 
occupied t\e site of the monastery ; the Benedictine nuns 
in Bishopsgate, the Church of St. Helen is the old Priory 
Church, and the Poor Clares near Tower Hill. The Poor 
Clares were known as Minoresses, hence the name Minories 
belonging to the street running from Aldgate to Tower Hill. 

The oldest parish church in the City of London is St. 
Bartholomew the Great, though the crypt of Bow Church 
in Cheapside is still older. St. John in the Tower is also 
older than St. Bartholomew's, but the Tower is outside the 
borders of the City. Southwark Cathedral, beautifully 
restored, a magnificent example of Norman architecture, is 
also just without the City. In the City nowadays there are 
nine churches that were built before the Great Fire ; of these 
All Hallows Barking possessed a shrine to Our Lady, 
erected by Edward I., which was an object of great devotion. 
The church only just escaped destruction in the Great 





Fire. Pepys watched the fire from the top of Barking 
steeple, " and there saw the saddest sight of desolation that 
I ever saw." William Penn the Quaker was baptized at 
All Hallows, and the bodies of Fisher and of Laud rested 
there after their execution on Tower Hill near by. In 
St. Andrew Undershaft, built in the reign of Henry VIII., 
and recently restored, John Stow, the historian, of London, 
lies buried. He was a tailor by trade and lived near Aid- 
gate Pump. Stow records that St. Andrew Undershaft 
was built by the parishioners, " every man putting to his 
helping hand, some with their purses, others with their 
bodies/ ' The fine co-operation in church building that 
existed in the Middle Ages continued till the Reformation, 
to be destroyed with many other fine things by that cata- 
clysm. St. Giles Cripplegate was first built in Norman 
times and rebuilt in the sixteenth century. Milton and his 
father and Martin Frobisher, the Elizabethan sailor, are 
buried in this church. Frobisher, who, unlike most of the 
sixteenth - century sailors, came from the North and not 
from the West, was born in Yorkshire, and it was to the 
North that he made his voyages, sailing from Blackwall on 
three occasions to discover the north-west passage to India 
and Cathay. He commanded The Triumph in the fight 
against the Armada. In the chapter in Westward Ho ! in 
which Charles Kingsley describes the English sea captains 
gathered together on Plymouth Hoe, he tells us that Martin 
Frobisher and John Davis were " sitting on the bench 
smoking tobacco from long silver pipes." After the 
destruction of the Armada, Frobisher commanded fleets 
that cruised off the Spanish coast. He was wounded in 
1594 in a fight off Brest, and died at Plymouth. 

Pepys used to worship at St. Olave's, Hart Street, sitting 
in the Admiralty pew in the gallery, which he entered by a 
private door. The other pre-Wren churches are St. Ethel- 
burga, Bishopsgate, St. Helen, Bishopsgate, St. Katherine 
Cree and the Dutch Church in Austin Friars. 

Thirty-five churches destroyed in the Great Fire were 
not rebuilt. Eighteen churches built by Wren have since 
been destroyed, and the City still possesses thirty-two of 
Wren's churches. Fifteen churches have been built in the 
City of London since Wren, four of which have been 
destroyed. Before the Reformation, church building was 




co-operative, the common expression of a common piety. 
After the Reformation it became individualistic. Mr. Cope 
Corn ford says : 

" The churches and civic buildings of Wren and of 
those who followed him are the work of one man. Gone is 
the mediaeval craftsman with his Guild ; disbanded com- 
panies of master-masons and artificers in wood and iron ; 
vanished the rich and learned bishops with whom the crafts- 
men worked, making real the Bishop's dream in their own 
way, each man loving his task. In their room had come 
the architect, the master - designer, whose single brain 
planned the building from foundation to copestone, as an 
organic whole, and the tribes of hired workmen who carried 
into execution drawings in whose makings they had no 
part. Nevertheless, in Wren's time, the old tradition of 
the craftsmen still survived, so that the great architect 
was well served, and his detail was wrought with the per- 
sonal touch inspiring the classical convention with life and 
charm.' ' 

Christopher Wren was an amazing person. He died in 
1723, in his ninety-first year. His father was appointed 
Dean of Windsor by Charles I. Christopher was educated 
at Westminster and Wadham College, Oxford, where he 
was visited by Evelyn, who speaks of him as " that miracle 
of a youth, Mr. Christopher Wren, nephew of the Bishop 
of Ely." When he was twenty-four he was appointed 
Professor of Astronomy in Gresham College and, five years 
before the Great Fire, he accepted the Savilian Professor- 
ship of Astronomy at Oxford. The greatest of all English 
architects was never bred to be an architect. Four days 
after the Great Fire ended, Wren brought to Charles II. 
his designs for a new London. Had his plans been 
accepted, London would have been a great city indeed. 
Mr. Wilfred Whitten, keenest of London's enthusiasts, 
tells us : 

" Piazzas like that of Covent Garden, would have been 
general. The Thames Embankment would have been fore- 
stalled by two centuries between London Bridge and the 
Temple, and along this great river-quay would now rise in 
a long succession the halls of the ancient City Companies. 
It was a glorious plan and would have made London the 
city of cities. Wren was great enough to see it wrecked 




without loss of heart ; he turned faithfully from the ideal 
to the possible." 

During the next fifty years Wren built St. Paul's 
Cathedral and over fifty City churches. He rebuilt the 
Customs House, the Monument, the College of Physicians 
and thirty City Companies' Halls. He designed Green- 
wich Hospital and Chelsea Hospital, and built Drury Lane 
Theatre. He enlarged Hampton Court Palace and com- 
pleted Westminster Abbey. It has been said of him : 

" It may be said, not we think without some element of 
truth, that the translators of the Bible fixed the measure of 
English language and Shakespeare that of English poetry. 
We may draw the irresistible parallel and add that, as the 
mediaeval craftsmen gave us English building, so Wren 
gave us English architecture. He has been pruned down 
and refined upon, that is all. He will never be superseded 
so long as the art he made more glorious lives on in this 
country. His City churches are so many embodiments of 
the ideal City church. His Orangery is the prototype of 
all Orangeries. His plan for the rebuilding of London is 
London at its best. His character must have been com- 
parable to that of the most deeply cherished heroes of our 
history ; his wit and wisdom must have exceeded those of 

And the man who did this prodigious quantity of work 
was modest, retiring and of spotless integrity. Steele 
wrote a fine description of him in the Tatler : 

" Nestor's modesty was such, that his Art and Skill 
were soon disregarded for want of that Manner with which 
Men of the World support and assert the Merits of their 
own Performances. Soon after this instance of his Art, 
Athens was, by the treachery of its Enemies, burnt to the 
Ground. This gave Nestor the greatest Occasion that ever 
Builder had to render his Name immortal, and his Person 
venerable, for all the new City rose according to his Dis- 
position, and all the Monuments of the Glories and Dis- 
tresses of that People were executed by that sole Artist ; 
nay, all their Temples as well as Houses, were the effects 
of his Study and Labour ; insomuch that it was said by 
an old Sage, ' Sure, Nestor will now be famous, for the 
Habitations of the Gods, as well as of Men, are built by his 


ii 4 



" But this bashful quality still put a Damp upon his 
great Knowledge which has as fatal an Effect upon Men's 
Reputations as Poverty ; for, as it was said, * the poor Man 
by his wisdom delivered the City, yet no Man remembered 
that same poor Man/ So here we find the modest Man 
built the City, and the modest Man's Skill was unknown." 

Of the Wren churches that remain to us Mr. Pennell has 
selected St. Michael Paternoster Royal and St. Augustine 
and St. Faith for illustration. The name St. Michael 
Paternoster Royal is derived from two lanes which intersect 
a little west of Cannon Street Station — Paternoster and 
Royal, which is a corruption of La Riole, the name of a 
village near Bordeaux, the headquarters of the French wine 
trade being in this ward of the City. St. Augustine and 
St. Faith is in Watling Street. The two parishes were 
united after the Great Fire, and the present church was 
built by Wren in 1683. 

Of the City churches generally there is little more of 
interest to record. Hazlitt was married in St. Andrew's, 
Holborn, Charles Lamb being his best man and Mary 
Lamb a bridesmaid. In a letter to Southey, Lamb said : 

" I was at Hazlitt 's marriage, and had like to have been 
turned out several times during the ceremony. Any thing 
awful makes me laugh. I misbehaved once at a funeral. 
Yet I can read about these ceremonies with pious and proper 
feelings. The realities of life only seem the mockeries.' ' 

Shelley was married to Mary Wollstonecraft in St. 
Mary, Bread Street, in 181 6, and Keats was baptized in 
St. Botolph Bishopsgate, one of the post-Wren churches, 
in 1795. 



The City of London supplies a fascinating combination 
of unqualified and almost blatant modernity and ancient 
picturesque dignity. Elderly gentlemen whose appearance 
and mentality are branded deep with the brand of the 
suburb, when they become Common Councillors and 
Aldermen, dress themselves in mediaeval robes and play 
their part in ancient ceremonies with dignity and an air. 
To attend a City ceremony, to watch the wealthy and 
perhaps rather over-fed burgesses raised to high traditional 
position, not by a destiny that disregards the appropriate, 
but as the heirs of the ages, is to realise how unnecessary 
has been the loss of the picturesque in our everyday life. 
If Mr. Smith, the wholesale stationer, and Mr. Brown, the 
importer of bananas, are splendid merchant princes inside 
the Guildhall, why should they be drab and negligible 
when they go out into Cheapside ? Every craft should 
have its uniform. When that happens, every craft will 
regain its dignity. 

To me the pageantry of the City has a delight that does 
not belong to the pageantry of the Court. In particular, I 
love the City Remembrancer with a great love, and my joy 
in him would be much less if I had the smallest idea what 
he had to remember. His gown is an inspiration, his hat 
is a delight. I recall one international function at the 
Guildhall when I endeavoured, quite unsuccessfully, to 
explain in French to an inquisitive Paris journalist who 
and what the Remembrancer was. 

The City is practical. Every ceremony is followed by 
a luncheon. That is right and proper. The City is English, 
and the English, as Dickens knew, love a feast. In this, too, 





the City is at least partially Christian, for feasting engenders 
fellowship. It would be wholly Christian if to the frequent 
feast it added the occasional fast, for it is the fast that gives 
the feast its spiritual significance. The City luncheons and 
dinners are solid and ample. That is also perfectly proper. 
The citizen should not ape the courtier, and the only hateful 
bourgeois is the bourgeois who deserts the bourgeoisie. The 
City eats well, and the City loves money, but it does not forget 
the higher things — perhaps it keeps a Remembrancer lest 
it should forget. The Guildhall itself is the home of a 
magnificent library. The City finances schools, finds the 
money for London's most important markets, and, so far as 
it is possible, prevents the great struggling city that sur- 
rounds it from being poisoned by reckless importers of bad 
food. The City of London is indeed a great national 
institution, and it is great because it is little. The Lord 
Mayor is a splendid personage, and he is splendid because 
he is generally simple. 

The whole tradition and pageant hanging round the 
Guildhall, which Mr. Pennell has drawn so beautifully, is 
a proof that man is a child of his clothes. Put a little man 
into fine clothes, and, supposing that they fit him — that is 
a most important point — he becomes a great man. In 
other words, all men, even Common Councillors, are the 
children of God. So to the Guildhall, where Liverymen 
and Common Councillors meet, admirably to carry on public 
business, to eat admirable banquets and to welcome foreign 
potentates with civic splendour ! 

It is said that an ancient Guildhall stood on the present 
site as early as the time of Edward the Confessor. A 
Guildhall was rebuilt in 141 1, and was tinkered, repaired 
and adorned until the present building emerged in 1789. 
Mark the date ! The Guildhall, the great emblem of 
British prosperity, and the French Revolution appeared in 
the world together ! There are in the hall of the Guildhall 
effigies of two famous giants, Gog and Magog. They are 
made of wood and are hollow within. Most giants are. 
They or their forebears stood at the entrance of London 
Bridge to welcome Henry V. many a year ago. They were 
on London Bridge again to welcome Philip of Spain, and 
they were at Temple Bar to welcome Elizabeth. Since 
then, in the Guildhall, they have welcomed a never-ending 


xxviii THE GUILDHALL 117 

procession of the great. Gog and Magog have no politics. 
They are fierce to look upon, but they are made of 
harmless wood, and welcoming is their trade. How 
admirably in this they represent the spirit of a commercial 

November 9 is the great day in the Guildhall's year. 
Then the Lord Mayor entertains His Majesty's Ministers 
and speeches are made, and the City feels that it really is 
the City. Pepys was invited to the 9th of November ban- 
quet in 1663 and was by no means pleased with the fare. 
He records, " To Guildhall, and up and down to see the 
tables ; where under every salt there was a bill of fare, and 
at the end of the table, the persons proper for the table. 
Many were the tables, but none in the hall but the Mayor's 
and the Lords of the Privy Council that had napkins or 
knives, which was very strange. I sat at the Merchant 
Strangers' table ; where ten good dishes to a messe, with 
plenty of wine of all sorts ; but it was very unpleasing that 
we had no napkins nor change of trenchers, and drunk out 
of earthen pitchers and wooden dishes.' ' 

The Guildhall used to contain a beautiful chapel dedi- 
cated to St. Mary Magdalen. For some reason this was 
pulled down in 1822. Until then a special service was 
always held in this church before the Lord Mayor's feast, 
and probably prayers were offered that the citizens might 
be saved from indigestion and all plethoric evils. Grace 
before meat is a delightful reminder of the dignity of feasting, 
and I would that the chapel of St. Mary Magdalen may yet 
be restored. 

The Guildhall has been the scene of tragedy as well as 
of good cheer. It was here that Anne Askew was tried for 
heresy and sentenced to be burned ; it was here that the 
Jesuit Garnett was wrongfully accused of complicity in the 
Gunpowder Plot. Surrey, the dainty Tudor poet, Cranmer, 
Lady Jane Grey and Edmund Waller, the Cavalier poet, 
were all tried at the Guildhall. At the Guildhall, too, a 
jury moved by the eloquence of Serjeant Buzfuz con- 
demned Mr. Pickwick to pay £750 damages to Mrs. 

The Guildhall contains monuments to the famous whom 
the City has delighted to honour — Chatham, Pitt, Nelson — 
and it houses an extremely bad portrait of George III. 

n8 LONDON xxviii 

with an inscription which seems to me to epitomise the 
proper bourgeois admiration of that most bourgeois king : 


Born and bred a Briton ; 
endeared to a Brave, Free, and Loyal People 
by his Public Virtues, 
by his pre-eminent Example 
of Private Worth in all the Relations of Domestic Life, 
by his uniform Course of unaffected Piety, 
and entire Submission to the Will of Heaven. 

There have been many worse men than " Farmer 
George " ; and it is nice of the City to forget that his Tory 
obstinacy cost England the North American colonies. 




Sir Thomas Gresham, who built the original Royal Ex- 
change, was a typical Tudor merchant adventurer, except 
that he exploited the European instead of following the 
fashion of the age that immediately followed him of sub- 
sidising the Devonshire buccaneers, who stole from the 
Spaniards what the Spaniards had stolen from the unfor- 
tunate inhabitants of South America. Sir Thomas was a 
son of a Lord Mayor of London, who was himself a Knight, 
and was sent to Caius College, Cambridge. Soon after 
leaving the University he married a rich widow and went 
to live in the Low Countries. In those days the pound 
sterling was almost as wobbly in its value as the franc is 
nowadays, but Sir Thomas, by methods which have been 
rudely described as ingenious but arbitrary and unfair, 
contrived to force up the value of the pound on the Bourse 
at Antwerp to such an extent that King Edward VI.'s 
advisers were able to discharge all their debts. This 
naturally made him popular with the Government, and he 
was resourceful enough to retain his popularity through 
the reigns of Catholic Mary and Protestant Elizabeth. In 
1565 Gresham obtained the consent of the Corporation of 
London to build an Exchange where foreign and English 
merchants could meet and bargain in something like 
comfort. Before the building was erected, as Stow tells 
us, these meetings took place in an open narrow street, 
and the merchants had to do business in all sorts of weather, 
heat or cold, sun or rain. 

Gresham, who, in the proper merchant's manner, always 
had an eye for profits, contrived to derive a yearly income 
of £700, no inconsiderable sum in those days, from the 





shops that he let in the Exchange, which was opened by 
Elizabeth in 1571. We are told that " the milliners and 
haberdashers in that place sold mouse traps, bird-cages, 
shoeing-horns, lan thorns and Jew's trumps, etc. There 
were also at that time that kept shops in the upper pawn 
of the Royal Exchange, armourers that sold both old and 
new armour, apothecaries, booksellers, goldsmiths and 
glass-sellers. " 

This first Exchange was ornamented with statues of all 
the English sovereigns. After the execution of Charles I., 
his statue was thrown down and the words exit tyrannus 
regum ultimus were inscribed on the pedestal, which is proof 
that a man may be a good merchant and a bad prophet. 

In its early days the Exchange w T as frequented by 
merchants from Amsterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, Paris and 
even from Venice, the different dresses showing the nation- 
ality of the traders. Gresham's Exchange was destroyed 
in the Great Fire, and Pepys records that only the statue 
of Sir Thomas was saved from the flames. A second 
Exchange, much on the same lines, was soon afterwards 
erected, and this in its turn was burnt down in 1838. The 
present building was opened by Queen Victoria in 1844, 
and incidentally it contains one of the worst among the 
many existing bad statues of that monarch. 

Nowadays half of the Exchange is used as the offices 
of certain assurance companies, and the other half by 
Lloyd's. Lloyd's, as all the world knows, is an association 
of marine underwriters, and its story is rather an interest- 
ing one. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, 
Edward Lloyd had a coffee-house in Tower Street 
and afterwards removed to Abchurch Lane in Lombard 
Street. This coffee-house was the favourite meeting-place 
of shipowners, and many ships changed hands on Lloyd's 
premises. In 1696 he started Lloyd's News, which was 
intended to furnish all possible intelligence of the move- 
ment of ships. Lloyd's is mentioned both in the Tatler and 
the Spectator, and it was the scene of wild gambling at the 
time of the South Sea Bubble. The present society was 
founded in 1770. 

Of the Royal Exchange as a building there is nothing 
to say. It fits well into its environment. It has the solidity 
of the Mansion House on its left, and suggests the certainty 



of adding to the bullion in the vaults of the Bank of England 
on its right. 

In the neighbourhood of the Royal Exchange is New 
Broad Street, the subject of another of Mr. Penneirs draw- 
ings, a narrow, depressing thoroughfare, running from 
Liverpool Street Station towards the Bank, in these days 
generally encumbered with motor omnibuses, between which 
elegantly dressed and hatless Stock Exchange clerks dodge 
at the imminent peril of their lives. The Stock Exchange 
is near by. To me its proceedings are " wropt in mystery,' ' 
and I confess that I am as puzzled as Mr. Weller senior as 
to how and why things go up and down in the City. There 
are no ghosts of any interest in New Broad Street, but in 
Old Broad Street, Alexander Pope, the father of the poet, 
traded as a merchant. 



The streets of the City of London are terrifying in their 
daytime rush and bustle, but they are thrilling and romantic 
in their evening emptiness. Nowhere during working hours 
is the present more insistent — a materialistic present in an 
unnecessary hurry, terribly busy with things that perhaps 
really do not matter very much after all. Here in the City 
you can hear the dull, tireless throb of the machine of 
buying and selling and exchanging that dominates and 
directs the life of the modern world. It is all very harassing, 
and, in a sense, very menacing, and it is a relief to me to 
know that I need only meet it in most infrequent visits. 
In all this, Aldersgate Street is like most other of the City 
streets, blatant in its modernity, and, remembering all its 
ancient history, suggesting Gog and Magog dressed up in 
ready-made suits bought from a Jewish cash tailor. But in 
the evenings, when bankers and captains of industry have 
gone home, maybe to try and be human, and underpaid 
clerks have escaped to their suburbs, eager to forget the 
City and all its ways, then Aldersgate Street, with the other 
City streets, is fuller, perhaps, of romantic shades than the 
thoroughfares of any other part of London. 

Aldersgate is one of the four oldest of the City gates. 
Its name is Saxon and the gate must have stood there long 
before William and his Normans crossed the Channel. It 
was through Aldersgate that James I. rode when he came 
south to try and rule the kingdom of Elizabeth, and his 
Scotch heart must have beat with joy as he rode along 
Aldersgate with its rows of fine houses and attractive inns. 
What a city for a Scotsman to sack ! Before the coming of 
James, Foxe, whose stories of the martyrs gave me sleepless 






nights in my youth, often stayed in Aldersgate with his 
printer. Years earlier still, in what is now Trinity Court, 
beyond the Church of St. Botolph, stood the house of the 
Brothers of the Holy Trinity, established by Henry VI., a 
king soon to be acclaimed a saint, and suppressed during 
the reign of Edward VI. Thanet House, one of Inigo 
Jones's mansions, stood on the east side of Aldersgate 
Street. In the later seventeenth century it belonged to the 
Earl of Shaftesbury. Locke, the Radical philosopher, the 
father of European democracy, often stayed with Shaftesbury 
at Thanet House, and the Duke of Monmouth, the unlucky 
illegitimate son of Charles II., was once hidden there. 
Another great mansion, Lauderdale House, the residence of 
the Duke of Lauderdale, one of the scoundrelly ministers 
of the Merry Monarch, stood on the same side of Aiders- 
gate Street, and opposite was Petre House where Richard 
Lovelace the poet — 

I could not love thee, dear, so much 
Loved I not honour more 

— was imprisoned during the Commonwealth. Every one 
knows the jingle — 

I do not love thee, Doctor Fell, 
The reason why I cannot tell ; 
But this alone I know full well, 
I do not love thee, Doctor Fell. 

Few of us know who wrote it. The author was a certain 
Tom Brown, and he died in Aldersgate Street in 1704. 
Aldersgate Street, indeed, brings many tags of poetry to 
one's mind, for, of the Shaftesbury who lived in Shaftesbury 
House and entertained Locke, Dryden wrote : 

For close designs and crooked councils fit, 
Sagacious, bold, and truculent of wit ; 
Restless, unfixed in principles and place, 
In power unpleased, impatient of disgrace. 

Pepys, of course, went along Aldersgate Street, but not 
with his usual zest, for he records, " I saw the limbs of 
some of our new traitors set upon Aldersgate, which was a 
sad sight to see." 

There were many famous coaching inns in old Alders- 




gate, most of the coaches from the north naturally arriving 
there. Gay wrote to Swift on hearing of his arrival from 
Dublin, " To our great joy you have told us your deafness 
left you at the inn in Aldersgate Street ; no doubt your ears 
knew there was nothing worth hearing in England/ 1 

The greatest of all the Aldersgate Street ghosts is John 
Milton, who in 1640 went to live in " a pretty garden house 
in Aldersgate Street, at the end of an entry and therefore 
the fitter for his turn by reason of the privacy.' ' To this 
house three years later he brought his first wife, Mary Powell, 
a merry child of seventeen, whom the grave poet bored 
to death. She was Royalist and he was Puritan, at least 
in politics, and they soon parted, though after two years 
Mary returned to Aldersgate Street, just before Milton 
removed to the Barbican. If the fact that it was the home 
of the great seventeenth-century poet gives Aldersgate an 
unexpected dignity, another event that happened there gives 
the street its romance. John Wesley wrote in his journal 
under the date Wednesday, May 24, 1738 : 

" In the evening I went, very unwillingly, to a Society 
in Aldersgate Street where one was reading Luther's Preface 
to the Epistle of the Romans. About a quarter before 
nine, while he was describing the change which God works 
in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely 
warmed ; I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for 
salvation, and an assurance was given me that He had taken 
away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of 
sin and death. I began to pray with all my might for all 
those who had in an especial manner despitefully used me 
and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all what I 
now first felt in my heart." 

Aldersgate thus saw the beginning of Wesleyanism, one 
of the most interesting and important of modern religious 
movements, with a sociological interest arising from the fact 
that, in the dark days in the beginning of the industrial era, 
Wesley's wandering preachers played the same part in the 
lives of the oppressed poor as the hedge priests had played 
centuries before. 

All streets lead somewhere, and sometimes at the end of 
the street its greatest interest is discovered. Aldersgate 
Street leads to the Goswell Road, and it was in Gos- 
well Road that Mr. Pickwick lodged with Mrs. Bardell, a 



circumstance which led to the most famous of all breach 
of promise cases. 

And so in the evening in Aldersgate Street, while one 
thinks of Milton and Wesley and of King James with greed 
in his eye, and Richard Lovelace, the Cavalier poet one 
thinks too of Mr. Pickwick tripping along m his neat black 



Leadenhall Market is the oldest market in London, and 
it is probable that in the time of the Romans ancient 
Britons bought poultry exactly on the site where modern 
Londoners buy poultry to-day. Leadenhall derives its 
name from the old Manor House of Ledene Halle, so called 
because its roof was covered with lead, a rare thing in the 
fourteenth century. It passed into the possession of Sir 
Richard Whittington in 1408, and through that famous 
Lord Mayor it became the property of the Corporation of 
London. Years before, however, it had become a market, 
for a proclamation issued in 1345 directs that strangers, 
that is to say, persons not Freemen of the City, bringing 
poultry into the City may only sell in the Leaden Hall. If 
they sold their poultry elsewhere, they ran the risk of for- 
feiture and imprisonment. On the other hand, the Free- 
men were forbidden to sell their poultry in the Leaden 
Hall and were ordered to expose it in the street that is still 
called the Poultry. City residents were not allowed to 
purchase from the Leaden Hall stalls after prime was 
rung at the Church of St. Paul, that is to say, after six 
o'clock in the morning. This enactment shows that our 
ancestors were early risers. Nowadays one of the most 
beneficent works of the Corporation of London is the 
care it takes to ensure that food sold in the City markets, 
and indeed all food brought into the Port of London, is 
sound and wholesome. This good work has been going 
on for centuries, for as long ago as 1357 it was ordained 
that any persons selling poultry " that is rotten or stinking " 
in Leaden Hall Market should suffer " imprisonment of 
his body." 




The fourteenth-century trader was not allowed to settle 
the prices of his goods. They were fixed by authority. 
In an ordinance issued in 1384 the maximum prices were 
as follows : 

" The best cygnet was to be sold for fourpence ; the best 
heron, sixteenpence, and the best egret, eighteenpence ; the 
best goose, capon, or hen for sixpence, but the best pullet 
for twopence. The best rabbit with the skin, fourpence, 
and no foreigner shall sell any rabbit without the skin. 
For a river mallard (wild duck) not more than threepence 
may be taken, for a dunghill mallard (tame duck), twopence 
halfpenny ; teal, twopence. The best snipe must be sold 
for a penny ; woodcock or plover for threepence ; the best 
partridge for fourpence ; curlew, sixpence ; whilst for the 
best pheasant twelvepence might be demanded — a proof 
that it was a rare bird in those days. For a bittern, or a 
brewe (whatever bird that might be), the extreme price 
of eighteenpence might be demanded. A dozen pigeons 
were to be sold for eightpence ; four larks for one penny ; 
a dozen thrushes for sixpence ; a dozen finches for a 

It must have been pleasant to buy partridges for four- 
pence, but one regrets to find that our ancestors devoured 
thrushes and finches. 

Cheese and butter as well as poultry were sold in the 
Leaden Hall market, and in the sixteenth century cutlery 
must have been regularly sold there, because a contemporary 
author says, " This argument cuts like a Leadenhall knife. " 
The Manor House and the market were destroyed in the 
Great Fire, and afterwards there was erected a large build- 
ing of freestone wherein, Strype says, " is kept a market one 
of the greatest, the best and the most general for all pro- 
visions in the City of London, nay of the kingdom." Here 
were sold beef and veal and mutton and fish and poultry 
and vegetables. In the nineteenth century Leadenhall 
became the market for live birds and also for dogs and cats, 
the last being sold mainly to the skippers of rat-haunted 

The old market was pulled down in 1880 and the present 
undistinguished building erected in its place. There is 
not, perhaps, much romance in food markets themselves, 
although it is curious to note how one particular trade has 




been carried on in the same place for so long a time. But 
if Leadenhall Market has little romance, it is good to 
remember that within a stone's throw of the gateway that 
Mr. Pennell has drawn there stood, until 1862, East India 
House, the offices of the East India Company, where 
Charles Lamb spent thirty-three years of his life making up 
for coming late by going away early. 

For me the figure of gentle Elia haunts the neighbour- 
hood of Leadenhall. He is its patron saint. Charles 
Lamb was seventeen when, in 1792, he entered the office 
of the East India Company. He received no salary at all 
until 1795, when he was paid £40. This sum was raised 
to £70 in the next year. De Quincey called on him at his 
office in 1804, and in his London Reminiscences has left us 
a picture of Lamb at work. He says : " The seat upon 
which he sat was a very high one ; so absurdly high, by 
the way, that I can imagine no possible use or sense in such 
an altitude, unless it were to restrain the occupant from 
playing truant at the fire by opposing Alpine difficulties to 
his descent.' ' De Quincey suggests that for Lamb " to 
have sat still and stately upon this aerial station " when he 
called would have had " an air of ungentlemanly assump- 
tion/ ' and he describes how Lamb laboriously climbed 
down from his perch. In 1809, after seventeen years' 
service, Lamb was paid a salary of £160 a year. This was 
increased in 181 5 to £480, and when he retired, in 1825, 
his salary was £730. He received a pension of £450 a year 
from the East India directors. To Lamb the office was 
always a prison. He wrote in 1822, " Thirty years have I 
served the Philistines and my neck is not subdued to the 
yoke." And two years later he wrote, " I wish I were a 
caravan driver or penny post man to earn my bread in air 
and sunshine." He was often very much overworked. 
The office hours were nominally from nine to three, but he 
sometimes worked until eleven at night and never left till 
four. " Time that a man may call his own is his life," he 
said, " and hard work and thinking about it taints even the 
leisure hours, stains Sunday with workday contemplations." 
His retirement at the age of fifty gave him, at least at the 
beginning, unqualified joy. He said to Crabb Robinson, 
" I have left the damned India House for ever. Give me 
joy." But Mr. E. V. Lucas suggests that it would have 


been better for Lamb if he had continued to submit to 
the discipline which daily attendance at an office entailed. 
The East India Company was a great trading concern, and 
the accounts were kept in the department in which Lamb 
worked. He loathed the merchants and the merchandise. 
He said : 

" These * merchants and their spicy drugs ' which are 
so harmonious to sing of, they lime-twig up my poor soul 
and body, till I shall forget I ever thought myself a bit of a 
genius ! I can't even put a few thoughts on paper for a 
newspaper. I ' engross ' when I should pen a paragraph. 
Confusion blast all mercantile transactions, all traffick, 
exchange of commodities, intercourse between nations, all 
the consequent civilization and wealth and amity and link 
of society, and getting rid of prejudices, and knowledge of 
the face of the globe — and rot the very firs of the forest 
that look so romantic alive, and die into desks. " 

Lamb was very popular with his fellow clerks, and in 
1805 a party of them went to Drury Lane to applaud the 
first performance of his unsuccessful play, " Mr. H." 
There are many stories told of Lamb at India House. One 
day the head of a department said to him, " Pray, Mr. 
Lamb, what are you about ? " " Forty next birthday/ ' 
said Lamb. " I don't like your answer," said the Chief. 
" Nor I your question," was Lamb's reply. Once, having 
been away a whole day without leave, he explained that on 
going through Leadenhall Market he had been threatened 
by a butcher, and was afraid to stay in the neighbourhood. 
The East India Company has passed away, but Lamb's 
memory is cherished in the India Office in Whitehall, where 
his portrait hangs on the walls, and there is carefully 
preserved there a copy of a publication called Tables of 
Simple Interest, on the fly-leaf of which Lamb wrote, 
" The interest of this book, unlike the generality which we 
are doomed to peruse, rises to the end." Lamb died at 
Edmonton in 1834. Landor wrote of him : 

He leaves behind him, freed from griefs and years, 

Far worthier things than tears. 
The love of friends without a single foe : 

Unequall'd lot below ! 

Lamb is not the only great writer who is associated 




with East India House. James Mill and his greater son, 
John Stuart Mill, were both clerks there, and so was 
Thomas Love Peacock, the poet, and the father-in-law of 
George Meredith. Peacock entered the India House in 
1 8 19, and he and Lamb must have met. There is a story 
that they once sat opposite each other at a public dinner. 
Between them was a salad bowl on the top of which was a 
hard-boiled egg. " What kind of egg is that ? " asked 
Peacock. " The kind of egg that a drunken peacock 
would lay," was Lamb's reply. Incidentally we may 
remember that Gibbon's great-grandfather was a Leaden- 
hall Street draper, and his grandmother was the daughter 
of a Leadenhall Street goldsmith. 



Mr. Pennell's drawing of the old General Post Office might 
lure to columns of statistics — the numbers of letters posted, 
the numbers of telegrams despatched, the number of tele- 
phone calls (with the number of " wrong numbers "), the 
weight of parcels carried through the post, the amount of 
money deposited in the Post Office Savings Bank, with 
comparative figures to show how the Post Office business 
has increased, and so on, and so on. But statistics are 
never amusing and generally misleading. Arithmetic, too, 
is the enemy of romance, and there is genuine human 
romance in a post office. Who can tell what the postman's 
bag is bringing to any of us — good tidings, or bad, the 
disappointment of our hopes, the confirmation of our fears, 
maybe some unexpected good fortune, if we are young, 
possibly a love letter, whatever age we are, most certainly 
a bill. 

It is said that the art of letter-writing is dead. But the 
manufacture of letters (a very different thing) ever increases. 
The typewriter has killed letter-writing as a form of literary 
art, though many of the busiest literary men still write 
many letters with their own hand. Possibly volumes of 
" life and letters " will be rarer in the future, and, on the 
whole, that will be no great loss. On the other hand, to 
refer to one example, there must be many hundreds of 
Mr. Bernard Shaw's letters in existence, clamouring for 
publication. Years ago Mr. Shaw had a habit of covering 
postcards with fine manuscript writing, much in the manner 
of the strange geniuses who write the Lord's Prayer on a 
threepenny bit, and a photograph of one of these postcards 
is the obvious frontispiece for Mr. Shaw's collected letters. 




His handwriting is even smaller than Mr. Wells's, whose 
letters with his own humorous illustrations are quite sure 
to appear in volume form as soon as the breath is out of 
his body, if not before. 

Most people write letters because the letters must be 
written — answers to invitations, promises to pay at the end 
of the month, congratulations to one's aunt on her seventieth 
birthday. The letters that are best to read are the letters 
that are written for fun. Letter-writing was one of W. S. 
Gilbert's favourite amusements. Perhaps the best and most 
characteristic letter printed in his recent biography is the 
following : 

My dear Cousin Mary — -Did you know Mabel Turner ? She 
was married yesterday to Dugdale of the 18th Hussars, with much 
pomp and ceremony. I can't understand why so much fuss is made 
over a partnership, or rather I don't understand why the process 
should not be applied to all partnerships. It seems to me that the 
union (say) of Marshall & Snelgrove might, and should, have been 
celebrated in the same fashion. Marshall waiting at the altar for 
Snelgrove to arrive (dressed in summer stock remnants), a choir to 
walk in front of Snelgrove chanting, a Bishop and a Dean (and also 
a Solicitor) to ratify the deed of partnership, and a bevy of coryphee 
fitters- on to strew flowers in their path. It is a pretty idea, and 
invests a contract with a solemnity not to be found in a solicitor's 
or conveyancer's chambers. — Always, my dear Cousin, affly. yours. 

Henry James was a great letter-writer, and his letters are 
as characteristic as his novels. For instance, the following 
passage in a letter addressed to Mr. Hugh Walpole in the 
autumn of 19 14 : 

" London is of course under all our stress very interest- 
ing, to me deeply and infinitely moving — but on a basis and 
in ways that make the life we have known here fade into 
grey mists of insignificance. People ' meet ' a little, but 
very little, every social habit and convention has broken 
down, save with a few vulgarians and utter mistakers (mis- 
takers, I mean, about the decency of things) ; and for 
myself, I confess, I find there are very few persons I care 
to see — only those to whom and to whose state of feeling 
I am really attached. Promiscuous chatter on the public 
situation and the gossip thereanent of more or less wailing 
women in particular give unspeakably on my nerves. Depths 



of sacred silence seem to me to prescribe themselves in 
presence of the sanctities of action of those who, in un- 
thinkable conditions almost, are magnificently doing the 

A certain formality is essential to good letter-writing, 
and casualness has become our habit, thanks to the telegraph 
and the telephone. Possibly the casual letter was made 
fashionable by Lord Beaconsfield, whose delightfully 
intimate letters are the chief charm of the final volumes of 
his biography. 

A learned Judge lamented the other day that|it was 
his duty in breach of promise cases to peruse love letters 
not intended for public reading. I have always tnought 
the publication of love letters in rather doubtful taste. 
Certainly Froude remains among the unforgivable sinners. 
Still the spiritual history of an epoch can often be read in 
love letters. The letters written by Sir Robert Peel to 
Miss Julia Floyd, whom he afterwards married, supply a 
vivid picture of the excessive propriety that was the reaction 
from the manners of the Regency. There is one letter that 
gives me particular joy : 

My dearest Julia — As I write to you before I have done anything 
or seen anything, you must not be disappointed. I might supply 
the want of other materials by impassioned declarations of my love 
and admiration of you, but such declarations are so easily made and 
so often insincere, and I am so satisfied that they are unnecessary to 
convince you of the ardour and the constancy of my attachment to 
you, that I purposely avoid them. You told me to write to you 
with the same freedom and unreserve as if I were speaking to you, 
and I have a double reason for doing so as I thus consult my own 
inclinations and obey your injunctions. 

We arrived here last night before six, having very narrowly 
escaped the misfortune of being detained at Petworth, where all was 
bustle and confusion on account of the Sussex election, and nothing 
but the kindness of the Committee of one of the candidates enabled 
us to proceed. 

We are about a quarter of a mile from the sea, with an imperfect 
view of it. It is in vain for me to wish that you were here, but I 
cannot see the tide receding and a fine hard sand left by it without 
thinking of the happiness I should have in riding or walking with 
you upon it. God grant you may have occasion to fulfil your 
promise of writing to me ! If you have, do not forget it. Adieu, 
my dearest Julia. — Ever most affectionately yours, 

Robert Peel. 




Commercial letters are not calculated to be thrilling, but 
why do educated persons become illiterate when they address 
letters from city offices ? Postcards are an abomination. 
Telegrams I dread. I cannot explain why, but I always 
expect good news in a letter and bad news in a telegram. 

Byron, says Lord Ernie, is, with the exception of Mrs. 
Carlyle, the last of great letter-writers. His letters are an 
autobiography, a sincere revelation of himself. Of these, 
his answer to Mr. John Murray, to whom he had sent the 
first two cantos of Don Juan, is particularly characteristic : 

" So you and Mr. Foscolo, etc., want me to undertake 
what you call ' a great work ' (?) an Epic poem, I suppose, 
or some such pyramid. I'll try no such thing ; I hate 
tasks. And then ' seven or eight years ' ! God send us 
well this day three months, let alone years. If one's years 
can't be better employed than in sweating poesy, a man 
had better be a Ditcher. And works, too ! — is Childe 
Harold nothing ? You have so many ' Divine ' poems, is it 
nothing to have written a Human one ? Without any of 
your worn-out machinery. Why, man, I could have spun 
the thoughts of four Cantos of that poem into twenty, had 
I wanted to bookmake, and its passions into as many 
modern tragedies. Since you want length, you shall have 
enough of Juan, for I'll make 50 Cantos." 

If he had lived, he might have kept his word, but he 
died before Don Juan was finished. 

The English Post Office, which has its centre at St. 
Martin 's-le- Grand, is a monument of efficiency. The per- 
fection of its organisation is inhuman, otherwise, I suppose, 
our telegrams would be received late and our letters would 
never be delivered. And perhaps that would not matter so 
much as we think. Anyway, if efficiency is the goal of 
modern life, the State has nothing to learn from the private 
individual, and he who prays for efficiency need not tremble 
at Socialism. 

St. Martin 's-le-Grand, where the Post Office has been 
established for over a hundred years, was originally a 
monastic foundation with the right of sanctuary. In the 
Middle Ages when a criminal was being escorted from 
Newgate for execution on Tower Hill, if he could possibly 
slip away from his gaolers and get inside the gates of St. 
Martin's he was safe. This right of sanctuary remained 




when the college was pulled down after the dissolution of 
the monasteries, and St. Martin 's-le-Grand was for years 
inhabited by a colony of counterfeiters whom the authorities 
had no power to arrest. Their privileges were taken away 
from them in the reign of James I., but St. Martin's con- 
tinued to be an Alsatia for debtors until the reign of 
William III. That grim Dutchman was not likely to have 
much sympathy with the Micawbers of his time, and in 
1697 " all such sanctuaries or pretended sanctuaries " were 
finally suppressed. 

And now on the spot where counterfeiters made false 
coin in safety and where debtors were free from their 
creditors, wireless messages are sent to Timbuctoo. 



The British Museum fills some people with pride. Charles 
Kingsley declared that in the British Museum and the 
National Gallery the Englishman may proudly say, " What- 
ever my coat or my purse, I am an Englishman and there- 
fore I have a right here." I never feel like that. The 
exterior of the Museum, the subject of Mr. Pennell's 
drawing, always fills me with a feeling that is half sadness 
and half terror. I never dare go in. I hurry by with 
averted face because I remember that up those steps and 
through the entrance hall there is an immense library under 
a dome in which are gathered tens of thousands of books, 
and I know full well that it would not have mattered in the 
least if eighty per cent of them had never been written. So 
great a library collected, not by the enthusiasm of the scholar, 
but by a law that compels the publishers to send copies of 
all that they publish to be stored on shelves and subse- 
quently in cellars, is a stupendous monument of the waste 
of human energy that fills Mr. H. G. Wells with despair. 

Think of the ink used to no purpose ; think of the type- 
writers tapped for hours so that banality may be stored in a 
museum ! I know that there are many other things besides 
books in the British Museum. I know that there is a 
mummy whose maleficent influence ensures swift punish- 
ment for those who write or speak disrespectfully of her. 
I know that there are Elgin marbles and great treasures of 
art and beauty brought from India and Rome and Ephesus 
— the sculptures of Assyria and Egypt and Babylon ; collec- 
tions of porcelain and pottery, of jewels and gems and 
bronzes, and Heaven knows what beside. I know all this. 
My better nature tells me that here is a wonderful national 
collection, unrivalled in any other city of the world, which, 



like Charles Kingsley, I ought to study and enjoy. I know 
that I ought to walk up the steps with my head held high, 

For he might have been a Roosian, 
A French or Turk or Proosian, 

Or perhaps Itali-an ! 
But in spite of all temptations 
To belong to other nations, 

He remains an Englishman. 

But somehow I cannot do it. As soon as I get within sight 
of the British Museum I forget the Elgin marbles, the 
Assyrian inscriptions, the wonderful treasures from Greece 
and Rome, and I remember only that every day dozens and 
dozens of idiotic novels are solemnly handed over to the 
Chief Librarian, who must, I am sure, sigh sadly as he 
hands them over to one of the assistant librarians, who 
carries them to a nice dry cellar where they are preserved 
in order that future generations may know the rubbish 
that was written and read in England in the twentieth 
century. I feel that it is altogether wrong, for every 
generation must wish that its successors should think well 
of it. Why should we compel posterity to despise us ? But 
perhaps, and there is a gleam of hope, perhaps the novels 
are not preserved at all. Perhaps the Chief Librarian only 
pretends, and when The Sin of Christopher and My Gorilla 
Uncle are duly receipted, they are at once cast into the 
furnace in order that the industrious old gentlemen who 
sit hour after hour in the reference library may be com- 
fortably warmed at a minimum of expense to the nation. 
I hope that this is true, but I shall never really be quite sure, 
and I shall continue to tremble as I pass the Museum to 
wander in the Bloomsbury squares, once the home of wit 
and rank, and now mainly occupied by boarding-houses at 
which earnest students from the East are entertained at a 
very moderate cost. 

In Tavistock House in Tavistock Square Dickens wrote 
the first part of Bleak House. It was an appropriate neigh- 
bourhood for the great imaginative indictment of English 
legal proceedings to be commenced in, for Bloomsbury 
has many legal associations. Lord Mansfield, Lord Ellen- 
borough and Sir Samuel Romilly, the bravest of legal 
reformers, all lived in Russell Square, and readers of 



Pickwick will remember that Mr. Perker, Mr. Pickwick's 
lawyer, lived in Montague Place. There on one occasion 
he gave a dinner-party, his guests " comprising Mr. Snicks, 
the Life Office Secretary, Mr. Prosee, the eminent Counsel, 
three solicitors, one Commissioner of bankrupts, a Special 
Pleader from the Temple, a small-eyed peremptory young 
gentleman, his pupil, who had written a lively book 
about the law of Demises with a vast quantity of marginal 
notes and references ; and several other eminent and dis- 
tinguished personages.' ' Colley Cibber, the eighteenth- 
century dramatist, lived in Southampton Street. " I could 
not bear such nonsense/' said Johnson of one of his odes, 
and Fielding trounces him for his mutilation of Shakespeare. 
It was Cibber who added the line, 

Off with his head, so much for Buckingham, 

to " Richard III.," and it must be admitted that its theatrical 
effectiveness has brought down the house for generations. 

Bloomsbury has always been a well-mannered neigh- 
bourhood, and it is not altogether surprising to learn that 
Lord Chesterfield once lived in Russell Square. So did 
Sir Richard Steele of Tatler fame. Two poets, William 
Cowper and Thomas Gray, lived in Southampton Row ; 
Thackeray lived in Great Coram Street in his struggling 
days. William Morris, poet and craftsman, lived in Great 
Ormond Street when he first married, and two years later 
he opened his first shop in Red Lion Square. In a circular 
he stated, "It is believed that good decoration, involving 
rather the luxury of taste than the luxury of costliness, will 
be found to be much less expensive than is generally sup- 
posed." The shop was moved to Queen Square in 1865. 
Compare the ugliness of the Victorian household with its 
antimacassars and wax flowers with an ordinary English 
interior to-day, and it is possible to have some idea of the 
debt that we owe to William Morris. 

The literary note of Bloomsbury is emphasised by 
Mudie's Library at its southern boundary. Mudie's, by 
the way, was once a publishing house and issued the first 
English edition of the poems of James Russell Lowell. 
Good books, indeed, have been written and published in 
Bloomsbury, but I never can forget those thousands of 
bad books in the British Museum cellars. 



The Euston Road is the most depressing thoroughfare in 
central London, more depressing and far less human than 
the Bethnal Green Road, itself hardly to be described as a 
Cheerful Way. If there is any one who lives in the Euston 
Road who could possibly live anywhere else, he is certainly 
a super-eccentric. In this lugubrious thoroughfare are to 
be found several monumental masons (tombstones suit the 
Euston Road), the offices of a great trade union, melancholy 
gardens and three of London's largest terminal railway 
stations. The position of these stations is evidence of 
the Englishman's queer habit of showing his worst side to 
the world. I can imagine the stranger arriving at Euston 
Station, walking out into Euston Road, exclaiming, " So 
this is London ! " and immediately going home again. But 
London is not unique in choosing odd positions for its 
railway stations. Is not the Gare du Nord in Paris near the 
top of the Rue La Fayette, the longest, the cobbliest and the 
least attractive street in the city ? It requires faith, indeed, 
to arrive at the Gare du Nord and still to believe that Paris 
is a gay city. How much kinder is the Roman, who has 
built his central railway station in a beautiful square ! 

Railway stations are rarely cheerful places. Certainly 
Euston is not cheerful, but Mr. Pennell has done well to 
include it among his London drawings, because it repre- 
sents, with the Albert Memorial, the solidity, unhampered 
by imagination, of the Victorian era. It is earlier than the 
Albert Memorial. It was built one year after Queen 
Victoria's accession, and long before her husband arrived 
in England to dower us with the Crystal Palace. When 
Euston Station was built, Queen Victoria was still, as Mr. 
Strachey reminded us, in her skittish period. " She laughs 





in real earnest," wrote Creevey in his journal, " opening her 
mouth as wide as it can go, showing not very pretty gums. 
. . . She eats quite as heartily as she laughs, I think I may 
say she gobbles. . . . She blushes and laughs every instant 
in so natural a way as to disarm anybody." If Victoria 
were taken to see Euston Station with its Doric archway, it 
must have been a warning to her that her laughing and 
gobbling days were to be short, and that her reign was to 
be of the solidest. 

Euston Station was originally the terminus of the Lon- 
don and Birmingham Railway. The comparatively un- 
sophisticated Londoner of eighty years ago was immensely 
pleased with the new building. In a publication called 
The Companion to the Athenaeum, published in 1839, tnere 
is a lyrical description of the beauty of the building. The 
writer says, "As a specimen of Greek architecture, this 
structure has not only the merit of being upon a grander 
scale than anything of the kind yet attempted in this country, 
it is also free from any adulteration of style by the admixture 
of features which, however well they may be designed in 
themselves, almost invariably detract more or less from 
classicality of design." Some years afterwards another 
writer suggested that Euston Station " must be an abomina- 
tion to Mr. Ruskin." It probably was. In addition to the 
Doric portico, the great feature of Euston is its central hall, 
with its Ionic columns, its statues and its panels. 

There is very little local history to distract one in 
hurrying for a train at Euston, and it is inconceivable that 
any one should ever go there for any other purpose. The 
site of the station was once a nursery garden. Flowers 
bloomed where nowadays excursion trains depart. Few 
celebrities have chosen the neighbourhood for their residence, 
though, in a house that once stood where part of Euston 
Station now is, the famous Peter Pindar lived, a sage person 
who urged his friends to the use of pale brandy and flannel 
and was the author of the couplet : 

Say would you long the shafts of death defy, 
Pray keep your inside wet, your outside dry. 

William Michael Rossetti, the brother of Gabriel and 
Christina, once lived at 56 Euston Road. William Godwin 
and Mary Wollstonecraft, the eighteenth-century feminist, 





whose daughter married Shelley, lived in Euston Square, and 
in the square too a certain Mr. Aders entertained celebrities 
a hundred years ago. Crabb Robinson says in his Diary : 

" Went to a large musical party at Aders' in Euston 
Square. . . . Wordsworth, Monkhouse, and their ladies, 
the Flaxmans, Coleridge and Rogers with some friends. 
I noticed a great difference in the enjoyment of the music 
which was first rate. Wordsworth declared himself per- 
fectly delighted and satisfied but he sat alone and silent, 
and his face covered, and was generally supposed to be 
asleep. Flaxman, too, declared he could not endure fine 
music for long. It exhausted him. But Coleridge's enjoy- 
ment was lively and openly expressed.' ' 

It is amusing to consider the possible adventures that 
a railway station offers, the places for which one can buy 
a ticket, supposing that one has the money and the leisure, 
and then to imagine what may happen at the end of the 
journey. From Euston one can travel to North Wales and 
learn something of the geographical and racial factors that 
made Mr. Lloyd George the arbiter of Europe. Or one. 
can take train to Holyhead and thence to Dublin and dis- 
cover what life is like in a Free State. Or to Liverpool 
and thence to America and prohibition. Or to the Lake 
District to think of Wordsworth and, if one is censorious, 
to shudder over his recently discovered peccadillo with a 
French lady. Or to Carlisle and thence, if one is a Socialist, 
to Glasgow, or if one is a plutocrat, to the moors. But 
Euston is over-generous in its offer of adventure. There 
is danger in too wide a range of choice. One has a sort of 
fear that one would be sure to choose wrong at Euston and 
would find oneself at Wigan. 

Railway stations, and Euston certainly among them, are 
good places to get away from. They are gloomy places to 
which to return. It is not the railway train that has killed 
the romance of travel, but the railway station. A journey 
by train through a new country often gives one splendid 
thrills, but the arrival at one's destination is a gloomy 
episode. A thorough reform of railway stations — beauty 
at the termini — would do more to make modern life really 
happy than many more materialistic proposals. 

Journeys end in lovers' meetings," says the poet. But 
surely not at Euston if the lovers are wise ! 



Bankside is that part of Southwark that lies between 
Blackfriars Bridge and Barclay's Brewery. It was old 
London's " fun city," the fun often degenerating into 
cruelty and profligacy. The Bear Garden was at Bankside, 
and bear-baiting was a favourite amusement both of the 
gentle and the simple until the Revolution. The popular 
day for bear-baiting was Sunday (London was not always 
Puritan), and during a Sunday performance in 1583 one of 
the amphitheatres fell down and many of the audience were 
killed. Stow sententiously calls this accident " a friendly 
warning to such as more delight in the cruelties of beasts 
than in the works of mercy which ought to be the Sabbath 
Day's exercise." Elizabeth was not above watching the 
bear-baiting, and both Pepys and Evelyn often visited the 
Bear Garden. Pepys, of course, enjoyed himself hugely. 
He once saw in the Bear Garden a fierce fight between 
watermen and butchers, and he says, " It was pleasant to 
see, but that I stood in the pit and feared that in the 
tumult I might get some hurt. At last the people broke up 
and so I away." Evelyn, on the other hand, considered 
bear-baiting a rude and dirty pastime. 

On Bankside near the Bear Garden were the Stews, 
eighteen licensed houses of ill -fame. In the fifteenth 
century these houses belonged to the famous William 
Walworth, Lord Mayor of London, who leased them from 
the Bishop of Winchester. Wat Tyler and his Kentish 
peasants sacked the Stews. This probably enraged Wal- 
worth more than Tyler's treason to the King, and may have 
been the reason why he dragged Wat from the sanctuary 
of St. Bartholomew's to kill him in Smithfield. 





On Bankside were the four Elizabethan theatres, the 
Hope, the Rose, the Swan and the Globe. The Globe 
Theatre was built in 1599 by Richard Burbage, the 
actor, and from then until Shakespeare's professional retire- 
ment, it was occupied by the actor-poet's company, and it 
was here that his later plays were produced. In 1601 
friends of Essex, who was charged with treason to the 
Queen, endeavoured to save him by stirring up revolution 
in London, and they bribed a member of Shakespeare's 
company to persuade him to revive " Richard II.," in the 
hope that the scene in which the King is killed would 
encourage a demonstration against Elizabeth. 

The Globe held an audience of two thousand, the prices 
of the seats varying from twopence to half-a-crown. The 
average daily receipts were about twenty-five pounds, and 
Sir Sidney Lee says that Shakespeare drew at the lowest 
estimate more than five hundred pounds a year from the 
theatre. He must, of course, have acted at the Globe, 
though little is known of the parts that he played. Accord- 
ing to a contemporary he " did act exceedingly well," and 
it is known that he played the ghost in " Hamlet " and 
Adam in ' ' As You Like It." 

Both Beaumont and Fletcher lived on Bankside, near the 
Globe, as did Edward Alleyn, the founder of Dulwich 
College, who was part-proprietor of the Rose Theatre. 
But Shakespeare never seems to have lived in Elizabethan 

What manner of man was he, the greatest of all modern 
poets, as he walked with Gerard in his Fetter Lane garden 
or rehearsed his company at Bankside ? What was he like 
in his manner as he lived ? The most attractive picture 
and the most human comes from the pen of Mr. Frank 
Harris. Shakespeare, he says, was " delicate in body and 
over excitable, yielding and irresolute in character ; with 
too great sweetness of manners and inordinately given to 
the pleasures of love." Mr. Harris adds : 

" I picture him to myself very like Swinburne — of 
middle height or below it, inclined to be stout ; the face 
well-featured, with forehead domed to reverence and quick, 
pointed chin ; a face lighted with hazel-clear vivid eyes and 
charming with sensuous-full mobile lips that curve easily 
to kisses or gay ironic laughter ; an exceedingly sensitive, 




eager speaking face that mirrors every fleeting change of 
emotion. ... I can see him talking, talking with extreme 
fluency in a high tenor voice, the reddish hair flung back 
from the high forehead, the eyes now dancing, now aflame, 
every feature quick with the ' beating mind.' " 

Bankside has fallen from its high — and its low — estate. 
Shakespeare has gone (to be honoured near by at the Old 
Vic). So have the Stews ! 



The Tower Bridge is the latest of London's bridges across 
the Thames. It was begun in 1886 and completed in 
1894. It is fascinating to watch the great drawbridges 
being raised to allow ocean-going vessels to pass along the 
road that leads from London to the ends of the earth, but 
the Tower Bridge is too young to have a history and too 
utilitarian to suggest romance. 

If that be true of the bridge, it is magnificently untrue 
of the Tower from which it takes its name. Nowhere is 
there enshrined more of the history of the English kings, 
though of the history of the English people the Tower has 
little to tell. Indeed, so far as I know, the only occasion 
when the people forcibly entered within its walls was in 
1 38 1, when Wat Tyler led his Kentish peasants inside the 
precincts, dragged the Archbishop of Canterbury from the 
altar in St. John's chapel, and struck off his head on 
Tower Hill. 

The Norman Keep of the Tower, still solid and impress- 
ive in its strength, was built by William the Conqueror in 
1078. William had a double object : to guard his new 
capital from possible foreign invasion and to overawe its 
Saxon citizens. His architect was one Gundulf, a monk, 
and, judging from his name, a Saxon, who also built part 
of Rochester Cathedral. Subsequent kings added towers 
and walls, a large part of the work being accomplished by 
Henry III., that master builder, to whom we owe much of 
Westminster Abbey and Windsor Castle. 

The Tower consists of the Norman Keep, the wall 
round the Inner Ward with its twelve towers, among them 
the Bloody Tower, the outer fortifications, and the moat. 

M5 L 




From its beginning the Tower was a State prison and, 
until the Commonwealth, a palace. In it the State jewels 
are guarded by the Yeomen of the Guard, that picturesque 
link between Tudor and twentieth-century England. The 
Yeomen of the Guard, the Beef-eaters, are of course all 
old soldiers. It will be remembered that Gilbert made 
them sing : 

Tower Warders, 

Under orders, 
Gallant pikemen, valiant sworders ! 

Brave in bearing, 

Foemen scaring, 
In their bygone days of daring ! 

Ne'er a stranger 

There to danger — 
Each was o'er the world a ranger ; 

To the story 

Of our glory 
Each a bold contributory ! 

Until the beginning of the nineteenth century the 
Royal Mint was in the Tower. The Tower has stood 
grim and strong for a thousand years, though it narrowly 
escaped destruction by bombs from German aeroplanes 
during the war. 

There are ghosts enough to choose from in the Tower, 
of princes and prelates, soldiers and statesmen, patriots and 
intriguing courtiers. Many of them were taken into the 
Tower to die, others for imprisonment and subsequent 
release. Some are good to remember, others may well be 
forgotten, for of the princes of the past there are but few 
who matter to the present. 

In the early years of the fifteenth century James I. of 
Scotland, who altogether spent seventeen years in imprison- 
ment in England, was held prisoner in the Tower. James 
was a poet as well as a king, and, in the Tower, he wrote 
" The Kingis Quair," the Chaucerian poem in which he 
tells the story of his courtship of Lady Jane Beaufort. 
Another royal poet was a prisoner in the Tower at the same 
time, Charles of Orleans, captured by the English at the 
battle of Agincourt and a prisoner in England for twenty- 
five years. Charles of Orleans is honoured among French 
poets as the master of the rondel, as Francois Villon, the 
thief (poetry knows nothing of rank), is the prince of all 




ballad makers. Robert Louis Stevenson has a charming 
paper on the prince, who survives " in a few old songs.' ' 

Henry VI., most pious of kings, and soon, after many 
years, to be canonised by Rome, was murdered in the 
Tower by Gloucester, afterwards Richard III. It would 
seem that it was inevitable in the fifteenth century for a 
king who was also a saint to meet a violent death. According 
to Shakespeare, St. Henry (I am anticipating Rome) was a 
man of spirit. There is certainly point and vehemence in 
his denunciation of his murderer : 

The owl shriek'd at thy birth, an evil sign ; 

The night-crow cried, aboding luckless time ; 

Dogs howl'd, and hideous tempest shook down trees ! 

The raven rock'd her on the chimney's top, 

And chattering pies in dismal discords sung. 

The murderous Richard III. has many connections with 
the Tower. It was here that at his order his brother, 
Clarence, and the little princes, Edward V. and his baby 
brother, were put to death. 

The Tower looms large in the history of Henry VIII. 
In it More and Fisher were imprisoned before being be- 
headed on Tower Hill, More humorous and Fisher saintly 
to the last. When More was deprived of his books and ink 
and paper, he carefully covered over the windows of his 
cell and sat in darkness. " When all the wares are gone," 
he said, " the shop windows should be shut up." Old 
Fisher, bravest of bishops and martyrs, wakened at five to 
be told that he was to be executed at nine, said to the 
Lieutenant : " Let me, by your patience, sleep an hour or 
two, for I have slept very little this night ; and yet, to tell 
true, not from any fear of death, I thank God, but by reason 
of my great weakness and infirmity." Stubborn was the 
Tudor king and stubborn were the men who opposed his 
will , and stubborn , too , were the women . The aged Margaret 
Pole, Countess of Salisbury, sent to the block for denying 
the royal supremacy, refused to bend her head. " So should 
traitors die and I am none," she said. 

In 1536 Anne Boleyn, after her short spell of glory, 
passed through the Traitors' Gate, hysterically crying, 
laughing and praying, to be tried within the Tower itself, 
her uncle being among her judges, and to be executed. 




Katherine Howard, the fifth Queen, whose story Mr. Ford 
Madox Hueffer has told so well, followed her a few years 

In the reign of Queen Mary, Wyatt, one of the knightly 
poets of the Tudor age, was imprisoned for treason in the 
Tower. There is a peculiar charm in the sixteenth-century 
love poems, these lines of Wyatt 's for instance : 

Mistrust me not, though some there be 
That fain would spot my steadfastness : 
Believe them not, since that ye see 
The proof is not as they express. 

Forsake me not, till I offend ; 

Destroy me not, till that I swerve : 
But since ye know what I intend, 

Disdain me not, that am your own. 

Elizabeth was sent to the Tower by her sister on Palm 
Sunday 1554. The tide was out, and she had to scramble 
to dry land through the mud, protesting that she was no 
traitor, " but as true a woman to the Queen's Majesty as 
any now living/ ' Elizabeth was two months in the Tower, 
and it is not surprising to learn that she was an extremely 
troublesome prisoner. After her release Elizabeth wrote 
with a diamond on a glass window at Woodstock : 

Much suspected of me, 
Nothing proved can be, 
Quoth Elizabeth, prisoner. 

Pathetic Lady Jane Grey, a Tudor blue-stocking em- 
broiled in political intrigue against her will, met her death 
in the Tower ; and Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer (for the 
last of whom I can profess no admiration) slept in the 
Tower before being taken to Oxford to be burnt as heretics. 

Elizabeth sent Essex, the favourite fallen through pre- 
sumption, to the Tower and ordered his execution, despite 
the pleadings of Francis Bacon. She said afterwards to the 
Due de Biron : " Notwithstanding his engaging in open 
revolution, he might still, by submission, have obtained my 
pardon, but neither his friends nor his relations could prevail 
upon him to ask it." 

After being robbed by James I. to enrich one of his 
greedy creatures, Walter Raleigh spent thirteen years in the 



Bloody Tower, writing his history of the world, and then 
was executed as a sop to Spain, with whom James I. was 
eager to establish good relations. Raleigh's courage never 
deserted him, though his patience sometimes did, particu- 
larly with the Lieutenant, whom he denounced as " that 
beast Waad." He made a long speech on the scaffold, 
protesting his loyalty as an Englishman, and then calmly 
prepared to die. I quote from Major Martin Hume : 

" ' I have a long journey to go,' he said, as he put off 
his long velvet gown and satin doublet, and then he asked 
the headsman to let him see the axe. ' Dost thou think I 
am afraid of it ? ' Then, smiling as he handed it back, he 
said to the Sheriff, ' This is sharp medicine, but it is a 
sound cure for all diseases.' When he was asked which way 
he would lie upon the block, he replied, ' So the heart be 
right, it is no matter which way the head lies.' Then, at 
two strokes, the wise white head fell, and one of the brightest 
geniuses that England ever saw was offered up a fruitless 
sacrifice to the cause of an impossible alliance with the 
power whose arrogance he had dared to withstand. He had 
made the fatal mistake of supposing that the high-handed 
traditions of Elizabeth maintained their potency under the 
sway of James." 

Felt on, who assassinated the Duke of Buckingham at 
Portsmouth, thus supplying Alexandre Dumas with some 
of the incidents of The Three Musketeers (how better could 
a man serve his kind ?), was imprisoned in the Tower, as 
were (so the great follow the little) Strafford and Laud, the 
martyr of the English Church. Monmouth, the unlucky 
illegitimate son of Charles II., and his judge, Bloody Jeffreys, 
followed each other within a few years. Jeffreys tried to 
escape from England after the Revolution, but was recog- 
nised at Wapping by an attorney whom he had bullied in 
his Court of Chancery, and was taken to the Tower, where 
he died a natural death a few months later. 

The event in the Tower history that most stirred the 
people of London was the committal to imprisonment there, 
in 1688, of Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the 
six other bishops who refused to obey James II. and read 
the Declaration of Indulgence in their churches. England 
was growing weary of King James, and the bishops were 
popular heroes. They were taken to the Tower by barge 



from Westminster. The whole river was alive with boats. 
Macaulay says : 

" Many clashed into the stream, and, up to their waists 
in ooze and water, cried to the holy fathers to bless them. 
All down the river, from Whitehall to London Bridge, the 
royal barge passed between lines of boats, from which arose 
a shout of ' God bless your Lordships.' The King, in 
great alarm, gave orders that the garrison of the Tower 
should be doubled, that the Guards should be held ready 
for action, and that two companies should be detached from 
every regiment in the kingdom, and sent up instantly to 
London. But the force on which he relied as the means 
of coercing the people shared all the feelings of the people. 
The very sentinels who were posted at the Traitors' Gate 
reverently asked for a blessing from the martyrs whom they 
were to guard." 

William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was im- 
prisoned for a while in the Tower for having published 
what was alleged to be a blasphemous pamphlet. Lord 
George Gordon, whose crazy Protestantism was the cause 
of the Gordon riots, was one of the last prisoners of the 
Tower. His fate, it will be remembered, is told by Dickens 
in Barnaby Rudge. One of the most romantic incidents in 
the Tower's long history is the escape of Lord Nithsdale, 
who was imprisoned with the Earl of Derwentwater and 
Viscount Kenmure after the Jacobite rising of 171 5. With 
the help of his wife Nithsdale escaped, dressed as a woman, 
and lived for many years afterwards in safety in Rome. 

There are within the precincts two ancient churches, 
St. John's, the oldest church in London, and St. Peter ad 
Vincula. There is, said Macaulay, no sadder spot on earth 
than St. Peter ad Vincula. Here are buried before the high 
altar, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard, Jady Jane Grey 
and Essex, the Countess of Salisbury and the Duke of 
Monmouth, fifteen in all of the victims of intrigue and 
tyranny. The noblest are not buried in St. Peter — neither 
More, nor Fisher, nor Laud ; nor the meanest, Thomas 
Cromwell, who taught Henry VIII. Machiavellian statecraft, 
who robbed the poor of their religion, and who established 
in England a reign of terror such as it has never known 
before or since. 



When you pass Aldgate Station, going eastward, you are in 
a foreign city. Butcher's Row, on the right-hand side, is 
entirely un-English in its appearance. The London County 
Council tramcars that pass in front of it appear intruders. 
The meat sold in Butcher's Row is Kosher. The names 
over the shops suggest Lodz rather than London. Passing 
the corner of Commercial Road, the wayfarer reaches the 
Whitechapel High Street, the main road of London's 
Ghetto. Here again five out of six of the names on the 
shops are the names of Polish Jews. From Aldgate to 
Stepney and even beyond, Yiddish is spoken as frequently 
and even, perhaps, more frequently than English. White- 
chapel is indeed a city largely inhabited by people entirely 
different in appearance and mind from the Englishman. Its 
foreign aspect is increased by the occasional timid figures 
of Lascar sailors who wander from the docks along the 
Commercial Road within the boundaries of London's 
Jewry. Yet the Lascar is to me not so essentially foreign 
as the Jew. The individual Jew may be accepted as a man 
and a brother, but the Jews in bulk as they live in White- 
chapel are disturbing in their obvious difference from their 
neighbours. They are a people apart, strong, stubborn, 
unabsorbable. As Mr. Belloc says : 

4 4 It is true of the Jews, and of the Jews alone, that they 
alone have maintained, whether through the special action 
of Providence or through some general biological or social 
law of which we are ignorant, an unfailing entity and an 
equally unfailing differentiation between themselves and 
the society through which they ceaselessly move." 

To the north of the High Street lie Petticoat Lane, the 


r 52 



scene of a famous Sunday morning market, un-English and 
un-Christian, where bargains are to be bought and where 
slop clothes are sold on barrows, and Wentworth Street, 
where fowls are sold alive to be killed according to the 
Jewish ritual. Petticoat Lane was originally called Hog 
Lane. In the reign of James I. the Spanish Ambassador 
lived there, and Ben Jonson refers to it as a suburb. Some 
of the Huguenot silk-weavers, driven out of France by the 
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, settled in Hog Lane. 
To the south, Jewry, which is always extending its boun- 
daries, now reaches almost to Chinatown. Commercial 
Road belongs to it. The parish of St. Augustine's, Stepney, 
famous for its beautiful church, hardly possesses a Christian 

Whitechapel is a grubby but not unprosperous city, 
except among its Christian inhabitants, with little of the 
grinding poverty of neighbouring Bethnal Green and 
Hoxton ; a city where the Jew, in many cases just come 
from the ghettoes of eastern Europe, works with inhuman 
industry and retains his orthodoxy till with prosperity comes 
a migration to Canonbury or Bayswater, and religious in- 
difference. In nothing, perhaps, is the Jewish particularism 
more apparent than in the fact, so evident in Whitechapel, 
that he can be dirty and prosperous. Dirt among London's 
native population is the evidence of dire poverty. An 
increase of wages, in the great majority of cases, with 
the consequent increase in self-respect, means an increase 
in the expenditure on soap. Compare the home of the 
regularly employed artisan with the home of the casual 
dock labourer ! But the Ghetto remains grimy even when 
the Jewess is bejewelled. Mr. Zangwill has called New 
York the " melting-pot " — I suppose the term applies to a 
smaller extent to Whitechapel — where the Jew is Westernised 
and absorbed. But there is force in Mr. Henry Ford's 
epigram : 

" It is all very well to talk of the melting-pot, but so far 
from the Jews melting in that pot, it looks as though they 
wanted to melt the pot itself." 

It is not without significance, by the way, that in the 
Jewish burial-ground in Whitechapel lies the body of 
Nathan Mayer Rothschild, the first of the English line of 
his house, and the greatest of our conquerors. 





There are fine churches in Whitechapel, and in the 
High Street is the London Hospital, one of the most 
wonderful of all London's many agencies of benefi- 
cence. These are reminders that one is still in London 
and in England, though the fact is sometimes hard to 

It is only within the last two generations that White- 
chapel has become the land of the Jew. In an earlier time 
it was the land of the rough. At the City end of White- 
chapel there is still a hay market where hay carts assemble, 
adding considerably to the congestion of the traffic. Years 
ago this was the largest hay and straw market in the king- 
dom. North of this market, in a district which has been 
largely cleared away, was a host of foul streets, described by 
Dickens in more than one of his novels, the homes of the 
worst rascaldom in London. A Whitechapel " bird " in 
those days was a slang expression for a ruffian of the lowest 
stamp. In the middle of the last century it was a regular 
custom for a beast to be driven from Smithfield Market 
and for these " birds " to hunt it through the streets of 
Whitechapel, towards Stepney. 

From Whitechapel the stage coaches used to start for 
the eastern counties. Mr. Pickwick often travelled over 
its cobble stones. In the churchyard of St. Mary White- 
chapel was buried, in 1649, one of the many men supposed 
to have been the executioner of Charles I. 

Whitechapel finishes at Mile End Bars. Pepys fre- 
quently traversed the road to Mile End, where there was an 
alehouse that he particularly fancied. One entry in the 
diary in 1667 says : " Thence to Mile End Greene there 
drinking, and so home, bringing home night with us." The 
ugliness of the street is broken as one passes into Mile End 
Road by a row of attractive almshouses, quaint little houses 
built by Wren " for twenty-eight decay 'd masters and 
commanders of ships or ye widows of such." 

History has been made in Whitechapel, for here, in 
the Quakers' burial-ground, f he Salvation Army was started 
by General Booth in 1865. Thomas Day, the author of 
Sandford and Merton, that smuggest of Victorian child 
stories, was born in Great George Street, Whitechapel. 

Grim and grubby and foreign as it is nowadays, 
there is some light in Whitechapel — constant picture 




exhibitions in the Whitechapel High Street, admirable 
concerts a mile or so farther east at the People's Palace, 
and the London Hospital ministering efficiently to the 
poor. But Whitechapel belongs to the Jew, tireless, 
unanglicised, terrifying. 



Where wealth is created, there are grime and sordidness 
often amounting to horror. Where wealth is spent there 
are light and colour and sometimes even beauty. That fact 
is the condemnation of our civilisation. Mr. Pennell's East 
London, with its belching factory chimneys and its subtle 
suggestion of the dull, drab streets where men and women 
and children herd together with the minimum of space, 
light, and decency, is the suggestion of the ungodliness of 
modern society. The East-end of London is the land of 
the foreigner, of the sailor and of the factory. It is not 
as depressing as many parts of South London, perhaps 
because of the frequent touch of cosmopolitanism, perhaps 
because in East London a dirty half - prosperity exists 
alongside hopeless soul-destroying poverty. But ugliness is 
East London's prevailing characteristic, particularly as one 
gets farther and farther into factory land, and particularly 
when one is away from the river, for ugliness is always 
mitigated where there is a river with its moving ships and 
barges. East London factory land is as repelling as Wigan, 
and it must be hard indeed to keep one's soul when con- 
demned to live in the midst of such complete and insistent 

Nearly a hundred and fifty years ago a new European 
era began with the industrial revolution. It is probable 
that future historians will date the end of that era from the 
Great War. East London is the creation of the industrial 
era. It is the price of prosperity, the prosperity that made 
the Victorians smug and happy and comfortable, the pro- 
sperity that has inevitably led to social unrest and the infinite 
problems of our times. There is no possibility of ridding 




ourselves of the mechanical inventions and industrial develop- 
ments that caused the building of these factory chimneys, 
One of these days, perhaps, we shall learn how to use them 
without making our cities abominations, and without com- 
pelling little children to breathe the foetid air of slums that 
are the factory's usual accompaniment. 

Before the factories were built, the East-end had its 
pleasant history and romance. Wat Tyler gathered his 
followers together on Stepney Green. Walter Raleigh, most 
attractive of Elizabethan cavaliers, stayed at Mile End and 
in the village of RatclifTe. " If thy heart fail thee, do not 
climb at all," Elizabeth once told him. His heart never 
failed him, but he tried to climb too high. How far, 
indeed, they fall who try to climb to the stars ! The 
Queen, herself, composed a rebus on his name : 

The bane of the stomach, and the word of disgrace, 
Is the name of the gentleman with the bold face. 

The lines are explained if the name is spelt Raw-lie. 

Stratford - by - Bow brings to mind the Prioress of 
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales : 

And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly 
After the scole of Stratford-atte-Bowe, 
For Frenssh of Parys was to hire unknowe. 

Stratford was once famous for its bakers, whose " creame 
and cakes " were sold all over London. 

At Old Ford, Queen Matilda, the wife of Henry I., 
built a bridge over the river Lea, " having herself been well 
washed in the water," and apparently fearing further acci- 
dents. In 1663 Pepys dined in a garden in Bethnal Green, 
where he noticed " the greatest quantity of strawberries I 
ever saw and good." 

Spitalfields has its modern romance. In 1870, when 
Pope Pius IX. pronounced the decree of papal infallibility, 
it was necessary for him to wear a new vestment woven in 
one piece. Search was made all over Europe for a weaver 
with sufficient skill for the task, and he was found at last in 
Spitalfields and, such is the irony of human affairs, he was 
a descendant of a Huguenot driven out of France by the 
revocation of the Edict of Nantes. 

From 1769 to 1824 the wages of the Spitalfields silk- 




weavers were fixed by statute. Their earnings enabled 
them to live in decent comfort and, as is common with 
well-paid workers, they spent their leisure with admirable 
intelligence. Church tells us : 

" The Spitalfields Mathematical Society is second in 
time to the Royal Society and still exists. There was an 
Historical Society, which was merged in the Mathematical 
Society. There was a Floricultural Society, very numerously 
attended, but now extinct. The weavers were almost the 
only botanists of their day in the metropolis. They passed 
their leisure hours, and generally the whole family dined on 
Sundays, at the little gardens in the environs of London, 
now mostly built upon, in small rooms about the size of 
modern omnibuses (1840), with a fireplace at the end. 
There was an Entomological Society, and they were the first 
entomologists in the kingdom. The Society is gone. They 
had a Recitation Society for Shakespearean readings, as well 
as reading other authors, which is almost forgotten. They 
had a Musical Society, but this is also gone. They had a 
Columbarian Society, which gave a silver medal as a prize 
for the best pigeons of the fancy breed. They were great 
bird-fanciers, and breeders of canaries, many of whom now 
cheer their quiet hours while at the loom. Their breed of 
spaniels called Splashers were of the best sporting blood. 
. . . Many of the weavers were Freemasons, but there are 
now very few left, and those old men. Many of the houses in 
Spitalfields had porticoes with seats at their doors, where the 
weavers might be seen on summer evenings enjoying their 
pipes. The porticoes have given way to improvements of 
the pavements / ■ 

When the Act regulating wages was repealed, long hours 
and bad payments became the rule, and the many societies 

Poplar certainly derived its name from the poplar trees 
that grew there, but Limehouse derives its name, not from 
the lime trees, but from lime kilns. Blackwall, " a notable 
harbour for ships," was often visited both by Raleigh and 
Pepys, who had an adventure on the Isle of Dogs, " a 
fine rich level for fattening of cattle." Pepys says in his 
diary : 

" We set out so late, that it grew dark, so we doubted 
the losing of our way ; and a long time it was, or seemed, 

158 LONDON xxxviii 

before we could get to the water side, and that about eleven 
at night, when we come, all merry, we found no ferry-boat 
was there, nor no oares to carry us to Deptford. However, 
oares was called from the other side at Greenwich ; but 
when it come, a frolick, being mighty merry, took us, and 
there we would sleep all night in the coach in the Isle of 
Doggs : so we did, there being now with us my Lady 
Scott ; and with great pleasure drew up the glasses, and 
slept till daylight, and then some victuals and wine being 
brought us, we ate a bit, and so up and took boat, merry 
as might be ; and when we come to Sir G. Carteret's, 
there all to bed. ,, 

A murder in Ratcliffe Highway, now renamed, is one of 
the subjects of De Quincey's Murder considered as a Fine 
Art. The Highway has its outstanding interest nowadays. 
It is the centre of London's Chinatown and it is the head- 
quarters of Jamrach's famous wild beast emporium. 

Dickens knew the East-end as he knew all London. 
Rogue Riderhood in Our Mutual Friend lived at Limehouse, 
and Bill Sikes lived in Bethnal Green, " in a maze of the 
mean and dirty streets which abound in that close and 
densely populated quarter." 

Chatterton, the tragic boy poet, lodged in Shoreditch 
when he first came to London in 1770. He wrote political 
squibs, for which he was paid a shilling each, and sometimes 
he was lucky enough to sell a poem for eighteenpence — 
until in despair he poisoned himself with arsenic in his 
garret in Brook Street, Holborn. He was then seventeen 
years and nine months old. 

Truly there is tragedy — as indeed there is humour — in 
every London street. 




There is nothing in this wide world more romantic than a 
great river on the banks of which stands a great city, and 
of all the cities in Europe, London is luckiest in its river. 
The Seine at Paris, the Tiber at Rome, are insignificant 
compared to the wide sweep of the Thames at London. 
Above the city the Thames is a thing of joy and beauty, as 
it runs from Lechlade, linked for all time with the name of 
William Morris, through Abingdon to Oxford and on to 
Pangbourne and Goring, commercialised for a mile or so 
by Reading, to find unsullied beauty again at Sonning and 
Wargrave and Henley. Then miles more of typical English 
beauty till Boulter's Lock is passed. The lock really marks 
the eastern end of the rural Thames ; for Maidenhead is 
Cockney and raffish and, despite Windsor Castle, the scenery 
as one journeys Londonwards is not to be compared with 
the upper stream until, that is, Richmond, still unspoiled, 
is reached. But good as is the Thames above London, the 
lower Thames, the subject of Mr. Pennell's picture, sug- 
gests a far greater measure of history and romance. We 
have already noted that St. Peter once honoured the 
Thames by crossing it at Westminster, since when it has 
been crossed by many saints and sinners. And the 
reach is below the bridges, the road to everywhere, the 
satellite of the sea, a fibre of empire if you will, but in 
reality something far greater, the street of genuine adven- 
ture. In his delightful book, London River, Mr. H. M. 
Tomlinson says : 

" There is a hill-top at Woolwich from which, better 
than from Richmond, our River, the burden-bearer, the 
road which joins us to New York and Sydney, can be seen 





for what it is, plainly related to a vaster world, with the 
ships upon its bright path moving through the smoke and 
buildings of the City. And surely some surmise of what 
our River is, comes to a few of that multitude which crosses 
London Bridge every day ? They favour the east side of 
it, I have noticed, and they cannot always resist a pause 
to stare overside to the Pool. Why do they ? Ships are 
there, it is true, but only insignificant traders, diminished 
by sombre cliffs up which their cargo is hauled piecemeal to 
vanish instantly into mid-air caverns ; London absorbs all 
they have as morsels. Anyhow, it is the business of ships. 
The people on the bridge watch another life below, with 
its strange cries and mysterious movements. A leisurely 
wisp of steam rises from a steamer's funnel. She is alive 
and breathing, though motionless. The walls enclosing the 
Pool are spectral in a winter light, and might be no more 
than the almost forgotten memory of a dark past. Looking 
at them intently, to give them a name, the wayfarer on the 
bridge could imagine they were maintained there only by 
the frail effort of his will. Once they were, but now, in 
some moods, they are merely remembered. Only the men 
busy on the deck of the ship below are real. 

" Through an arch beneath the feet a barge shoots 
out noiselessly on the ebb, and staring down at its sudden 
apparition you feel dizzily that it has the bridge in tow, 
and that all you people on it are being drawn unresisting 
into that lower world of shades. You release yourself 
from this spell with an effort and look at the faces of those 
who are beside you at the parapet. What are their 
thoughts ? Do they know ? Have they also seen the 
ghosts ? Have they felt stirring a secret and forgotten 
desire, old memories, tales that were told ? They move 
away and go to their desks, or to their homes in the 
suburbs. A vessel that has hauled into the fairway calls 
for the Tower Bridge gates to be opened for her. She is 
going. We watch the eastern mists take her from us. 
For we never are so passive and well-disciplined to the 
things which compel us, but rebellion comes at times — 
misgiving that there is a world beyond the one we know, 
regret that we never ventured and made no discovery, and 
that our time has been saved and not spent. The gates to 
the outer world close again. 





" There where the ship has vanished, is the highway 
which brought those unknown folk whose need created 
London out of reeds and mere. It is our oldest road, and 
now has many by-paths." 

Apart from the thrills conveyed by its wilderness of 
ghosts, there is no such London thrill as the river provides 
with its barges in the early morning or the evening haze, 
sailing lazy towards the sea. It was on a May morning 
that Tom Hood wrote : 

Gold above, and gold below, 

The earth reflected the golden glow, 

From river, and hill, and valley ; 
Gilt by the golden light of morn, 
The Thames — it look'd like the Golden Horn, 
And the barge, that carried coal or corn, 

Like Cleopatra's Galley ! 

Drop downstream from Westminster, remembering, as 
the journey begins, that in 1807 Byron swam from Lambeth 
" through the two bridges, Westminster and Blackfriars, a 
distance, including the different turns and tacks made on 
the way, of three miles/ 9 Once a year the Thames water- 
men row from London Bridge to Chelsea for a prize of 
" an orange-coloured livery with a badge representing 
liberty," the purchase money for which was given by Doggett, 
an actor, in 171 6. From Tudor times the London watermen 
have been famous for expressive and explosive language. 
" They will have the last word," said Ben Jonson, and 
Boswell records : 

" It is well known that there was formerly a rude custom 
for those who were sailing upon the Thames to accost each 
other as they passed in the most abusive language they 
could invent ; generally, however, with as much satirical 
humour as they were capable of producing. Johnson 
was once eminently successful in this species of contest. 
A fellow having attacked him with some coarse raillery, 
Johnson answered him thus, * Sir, your wife, under pretence 
of keeping a bawdy house, is a receiver of stolen goods.' " 

On the right between Westminster and Blackfriars 
bridges is the Shot Tower, opposite the flaming modernity 
of the Cecil and Savoy Hotels, a river mark that, though it 
has lost its purpose, retains its interest. 




On the left, as you leave the City and the Tower behind 
you, you pass Wapping and Limehouse and the Isle of 
Dogs. Limehouse river front, drawn by Mr. Pennell, is 
a picturesque reminder of earlier river days. " Explore 
Wapping," recommended Dr. Johnson, but, nowadays, 
the explorer would find little but (I quote Mr. Tomlinson) 
" mud, taverns, pawnshops, neglected and obscure churches 
and houses that might know nothing but ill-fortune. ,, 
Limehouse and Poplar below it are the land of docks, of 
sailors and strange foreigners assembled from the ends of 
the earth. On the right bank below bridges are Rotherhithe, 
where, so Swift tells us, Gulliver was born, and Deptford, 
where Peter the Great once worked in the dockyard. The 
streets in the districts bordering the river are often named 
after far-away cities. They are linked with the life of 
the sea. The river on which they stand is " the main 
thoroughfare from Kensington to Valparaiso." 

The muddy waters of the Thames, scarred by thousands 
of keels, befouled by commercialism and the rubbish of a 
great city, were once clear and limpid, even in the tideway, 
well stocked with fish of the choicest. In Holinshed's 
Chronicle, dating from the end of the sixteenth century, one 
reads : 

" What should I speak of the fat and sweet salmon, and 
that in such plenty (after the time of the smelt be passed) 
as no river in Europe is able to exceed it. What store also 
of barbel, trout, chevin, perch, smelt, bream, roach, dace, 
gudgeon, flounder, shrimps, etc., are commonly to be had 
therein, I refer to them that know by experience better than 
I, by reason of their daily trade of fishing in the same. 
And albeit it seemeth from time to time to be as it were 
defrauded in sundry wise of these large commodities by the 
insatiable avarice of the fishermen, yet this famous river 
complaineth commonly of no want ; but the more it loseth 
at one time the more it yieldeth at another. Only in carp 
it seemeth to be scant, since it is not long since that kind of 
fish was brought over to England, and but of late to speak 
of into this stream, by the violent rage of sundry land- 
floods that brake open the heads and dams of divers 
gentlemen's ponds, by which means it became somewhat 
partaker also of this said commodity ; whereof once it had 
no portion that I could ever hear (of). Oh ! that this 




river might be spared but even one year from nets, etc., 
but alas ! then should many a poor man be undone. . . . 

" In like manner I could intreat of the infinite number 
of swans daily to be seen upon this river, the two thousand 
wherries and small boats whereby three thousand poor 
watermen are maintained, through the carriage and re- 
carriage of such persons as pass or repass from time to time 
upon the same ; besides those huge tide-boats, tilt-boats, 
and barges, which either carry passengers, or bring neces- 
sary provisions from all quarters of Oxfordshire, Berkshire, 
Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, 
Essex, and Kent unto the City of London.' ' 

The " sweet salmon " have disappeared. The swans 
have moved upstream. The wherries are now numbered 
in scores and not in thousands. But " the noble Thames 
with all his goodly traine " remains. 



As its name suggests, Greenwich was a Saxon village, and 
it remained a small village until the sixteenth century. 
The Manor of Greenwich was Crown land before the 
Norman Conquest, and there was a royal residence there in 
the reign of Edward I. The Manor was given to Humphrey, 
Duke of Gloucester, who was Regent during the minority of 
Henry VI . Humphrey was an arrogant and incapable person 
whose one outstanding virtue was a love of letters. He 
befriended English contemporary writers, and he presented 
many books to the University of Oxford, three of which are 
still in the Bodleian Library. Edward IV. enlarged and 
beautified Greenwich Palace. Richard III. was married 
there, and Henry VIII. was born there in June 1491, and 
was baptized at Greenwich Parish Church. Greenwich was 
Henry's favourite palace and it was the scene of many of 
the most interesting events in his life. He was married at 
Greenwich to Catherine of Aragon in 1509. He first met 
Anne Boleyn at a masque at the Palace in 1522. Both his 
daughters were born at Greenwich. It was while on her 
way from Greenwich by barge to Whitehall that Anne 
Boleyn was arrested and taken to the Tower. The winter 
of 1536 was one of the severest on record, and it is said 
that Henry and Jane Seymour " now lately become Queen 
rode across the Thames to Greenwich Palace on horseback 
with all the Court.' ' Henry married Anne of Cleves at 
Greenwich Palace. 

The fact that Greenwich was next door to the dockyard 
at Deptford was one of the reasons of its attraction for 
Henry and Elizabeth. Henry was staying at Greenwich 
when the Great Harry was launched at Deptford. From 



the windows of the Palace Elizabeth watched Martin 
Frobisher with his two small ships starting to discover the 
North-west Passage, and from the same windows she saw 
Drake on the Golden Hind returning from his voyage round 
the world. Every ship as she passed the royal palace fired 
a salute and dipped her flag. 

The Due d'Alencon, the youngest son of Catherine de 
Medici, whom Elizabeth seems seriously to have thought 
of marrying, visited her at Greenwich in 1582. Like his 
brothers, he must have been a horrid young man, and, 
after seeing him, the Queen declared, " I would not marry 
Alencon to be Empress of the world." Nevertheless — the 
Tudor Queen was as inconsistent as the rest of us — when 
he had left England, Elizabeth dropped into poetry. The 
poem is printed by Mr. Chamberlin in his The Sayings of 
Queen Elizabeth : 

I grieve, yet dare not show my discontent ; 
I love, and yet am forced to seem to hate ; 
I dote, but dare not what I ever meant ; 
I seem stark mute, yet inwardly doe prate ; 
I am, and am not — freeze, and yet I burn ; 
Since from myself my other self I turn. 

My care is like my shadow in the sun — 
Follows me flying — flies when I pursue it ; 
Stands and lives by me — does what I have done ; 
This too familiar care doth make me rue it. 
No means I find to rid him from my breast, 
Till by the end of things it be suppressed. 

Some gentler passion steal into my mind, 
(For I am soft, and made of melting snow ;) 
Or be more cruel, love, or be more kind ; 
Or let me float or sink, be high or low ; 
Or let me live with some more sweet content ; 
Or die, and so forget what love e'er meant. 

James I. and Charles I. were both constantly at Green- 
wich. During the Civil War the Palace fell into decay, 
and although after the Restoration Charles II. thought of 
restoring it, the cost was too great. The only part of the 
old Palace left was the Queen's House, which was handed 
over to the Navy Office where Pepys spent part of his 
official life. 

Moved by the plight of the sailors wounded in the 



battle of La Hogue in 1692, Queen Mary II. determined to 
use Greenwich Palace as a hospital " similar in plan to her 
uncle's foundation at Chelsea for veteran soldiers.' ' The 
plan was carried out by her husband after her death. Sir 
Christopher Wren was the architect of the Hospital and 
Evelyn was one of the Royal Commissioners, contributing 
a donation of a thousand pounds to the fund. The Hospital 
was established " for seamen and mariners who from old 
age, wounds or infirmities are incapable of further service.' ' 
With characteristic official meanness, an Act of Parliament 
was passed in 1696 to enforce a contribution of sixpence a 
month to the Hospital out of the miserable wages then paid 
in the navy. 

The building of the Hospital took nearly sixty years, but 
the first batch of pensioners was admitted in 1705. The 
rations were so plentiful that the pensioners added to their 
income by selling part of them to the Greenwich poor. 
The weekly allowance for each man consisted of seven i-lb. 
loaves ; 3 lb. of beef ; 2 lb. of mutton ; a pint of peas ; 
1 J lb. of cheese ; 2 oz. of butter and fourteen quarts of 
beer, and a shilling a week with which to buy tobacco. 

The unfortunate Admiral Byng was imprisoned at 
Greenwich Hospital for four and a half months before 
being taken to Portsmouth to be court-martialled and shot. 
Johnson visited the Hospital in 1763. He said, according 
to Boswell, that it was " too magnificent for a place of 
charity and that its parts were too much detached to make 
one great whole." Johnson had stayed in Greenwich 
twenty-six years earlier, next door to the Golden Heart in 
Church Street, at the time when he was writing his play 
" Irene/' composing part of it while walking in the Park. 
" Irene " was produced at Drury Lane by Garrick twelve 
years after it was written. It is described by Leslie Stephen 
as " one of the heaviest and most unreadable of dramatic 
performances." Even Boswell, where his hero is concerned 
the greatest sycophant in history, has to admit its entire 
absence of dramatic interest, though he adds that it is 
" entitled to the praise of superior excellence." It ran at 
Drury Lane for nine nights. During his stay " next door 
to the Golden Heart," Johnson, who was then at the 
beginning of his struggling stage, wrote an interesting letter 
to Cave, the bookseller : 




Sir — Having observed in your papers very uncommon offers of 
encouragement to men of letters, I have chosen, being a stranger in 
London, to communicate to you the following design, which, I hope, 
if you join in it, will be of advantage to both of us. 

The History of the Council of Trent having been lately translated 
into French, and published with large Notes by Dr. Le Conrayer, 
the reputation of that book is so much revived in England, that it is 
presumed a new translation of it from the Italian, together with 
Le Conrayer's Notes from the French, could not fail of a favourable 

If it be answered, that the History is already in English, it must 
be remembered, that there was the same objection against Le 
Conrayer's undertaking, with this disadvantage, that the French had 
a version by one of their best translators, whereas you cannot read 
three pages of the English History without discovering that the style 
is capable of great improvements ; but whether those improvements 
are to be expected from the attempt, you must judge from the 
specimen, which, if you approve the proposal, I shall submit to 
your examination. 

Suppose the merit of the versions equal, we may hope that the 
addition of the Notes will turn the balance in our favour, consider- 
ing the reputation of the Annotator. 

Be pleased to favour me with a speedy answer, if you are not 
willing to engage in this scheme ; and appoint me a day to wait 
upon you, if you are. — I am, Sir, your humble servant, 

Sam. Johnson. 

In Johnson's London occur the lines : 

On Thames' banks in silent thought we stood, 
Where Greenwich smiles upon the silver flood ; 
Pleased with the seat that gave Eliza birth, 
We kneel and kiss the consecrated earth. 

I do not suppose that he did. Johnson the poet might 
be guilty of the suggestion, but Johnson the Tory realist 
would not dream of acting on it. 

The great Admiral Rodney was at one time the Governor 
of Greenwich Hospital, and Lord Hood was the Governor 
in the year of Trafalgar. Nelson's body lay in state in the 
Painted Hall of Greenwich Hospital for three days before 
the funeral in St. Paul's, and over a hundred thousand 
people came from London by river and by road to pay 
their tribute to the greatest of all England's heroes. When 
the gates were finally closed, it is said that " an enormous 
multitude of people extending from London to Greenwich 



were obliged to return without seeing the object of their 
pilgrimage/ ' The river funeral procession was a mile long. 
The barge that carried the body flew the Victory's flag, 
and carried State Trumpeters in their full dress and a guard 
of naval officers. Nelson's Hardy was appointed Governor 
of Greenwich Hospital in 1834. The Hospital was closed 
in 1869. There had been no naval battles for nearly half 
a century, and there were not enough pensioners to make 
it worth while keeping up so expensive an establishment. 
In 1873 the Hospital became the Royal Naval College. 

Greenwich Park was first enclosed by Humphrey, Duke 
of Gloucester, who built in it a tower which was the be- 
ginning of the Royal Observatory. This tower was used 
sometimes as a residence and sometimes as a prison, 
Leicester being confined there by Queen Elizabeth when 
he had incurred Gloriana's displeasure by marrying. 
Greenwich Observatory was founded to assist navigation. 
It is obviously necessary for a ship's captain to know exactly 
where he is when at sea. From earliest times the latitude 
could be determined, as Mr. Walter Maunder tells us (I am 
a child in these matters), by observing the height of the 
Pole Star at night or the height of the sun at noonday ; 
but longitude was another matter. Philip of Spain offered 
a large money prize for solving the longitude problem, and 
it was the great Galileo who suggested the solution. First 
of all it was necessary to determine a standard time, and it 
was with the idea of settling this standard, or Greenwich 
time, that the Observatory was started. The first Astro- 
nomer-Royal was John Flamsteed, who received a salary of 
a hundred pounds a year. He was a sickly, difficult man, 
who had the greatest trouble to obtain the necessary instru- 
ments from a parsimonious Government and who, in- 
cidentally, quarrelled with Isaac Newton. Mr. Maunder 
has told us exactly what they do in Greenwich Observatory : 

" The daily observation of the sun and of many stars — 
selected from a carefully chosen list of some hundreds, and 
known as ' clock stars ' — the determination of the error of 
the standard clock to the hundredth of a second if possible, 
and its correction twice a day, the sending out of time 
signals to the General Post Office and other places, whence 
they are distributed all over the country ; the care, the 
winding, and rating of hundreds of chronometer watches, 




and from time to time the determination of the longitude 
of foreign or colonial cities, make up a heavy, ceaseless 
routine in which there is little opportunity for the realisa- 
tion of an astronomer's life as it is apt to be popularly 

Greenwich was once famous for a riotous fair that 
offended Victorian proprieties and was suppressed in the 
fifties of last century. From Greenwich Lord Chesterfield 
dated some of his famous letters to his son. At Greenwich 
lived for many years Lavinia Fenton, the creator of Polly 
Peachum in " The Beggar's Opera," and until almost the 
end of the nineteenth century Cabinet Ministers used to 
make regular trips down the river to Greenwich to eat fish 
dinners at the Ship. 



For the purposes of this book, and since it has seemed good 
to Mr. Pennell to include a picture of the Crystal Palace in 
his portfolio, I spent some hours of a spring day at Sydenham 
wandering about the Crystal Palace, gazing with awe at the 
great organ and shuddering a little at the mentality of a 
people to whom there is joy in size et praeterea nihil. My 
friend, the late Ivan Heald, one of the many brilliant young 
men whose careers the Great War brought to an untimely 
end, was for some months stationed at the Crystal Palace. 
He records that one morning he was ordered to clean the 
steps leading to the garden and that he was rilled with terror 
that the next day he might be ordered to clean the windows. 

A house that is all windows is more fearsome than a 
house with none. Without light there can be no life, but 
without shadows there can be no dreams. 

The Crystal Palace marks an important episode in the 
history of England. In 1851 Prince Albert, the Consort 
of Queen Victoria, achieved the ambition of his life, and a 
great exhibition was opened in Hyde Park. The main 
building of the exhibition, the Crystal Palace, was first 
erected immediately east of where the Albert Memorial 
now stands. It was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton. It 
covered an area of nearly nineteen acres. It enclosed 
beneath its roof some unfortunate elm trees (how Teutonic !), 
and it was visited during twenty-four weeks by over twenty- 
six million persons. The exhibition was, of course, opened 
on the first day by the Queen, who was immensely touched 
by the enthusiasm of the people, by a glass fountain and 
by a beautiful Amazon in bronze. In one of her letters she 
says of this opening day, the 1st of May, that it was " the 



greatest day in our history, the most beautiful and amazing 
and touching spectacle ever seen, and the triumph of my 
beloved Albert. ... It has been the happiest, brightest day 
in my life and I can think of nothing else. Albert's dearest 
name is immortalised with this great conception, his own, 
and my own dear country showed she was worthy of it. 
The triumph is immense." O wondrous Victoria ! The 
opening day of an overgrown conservatory the brightest 
day in the history of a country that had seen a Crecy and 
an Agincourt, a Trafalgar and a Waterloo ; that is the 
birthplace of Shakespeare and Bunyan and Shelley ! 

But there it is — the Queen has said it — her husband is 
immortalised by the Crystal Palace at Sydenham and 
England has shown herself worthy of it. The country that 
possesses Westminster Abbey and Ely Cathedral worthy of 
the Crystal Palace ! 

He was a strange man, the Coburger who married the 
Queen of England, precise, conscientious, intelligent, dull, 
caring nothing for fashionable fribble, yearning for the 
society of the serious, eager to defend the rights of kings. 
He was responsible for far more than the Crystal Palace. 
It was he who decided the orientation of the British Court 
during the Victorian era towards Germany. Doubtless 
Victoria's sympathies would sooner or later have been with 
her German relatives, but at one time she was extremely 
sympathetic with Louis Philippe, and in later years she was 
dazzled by the cheap flatteries of Napoleon III. But Albert 
was a German, and Albert and his mentor, Baron Stockmar, 
had decided, even before he married the Queen, that the 
unity and greatness of Germany could only be attained 
under Prussian leadership. So in face of the opposition 
of Palmerston, most English of the nineteenth - century 
statesmen, England permitted Prussia to absorb Schleswig- 
Holstein. This made it possible for her to become a naval 
power, and was the first step in the series of Bismarckian 
aggressions that concluded with the war against France in 
1870 and the proclamation of the Hohenzollern German 
Empire at Versailles. To Prince Albert, therefore, in- 
directly, but certainly actually, as well as to Bismarck and 
Moltke, was due the German domination of Europe for 
forty-four years, a domination culminating in the most 
dreadful war the world has ever known. 




So at the Crystal Palace, whether you are listening to 
the Handel Festival with its enormous orchestra and still 
more enormous choir, or whether on a summer's evening 
you are on the terrace watching Mr. Brock's fireworks, 
remember that the man who, as his wife recorded, is 
immortalised in this great glass monster was one of the 
makers of the nineteenth century, and possibly one of the 
wreckers of the twentieth, as Mr. Lytton Strachey has 
drawn him, a virtuous, persevering, intelligent, proud, lonely 
and always rather unhappy man, a German who was always 
an exile in England. 



In the gardens of Hampton Court Palace there is one of 
the finest herbaceous borders that I know, a joyous flower- 
bed such as only can be seen in southern England. To 
me this herbaceous border is the glory of the Palace. I do 
not forget its history. I remember, for instance, that the 
Palace was built by the great Cardinal Wolsey in the early 
years of the sixteenth century. But a live flower-bed is 
worth a wilderness of dead cardinals. 

Wolsey was wont to walk alone in his garden, pondering 
the schemes that were to make England great and himself 
greater, schemes that he dreamt were to carry him to the 
Papal throne. In order that his meditations might not be 
interrupted, his servants were commanded never to ap- 
proach him nearer than " as far as one might shoot an 
arrow/ ' Wolsey was one of the two great English ecclesi- 
astical statesmen ; the other was St. Dunstan who lived 
centuries before. No one has ever suggested that Wolsey 
should be canonised, though he had his great qualities and 
was indeed the great servant of a lesser master. It was 
said of him by the Venetian Ambassador in London : " He 
is very handsome, learned, extremely eloquent, of fine 
ability and indefatigable. He alone transacts the business 
which occupies all the magistrates and counsels of Venice, 
both civil and criminal, and all state affairs are managed 
by him, let their nature be what it may. He is grave and 
has the reputation of being extremely just ; he favours the 
people exceedingly and especially the poor, hearing their 
suits and seeking to dispatch them instantly. ,, A just man 
if a greedy man, a kindly and able man, though proud, it 
was a great figure that strode up and down the garden walks 





at Hampton Court, with waiting and perhaps rather fearful 
servants a bowshot away, with, I fear, no herbaceous border 
to gladden his heart as I have to gladden mine. 

When Wolsey realised that his master, the greediest 
king in history, envied him the beautiful house that he had 
built by the side of the Thames (it is the finest specimen 
of Tudor architecture in existence), he gave it to him as a 
present lest worse might befall him. Henry VIII. made 
additions to the Palace after it had become his, and it was 
his favourite residence. He planted quickset hedges, he 
bought pear trees and apple trees for which he paid six- 
pence each, and damsons for which he paid twopence. 
Here Edward VI. was born in September 1537, a great 
event for his father, since the King, who had insisted that 
the English should have two religions because he needed 
two wives, and who established arbitrary rule for the first 
time in this country, never felt that his throne was safe 
until he had a male heir. News of the birth of the young 
prince, whose life was to be so tragically short and sad, 
was received with rapture, particularly by the Reformers. 
Latimer went so far as to say that by granting a prince to 
England God " hath shewed Himself the God of England ; 
or rather an English God." If, as has often been stated, 
the Renaissance saw the beginning of Nationalism, old 
Hugh Latimer's exaggeration shows how quickly the plant 
grew. Joy very soon gave place to sorrow, for a month 
after the birth of her son Jane Seymour, the one of his 
many wives whom the King really loved, died in Hampton 
Court Palace and her husband in sorrow hid himself away 
alone in his Palace at Westminster. 

Elizabeth was often at Hampton Court, and Shake- 
speare's play " Henry VIII." was acted there, it is said, 
with the poet in the cast. The gardens must have con- 
tinued to have been the chief delight of the place. They 
are described by a foreign visitor during the reign of Eliza- 
beth as being most pleasant with rosemary " so planted and 
nailed to the walls as to cover them entirely, which is a 
method exceedingly common in England." 

When James I. came south from Scotland, a conference 
was held between Anglican and Presbyterian divines at 
Hampton Court that differences might be discussed and 
reunion, still unaccomplished, might be brought about. 




In the reign of Charles I. the canal was brought into the 
gardens. During the Commonwealth, Hampton Court was 
sold to a profiteer of the period. There has never been a 
revolution without its profiteers. But Cromwell restored 
it to the State. Charles II. appears to have gone to 
Hampton Court very rarely, but during his reign many 
elms and lime trees were planted in the park. Dutch 
William, who built Kensington Palace, revelled in Hampton 
Court and his handiwork may be still seen in the gardens. 
It was he who planted the box, the yew and the holly, 
cutting them into the shape of fearsome monsters. It was 
he who made straight canals where irregular rivulets had 
been before. It was he who erected fountains, as Walpole 
said (no man, by the way, ever loved the artificial more than 
Walpole), " to wet the unwary, not to refresh the panting 
spectator. " It was William, too, who laid out the wilder- 
ness and planted the avenues, though the maze belongs to a 
later period. The great vine was planted in 1769, and it 
is said that in one year it produced over two thousand 
bunches of grapes. Christopher Wren built for King 
William one of the three courts of the Palace that remain. 

Many and wonderful are the artistic possessions of 
Hampton Court Palace — tapestries designed, so Evelyn tells 
us, by Raphael and presented by the Emperor Charles V. 
to the great Cardinal ; carvings by Grinling Gibbons, 
pictures by Kneller, Van Dyck, Peter Lely, and a dozen 
others of the great. But fine as the pictures are, to me the 
interest of the old Palace, an interest that never fails, lies in 
its dramatic historical associations, though let it be repeated 
that one's feet instinctively turn on a summer's day towards 
the herbaceous border. 

The Hampton Court ghosts are a noble company. One 
sees the great Wolsey and thinks of him falling like Lucifer, 
never to rise again, and Johnson's sententious lines occur 
to one's mind : 

Speak thou whose thoughts at humble peace repine, 
Shall Wolsey's wealth and Wolsey's end be thine ? 

One thinks of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, most 
chivalrous of poets, writing lines on a pane of one of the 
windows to the fair Geraldine ; one thinks of the birth of 
Edward VI. and of the death of his unhappy mother ; one 

i 7 6 



thinks of Queen Mary I. spending her honeymoon at 
Hampton Court with the dull, gloomy Philip of Spain ; 
one thinks of Shakespeare acting in the great hall before the 
Virgin Queen ; one thinks of Charles I. and Cromwell in 
secret consultation, Cromwell doubtless earnestly desiring 
to save the King's life, the King declining, as he always 
declined, to surrender anything of his faith ; one thinks of 
Cromwell during the Protectorate using Hampton Court as 
modern Prime Ministers use Chequers, and hunting in 
Bushy Park. It was at Hampton Court that James II. 
received the Papal Nuncio, and by so doing hastened the end 
of his reign ; and it was a Hampton Court mole that made 
William III.'s horse stumble and was the cause of his death, 
Pope wrote of Hampton Court in the reign of Queen Anne : 

Close by those meads, for ever crown'd with flowers, 
Where Thames with pride surveys his rising towers, 
There stands a structure of majestic frame, 
Which from the neighboring Hampton takes its name. 
Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoom 
Of foreign tyrants, and of nymphs at home ; 
Here thou, great Anna, whom three realms obey, 
Dost sometimes counsel take, and sometimes tea. 


Printed in Great Britain by R. & R. Clark, Limited, Edinburgh.