Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

speculations on the future success of the English counties in the career of honourable' competition now opening to them, nor to exaggerate the present importance of the new provincial institutions. But we will not shrink from declaring our conviction; that under the genius of our free constitution and in a country where wealth and intelligence are so widely diffused, the causes before mentioned, if ever permitted to operate with full energy, would lead at once to splendid success in every department of Science and Art, and would carry our excellence in all those subjects for which we are at present distinguished to a much higher degree of perfection. The English counties present a field for the developement of rivalry without parallel in the internal organization of other European kingdoms. They liave never been wanting in a due sense of their own importance, having from time immemorial exercised independent civil and political rights. They have been accustomed to the residence of an hereditary aristocracy warm with feelings of local attachment, and deriving their power and influence from family connections, from the possession of property, or public services, and not merely from the favour of the crown. The Capital' has never in England assumed an ascendancy over public opinion; it has never, as in France, drained the deserted provinces of native talent, and presented the only theatre where genius could aspire to distinction and hope to meet with due encouragement. In population no less than in the extension of education many of our English counties surpass at present, what is ascribed to the most considerable of the ancient independent states of Greece and Italy,—to Attica, for instance, or Tuscany, the parents of so many illustrious citizens. If it be impossible to excite in the provinces of the same country quite so animated a competition in the noblest subjects of contention, as between different independerit powers, it should also be remembered that in the former case evils and calamities most repugnant to the free growth of knowledge, yet inseparably incident to minute political subdivision, are happily avoided.

We shall take an early opportunity of attending more particularly to the Scientific Institutions of Scotland and Ireland,

Art. IX.-1. A Letter to the Earl of Liverpool, proposing to finish the East Wing of Somerset House for National Galleries,

By J. W. Croker, Esq. 1823. 2. Observations on the Buildings, Improvements, and Extension

of the Metropolis, of late Years; with some Suggestions, 8c.
8vo.
pp.
150, 1825.
M 2

3. Sketch

.

3. Sketch of the North Bank of the Thames, showing the proposed

Quay, and some other Improvements, suggested by Lieutenant

Colonel Trench. Folio. 1825. 4. Considerations upon the Expediency of Building a Metropolitan

Palace. By a Member of Parliament. 8vo. pp. 68. 1825. 5. A Letter to the Right Honourable Sir Charles Long, on the

Improvements proposed and now carrying on in the Western

Part of London. Svo. pp. 37. 1825. 6. Short Remarks and Suggestions upon the Improvements now

carrying on or under Consideration. 8vo. pp. 48. 1826. THE architectural growth and improvement of our capital may

well engage a few of our pages at this time, when not only every lounger through our streets speculates upon their embel·lishment, but the public attention in higher quarters is seriously directed to this object. Most of the pamphlets which we have -now before us were printed for private distribution, and on that account we are not perhaps entitled to treat them like more regular productions; but though not published, they were printed .to be read, and as they have already been largely circulated, their authors cannot, we think, be much offended by some notice of them here.

The capability of London for the display of architectural magnificence will not be disputed. The positions of other great cities may indeed exhibit more striking features; we cannot, for instance, command an Acropolis; but the situation of this Metropolis happily combines all which may contribute to its wealth and convenience. Seated on a gentle slope descending to the margin of a noble river, its plain is bounded on the north and south by two beautiful ranges of hills, affording at once easy access, facilities to cleanliness and ventilation, and that in which its rival Paris is so deficient, abundant springs of the purest water.

We have high authority for believing that ancient London (Lyn-din, the City on the Lake) overlooked an extensive basin, -whose waters washed the bases of the Surrey hills, though the Thames, now confined by embankments, flows within his pro

London was not occupied as a Roman station so early as Colchester and Verulam. It has been doubted if Julius Cæsar ever saw it. The walls were erected by Theodosius, governor of Britain, in the year 369. They were bounded on the east and west by the Fleet and the Wallbrook, on the south .by the Thames, and on the north by a morass, beyond which lay an extensive forest, stretching also towards the eastern side of the city. Fitzstephen, who wrote in the time of Henry II. describes it as then filled with beasts of chase. The first bridge was thrown across the Thames about the year 1000, by the monks

of

per channel.

of St. Mary Over-Eye (over the water), who till then had maintained a ferry which gave name to their convent. Even this frail wooden fabric is recorded to have been deemed an impregnable barrier by the invader Canute, who cut a channel from Rotherhithe into the Thames above the bridge, and dragged his vessels through it to blockade the city. This old bridge having been destroyed by fire, that which is now about to be pulled down was erected'in 1176. Within the memory of persons yet living this second bridge was laden with an irregular pile of crazy buildings, chiefly occupied by pin-makers, (the first of whom was a Spanish negro,) overhanging the huge starlings on either side, and bound together by cross-beams of timber, beneath which the passengers groped along a narrow and dismal way. The remains of the drawbridge in the middle were guarded by an antique tower, and another bulwark protected the entrance from the suburb thence called Southwark. These singular appendages, which are represented in Hollar's curious print, were removed, together with most of the city-gates, by authority of Parliament in the year 1760. No demand for additional means of communication across the river was made till 1738, when Labelye, a Swiss architect, was employed to build the bridge of Westminster. That of Blackfriars, by Milne, was added in 1761.

The most ancient relic in the city is . London Stone,' which may still be seen inserted in the wall of St. Swithin's church, Cannonstreet. It seems to have been regarded with a superstitious reverence as the Palladium of the city. When Jack Cade, at the head of his rebel army, entered London, he struck his sword on this stone, saying, “now is Mortimer lord of this citie.'

The fine old gothic cathedral of St. Paul, anciently called Eastminster, which fell in the Great Fire of 1666, covered three acres with its walls. The beautiful spire rose high above the city, and one of its aisles (Paul's Walk) was the daily resort of traders, newsmongers, and sharpers. In front stood Paul's Cross, a pulpit of wood, noted for political sermons, and for the nobler exertions of Latimer and others of our distinguished reformers. This Cross was demolished in 1641, by order of the Long Parliament, who issued a commission for the destruction of pictures and other monuments and relics of idolatry. The beautiful cross of Queen Eleanor in West Chepe (Cheapside) shared the same fate; and the ancient May Pole which stood on the site of the New Church in the Strand was removed by Sir Isaac Newton to Wanstead park, as a support to his great telescope.

In Aggas's map of London, as it was in 1560, Finsbury and Holborn, St. Giles and St. Martin's, appear as scattered villages. Westminster was not only a distinct but a distant city. A long

M 3

dreary

names.

dreary road led through Lud-gate to the village of Charing, where another of Eleanor's crosses (now supplanted by Le Soeur's fine statue of Charles I.) pointed the way to the palaces of Whitehall and Westminster. Beyond this cross all was open field and garden. Hedge-lane (now Witcombe-street) and the Haymarket are marked as the roads to Oxenforde and Redynge. On the top of Hay-hill stood the gibbet of Sir Thomas Wyat. In Marybone (now the Regent's) Park, Queen Elizabeth sent her Russian ambassadors to hunt. At a noted Bowling-green and House of Entertainment, (set up on the suppression of Spring Gardens,) were sold a sort of Cakes called Piccadillas, which gave title to the fine street of which this resort was the origin. A little east of this stood the country-house of Lord Keeper Coventry; and, further on, the mansion of SydneyEarl-of Leicester, upon the sites now occupied by the Street, Passage, and Square, which retain these

North of this arose King's square, on one side of which stood the house of the Duke of Monmouth, after whose execution his friends changed this royal name to Soho,' the watchword with which he advanced to the fatal battle of Sedgemoor. Hanover and Cavendish squares first appeared in the maps about the year 1720; Oxford-street at that time extended no farther than Princes-street, and Bond-street reached only to Conduitmead. Trinity Chapel, which stands in that quarter of the town, has a curious history. It was originally a Popish chapel of wood mounted on wheels, and followed the camp of James II. to Hounslow Heath, where it remained neglected long after the Revolution, till Archbishop Tennison, then rector of St. Martin's, brought it back to its present position, and rebuilt it of more durable materials. .

The venerable Abbey of Westminster, on Thorney Island, was surrounded on three sides by a creek, which opening near Manchester Buildings crossed King's-street and College-street, supplying the Canal in St. James's Park, and thence rejoined the Thames.' The adjacent palace of Edward the Confessor, of which the noble Hall of Rufus and a few fragments only remain, covered both the palace-yards, and extended as far as Whitehall, where it joined to the precincts of York House. On the disgrace of Wolsey, the latter was seized for the use of the king, who from that time kept his court there. St. James's Hospital, till then under the jurisdiction of Eton College, was also seized by Henry VIII. who converted it to a palace, and inclosed the Park, which was afterwards planted by Charles II.

The magnificent palace of Whitehall, designed by Inigo Jones, for James I., was to have comprised six distinct courts; but the beautiful Banqueting-room alone was completed. At that period

the

the royal palaces occupied the whole of the east side of the street of Whitehall and that part on the west where the Horse-Guards, and the Home Office and Treasury now stand. The site of the present Admiralty was occupied by Wallingford House, where died, in 1632,) of a disease as horrible as her depravity, the infamous Countess of Essex, and from the roof of which Archbishop Usher beheld the execution of his royal master. In Scotland-yard, stood the ancient palace of King Kenneth. Kingstreet, the only thoroughfare, was guarded by a gate; and another of nobler dimensions, designed by Holbein, stood in the midst of Whitehall, and formed the principal entrance to the palace.

When The Great Fire of 1666 destroyed almost the whole city within the walls, London possessed an arehitect worthy of raising the fallen càpital from her ashes. But the citizens ignorantly rejected the beautiful plan of Sir Christopher Wren, who proposed to carry a spacious street in a direct line from St. Paul's to the Exchange, another to the Tower, and a third westward from the same point to Piccadilly. A terrace was to adorn the bank of the river, beside which he intended to place the Halls of the twelve great Companies. The king and his ministers warmly supported this masterly conception, but to little purpose: the citizens cramped Sir Christopher in his operations so as almost wholly to frustrate the design. He effected, nevertheless, great improvement in the comfort and cleanliness of the city, as one proof of which it may be observed, that the plague, which in the preceding year is stated to have carried off 160,000 persons, nevet afterwards appeared.

In 1766 (just a century after) Mr. John Gwynn, an architect of reputation, dedicated to his late Majesty proposals for the improvement of London and Westminster, and plans for the erection of a Royal Palace in Hyde-park, upon a scale of magnificence which would satisfy the most enthusiastic of modern projectors. This work (now scarce) displays excellent taste, and anticipates nearly all the improvements since made or now contemplated. On one of his plans we observe · St. George's-bridge' occupying nearly the site of our bridge of Waterloo, with a noble street leading north through Bow-street. · King's-square' is seen occupying the place of the Mewg. A great street leads north from Pall Mall, nearly in the line of Regent-street, and another east from Piccadilly. Splendid improvements for Whitehall and Palace-yard are also sketched out, as well as a quay on both banks of the river, extending as far as London-bridge.- No part of his ingenious design, however, was adopted: the publication does not appear to have produced any public interest at the time; and Mr. Gwynn

M 4

has

« AnteriorContinuar »