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round the church, and painting the cupola, the directing of which is taken out of my hands, and therefore I hope that I am neither answerable for them, nor that the said suspending clause can, or ought to, affect me any further on that account. As for painting the cupola, your lordships know it has been long under consideration; that I have no power left me concerning it; and that it is not resolved in what manner to do it, or whether at all. And as for the iron fence, it is so remarkable and fresh in memory by whose influence and importunity it was wrested from me, and the doing it carried in a way that I may venture to say will ever be condemned. I have just this to observe further, that your lordships had no hand in it; and consequently ought not to share in the blame that may attend it.
"This, then, being the case, and nothing left that I think can keep the same clause of suspension any longer in force against me,
"I most humbly pray your Lordships to grant your warrant for paying me what is due to me on that article, which was 1,300/. last Michaelmas. And if for the future my advice and assistance be required in any thing about the said cathedral, I will be ready to give the same, and to leave the consideration of it to your lordships."
This representation not succeeding, he applied at once to parliament, who rendered him that tardy justice, the long denial of which reflects so much disgrace on those who opposed his just claims.
"Whereupon that honourable and august assembly," says Sir Christopher," "so considered his case, and were so well satisfied with the justice and the reasonableness of it, as to declare the church to be finished so far as was required to be done and performed by him as surveyor-general. And it was accordingly enacted, that the suspended salary should be paid him on or before December the 25th, 1711, which he has the truest sense of, and has not, he hopes, been wanting in all due acknowledgments and returns for it. Neither is it possible that he, or his posterity should ever forget so signal and distinguishing a favour, while he can remember the unjust and vile treatment he had from some in the late commis
• In a pamphlet which he published stating his case, and for the purpose of answering an attack made -n him in a pamphlet entitled Fraudulent AWsos at St. Paul's,"
sion for St. Paul's; which was such at gave him reason enough to think that they intended him none of the suspended salary, if it had been left in their power to defeat him of it."
By the death of Anne, Wren lost the last of his royal patrons; in the new reign, the king's partiality for his German subjects and their connections deprived him of the sunshine of royal favour. His talents, his uprightness, and his fame were all forgotten: the corruption of that period in the disposal of patronage is well known. At last, after a severe struggle in the 86th year of his age and the 49th of his office as surveyor-general, he was deprived of his patent in favour of one Benson, his German influence prevailing over one who would not condescend to truckle even to a court, and whose life, as Walpole observes, having enriched the reign of several princes, disgraced the last of them. The intrigue which deprived him of his office is noticed in the memoirs of John Ker of Kersland; who states that, "so great was the influence of Benson, (a favourite of the Germans,) that Sir C. Wren, the famous architect who contrived the stately edifice of St. Paul's church, was turned out of his employment to make way for this favourite of foreigners." Pope also in a note to the Bunciad says, " In favour of this man, the famous Sir C. Wren, who had been architect to the crown for above fifty years, who built most of the churches in London, laid the first stone of St. Paul's, and lived to finish it, was displaced from his employment at the age of 90 years."
It may, indeed, be observed, that Wren's son was at this time member for Windsor, and probably some opposition to the wishes of the court might have had an influence on the father's fall. Benson himself, however, was soon disgraced and removed on the discovery of his ignorance and incapacity, and marked for public prosecution for his dishonesty; but the same influence, which had caused his original elevation, at once stopped the prosecution and loaded him with disgraceful rewards out of the public purse,' in the shape
• Benson and Wren each had his due notice in the Duaciad.
Benson, sole j udge of architecture, sit,
of reversionary grants and crown leases.
The following curious paper of Wren's is given by Mr. Elmes: it is in answer to the commissioners, who insisted on a balustrade to St. Paul's, none having been originally designed; and it is one of the long series of attacks which were made on him by his enemies.
"I have considered the resolution of the honourable the commissioners for adorning St. Paul's Cathedral, dated October 15, 1717, and brought to me on the 21st, importing that a balustrade of stone be set up on the top of the church, unless Sir Christopher Wren, in writing under his hand, set forth, that it is contrary to the principles of architecture, and give his opinion in a fortnight's time; and if he doth not, then the resolution of a balustrade is to be proceeded with.
"In observation of this resolution, I take leave, first, to declare I never designed a balustrade. Persons of little skill in architecture did expect, I believe, to see something they had been used to in Gothic structures; and ladies think nothing well without an edging. I should gladly have complied with the vulgar taste, but I suspended for reasons following:
"A balustrade is supposed a sort of plinth over the upper colonnade, which may be divided into balusters over open parts or voids, but kept solid over solid parts, such as pilasters; for a continued range of balusters cannot be proposed to stand alone against high winds: they would be liable to be lopped down in a row, if there were not solid parts at due distances intermixed, which solid parts are in the form of pedestals, and may be in length as long as the frieze below where pilasters are double, as in our case; for double pilasters may have one united pedestal, as they have one entablature and one frieze extended over both. But, now, in the inward angles, where the pilasters cannot be doubled, as before they were, the two voids or more open parts would be in the angle with one small pilaster between them, and create a very disagreeable mixture. I am furtherto observe, that there is already over the entablature a proper plinth, which regularly terminates the building; and as no provision was originally made in my plan for a balustrade, the setting up one in such a confused manner over the plinth must apparently break into the harmony of
the whole machine, and, in this particular case, be contrary to the principles of architecture.
"The like objections as to some other ornaments, suppose of vases, for they will be double upon the solids; but in the inward angles there will be scarce room for one, though each of them be about two feet nine inches at bottom, and nine feet high: yet these will appear contemptible below, and bigger we cannot make them unless we fall into the crime of false bearing, which artisans of the lowest rank will have sense enough to condemn.
"My opinion, therefore, is to have statues erected on the four pediments only, which will be a most proper, noble, and sufficient ornament to the whole fabric, and was never omitted in the best ancient Greek and Roman architecture; the principles of which, throughout all my schemes of this colossal structure, I have religiously endeavoured to follow; and if I glory, it is in the singular mercy of God, who has enabled me to begin and finish my great work so conformable to the ancient model.
"The pedestals for the statues I have already laid in the building, which now stand naked for want of their acroteria. "Christopher Wren."
These details respecting the erection of a building which (if we except St. Peter's) is unrivalled in the world, will not, it is hoped, appear either trifling or tedious, but give an additional interest to the contemplation of that splendid monument of Wren's genius.
The character and fate of Michael Angelo and Wren were in many respects akin: remarkable alike for the universality of genius, each the builder of the greatest work of architecture of his time, each untainted by any vice, and regardless of private interests, (for Michael Angelo received no remuneration on account of St. Peter's,) they were both persecuted by the envious, and each had his works altered by the ignorant. Michael Angelo's severe honesty, in compelling those who received pay to give their labour in return, conjured up a whole host of enemies; and sickened with these obstacles he sought to free himself by the resignation of his charge, "I entreat your eminence," he writes to Cardinal Carpi, "to liberate me from this vexatious employment, which, by the command of the popes, I undertook seventeen years ago, during which period I have given'manifest proofs of my zeal in the prosecution of the work. I again earnestly entreat I may resign, which would be conferring on me the greatest favour."
Amongst the many willing to do justice to the merit and the modesty of Wren, when labouring under the persecution of court intrigue, was Sir Richard Steele, who.in his Taller, No.52, under the character of Nestor of Athens, observes 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 ; this bashful quality still put a damp on his great knowledge, which has as fatal an effect upon men's reputation as poverty, for it is said, (Ecclesiasticus, ch. ix. v. 15,) The poor man by his wisdom delivered the city, yet no man remembered the same poor man. So here we find the modest man built the city, and the modest man's skill was unknown; but surely posterity are obliged to allow him that praise after his death which he so industriously declined while he was living."
To the End of his Life.
Wren quitted the field without a struggle; he retired in peace from the world to his home at Hampton Court, without being affected by any of that bitterness or those angry feelings which the ingratitude and injustice of a court so often engender in minds of less noble stamp, saying, Nunc me jubet fortuna expeditius philosophari. Cheerful in his solitude, and as well pleased to die in the shade as in the light—his son observes of him in the Parenialia, " that the vigour of his mind continued with a vivacity rarely found in persons of his age, till within a short period of his death, and not till then could he quit the great aim of his whole life to be (to use his own words) a benefactor to mankind; his great humanity appearing to the last in benevolence and complacency, free from all moroseness in behaviour or aspect; he was happily endued with such an evenness of temper, steady tranquillity, and Christian fortitude, that no injurious incidents or inquietudes of human life could ever ruffle or discompose."
The five remaining years of his life were passed in complete repose. Returning occasionally to superintend the repairs of Westminster Abbey, his only remaining public employment, he di
vided his time between the study of the Scriptures, which were at once his guide and his delight, and in the revision of his philosophical works, more particularly those upon the Longitude, and his tracts on Mathematics and Astronomy. Time, which had enfeebled his limbs, left his faculties unclouded till nearly the end of his existence. His chief delight to the very close of life was, that of being carried once a year to see his great work; "the beginning and completion of which," observes Walpole, "was an event which one cannot wonder left such an impression of content on the mind of the good old man, that it seemed to recall a memory almost deadened to every other use."
Wren's dissolution was as placid as the tenour of his existence had been. On the 25th of February, 1723, his servant conceiving he slept longer afterhis dinner than usual, entered his room, and found him dead in his chair.—He, to whom in his latter days all distinction had been denied, received, as frequently happens, the tardy honour of a splendid funeral; his remains were deposited in the crypt under the southernmost window of the choir of the Cathedral which he had raised; a plain black slab alone covers the coffin, but no monument beyond the Pile itself attests his goodness or his greatness. On the western jamb of the window of the crypt, is a tablet with this inscription:
Qui visit annos ultra nonaginta
Non sibi sed bono publico.
Lector, si monumentum qussris
Robert Milne, one of his successors in the care of the cathedral, caused this inscription to be placed in gilt letters in a tablet in front of the skreen of the organ: and it is a reproach to the nation and to the age, that no other monument has ever been erected. Indeed, until Mr. Elmes's volume, (with the exception of the Parentalia, )t no biographical notice of him had been published. We trust, however, that before long Mr. Cockerel, the present architect to St. Paul's, who has lately superintended its repairs with so much judgment, will carry into effect an intention he is known long to have entertained, of giving to the world a critical account of Wren's most important architectural works, accompanied by a selection from the large collection of drawings now in the library of All Souls' College. Till this shall be done, it can hardly be said that his professional merits can be duly appreciated. Mr. Cockerel's attainments and talents afford a pledge that the work will be all that either the architect or the amateur can require.
• " Beneath is laid the builder of this church and city, Christopher Wren, who lived above ninety years, not for himself but for the public good. Reader, if thou seekest for his monument, look around."
t Parentalia, or Memoirs of the Family of the Wrens, folio, London, 1/50. This work was commenced by the son of Sir C. Wren, and was not completed till thirty years after his death, when it was published by his grandson, Stephen Wren. The work itself is of little interest; most of the facts it records have been adopted by Mr. Eltnes, in his Life ofWren, 4to., 1823, and from these two works tn#t biographical part of the present treatise has been chiefly compiled.
Wren was twice married; first to the daughter of Sir Thomas Coghill, by whom he had one son, Christopher. He afterwards married a daughter of William Lord Fitzwilliam, Baron of Lifford, in Ireland, by whom he had a son and a daughter. The family is not extinct: Mr. Elmes mentions two daughters, and the son of his grandson Stephen, and Christopher Wren, the son of their cousin, of Wroxhall-abbey, in Warwickshire, a seat of Sir C. Wren's, where his only son, Christopher, is buried.
In considering the life of Wren we are struck with the splendour of his abilities, the greatness of his pereseverance and labour, the scantiness of his remuneration, and the ingratitude and injustice which he experienced towards the close of his long and arduous course. When the prices paid in these days to artists are called to mind, what must be the surprise at learning that the whole salary paid to the architect of St Paul's was only 201)1. a year. Wren afforded all his services in the building of Greenwich Hospital, without any salary or emolument, preferring in this, as in every other passage of his life, the public service to private advantage. And it will be observed, that his salary of 200/. a year was not paid for his mere designs and time; it included the whole expense of models and drawings of every part, the daily overseeing of the works, the framing of the estimates and contracts, and auditing the bills. Without making any invidious comparison, it cannot be denied, that of late there have been few such examples shown of disinterested services towards the public by artists employed in situations similar to his. The scantiness of his pay
was more than once noticed by the writers of the time; and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, in a letter* respeeting the charges of one of the persons employed to superintend the completion of Blenheim, who had made a charge of 300/. a year for his services, beside a salary for his clerk, complains bitterly at being compelled to pay this, "when," she observes," it is well known that Sir C. Wren was content to be dragged up in a basket three or four times a week to the top of St. Paul's, and at great hazard, for 200/. a year."—Her Grace was perhaps but little capable of drawing any nice distinction between the feelings of the hired surveyor of Blenheim, and those of our architect in the contemplation of the rising of the fabric which his vast genius was calling into existence: her notions led her to estimate the matter by the simple process of the rule of three direct; and on this principle she certainly had good reason to complain of her surveyor.
In addition to the great work of St. Paul's, Wren, who was appointed the architect for the rebuilding of the whole city, superintended the erection of all the churches, amounting to more than fifty; he was also the architect and contriver of Chelsea College, and the principal officer and comptroller of the works at Windsor. A considerable part of Greenwich Hospital was erected by him, and a splendid palace for a hunting seat of Charles II., now turned into a barrack, was commenced at Winchester. In addition to all these duties, a large proportion of his time was occupied, after the fire of London, in setting out and ascertaining the sites of the different houses destroyed—an employment little suited to his genius, and which involved him in endless altercation. His pay as the architect for rebuilding the churches in the city, was not more liberal than for St. Paul's, being no more than 100/. a year; the parish of St. Stephen, Walbrook, however, appears, on his completing that admirable church, to have voted a present to his lady of twenty guineas!
In a sketch intended merely for general readers, it is not necessary to enumerate in detail the different churches erected by him: those which
• In the possession of W. Tooke, Esq.
•re most celebrated for the beauty and convenience of the interior, are St. Stephen's, Walbrook, St. Andrew's, Holborn, and St. James's Church in Piccadilly. St. Stephen's is, by many, considered as the most perfect specimen of Wren's genius; and it has not, perhaps, been surpassed by any modern edifice in elegance and unity of design. It is an oblong square of seventy-five by fifty-six feet; its peculiar beauty arises from the elegance of the vaulting, the form of the cupola, the disposition of the Corinthian columns, the lightness of the supporting arches, and the distribution of the light from above. A judicious and elegant writer on the Public Buildings of London observes, "that this building, so little known amongst us, is famous all over Europe, and is reputed the masterpiece of Wren. Perhaps Italy itself can produce no modern building that can vie with it in taste or proportion. There is not a beauty which the plan would admit of, that is not to be found here in its greatest perfection: and foreigners very justly call our taste in question for understanding its graces no better, and allowing it no higher degree of fame." Such is the reputation of this structure amongst foreigners, that an anecdote is told of an Italian architect who arrived in London and immediately returned after having visited St. Stephen's.
The church of St. James, in Piccadilly, is divided, in the interior, into a nave and two aisles; the principal merit is in the formation of the roof, which is described from information furnished by Mr. Cockerel, as singularly ingenious and economical; and its simplicity, strength, and beauty, are represented as a perfect study of construction and architectural economy. Sir Christopher Wren, who himself conceived this to be one of the best contrived of his churches, observes in a letter—
"Churches must be large: but still, in our reformed religion, it should seem vain to make a parish church larger than that all who are present can both hear and see. The Romanists, indeed, may build larger churches: it is enough if they hear the murmurs of the mass, and see the elevation of the host; but ours are to be fitted for auditories. I can hardly think it practicable to make a single room so capacious, with pews and galleries,- as to hold above two thousand persons, and all to hear the service, and see the preacher. I en
deavoured to effect this, in building the parish church of St. James, Westminster, which, I presume, is the most capacious with these qualifications that hath yet been built; and yet at a solemn time, when the church was much crowded, I could not discern from a gallery, that two thousand were present . In this church I mention, though very broad, and the nave arched up, yet as there are no walls of a second order, nor lanterns, nor buttresses, but the whole of the roof rests upon the pillars, as do also the galleries, I think it may be found beautiful and convenient, and, as such, the cheapest of any form I could invent."
The interior of St. Andrew's, Holborn, after St. James's Church, affords one of the best specimens of arrangement; spacious, rich, and beautiful. It has a nave and two aisles divided into a basement and galleries: the length is a hundred and five feet, the breadth sixty-three, and the height forty-three.
No architect can come in competition with Wren in the construction of the steeple, which is considered a requisite in Christian churches, and in the composing of which it required his genius to combine the excellence of the Roman architecture, with the requisites of height and lightness, to which it had not before been adapted with any success. The spire of St. Dunstan's in the East is admitted to be unrivalled for elegance, and is one of the finest monuments of geometrical skill in existence. That of Bow Church is also among the most elegant of Wren's works ; the bottom is a plain tower till it rises over the houses; above this is a beautiful temple, and over it stand flying buttresses supporting a lighter temple, surmounted by a spire. Nothing can afford fuller evidence of his power to combine and adapt the elegant features of the Roman architecture, so as to suit the genius of the work. Wren has not fallen into the common error in building spires, of making the spire straddle across a Greek pediment and crush it with the weight; thus, the spire of Bow Church is built separately, and rises from the ground at an angle of the church.
Another curious work of Wren was the pendulum stage in the upper part of the spire ot the Chichester Cathedral, which he rebuilt, to counteract the south-westerly gales, which had forced it from its perpendicularity. (Fig. 6) A