Several notions about this great idea have been entertained in past years; but in 1814, Brunei, the great engineer, noticed the work of a worm on a vessel's keel, where it had sawn its way longitudinally, and he caught an idea. In 1833, he formed a "Thames Tunnel Company," and in 1825 he commenced operations, but it was not opened till 1843 for passengers. There are no carriage approaches to it, and it is only available to foot travellers. The ascent and descent is by shafts of, perhaps, one hundred steps. I think I heard that the great work cost the company, and government, who helped them, about half a million sterling. The passages are all lighted up with gas, and in the way you find raree shows of a dioramic character, and plenty of music, and not a few venders of views and models of the tunnel. After leaving this river curiosity, we went to see the new Houses of Parliament, which run along the banks of the river, in close neighborhood to Westminster Abbey. I felt disappointed at the first view, it is altogether so much like a very large pasteboard model—such a thing as you often see in ladies' fairs for charity. To my notion, the affair wants character; it is all beautiful detail. The length is about oho thousand feet. The clock tower is to be three hundred and twenty feet high. It is vain to describe the building, which is far too immense and complicated for my pea. I never was so bewildered in a place before. As I think you would like to have a correct idea of the House of Lords, I will quote from the description which was handed us on entering, but even then you will fail to understand its gorgeous character.
"Its length is ninety feet; height, forty-five feet, and width the same; so that it is a double cube. It is lighted by twelve windows, six on each side, each of which is divided by mullions into four, these being intersected by a transom, making eight lights in each window, which are made of stained glass, representing the kings and queens, consort and regnant, since the Conquest. The ceiling is flat, and divided into eighteen large compartments, which are subdivided by smaller ribs into four, having at the intersection lozenge-shaped compartments. The centre of the south end is occupied by the throne, each side of which are doors opening into the Victoria Lobby. The throne is elevated on steps. The canopy is divided into three compartments, the centre one rising higher than the others, and having under it the royal chair, which is a brilliant piece of workmanship; studded round the back with crystals. The shape of the chair is similar in outline to that in which the monarchs have been crowned, and which is in Westminster Abbey, but, of course, widely different in detail and decoration. On each side of this chair are others for Prince Albert and the Prince of Wales. At the north end is the bar of the house, where appeals are heard, and the Commons assemble when summoned on the occasion of the opening of Parliament. Above the bar is the reporters' gallery, behind which is the strangers', and round the sides of the House is another gallery, intended for the use of peeresses, &c., on state occasions.
"At the north and south ends of the house, above the gallery, are three compartments, corresponding in size and shape to the windows, and containing fresco paintings. Those at the north end are 'the Spirit of Religion,' by J.C. Horsley; 'the Spirit of Chivalry' and 'the Spirit of Justice,' by D. Maclise, R.A. Those at the south end, over the throne, are 'the Baptism of Ethelbert,' by Dyce; 'Edward III. conferring the Order of the Garter on the Black Prince,' and 'the Committal of Prince Henry by Judge Gascoigne,' by C.W. Cope, R.A. Between the windows are richly-decorated niches and canopies, which are to have bronze statues in them. In casting the eye round the whole room, it is almost impossible to detect scarcely a square inch which is not either carved or gilded. The ceiling, with its massive gilded and decorated panels, presents a most imposing and gorgeous effect, and one of truly royal splendor. The St. Stephen's Hall is ninety-five feet long, thirty feet wide, and sixty feet high; the roof is stone-groined, springing from clustered columns running up the side of the hall. The bosses, at the intersections of the main ribs, are carved in high relief, with incidents descriptive of the life of Stephen.
"This hall leads through a lofty archway into the central hall, which is octagon in plan, having columns at the angles, from which spring ribs forming a grand stone groin finishing in the centre, with an octagon lantern, the bosses at the intersections of all the ribs elaborately carved. The size of this hall is sixty-eight feet in diameter, and it is sixty feet to the crown of the groin."
The House of Commons, which is now in the course of completion, is quite a contrast to the splendor of the House of Lords. Its length is eighty-four feet; width, forty-five feet; and height, forty-three feet. An oak gallery runs all round the house, supported by posts at intervals, having carved heads, and spandrills supporting the main ribs. The strangers' gallery is at the south end, in front of which is the speaker's order gallery. At the north end is the reporters' gallery, over which is the ladies' gallery—being behind a stone screen. The libraries are fine rooms, looking out on the river. I have no time to tell you of the beautiful refreshment rooms, excepting to say that the one for the peers is one hundred feet long. I must not forget to say that in the tower is to be a wondrous clock, the dial of which is to be thirty feet in diameter! We went to see these buildings by an order from the lord chamberlain. The total cost is estimated at between eight and ten millions of dollars. It certainly is very rich, and looks finely from the river; but it is unfortunately too near to the abbey, and wants force. After leaving the Houses of Parliament, we went to Westminster Hall, which has some of the finest historical recollections connected with any public building in England. Really, I felt more awe in entering this hall than I ever remember to have experienced. I cannot tell you the size of it, but it is the largest room in Europe without a support, and the span of the roof is the widest known. The roof, of chestnut, is exceedingly fine. Only think, my dear fellow, what events have transpired on this spot. The following trials took place here: Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, for high treason, 1521; Sir Thomas More, 1535; Duke of Somerset, for treason, 1552; Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, for his attachment to Mary, Queen of Scots; Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, 1601, and Earl of Southampton; Guy Fawkes and the Gun-powder Plot conspirators; Robert Carr, Earl of Southampton, and his countess, for murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, 1616; Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, 1641; Archbishop Laud; Charles I., for his attacks upon the liberties of his country, 1649; the seven bishops, in the reign of James II.; Dr. Sacheverel, 1710; in 1716, the Earls Derwentwater, Nithisdale, and Carnwath, and the Lords Widdington, Kenmure, and Nairn, for the rebellion of 1715; Harley, Earl of Oxford, 1717; the Earls Cromartie and Kilmarnock, and Lord Balmerino, 1746, for the rebellion of 1745; Lord Lovat, 1747; William Lord Byron, for the death of William Chaworth in a bloody duel, 1765; Lord Ferrers, for the murder of his steward; the infamous Duchess of Kingston, for bigamy, 1776; and Warren Hastings, for cruelty in his office as Governor of India, 1788.
And besides all this, here have been the coronation feasts of all England's monarchs, from William Rufus, who built it in 1099, down to George IV., 1820. Sad times and merry ones have been here. We stepped from the hall into the courts of law, which have entrances from this apartment, and we saw the lord chancellor on the bench in one, and the judges sitting in another. The courts were small, and not very imposing in their appearance.
O, we have had a noble treat; and how I longed for your company, as we spent hour after hour in the British Museum. The building is very fine, but the inside—that is every thing. The entire front is, I think, about four hundred feet, and I reckoned forty-four columns forming a colonnade; these are forty-five feet high. The portico is now receiving magnificent sculpture in relief; and when the whole is finished, and the colossal statues surmount the pediment, and the fine iron palisadoes, now erecting, are completed, I think the edifice will be among the finest in the world. The entrance hall is most imposing, and the ceiling is richly painted in encaustic. The staircases are very grand, and their side walls are cased with red Aberdeen granite, brought to an exquisite polish. To describe the British Museum would be a vain attempt. In the hall are several fine statues. Especially did we admire the one of Shakspeare by Roubilliac, and given by Garrick. We soon found our way to the Nineveh Gallery, and were wide awake to look after the relics of Nineveh dug up by Layard on the banks of the Tigris. Here is a monstrous human head, having bull's horns and ears, many fragments of horses' heads, bulls, &c., &c. The colossal figure of the king is very grand, and discovers great art. There is also a fine colossal priest, and the war sculptures are of the deepest interest. Then we went to the Lycian Room. The sculptures here were found at Xanthus, in Lycia. These ruins claim a date of five hundred years before Christ. Here are some exquisite fragments of frieze, describing processions, entertainments, sacrifices, and female figures of great beauty.
In the Grand Saloon are numerous Roman remains of sculpture. In the Phigalian Saloon are marbles found at a temple of Apollo, near Phigalia, in Arcadia, in 1814. The Elgin Saloon is devoted to the magnificent marbles taken in 1804, from temples at Athens, by the Earl of Elgin, and were purchased by Parliament for thirty-five thousand pounds. They are chiefly ornaments from the Parthenon, a Doric temple built in the time of Pericles, B.C. 450, by Phidias. No one can fail to be impressed with the great beauty of these conceptions. The famous Sigean inscription is written in the most ancient of Greek letters, boustrophedon-wise; that is, the lines follow each other as oxen turn from one furrow to another in ploughing.
There are five galleries devoted to natural history, and are named thus: the Botanical Museum, Mammalia Gallery, Eastern Zooelogical Gallery, Northern Zooelogical Gallery, and the Mineral Gallery. The specimens in all these are very fine. Nothing can be finer than the mammalia. The preservation has been perfect, and far surpasses what I have been accustomed to see in museums, where decay seems to be often rioting upon the remains of nature. The department of ornithology is wonderful, and I could have enjoyed a whole day in examining the birds of all climates. In conchology the collection is very rich. I do not often get such a gratification as I had among the portraits which are hanging on the walls of these galleries. The very men I had heard so much of, and read about, were here lifelike, painted by the best artists of their day. I was much pleased with the picture of Mary, Queen of Scots, by Jansen; of Cromwell, by Walker; of Queen Elizabeth, by Zucchero; of Charles II., by Lely; of Sir Isaac Newton; of Lord Bacon; of Voltaire; of John Guttenburg; and of Archbishop Cranmer. As to the library and the MSS., what shall I say? The collection of books is the largest in the kingdom, and valuable beyond calculation. It amounts to seven hundred thousand. We looked at illuminated gospels, Bibles, missals, till we were bewildered with the gold and purple splendor; and then we walked from one glass case to another, gazing upon autographs that made us heart-sick when we thought of our juvenile treasures in this line. If ever I did covet any thing, it was some old scraps of paper which had the handwriting of Milton, Cromwell, Luther, Melancthon, Erasmus, and a long et caetera of such worthies. You know how much we love medals and coins; well, here we revelled to our heart's delight. Country after country has its history here, beautifully illustrated. The museum has two spacious rooms devoted to reading, and the access to these treasures is very liberal.
If I could stay in London one year, I should certainly propose to spend three or four months in study and research at the British Museum; nor do I imagine that it would be lost time. It seems to me that such a place must make scholars; but I know, by my own painful recollection, that opportunities for improvement are not always valued as they should be. I have been much struck lately with the thought that men of leisure are not the men who do much in literature. It never has been so. Here and there a rich man cultivates his mind; but it is your busy men who leave the mark upon the age.
While in the museum, we were shown Lord Chief Justice Campbell, the author of the Lives of the Chancellors, &c. He is a working-man, if there be one in England, and yet he finds time to elaborate volume upon volume. I feel ashamed when I think how little I have acquired, how very little I know that I might have understood, and what immensely larger acquisitions have been made by those who have never enjoyed half my advantages. There is a boy, only fifteen, who resorts to this museum, and is said to understand its contents better than most of its visitors; and a livery servant, some few years ago, used to spend all his hours of leisure here, and wrote some excellent papers upon historical subjects. If I have gained any good by my journey yet, it is the conviction, I feel growing stronger every day, that I must work, and that every one must work, in order to excel. It seems to me that we are in a fair way to learn much in our present tour, for every day's excursion becomes a matter of regular study when we come to our journal, which is now kept posted up daily, as a thing of course. We are trying, at all events, to make ourselves so familiar with the great attractions of London, that in future life we may understand the affairs of the city when we hear of them.
Ever since we reached London, I have wanted to go to Woolwich, the great naval arsenal and dockyard, because I expected I should obtain a pretty good idea of the power of the British navy; and then I like to compare such places with our own; and I have often, at Brooklyn Navy Yard, thought how much I should like to see Woolwich. Woolwich is one the Thames, and about ten miles from the city. You can go at any hour by steamer from London Bridge, or take the railway from the Surrey side of the bridge. We were furnished with a ticket of admission from our minister; but unfortunately, we came on a day when the yard was closed by order. We were sadly disappointed, but the doorkeeper, a very respectable police officer, told us that our only recourse was to call on the commanding officer, who lived a mile off, and he kindly gave us a policeman as a guide. On our way, we met the general on horseback, attended by some other officers. We accosted him, and told our case. He seemed sorry, but said the yard was closed. As soon as we mentioned that we came from America, he at once gave orders for our admission, and was very polite. Indeed, on several occasions we have found that our being from the United States has proved quite a passport.
We had a special government order to go over all the workshops and see the steam power, &c., &c. I think I shall not soon forget the wonderful smithery where the Nasmyth hammers are at work, employed in forging chain cables and all sorts of iron work for the men-of-war. We went in succession through the founderies for iron and brass, the steam boiler manufactory, and saw the planing machines and lathes; and as to all the other shops and factories, I can only say, that the yard looked like a city.
We were much pleased with the ships now in progress. One was the screw steamer, the Agamemnon, to have eighty-guns. There, too, is the Royal Albert, of one hundred and twenty guns, which they call the largest ship in the world. Of course, we think this doubtful. It has been nine years in progress, and will not be finished for three more. It is to be launched when the Prince of Wales attains the rank of post captain. We saw, among many other curiosities, the boat in which Sir John Ross was out twenty-seven days in the ice. We went into an immense building devoted to military stores, and in one room we saw the entire accoutrements for ten thousand cavalry, including bridles, saddles, and stirrups, holsters, &c.
The yard is a very large affair, containing very many acres; it is the depository of the cannon belonging to the army and navy for all the region, and there were more than twenty thousand pieces lying upon the ground. Some were very large, and they were of all varieties known in war.
After a delightful hour spent in listening to the best martial music I ever heard played, by the band, we took steamboat for Greenwich, and, landing there, walked to Blackheath, where we had an engagement to dine at Lee Grove with a London merchant. Here we had a fine opportunity to witness the luxury and elegance of English social life. This gentleman, now in the decline of life, has an exquisitely beautiful place, situated in a park of some sixty acres. The railroad has been run through his estate, and, of course, has made it very much more valuable for building; but as it injures the park for the embellishment of the mansion, it was a fair subject for damages, and the jury of reference gave its proprietor the pretty verdict of eleven thousand pounds. At the table we had the finest dessert which the hothouse can furnish. Our host gave us a very interesting account of his travels in America more than forty years ago. A journey from New York to Niagara, as related by this traveller, was then far more of an undertaking than a journey from New Orleans to New York, and a voyage thence to England, at the present time.
In the evening, we took the cars for London, and reached our comfortable hotel, the Golden Cross, Charing Cross, at eleven o'clock. By the way, we are all very much pleased with the house and its landlord. Mr. Gardiner is a very gentlemanly man, of fine address and acquirements. He has been a most extensive traveller in almost every part of the world, and has a fine collection of paintings, and one of the prettiest cabinets of coins and medals I ever saw. He has a pretty cottage and hothouses four or five miles from the city; and his family resides partly there and at the hotel. The hotel is every thing that can be desired.
A few evenings ago, Mr. Lawrence had a splendid soiree. There were probably from two to three hundred present. Among the company were Sir David Brewster, Leslie the artist, Miss Coutts, the Duke of Wellington. "The duke," as he is called, is the great man of England. All the people idolize him, and he is known to be a great man. He has become more identified with the history of England for the last forty years than any other man. Of course, he was to us Americans the great man of the country. Whenever I have read of Napoleon, I have had Wellington in my eye, and to see him was next to seeing the emperor. I never expected the pleasure, but here it is allotted me. He is quite an old man in his bearing and gait. He was dressed in a blue coat with metal buttons, wore his star and garter, and had on black tights and shoes. He had been to the opera, and then came to this party. Every one pays the most deferential homage to the old hero. Waterloo and its eventful scenes came directly before me, and I felt almost impatient for our visit to the battle-field.
A gentleman who knows the duke told us that he spends from four to five hours every morning at the Horse Guards in the performance of his duties as commander-in-chief. Although he looks so feeble in the drawing-room, he sits finely on his horse; and when I saw him riding down Piccadilly, he seemed to be full twenty years younger than he was the day before at the party.
We shall always be glad that we came to England in time to see "the duke," and if we live twenty or thirty years, it will be pleasant to say "I have seen the Duke of Wellington."
I know how curious you are to hear all about the royal exhibition, so I shall do my best to give you such an account of our visits to it as may enable you to get a bird's eye view of the affair.
Almost as soon as I arrived, I determined upon securing season tickets for the boys, in order that they might not only see the pageant of the opening on the 1st of May, but also have frequent opportunities to attend the building and study its contents before the reduced prices should so crowd the palace as to render examination and study nearly impracticable. However, there came a report through all the daily papers that the queen had abandoned the idea of going in person to inaugurate the exhibition, and the sale of tickets flagged, and it was thought prices would be reduced below the three guineas, which had been the rate. I left London for a few days without purchasing, and on my return I called for four season tickets, when, to my surprise, I was told that, just an hour before, orders had been given from the board to raise them to four guineas. I at once purchased them, although I regarded the matter as an imposition. A few days after, Prince Albert revoked the action of the board, and orders were issued to refund the extra guinea to all who had purchased at the advanced price. This was easily ascertained by reference to the number on the ticket, and registered at purchase with the autograph of the proprietor. Of course, we saved our four guineas.
For several days before the 1st of May all London, I may say all England, and almost all the world was on tiptoe. Every man, woman, and child talked of "the Crystal Palace, the great exhibition, the queen, and prince Albert."
For a week or two there had been a succession of cold rain storms. Winter had lingered in the lap of April. Men were looking at the 1st of May with gloomy anticipations of hail, rain, snow, and sleet. Barometers were in demand. The 30th of April gave a hail storm! The 1st of May arrives,—the day,—and lo!
"Heaven is clear, And all the clouds are gone."
It was as though the windows of heaven were opened to let the glory from above stream through and bless Industry's children, who are about to celebrate their jubilee. The queen, it is said, has a charm as regards the weather. I heard many exclaim, "It is the queen's weather; it is always her luck." Such a sight as that day afforded was never before witnessed, and such a spectacle will probably never again be gazed upon. The streets were thronged early. Every westward artery of the great city pulsated with the living tide that flowed through it. From the far east, where the docks border the Thames, came multitudes, though not exactly stars in the hemisphere of fashion. Ladies in the aristocratic precincts of Belgravia rose at an early hour, and, for once, followed the queen's good, every-day example. The lawyers rushed from Lincoln's and Gray's Inns of Court. The Royal Exchange was so dull at ten o'clock that the very grasshopper on its vane might have been surprised. Holborn was crammed at when in olden time people pressed, and struggled, and strove to see Jack Sheppard, Joshua Wild, Dick Turpin, or any such worthies on their sad way to Tyburn. But it is no gibbet now allures the morbid multitude. They are gayly, gently, and gladly travelling to the home of industry. Among all the pleasant sights that every moment delighted us none were more pleasant than the happy family groups, who, on every side, "push along, keep moving." Just see that mechanic; he looks as proud as a lord,—and why shouldn't he be?—with his wife leaning trustingly, lovingly on his arm. He, good man, has thrown away the saw, or plane, or any other tool of handicraft, and now his little boy—O, the delight, the wonder in that boy's face!—is willingly dragged along. Well, on we go,—driving across what you would call impassable streets, and lo! we are wedged up in a crowd,—and such a crowd,—a crowd of all nations.
At length we reach the palace gates; and there, who can tell the press and strife for entrance. Long and nobly did the police struggle and resist, but at length the outward pressure was omnipotent, and the full tide of lucky ones with season tickets gained, entrance into, not the palace, but the enclosure. Then came order,—breathing space,—tickets were examined, and places assigned on cards, given as we entered into the palace itself. We all obtained good positions—very good ones. This was at eleven o'clock. At about a quarter to twelve, one standing near to us remarked, "She will be to her time; she always is." And he was right; for scarcely had he prophesied before a prolonged shouting told that the queen was coming. "Plumes in the light wind dancing" were the outward and visible signs of the Life Guards, who came gently trotting up. Then came four carriages,—the coachmen and footmen of which were so disguised with gold lace, and wigs, and hair powder, that their mothers wouldn't have known them,—and then the queen—not robed and tricked out like the queens in children's story books, so dreadful as to resemble thunderbolts in petticoats; not hooped, and furbelowed, and stomachered, and embroidered all over, as was Elizabeth; nor with a cap, like Mary, Queen of Scots; not with eight horses prancing before the queen's carriage, but in her private carriage, drawn by two horses. Off went all hats. I wish you could have heard the cheering as the queen entered the wondrous building. O, it was like "the voice of many waters." Such deep, prolonged, hearty cheering I never, heard. As Victoria entered, up went the standard of England, and never before did its folds wave over such a scene. The entrance of majesty was the signal for the organ to play; the vitreous roof vibrates as the sounds fly along the transparent aisles; and we had musical glasses on a large scale. It would require the pen of our favorite Christopher North to describe the magnificent scene when the queen ascended the throne, surrounded by all the elegance and nobility of her kingdom. Her husband reads an address; she replies; the venerable archbishop dedicates the Temple of Industry. The queen declares the palace opened, and the procession is formed to walk through its aisles. No small task this; but then thirty thousand persons are waiting to gaze on the queen and her court. A ludicrous sight it was to see two of England's proudest peers walking backward before the queen. The Marquis of Westminster and Earl of Breadalbane performed this feat, and glad enough must they have been when they received their dismission. The heralds, some twelve or fourteen, in black velvet, looked finely. The queen walked like a queen, and bore herself nobly and womanly. She is a small figure, fair face, light hair, large, full, blue eyes, plump cheek, and remarkably fine neck and bust. She leaned upon her husband's right arm, holding in her hand the Prince of Wales, while Prince Albert led the princess royal. I was sadly disappointed in the appearance of the Prince of Wales. He is altogether a feeble-looking child, and cannot have much mental force. The princess is a fine, energetic-looking girl. We stood within a yard of the royal party as it passed bowing along. Then came the members of the royal family; and then visitors from Prussia and Holland; the ladies and gentlemen of the queen's household; the cabinet ministers; the foreign ministers; the archbishop in his robe, and the members of the royal commission; the lord mayor of London, and the aldermen. There, too, was Paxton, the architect of this great wonder. It was his day of triumph, and every one seemed to be glad for his fortune. All these were in gorgeous court dresses. I have seen all sorts and kinds of show, but never did I witness such a spectacle as was this day afforded to the congress of the world. The Duke of Wellington, and his companion in arms, the Marquis of Anglesea, walked arm in arm, "par nobilis fratrum." It was Wellington's birthday. He is eighty-two, and Anglesea eighty-one. The Marquis walks well for a man of his age, and who has to avail himself of an artificial leg. They were most enthusiastically cheered in all parts of the house. In the diplomatic corps there was great splendor of costume, but no man carried himself more stately than did Mr. Lawrence, whose fine, manly figure admirably becomes a court dress. I do not think that I ever saw a collection of ladies so plain and homely as the court ladies of Queen Victoria, who walked behind her in procession. The Duchess of Sutherland has been renowned for her majestic beauty; but she is passe, and her friends are, I think, matchless for entire destitution of personal charms. But there was enough present to atone for the want of this in the royal circle. Some of the most exquisite faces I ever saw were there in those galleries, and forms of beauty that can hardly be surpassed. I was much surprised at noticing in the vast crowd, known to be about thirty thousand, that there were so few lads. I do not believe there were more than ten or fifteen in the palace; and, as we have already said, the absence of lads is owing to their all being at boarding-schools. Our boys, you may well suppose, are greatly pleased with having witnessed the greatest pageant of the age, and one that can never be surpassed. We shall soon be at the exhibition again, and apply ourselves to a careful survey of its interesting contents.
Now that the excitement consequent on the opening of the Crystal Palace has in some degree subsided and curiosity to a certain extent satisfied, we are enabled to obtain more lucid ideas of this extraordinary building and its wondrous contents. The admission for several days was one pound, and at this high price the visitors were of the most fashionable character. We have been much pleased in looking at the very fine equipages that throng the roads around the park. The carriages, horses, end liveries are in the best possible taste. When we entered, the palace was no longer heightened in splendor by the presence of the sovereign and her brilliant court. The superb canopy which overshadowed the dais on which the gorgeous chair had stood, alone remained to indicate that there England's queen had performed the inaugural rites; but the great facts of the exhibition remained. The crystal fountain still played, the magnificent elms appeared in their spring garniture of delicate green beneath the lofty transept, and the myriad works of skill, art, and science lay around, above, and beneath us. I entered the building by its eastern door, and, immediately on passing the screen which interposes between the ticket offices and the interior, the whole extent of the palace of glass lay before me. Fancy yourself standing at the end of a broad avenue, eighteen hundred and fifty feet in length, roofed with glass, and bounded laterally by gayly-decorated, slender pillars. The effect was surpassingly beautiful. Right and left of this splendid nave were other avenues, into which the eyes wandered at will; for no walls, no barriers are to be found in the whole building; all is open, from floor to roof, and from side to side, and from the eastern to the western extremity.
Proceeding westward, I saw the compartments allotted to our own country. The first thing I noticed was a piece of sculpture,—the dying Indian,—a fine production, though perhaps a trifle overdone. Then came an American bridge, which painters were still at work upon; and then, backed by drapery of crimson cloth, that splendid creation of genius, the Greek Slave, which will immortalize the name of Hiram Powers. I shall not, I think, be accused of national partiality when I assert that this statue is, in sculpture, one of the two gems of the exhibition. Perhaps, if I were not from the United States, I should say it was "the gem." When I come to tell you of the Italian marbles, I shall refer to that production of art which can alone be thought to dispute the palm of superiority with it. Every one expresses the highest admiration at the Slave, and a crowd is constantly around the spot. One old gentleman, who was in an ecstasy over the sculpture, very sharply rebuked a person complaining of the paucity of the American productions, with "Fie, there is one thing America has sent, that all Europe may admire, and no one in Europe can equal." Turning aside from this "breathing marble," I examined the American exhibition of products and manufactures. I confess to you I felt mortified with the comparative meagreness of our show, because it contrasts poorly with the abundance exhibited by nations far inferior to us in skill and enterprise. Still, we have much to show; but the useful prevails over the beautiful. I am quite sure, too, that there are things here which will compel attention, and carry away calm, dispassionate approbation from the jurors. The United States exhibits numerous specimens of tools, cordage, cotton and woolen fabrics, shawls, colors, prints, daguerreo-types, silver and gold plate, pianos, musical instruments, harnesses, saddlery, trunks, bookbinding, paper hangings, buggies, wagons, carriages, carpetings, bedsteads, boots and shoes, sculls, boats, furs, hair manufactures, lithographs, perfumery, soaps, surgical instruments, cutlery, dentistry, locks, India rubber goods, machinery, agricultural implements, stoves, kitchen ranges, safes, sleighs, maps, globes, philosophical instruments, grates, furnaces, fire-arms of all descriptions, models of railroads, locomotives, &c. You may add to these fine specimens of all our produce, as cotton, sugar, tobacco, hemp, and the mineral ores—iron, lead, zinc, plumbago, tin, and copper, coals of all kinds, preserved meats, &c., &c.
I wish, Charley, you could go with me into a door south of the transept, over which, in oddly-shaped letters, are the words "MEDIAEVAL COURT." The very name reminds one of Popery, Puseyism, and Pugin. This mediaeval court absolutely dazzles one's eyes with its splendors. Auriferous draperies line the walls; from the ceiling hang gold and silver lamps—such lamps as are to be seen in Romish chapels before the statues of the Virgin; huge candlesticks, in which are placed enormous candles; Gothic canopies and richly-carved stalls; images of he and she saints of every degree; crucifixes and crosiers; copes and mitres; embroideries, of richest character, are all here—things which the mother of harlots prizes as the chosen instruments by which she deceives the nations. And truly beautiful are many of these things as works of art; but it is only as works of art that any Christian can admire them. As I gazed on the rich tissues and golden insignia, I mourned for poor corrupt human nature, to which alone such gewgaws could be acceptable. How would Paul or Peter have stared, had they been required to don such glittering pontificals as are here to be seen! While I feel great respect for Pugin's ability as an architect and designer, I have profound pity for those who are deluded by these gorgeous symbols of a gloomy, cruel, and heartless creed.
There is a large golden cage, not altogether unlike a parrot's; and there is a press, indeed. What calls such attention from the multitude? I join the gazers, and see what at first appears to be three pieces of irregularly-shaped glass, white and glittering; one large piece, about the size of a walnut, and two others a little larger than marbles. What renders that bit of glass so attractive? Glass! no; it is "a gem of purest ray serene"—a diamond—the diamond of diamonds—the largest in the world. In short, it is the Kohinoor; or, as the Orientals poetically called it, "the mountain of light." Its estimated value is two millions sterling—enough to buy the Crystal Palace itself, nine times over. The history of this precious gem is romantically curious. It belonged to Runjeet Sindjb and is now an English trophy.
Let us enter that partially-darkened chamber, and stand before a painted glass window, the production of Bertini, of Milan. I can't describe this extraordinary production. It is illustrative of Dante, and, for brilliancy of color and harmony of combination, it is not surpassed by the much-vaunted specimens of past ages.
"From the sublime to the ridiculous," said Burke, "there is but a step;" and at not much greater distance from this Dantean window is a German toy stand. It is amusing to observe a big, "Tenbroek" sort of son of Allemagne, arranging tiny children's toys. The contrast between the German giant and the petty fabrics he is setting off to the best advantage, provokes a smile.
Let us join the throng rushing into the suite of rooms furnished by the upholsterers of Vienna. These rooms are indeed magnificent, and must afford a high treat to the lovers of wood carving. There is a bookcase, which is almost a miracle of art; the flowers seem to wave, and the leaves to tremble, so nearly do they approach the perfection of nature. Then there is, it is said by judges, the most superb bed in the world; it is literally covered with carvings of the most costly and delicate description. Since the time of the famous Grinling Gibbons, the English carver, nothing has been seen like it. These Austrian rooms are among the great guns of the show, and will repay repeated visits.
Here stands the glorious Amazon of Kiss, of Berlin. This group, of colossal proportions, represents a female on horseback, in the act of launching a javelin at a tiger which has sprung on the fore quarter of her affrighted steed. This is a wonderful work of art, and places its author in the first rank of sculptors. Nothing can surpass the lifelike character of the Amazon's horse and the ferocious beast. As a tribute to the genius of Kiss, a grand banquet is to be given to him by the sculptors and artists of England. Well does he deserve such an honor.
Close by the Amazon is a colossal lion in bronze. This is the softest piece of casting I ever saw; the catlike motion of the paw is perfectly lifelike. I turn back again to that Amazon. I could gaze on the agony of that horse for hours, and think I should continue to discover new beauties.
The Crusader, a colossal equestrian statue of Godfrey of Bouillon, is also very imposing. The entire floor is covered in the centre of the avenue, from east to west, with beautiful statues, models, &c.
We ascended to one of the galleries for the purpose of taking a bird's eye view of the gay, busy scene; and a most splendid scene was thrown open to our gaze. Far as the eye could reach, the building was alive with gayly-dressed people, who, amidst statues, and trophies, and trees, and fountains, wandered as in the groves of some enchanted land. As I strolled onwards, I came to where a tiny fountain sent up its silvery jet of eau de Cologne, and an assistant of Jean Marie Farina, from a little golden spoon, poured on my handkerchief, unasked, the odoriferous essence. Then we lingered to witness two of the noblest cakes, the sight of which ever gladdened the heart of a bride. Gunter, the great pastry cook, was the architect of the one which was a triumph of taste. The other was adorned with Cupid and Psyche-like emblems. Then came wax flowers, beaded artfully with glass, so as to appear spangled with dewdrops. Then we inspected Cashmere shawls, on which I saw many a lady cast looks, of admiration, and, I almost fancied, of covetousness.
Down again, and we are beneath the transept. Beautiful, head, far higher than the tops of the huge elm-trees, is a crystal arch which spans this intersecting space. Around are marble statues, which gleam lustrously amid the foliage of tropical plants, which, shielded from the chilling air without, seem to be quite at home here. And in the midst up rises Osler's crystal fountain—a splendid affair, twenty-seven feet in height, and consisting of four tons of cut glass. So exquisitely is it arranged that no metal, either of joint or pipe, can be seen. It is "one entire and perfect chrysolite." From its lofty summit issues forth a dome of water, which separates, and falls in prismatic showers into a spacious basin beneath. There are three other fountains, but this is the monarch of all. On either side of this beautiful production of a Birmingham manufacturer are two equestrian statues of the queen and Prince Albert, about which I cannot speak in admiration. Groups of figures line the sides of the transept, and there is a Puck which I would like all friends to look at. O, he is alive with fun, and there marble speaks and laughs.
We have been greatly delighted with the English room of sculpture. There is a fine portrait statue of Flaxman, from the chisel of Franks; a very clever statue of John Wesley; but if I were to chronicle all the sculptures here, I may as well write a catalogue at once. But before I quit the subject of marble, let me just allude to the Italian gallery. There the specimens are indeed exquisite, and remind us that the genius of art yet loves to linger in the "land of the cypress and myrtle"—in that beautiful country
"Where the poet's eye and painter's hand Are most divine."
Among the gems of marble is one which I told, you was the only possible rival of Powers's Greek Slave. This lovely production is "the Veiled Vesta." It represents a young and exquisitely-formed girl, kneeling and offering her oblation of the sacred fire. Her face is veiled; but every feature is distinctly visible, as it were, through the folds which cover her face. So wonderfully is the veil-like appearance produced, that myself and others were almost inclined to believe that some trick of art had been practised, and a film of gauze actually hung over the features. It was not so, however; the hard marble, finely managed, alone caused the deception. Raffael Monti, of Milan, is the illustrious artist of "the Veiled Vesta."
One of the most interesting machines in the whole exhibition is the envelope machine of Messrs. De la Rue & Co., of London. In its operations it more resembles the efforts of human intellect than any thing I have seen before in machinery. It occupies but a small space, and is worked by a little boy. In a second, and as if by magic, a blank piece of paper is folded, gummed, and stamped, and, in fact, converted into a perfect envelope. As soon as finished, a pair of steel fingers picks it up, lays it aside, and pushes it out of the way in the most orderly manner possible. These envelopes, so made, are given to all who choose to accept them. Opposite to this machine is the stand of Gillott, of steel pen celebrity. Here are pens of all sizes, and of various materials. One monster pen might fit a Brobdignagian fist, for it is two feet long, and has a nib one quarter of an inch broad; and there are others so small that no one but a Liliputian lady could use them. Between these extremes are others of various dimensions, arranged in a very tasteful manner. Something must be got out of this branch of business, for it is only a month or two since Mr. Gillott purchased an estate for ninety thousand pounds sterling. Here, too, is a novelty—the model of St. Stephen's Church, Bolton, Lancashire. The model and the church itself are both composed of terra cotta. This material was also employed in the construction of the principal fittings, such as the screen, pews, organ gallery, pulpit, &c. This is a new adaptation of terra cotta. The spire severely tests its capabilities, as it is of open Gothic, or tracery work.
A large model of Liverpool is beautifully constructed to scale, and must be the result of immense labor. It is twenty-five feet long, and exhibits at a glance a bird's eye view of the town, the docks, the River Mersey, and the adjacent places. Hundreds of miniature vessels, amongst them the Great Britain, crowd the docks; fleets of merchantmen are seen on the Mersey, sailing to and from the port; and in the busy streets, so minutely delineated that any particular house may be distinguished, numerous vehicles are seen, and hundreds, too, of pygmy men and women are observed walking in the public ways. In short; it is Liverpool in a glass case, and no mean exhibition in itself.
The Thames Plate Glass Company exhibit the largest plate of glass in the world; its dimensions are eighteen feet eight inches by ten feet. There is not a blemish on its brilliant surface, and it is as "true" as possible. It is placed in such a position that it reflects the whole length of the main avenue of the Crystal Palace, and the effect produced is superb. A Catholic bookseller from Belgium makes quite a display of his editions of devotional works for every country under heaven; and there, too, are the effigies of Cardinal Boromeo, Thomas a Becket, and the late Archbishop of Paris, all arrayed in full pontificals. Their crosiers are very richly jewelled. If the apostles of Christ could revisit the earth, they would never fancy that these were their successors in the work and patience of the gospel.
Few things have impressed me more than the exquisite carvings and elaborate work of the cabinet ware; and I must, Charley, try to describe one piece of furniture which excites universal praise. It is a cabinet made by John Stevens, of Taunton. It was prepared at great cost, and is the gem of the carved work in the exhibition. The wood of which it was composed was a walnut-tree, which, not long ago, flourished near Taunton. In order that you may not suppose, I praise every thing too highly, and without sufficient ground for admiration, I shall give you a particular description of this incomparable piece of furniture. It represents, in four beautifully carved male figures, executed after the style of Gibbons, the periods of Youth, Manhood, Maturity, and Old Age, whilst other four (female) figures, beautifully brought up in good relief, are representative of the Passions. Here there was an opportunity for displaying some fine needlework; and Miss Kingsbury, a lady of the town, who has received from the hand of royalty a reward for her talents, has turned the opportunity to good account, and produced some appropriate work, displaying a skill truly astonishing. This is not the least attractive portion of the cabinet, and, as we shall again, have to advert to it in its order, we leave it for the present. The carved figure of the Youth represents him at twenty years of age. The countenance is finely wrought, and marks the innocency and candor of the young heart; the open brow, the love-lighted eye, all exemplifying characteristics of that period of life, untrammelled with care or anxious thought. In his hair, well brought out from the solid wood, is intertwined the violet, the primrose, and the cow-slip, emblematical of the season—being the spring time of life. In the right hand of the figure is attached a portion of a festoon of carved flowers, which connects it with the other four figures. The left hand is extended, pointing to Manhood. This figure denotes the period when forty summers have ripened the man, and brought the noblest work of God to that stage of his more powerful intellect, his keener judgment, stronger frame, and more lasting energy. These characteristics are most admirably depicted. In his locks are carved the rose, the lily, the pink, and the carnation, the strawberry and the gooseberry—emblematical of the summer time of life. In the right hand the figure receives the festoon of flowers from Youth, and in the left it supports the frame of the cabinet. The festoon is carried on to Maturity, which represents the time when sixty years bring him to the period of decline. Its right hand assists, with the left of that of Manhood, in supporting the cabinet. Encircling his brow are corn ears and wine cups, together with barley, wheat, grapes, and hops, the whole of which are most elaborately and finely chiselled. The hand of Maturity points downward to Old Age. The furrowed brow, the sunken cheek, the dim and glassy eye observable in this figure, conveys the mournful intelligence that the sand of life is fast approaching its last little grain. The bent form and the thoughtful brow tell that Time, the consumer of all things, has also ravaged a once erect and powerful frame. The contemplation of this figure, beautifully executed as it is, intuitively inculcates a serious consideration of the value and blessings of a temperate; and well-spent life; it induces a thoughtful reflection that a life of goodness alone insures an end of peace. The holly, the mistletoe, the ivy, the acorn shell, the leafless branch, and the fruitless vine encircle the brow-fit emblems of the period which marks an exchange of time for eternity. All the figures are rendered complete by a carved lion's foot, at the bottom of each, and above the feet is a connecting frame, to make that portion of the stand perfect. Between the figures of Spring and Summer are carved flowers and fruit in great profusion, emblematical of the seasons, and forming a fine piece of work; it represents the all-important fact that time flies, by an hourglass borne on the wings of a splendidly-carved eagle, and suspending from the bird's beak are the letters, curiously wrought, forming TEMPUS FUGIT. This rests on a globe, representative of the earth, which is half sunk in a shell of water, overflowing the wheel of time, and shedding on fruit and flowers its refreshing dew. The space between the figures of Autumn and Winter is filled with carvings of the chrysanthemum, holly, ivy, and autumn fruit, intertwined with consummate skill and taste. The garland, or festoon, which is carried through, and sustained, as before stated, by each of the four figures, is composed of every flower indigenous to this part of the land, and introduced emblematically to the time in which they severally bloom.
Above the figures, and resting on their heads, is a stand or frame to receive the top part, containing the drawers, doors, &c., and is constructed in a peculiar manner on the bevel, that the eye may easily rest on some beautiful lines from Thomson's Seasons. Over the head of Youth, in this frame, is a basket of strawberries, cherries, raspberries, and early fruit, surrounded with leaf work, enclosing a panel of needlework, covered with bent plate glass, and the motto,—
"——— Chief, lovely Spring, In these and thy soft scenes the smiling God is seen."
Then follows the carved figure representing Summer. Over the head of it is a basket, containing currants, strawberries, gooseberries, apples, pears, peaches, and other fruits, enriched with leaf work, the lily and the rose completing the centre. Between the Summer and Autumn baskets and a panel are the following mottoes, each season having one:—
"Child of the sun! refulgent Summer comes, In pride of youth; While Autumn, nodding o'or the yellow plain, Comes jovial on."
Then follows the Autumn basket, containing grapes, pears, filberts, &c., surrounded with leaf work. The panel of needlework next appears for Winter, with these lines:—
"See! Winter comes to rule the varied year, Sullen and sad;"
and over the head of the Winter figure is placed a basket of walnuts, medlars, &c. Here is the frame of the cabinet, which contains about eighty drawers in fine walnut wood, enriched with fuschia drops in silver, and coral beads for drop handles; the wood work is relieved with silvered plate glass; also small doors with plate glass for needlework, in wild flowers. This completes the interior of the frame.
The exterior represents three carved doors, in fine relief: over Spring and Summer is the convolvulus, entwined round the frame; then follows the centre door, in fine relief—the grape vine, full of fruit, being very prominent. The door over Autumn and Winter is enriched with carvings of barley and hop vine. Between each of these doors are pilasters, forming four female figures, holding in their hands the emblems of the seasons, and a newly-invented glass dome head, in an elegant form, for the protection of knitted flowers in Berlin wool. The wood work is tastefully arranged, springing from each group of flowers over the heads of the female figures, with mouldings to receive the bent plate glass, and is enriched with fine carvings of fruit and flowers. At the extreme top of this glass dome stands a beautiful figure of Peace, with extended wings, bending over the globe, holding in one hand the olive branch, and with the other pointing to the Deity.
Having thus given a description of the carvings of this splendid cabinet, let me turn your attention to the enrichments in needlework, worked on black velvet, from nature, by Miss Kingsbury. The mottoes in frame for the different seasons are worked in floss silk of various colors; the inside doors—five in number—with wild flowers; and in front are rich specimens of raised embroidery, extending to the inside, and protected with plate glass. Miss Kingsbury is a young lady of Taunton, who has made this kind of work her peculiar forte.
Above the doors, also, are knitted flowers in Berlin wools, which fill the dome head, and are protected with bent plate glass. Almost every flower, as they bloom, are to be distinguished in these rich bouquets, with which the honeysuckle and passion flower are beautifully entwined.
Now, what think you of such a cabinet as this? Well, Charley, there are scores and scores of objects as much deserving a full description as this.
The department of machinery and steam power is entirely beyond my ability to speak of in proper terms. I have little mechanical genius, and I never am more out of my element than When surrounded by fly wheels, cylinders, and walking beams.
If our friend Ike had been here, lie would have been perfectly at home; and his pleasure and profit in this department would have surpassed any I could experience. I have only glanced at a few of the wonderful things in this wonderful place, and yet I have far exceeded the bounds of an ordinary letter.
One evening this week we spent very pleasantly at the Royal Polytechnic Institution for the advancement of the arts and sciences in connection with agriculture and manufactures. There is a large theatre, where all sorts of lectures are delivered, at various hours, upon philosophical and other subjects. Lecturers occupy the theatre in succession, and take up about half an hour. These are generally men of respectable abilities. The building is full of curiosities. We saw the model of the human ear, about one hundred and forty times larger than the natural organ. We saw a diving bell in the great hall, which is frequently put into action, and visitors are allowed to descend. That evening several made the experiment. The interior of the bell is lighted by thick plate glass. A very large number of models are to be seen, and there is much to interest the spectator. We heard a fine lecture respecting the experiment of Foucault, by which the diurnal rotation of the earth is said to be rendered visible to the eye. Foucault is a young Parisian, who, whilst engaged in some investigations with a pendulum in his mother's cellar, made this discovery, as he claims it to be. We saw the experiment repeated here on the same scale as it has recently been shown at the Pantheon at Paris. A brass sphere, weighing about five pounds, was suspended from the lofty ceiling by a piece of music wire, and made to vibrate in one plane over a table graduated into degrees. After a few vibrations, the direction of the pendulum appeared to be changed, as though the table had moved round on its owns axis.
We passed an hour at the Egyptian Hall to see the opening of the American Panorama of the Overland Route to California. It bids fair to make a hit in London. Last Sunday, "great exhibition" sermons were abundant in London. Exeter Hal, the largest place in London, holding about five thousand persons, is to be used for three months for the performance of divine service, to accommodate the strangers who crowd the city. We all went, Sunday evening, and heard the Rev. Thomas Binney, who has quite a reputation. The hall was as full as it could be, but we did not think the discourse as good as it might be. It was rather declamatory.
You no doubt remember how much our curiosity was excited by hearing that Mr. Wyld was about to place a model of the globe, of gigantic dimensions, in the great exhibition. Well, he was unable to obtain the space required, and so he has erected a spacious building in Leicester Square. This building is circular, with projecting entrances at the four cardinal points of the compass. From the centre rises a graceful dome. Here is placed the model of the earth, fifty-six feet in diameter. The scale is about ten miles to an inch. The arrangement before used in the construction of globes is reversed in this case, and the continents, islands, and seas are seen on the inner surface. This seems like turning the world, not upside down, but inside out. The mountains and land are elevated to a scale. The spectators travel round the globe on winding staircases, at the distance of a few feet from the surface. I went the other morning to the model, but was far less interested than I expected. The rest of the party were not present, and are willing to take my report. I heard that Mr. Wyld has spent twelve thousand pounds upon his undertaking.
We selected a fine afternoon to visit the Zooelogical Gardens in the Regent's Park, and, of course, had a treat. I did not think much of the gardens as far as the horticulture was concerned; but the collection of animals was far beyond any thing I had before witnessed. There are more than sixteen hundred specimens. The animals are finely housed, and their habits consulted in the arrangements of their homes. We had the pleasure to see the young elephant, only six months old, which had just been received. It was about the size of a donkey. A hippopotamus had recently been added to the collection, and we were sadly vexed not to see it. It was shut up at six o'clock, just as we reached its house. George had his luck, and obtained a glimpse of the retiring quadruped. We have been greatly amused with the sight of hundreds of boys about town, dressed in blue gowns, or long coats with belts, short knee breeches, yellow stockings, and shoes with tackles, but wear no caps or hats. In all weathers they are bareheaded. I find that they are the boys belonging to Christ's Hospital, a school founded by Edward VI., in 1553, and generally known in London as the Blue Coat School. The scholars generally range from one thousand to twelve hundred. The education, is said to be of the best character, and many of the boys belong to families of high respectability, and it is quite a matter of desire to obtain scholarship here. They look very funny in their old-fashioned rig. Each boy wears bands like a clergyman. The school is in Newgate Street, and is a fine modern edifice in the Tudor style. The front is flanked by towers, and has eight noble windows, which are separated by buttresses. Over one of the galleries of the hall is a fine picture, by Holbein, of Edward VI. granting the charter to the Hospital, as it was then called. Some of the best scholars of England were educated here; and we remembered particularly Coleridge and our special favorite, Charles Lamb.
To-morrow we are to have a treat of the highest kind. We are to spend the day at Windsor. I feel pretty well acquainted with its history and associations, but I shall spend the evening with George in brushing up my information. There is nothing more unpleasant than to find yourself in the presence of things and places of which you painfully feel an entire ignorance. If ever we meet again, how much we shall have to chat over on our favorite topics!
It was a fine, clear morning when we started for Windsor by railroad, a distance of twenty-one miles. The country is fine; but our thoughts were on the castle. At Slough we took an omnibus, and rode into the town. It is a pretty, quiet place, of about ten thousand inhabitants. There are some six or seven streets, and they present but few attractions. The castle is every thing. You know this has been the favorite residence of most of the English monarchs, and the scene of many a tournament in the days of chivalry. The castle was the work of William the Conqueror. John lived at Windsor while Magna Charta was extorted from him by his barons at Runnymede. Henry III. did a great deal to the castle, but Edward III. invested it with its great glory. This was his native place. The architect he employed was the famous William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, a man of great genius. He built the noble round tower. This was in 1315. Wykeham built him a palace worthy of the hero and his noble son, the Black Prince. Edward IV. built St. George's Chapel, and Henry VII. and Henry VIII. both made important additions to the fortress. Young Edward VI. resided here, and did not like its retirement and gloom. Elizabeth made the terrace and other improvements. When Charles II. was restored, he brought a foreign taste to the improvement of the castle, and a great deal of elegancy was attempted, but which poorly harmonized with the Gothic, baronial style of Wykeham's works.
George IV. was a man of exquisite taste, and he employed Sir Jeffry Wyatville to carry out the plans of Edward III. and his architect. This was in 1824, and his immense labors have been successful. These improvements cost two million pounds sterling. I ought to say that Windsor Castle was the favorite home of George III., who died here. This palace stands on a lofty chalk hill, and commands the valley of the Thames. Around it is the finest, terrace in the world, the descent from which is faced with a rampart of freestone extending about seventeen hundred feet. The whole building occupies about twelve acres.
I shall not describe all the towers, for there are some dozen or fifteen. The round tower of Edward III. is the chief one. Here he revived the round table of King Arthur, and established the Order of the Garter. From the battlements of this strong fortress you gaze upon no less than twelve counties. Prince Albert is constable of this tower. This was the old prison, or donjon of the castle. Here James I. of Scotland was a prisoner, and here he wrote his sweet verses and celebrated Nature's beauties and the praises of his lady-love, Jane Beaufort. Here, too, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, long suffered, and sung the sweetest lays. We had a ticket to see the state apartments. Suffice it to say that we went through the Queen's Audience Chamber, the Vandyke Room, the Queen's State Drawing Boom or Zuccharelle Room, the State Ante-Room, the Grand Staircase and Vestibule, the Waterloo Chamber, the Grand Ball Room, St. George's Hall, the Guard Chamber, the Queen's Presence Chamber. All these are very, very beautiful. I was delighted with the Vandyke Room. Here are twenty-two undoubted productions of this greatest of portrait painters. Charles I. and Henrietta were favorite subjects with the artist. Here are several of them and their children, and they are to be found elsewhere. The equestrian portrait of Charles I. is a truly grand picture. You know the beautiful old copy, of a cabinet size, which we have in the study at home: it will please me more than ever, since I know how faithful it is. That queen of Charles's who made him so much trouble with her Popery and temper was a wonderfully beautiful woman. I should not soon be weary looking at her portrait. She was daughter of Henry IV. of France. Her fortune was hard, to lose a father by an assassin, and a husband by the executioner. The Gobelin tapestry, illustrating the life of Esther, in the Audience Room, is very rich. In the State Ante-Room are the most wonderful carvings of fowl, fish, fruit, and flowers, by Grinling Gibbons. They are thought to be unsurpassed in this department of art. On the Great Staircase is a noble colossal marble statue, of that excellent sovereign, but bad man, George IV. It is by Chantrey. The Waterloo Chamber is adorned with thirty-eight portraits of men connected with Waterloo, and twenty-nine of them are by Sir Thomas Lawrence. St. George's Hall is two hundred feet long, thirty-four wide, thirty-two high, and contains some fine portraits of sovereigns by Vandyke, Lely, Kneller, Gainsborough, and Lawrence. On twenty-four shields are the arms of each sovereign of the Order of the Garter, from Edward III. to William IV. The Guard Chamber is a noble room, eighty feet in length. Immediately on entering, we were struck with the colossal bust of Nelson by Chantrey, A piece of the mast of the Victory, shot through by a cannon ball, forms its fitting pedestal. Here, too, we saw the busts of the great Duke of Marlborough by Rysbach, and the Duke of Wellington by Chantrey, and their two banners, by the annual presentation of which to the reigning sovereign, on the anniversaries of Blenheim and Waterloo, they hold the estates of Blenheim and Strathfieldsaye. There are figures in armor representing the Duke of Brunswick, 1530; Lord Howard, 1588; Earl of Essex, 1596; Charles I., when Prince of Wales, 1620; and Prince Rupert, 1635. These suits of armor are the genuine ones which were worn by these characters in their lifetime. One thing greatly delighted me—it was the gorgeous shield, executed by Benvenuto Cellini, and presented by Francis I. to Henry VIII. at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. The workmanship is entirely beyond anything I had imagined possible for delicacy of finish. I hardly wonder that kings used to quarrel for the residence of this artist.
I know, Charley, you are impatient to hear about St. George's Chapel, of which you have so often expressed your admiration, when we have looked at the beautiful engravings of its interior, at home. It is very fine, and should be seen to be comprehended. It is of what is called the perpendicular Gothic style. The interior is divided by a screen and organ gallery, into the body of the church, and the choir. These have side aisles, and in these are five separate little chapels. Two of these make up the place of transepts, and the other three, and the chapter house, form abutments at each angle of the chapel. Now, I think, you can't fail to get an idea of the building.
The choir is filled with the stalls and banners of the knights of the garter. Each knight has his banner, helmet, crest, and sword.
The great pointed window was designed by our countryman, Benjamin West. The altar-piece was painted by West. Here is the tomb of Edward IV., 1483. He lies under a slab of black marble. In 1789, some workmen discovered his lead coffin, and it was opened, and the skeleton was in good preservation, and measured seven feet in length. Horace Walpole obtained a lock of his hair at this time. Here are the graves of Henry VI., and of Henry VIII. and his queen, Jane Seymour. Also of Charles I.
Lord Byron says of Henry VIII.'s tomb,
"Famed for contemptuous breach of sacred ties, By headless Charles, see heartless Henry lies"
On the 1st of April, 1813, the coffin of Charles I. was found in Henry VIII.'s tomb; and I think you will be pleased with an account of what, transpired. I shall, therefore, copy a paper which is authentic:
"On completing the mausoleum which his present majesty has built in the Tomb House, as it is called, it was necessary to form a passage to it from under the choir of St George's Chapel. In constructing this passage, an aperture was made accidentally, in one of the walls of the vault of King Henry VIII., through which the workmen were enabled to see, not only the two coffins which were supposed to contain the bodies of King Henry VIII. and Queen Jane Seymour, but a third also, covered with a black velvet pall, which, from Mr. Herbert's narrative, might fairly be presumed to hold the remains of King Charles I.
"On representing the circumstance to the Prince Regent, his Royal Highness perceived at once that a doubtful point in history might be cleared up by opening this vault; and, accordingly, his Royal Highness ordered an examination to be made on the first convenient opportunity. This was done on the 1st of April last, 1813,—the day after the funeral of the Duchess of Brunswick,—in the presence of his Royal Highness himself; who guarantied, thereby, the most respectful care and attention to the remains of the dead during the inquiry. His Royal Highness was accompanied by his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland, Count Munster, the Dean of Windsor, Benjamin Charles Stevenson, Esq., and Sir Henry Halford.
"The vault is covered by an arch half a breadth in thickness; is seven feet two inches in width, nine feet six inches in length, and four feet ten inches in height, and is situated in the centre of the choir, opposite the eleventh knight's stall, on the sovereign's side.
"On removing the pall, a plain leaden coffin, with no appearance of ever having been enclosed in wood, and bearing an inscription, 'King Charles, 1648,' in large, legible characters, on a scroll of lead encircling it, immediately presented itself to the view. A square opening was then made in the upper part of the lid, of such dimensions as to admit a clear insight into its contents. These were an internal wooden coffin, very much decayed, and the body carefully wrapped up in cerecloth, into the folds of which a quantity of unctuous or greasy matter, mixed with resin, as it seemed, had been melted, so as to exclude, as effectually as possible, the external air. The coffin was completely full, and, from-the tenacity of the cerecloth, great difficulty was experienced in detaching it successfully from the parts which it developed. Wherever the unctuous matter had insinuated itself, the separation of the cerecloth was easy; and when it came off, a correct impression of the features to which it had been applied was observed in the unctuous substance. At length the whole face was disengaged from its covering. The complexion of the skin of it was dark and discolored. The forehead and temples had lost little or nothing of their muscular substance. The cartilage of the nose was gone, but the left eye, in the first moment of exposure, was open and full, though it vanished almost immediately; and the pointed beard, so characteristic of the reign of King Charles, was perfect The shape of the face was a long oval. Many of the teeth remained, and the left ear, in consequence of the interposition of some unctuous matter between it and the cerecloth, was found entire. It was difficult at this moment to withhold a declaration, that, notwithstanding its disfigurement, the countenance did bear a strong resemblance to the coins, the busts, and especially to the picture of King Charles I. by Vandyke, by which it had been made familiar to us. It is true that the minds of the spectators of this interesting sight were well prepared to receive this impression; but it is also certain that such a facility of belief had been occasioned by the simplicity and truth of Mr. Herbert's narrative, every part of which had been confirmed by the investigation, so far as it had advanced; and it will not be denied that the shape of the face, the forehead, an eye, and the beard, are the most important features by which resemblance is determined. When the head had been entirely disengaged from the attachments which confined it; it was found to be loose, and without any difficulty was taken up and held to view. It was quite wet, and gave a greenish-red tinge to paper and linen which touched it. The back part of the scalp was entirely perfect, and had a remarkably fresh appearance—the pores of the skin being more distinct, as they usually are when soaked in moisture, and the tendons and ligaments of the neck were of considerable substance and firmness. The hair was thick at the back part of the head, and, in appearance, nearly black. A portion of it, which has since been cleaned and dried, is of a beautiful dark-brown color. That of the beard was of a redder brown. On the back part of the head it was about an inch in length, and had probably been cut so short for the convenience of the executioner, or, perhaps, in order to furnish memorials of the unhappy king. On holding up the head to examine the place of separation from the body, the muscles of the neck had evidently retracted themselves considerably, and the fourth cervical vertebra was found to be cut through its substance transversely, leaving the surfaces of the divided portions perfectly smooth and even; an appearance which could only have been produced by a heavy blow, inflicted with a very sharp instrument, and which furnished the last proof wanting to identify Charles I. After this examination, which served every purpose in view, and without examining the body below the neck; it was immediately restored to its situation, the coffin was soldered up again, and the vault closed."
This state of things precisely tallied with the account which Herbert, the faithful servant of Charles, had given as to the place of his sepulture.
In this chapel, too, is the cenotaph of the late Princess Charlotte, who was wife to Leopold, now King of Belgium. I do not much admire it.
The exquisite beauty of the windows, and the gorgeous splendor of the roof, will always make this place live in my memory. The terraces are very beautiful walks; and from Queen Elizabeth's terrace you have a noble view of Eton College. Of course, we were pleased to see "the distant spires and antique towers" which are so celebrated in the lines of Gray. The college looms up finely, and greatly adds to the prospect. Eton was founded in 1440, by Henry VI. The number of scholars is about eight hundred and fifty. This college has produced some of the greatest men in England, and the young nobility are generally educated here. The college has two quadrangles, and the chapel is a fine Gothic building. All this region is beautified by the Thames winding through the valley. Here is the gem of villages, Datchett, where Sir Henry Wotton and Izaak Walton used to enjoy the rod and line. No one who has any taste can come to Windsor and not think of the immortal bard who has made so much capital out of this place. At all events, we wanted to see Herne's Oak.
We took a carriage and passed the day in riding through the great park, and took our way through the well-known avenue, called the Long Walk. This is three miles in length, and has a double row of magnificent elms. It is directly in front of the south side of the castle, and terminates in a colossal equestrian statue of George III., standing on an immense pedestal of blocks of granite. Nothing can exceed in beauty the beeches of this park, which contains three thousand acres. Immense herds of deer are seen under the trees. Nowhere have I seen such fine old trees. Here is a beech-tree thirty-six feet round, seven feet from the ground! One oak of similar size is called William the Conqueror's Oak. We went to Virginia Water, the largest sheet of water—that is, artificial—in Great Britain. We saw the little cottage where George IV. passed so much of his time. It is a pretty place, but it only shows that the mind is more likely to be pleased with the simple than the grand.
The gardener at the cottage—which I think is called Cumberland Lodge—showed us through the conservatory. We did not much admire the Fishing Temple, or the floating miniature navy. The scenery is charming, and worthy of Poussin. The walk by the water, to the tavern, cannot be surpassed. On our return we passed Frogmore, the residence of the Duchess of Kent; it seems a pretty, unpretending place.
Nothing would repay the tourist better than to pass three or four days, in this vicinity. Village after village, and villa after villa, claims the admiration of the traveller; and perhaps England has no more beautiful rural scenery than may here be found. We had seven or eight hours of perfect delight upon our ride; and when we reached the White Hart, at Windsor, we were well prepared for doing justice to an excellent dinner. Our pleasure at Windsor was much increased by the company of a gentleman of high literary reputation, and who is distinguished as the author of several successful works.
We are just returned from a most pleasant visit to Sir John Soane's Museum. This gentleman was an architect, and a most determined antiquary; and when he died he left his wonderful collection to the nation, having obtained an act of Parliament for preserving it and endowing its maintenance. We obtained a government order, and went to the house which was Sir John's private residence, in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Never did I behold such a sight. The house is spacious, but every nook and corner—and it is full of unimaginable ones—is filled up with precious matters. Here are Roman and Grecian relics; fragments of vases from Herculaneum; and the far-famed Egyptian sarcophagus brought over by Belzoni. The latter is made of one piece of alabaster, nearly ten feet long. It is inscribed all over with hieroglyphics, and cost Sir John a large sum. I shall see nothing in all Europe that will take my fancy as much as this museum, I am sure. There are twenty-five distinct apartments; and if you can find a square foot in the house not occupied, you would do more than I was able to. The catalogue of this museum I shall value highly, and that will give you a better idea than I can of its contents. I had no common pleasure in finding here the original paintings of the Rake's Progress, by Hogarth, the engravings of which we have so admired. These pictures were painted in 1734, and were bought by Sir J. Soane, in 1802, for five hundred and seventy guineas. And here, too, are Hogarth's great paintings of the Election—a series of four pictures. These unrivalled works of comic art were bought of Garrick's widow by Soane, in 1823, for sixteen hundred and fifty guineas! The collection of paintings is by no means despicable, and we saw a few pictures not soon to be forgotten. The Views of Venice, by Canaletti, are very fine; and there are some gems by Reynolds, Danby, Turner, Hamilton, Lawrence, and Bird. I must tell you how they have economized room in the apartment devoted to pictures. The ceiling is very richly adorned with ornaments, forming arched canopies. On the north and west sides of this room are cabinets, and on the south are movable planes, with space between for pictures. So, in a room of thirteen feet eight inches by twelve feet four inches, there are as many pictures as could be placed on the walls of a gallery of the same height, forty-five feet long and twenty broad. In the crypt is an ancient tomb, and models, in cork, of tombs, at Capua.
There are some precious souvenirs of Napoleon to be seen,—as portraits, miniatures, pistols, &c.,—a fine collection of painted glass, and a countless lot of antiques, intaglios, autographs, and watches. If ever you find yourself in London, I charge you, get to this same place for a long morning. In the afternoon we took steamer and Went to Greenwich, five miles from town, to see the Hospital for Seamen. Charles II. built this place for a royal palace,—and a noble one it is,—but William and Mary gave it up to the use of old and worn-out seamen; and as England owes every thing to Jack Tar, it seems fit that, when old and crazy, his last days should be made comfortable. A very large income arises from the exhibition of the fine picture gallery here to be seen. Here is quite enough to please any one who is curious, and to gratify boys amazingly; and this you will credit when I tell you some things that we saw. The coat and waistcoat worn by Nelson when he was killed, on the Victory, at Trafalgar; models of celebrated ships; original painting of Sir Walter Raleigh; Sir Cloudesley Shovel, who was lost, with all his crew, on the Scilly Islands, in Queen Anne's reign; Admiral Kempenfeldt, lost in the Royal George, 1782; Lord Nelson; Lord Collingwood; and almost all the great naval commanders of Great Britain. Then, too, there are large paintings of the great sea fights. One of Trafalgar, by Turner, is very fine, and so is a large one of Nelson's death.
There is a room besides all I have alluded to, called the Nelson Room, and which illustrates all his history; and there are, all about the rooms, some exquisitely fine colossal busts, executed by Flaxman, Bailey, and Westmacott. The chapel is thought to be one of the most beautiful in England. The entire of this great national glory is kept in the cleanest manner; and the only thing to complain of is a want of politeness in the guides. This is in contrast to other places; for we have found the guides very kind and civil at all other places. We have recently visited the Queen's stables, by order from Mr. Lawrence. Every thing was very clean and spacious. Some of the horses were exceedingly beautiful. The harness-room made a display. The cream-colored horses belonging to the state carriage are noble animals. I believe they are brought from Hanover, or came originally thence. The state carriage is an immense lumbering affair, made of carvings and gold. It must be of great weight. The sides are richly painted. It is never used but at the opening of Parliament and similar occasions. The queen's carriages which are ordinarily used are numerous and very elegant, but in good taste. One of our number—you may guess who it was—sadly wanted a hair from the tail of the queen's favorite riding horse. The riding school is spacious, but not much better than a private one that we know in New York.
We took dinner one day at Soyer's Symposium, at Gore House. Soyer is the great master of ceremonies in London for all matters of the cuisine. Gore House was once the home of Wilberforce and Lord Rodney, but is better known as the residence of the late Countess of Blessington. It is now a hotel. The grounds are extensive, and the trees are some of the finest around London, and I have never seen a lovelier spot of the same size. It is alive with blackbirds, thrushes, linnets, and goldfinches. As you enter, you find a vestibule, which is called the cupola of Jupiter Tonans. Through this you pass to "the hall of architectural wonders," then to "the Blessington Temple of the Muses." This apartment leads to "the Transatlantic Ante-Chamber," which is adorned with all sorts of American emblems. Then there are, in succession, "the Alcove of White Roses," "the Birth of Gems," and other rooms of great gorgeousness. One room is the "Palace of the North," which is apparently made entirely of ice, and out of the wall of which is issuing a polar bear. In the pleasure grounds is a "baronial hall," one hundred feet long, fifty broad, and thirty high; and besides this an enormous tent, called "the Encampment for all Nations." Here, at a table four hundred feet long, fifteen hundred persons can be dined at a cheap rate. A table-cloth for this affair cost Soyer two hundred pounds sterling. We had a very pleasant dinner with the Rev. Dr. Harris, President of New College, whose works are so well known in America. The room we occupied was "the Alcove of White Roses." The Symposium stands near to the Crystal Palace, and accommodates the strangers admirably. That dinner was two days ago, however; and I am reminded that another is necessary today, and must leave off to prepare for it.
I am yours truly,
Yesterday we visited the two great ecclesiastical edifices of the metropolis,—St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey,—and I will endeavor to convey to your mind some idea of the impression which they left upon my own. These structures are by name familiar to you, and you have seen engravings of the mighty dome of St. Paul's and the double towers of the Abbey. I had often gazed on these pictured representations, but I find that they did not convey to my mind any adequate notions of the originals. Like the Pyramids, or our own Niagara, they must be seen to be understood. In so vast a place as London, it is absolutely necessary for sight-seers to adopt something like system in their arrangements; so we agreed to devote one day to the examination of the metropolitan Cathedral Church, and of the ancient edifice in which the monarchs of England are crowned. We quitted our hotel at nine o'clock, and, pushing our way through the hurrying crowds of the Strand, speedily arrived at Temple Bar. We then turned down a dingy, narrow passage, on our right hand; this led us to the Temple, which is like a little town of itself, and is almost exclusively inhabited by lawyers. It was amusing enough to notice the gentlemen in powdered horse-hair wigs and flowing black robes, like a clergyman's, who every now and then emerged from some open door, and flitted across the courts, each having a bundle of papers tied with red tape, or a book under his arm. Whilst occupied in observing these Templars of modern times, the tones of an organ fell on my ear, for we were close to the Temple Church, one of the most beautiful sanctuaries in the world. The early morning service was not concluded so we entered without ceremony. Externally, the building has little in the way of architectural decorations to recommend it. It is low, destitute of tower or steeple, and surrounded by gloomy-looking lawyers' offices. But no sooner had we crossed the threshold than a scene of surpassing beauty burst upon us. I should here tell you that this edifice, which is intended for the exclusive use of members of the Temple, is very ancient. The church formerly belonged to the Knights Templars. It was built in 1185, and the choir was added in 1240. For years and years the building was neglected by the legal gentlemen; but in 1839 it was proposed to restore the former glories of the place, and the outlay of seventy thousand pounds has caused it to stand out in all its pristine beauty. The form of the church is octagonal. The ceiling, sides, and altar are all decorated in the mediaeval style. The pipes of the organ dazzle you with their purple and golden splendors. The floor is of encaustic tiles. On the walls are displayed the names and coats of arms of those members of the Temple who have been raised to the dignity of judges. On all these objects the sunshine, streaming through superbly-painted windows, produced quite a kaleidoscope effect. The coup d'oeil was almost too dazzling, and strikingly contrasted in my mind with the primitive simplicity of our New England churches. In this church I found that some great men had been buried. The learned Sir John, Selden, the author of "Table Talk;" Howell, whose old letters we have so much enjoyed together; Gibbon the historian, and Oliver Goldsmith, lie just outside the church. The preacher of this church is called the master of the Temple, and the great Hooker once held this post. Having gratified our curiosity by an inspection of this gem of church architecture, we quitted the building, and, after a pleasant stroll through the Temple Gardens,—a sweet spot, and spoken of by Shakspeare as the place where the distinction of the Red and White Roses was first seen,—embarked on one of the river steamboats, which rapidly conveyed us to Blackfriars Bridge.
The finest view of St. Paul's Cathedral is, unquestionably, from the Thames. When seen from the streets, only portions of its colossal magnitude can be observed. On all sides it is hemmed in by houses, which, pygmies though they be, prevent an uninterrupted view of the architectural giant. But from the middle of the Thames, the cathedral is seen in all its glory; towering above the surrounding marts of trade, it stands out the grand point of attraction.
Here may be observed, to advantage, the surpassing beauty of the great dome, which dwarfs the towers and steeples of the surrounding churches almost into nothingness. The general aspect of the cathedral is said to resemble St. Peter's, at Rome, but the symmetry of the dome of the latter is acknowledged to be less beautiful than that of its London rival.
We landed at Blackfriars Bridge Stairs; and, after ascending Ludgate Hill, arrived at the great northern door of the cathedral. In reply to the rap of our knuckles at the huge portals, it slowly swung back on its hinges, and a grim, surly-looking face appeared. The figure which belonged to the face was clad in a rusty and seedy black robe, from beneath which a hand was thrust forth, and the words, "two-pence each," sounded harshly on our ears. Two-pence each was accordingly paid, and then the surly janitor, or verger, as he is called, admitted us within the building. In a moment afterwards, we were beneath the dome of St. Paul's. If this part of the edifice has appeared imposing when viewed from without, how much grander did it seem now that we stood on the marble pavement below, and gazed upward into the vast concave which the genius of Sir Christopher Wren had designed. The scene to my mind was most impressive, and the impressiveness was heightened by a continuous dull roar, which never ceased for a moment. This ceaseless noise was produced by the numerous carriages passing and repassing without. The concavity of the dome, I suppose, condensed the sound into a subdued thunder, like that which one hears at a short distance from the Falls of Niagara. Against the huge pillars, and in various niches, were the statues of eminent men; some of them erected by the nation, as a commemoration of naval or military services, and others as tributes to great personal worth, or to public benefactors. Among the statues of the men of peace, that of Dr. Samuel Johnson, the great lexicographer, particularly interested me. The celebrated moralist is represented seated. One hand holds a scroll, the other rests upon a pedestal. The likeness is said to be well preserved. The sculptor was Bacon. There was the capacious forehead, the thick bushy eyebrows, the large mouth, the double chin, the clumsy person, and the thick, ungainly legs, which had been rendered familiar to me through the portraits which I had seen in the Johnsonia. As I gazed on that marble tribute to genius and worth, I could not but remember, Charley, how Johnson had frequently walked the streets of London all night, because he had not the wherewithal to pay for a lodging. Near to Johnson's monument was that of Howard the philanthropist. We noticed a very fine one to Sir Joshua Reynolds; also statues to Bishop Heber, Abercrombie, Cornwallis, Sir John Moore, Sir Astley Cooper, Sir Thomas Lawrence, and Benjamin West.
But the greatest attraction of St. Paul's is the sarcophagus, in which repose the remains of England's greatest naval hero, Lord Nelson. Situated immediately beneath the centre of the great dome is a diamond-shaped tablet, which marks the spot beneath which rests, after his career of glory, the hero of the Nile and Trafalgar. His body rests in a sarcophagus in the vaults below. Exactly beneath the tablet lies the huge coffin, with the name "NELSON" engraven on its side. No epitaph, no labored panegyric, no fulsome praise; and Englishmen, I think, were right in supposing that the simple name of their hero was enough for fame. This sarcophagus was made by Cardinal Wolsey; and here Nelson was placed, in a coffin made out of the mainmast of the French ship, L'Orient.