Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE TOWER OF LONDON.

a

а

TAERE is something very pleasant that can chronicle all the deeds of in the appearance of a new house. cruelty or of kindness, the vicissiThe walls are so clean, the roof so tudes of misery or happiness, that have perfect, the windows so cheerful- occurred in those old houses? It must looking, and the very doors seeming be sufficient for the traveller to know, so ready to open without any noise that wherever men and women have or difficulty on their hospitable hinge. resided these incidents must have And yet we are forced to confess that, occurred-children must have been though a new house gives one very born, must have died-in their agreeable ideas of comfort and con- youth, in their manhood, in their old venience, it is not so picturesque as age--and sights and sounds, hopes an old one. The scenery of England and disappointments and sorrows, would lose very much of its beauty if must have been as profusely scatits fields and parks were not dotted tered along the devious paths that over with quaint, gable-ended man- conducted them from the cradle sions, ornamented with tall chimneys, to the grave, as we ourselves find and steep red-tiled roofs, grown grey them in our daily progress from the with the rains and sunshine of two or same starting point to the same end. three hundred years. Castles, also, It is the recollections, then (if we perched like a robber on some emi- may call them so, since they are not nence, to command a view of the of any particular incident, but only public road at its foot, lifting their of the inevitable events that we may towers and turrets up into the sky, venture to take on trust)-it is the form a beautiful feature in the land- memory of the past, and not the scape, and add a new sort of interest architectural style of the building, to the tract of country we are journey- that gives such a charm to the queer ing through. But does it ever strike corners and innumerable windows of one traveller out of ten, what is the a mansion of the days of old. In cause of the interest we take in these themselves, many people have mainold dwellings ? It can't be their tained that those broken lines and mere shape and position, for it is fantastic ornaments are not half so possible to devise more regular plans, beautiful as the plain solidity of the and to discover more fitting situa- Grecian architecture and the massive tions. No-it is the history of the solemnity of the palaces of Italy; but human feelings, of which these places to us English they assume a higher have been the theatre, that involun- character than any mere beauty of tarily rises to our minds; it is the collocation can bestow, for they are cares, the loves, the joys and sorrows treasuries of English feelings-Engof which those old walls have been lish history-English life. Élizabeth the witnesses, that invest them, to rises before us as she stood when the the thoughtful heart, with a far deeper Armada was defeated. Charles I. and more enduring interest than ever with his ceremonious statelinesscan attach themselves to stone and the Cavaliers and the Roundheadslime. Not a house in all England the burly figure and unconquerable that has stood for two hundred years, will of Oliver Cromwell—the resothat has not a tale to tell that would lute independence of Hampden-the astonish the writers of romance; not chivalrous courage of Walter Raleigh, a room that has not its memory of and the sweet feminine grace of Lucy death or marriage -— of the bride Hutchinson, or Lady Russell. These coming into it in the splendour of are the thoughts and associations her beauty,-of the same, when fifty that make an old house so charming; years have past, being carried out of but first-for one doesn't like even it, mourned by her descendants of to be pleased on false pretences—is the third generation ; or, perhaps, the house old ? Has it stood in cloud neglected and forgotten as one who and sunshine all those years? Is it has lived too long. But who is there contemporary with the historic men

whose time its style of architecture into wine and beer cellars. He also recalls? If so,ali hail, old farm and introduced straight walks into his manor !-walled castle and moated garden, turned the moat into a fishgrange !—for humanity has breathed pond, and cut all his trees into the its spirit into your stones, and you shapes of men, and peacocks, and grow half human yourselves from elephants, and other objects of natuhaving sheltered so many genera- ral history. He also discharged his tions of men. But if it is not in warder, and paid for protection by a reality an old house-if it was built subscription to the county police. yesterday, and pretends to have He was a smug, careful, pushing stood, as we now see it, grey with fellow, and laid out more money on artificial mosses, crumbling even, in his warehouses than on his private some parts, with artificial ruin- dwelling, for he began to smell from what are we to say ?

afar the spices of India, and the If the builder's receipt is not yet cotton-fields of America, and the dry, and it pretends notwithstanding commerce of the world, and the emto whisper to us abont Henry VIII. pire of the seas. And then came and Bloody Mary, and James I., in the Nineteenth century, such a what shall we think of it? Why, being as has never been seen before. that it is an impostor,-that it is like He upset all the thrones of Europe a London beggar of thirty or forty in his youth, and kicked them about years old, who turns up the whites as if they were really nothing but of his eyes, and totters as he walks, old chairs. He put a little water leaning heavily on a stick, with á into a pot, and put some coals under placard on his bosom, bearing in it, and by the aid of a few wheels large letters, “ Thomas Tudor, an old and axles, he careers up rivers where man of a hundred and five, past work civilised man never penetrated beand totally blind.” It ought to be fore; he crosses the Atlantic at fiflooked on asextorting admiration from teen miles an hour against wind and us under false pretences, and not a bit tide; he beats the farthest waters of more respectable than any other de- the Pacific into a white foam around ceiver. A house of the Nineteenth his paddles. But he does more. He century should be a house for the makes the sun himself draw his Nineteenth century to live in. The landscapes. He makes the lightning Fifteenth century was a blustering, itself carry his messages, and he quarrelsome fellow, and lived in a pauses at this moment on the top house with strong barricades all of the elevation he has reached, round it, his walls pierced with par- not to rest contented with the conrow holes, through which he could templation of the valleys at his feet, shoot his visitors, if he did not think but to take a wider survey of the they were approaching him in a lands still to be discovered the friendly manner. The Sixteenth cen- powers yet to be evoked from the tury improved a little on this, but cells in which they have been hidden still flanked his house with turrets from every eye but his. And now that commanded the entrance-door, this Nineteenth century-this“ Heir and had an immense gate studded of all the Ages in the foremost files with iron nails, and insurmountable of time”-can't find out a style of walls round his courtyard. The architecture stamped with his own Seventeenth grew still more civilised. image and character, to be transHe turned the ramparts of his house mitted to his descendants as a sample into a shrubbery, and the dried-up of bis genius and disposition, but is bed of the moat into a bowling- forced to go back and hide his pogreen. But the house was still on verty of invention in a large, highthe look-out for dangers, and had a turretted, square-towered, moated, tower where a sentinel took note of draw-bridged, narrow - windowed, what was passing within his range. winding - staired, long - passaged, The Eighteenth was a remarkably windy, gusty, out-and-in, up-andpeaceful individual, and took down down, old Gothic castle, exactly the his turrets, and made bis guardroom same as would have been built for into the dairy, and the dungeons his great-great-grandfather, while Warwick the kingmaker and other roes of the Crusades — of the men turbulent barons were fighting with who fought at Crecy and PoictiersHenry VI.

of the conquerors at Agincourt, of Now what do we of these peaceful the adherents of the rival Roses, and days, when two policemen dressed in they will be pictorial representations blue keep a whole district in order- to us of great historic periods, landwhat do we want with drawbridges, marks to guide us in our inquiries and portcullises, and donjon towers, into the state of architecture, and and bartisans, and turrets ?. There thence of manners, at different times. was a fitness for all these things in Now we have seen that preceding the days of old. The lord of the ages have built up monuments for mansion dined in his hall with all themselves in stone and lime, from his friends and retainers. When the which, without any inscription, we meals were over, the serving-men, the can read their epitaphs with the men-at-arms, the dependants of the utmost ease. Is this to be the only household, lay down upon the straw age that is to die and make no sign? with which the floor was covered, Having done everything else, can't and the hall became the dormitory we build a Nineteenth Century house? of the family. No wonder, therefore, Our earliest ancestors in this the hall was the largest apartment island lived in beebives; that is, in the house, with the handsomest on three crossed sticks was put a and widest fireplace, the greatest ap- little thatch, which reached to the pearance of comfort, and the most ground, leaving only an opening on habitable look. It is a fit subject the surface for the inhabitant to for laughter to see a new house rising creep in by. What stone and lime, with a prodigious hall. It is a great polished deals and smooth slates were waste of space—it is a reproduction of to them, let some new and hitherto a fashion when the significancy of it unused material be to us. Let us is worn out. Things ought always take the glazed and hollow bricks in to be in keeping with each other, the meantime, as an advance on our and when a worthy citizen retires previous ways; but let us persevere from trade, and builds him a feudal in availing ourselves of anything that fortalice instead of a cottage ornée, ingenuity suggests, and a moderate he ought certainly to exchange his experience warrants, and not many taglioni or comfortable great-coat, years will elapse before we talk of for a cuirass of steel, or at least for the period of poor, tasteless, shapeless a buff jerkin. His black kat, or if stone cottages and tile roofs, as we he is a wise man, his wide-awake, now talk of the period of the Ichthyomust give place to helm and visor. saurus and the Megatherion, and He must dine in the great hall on a other extinct monsters of frightful boar roasted whole, and never take ugliness and very little use. Nobody a quiet ride on his shooting pony denies that in every district there are without an immense sword by his many comfortable looking and pretty side, and a spear in his hand, where- dwellings—houses of a pleasant, hawith to hack to pieces and trausfix bitable appearance, that tell you the any of his tenants with whom he is occupiers are very well off in the not altogether pleased. These ob- world-people with pleasant balances servations, however, are meant to at their bankers, regular appetites at apply only to houses of recent date. five o'clock, and the bedroom candles The old should by all means be con- brought in punctually at half-past tinued in the enjoyment of every ten. This is a style of house that original feature ; repairs must be fulfils one of the purposes for which conducted in the taste and spirit of we contend-namely, that the outside the primitive building. If it be of of a mansion should give you some Henry the Eighth's time, let not one idea of what sort of being the inhaalteration be made so as to confound bitant of it is; and what may be it with the cognate style of Elizabeth called the middle class dwellingand James. if it is still earlier, keep house, being adapted for a middle to it in all its external design. Show class such as never existed before, us the complete mansion of the he- does certainly bear the impress of the

a

middle class for whom it is designed. lance-window or a peaked gable-end; There would be no mistaking its the most outlying parishes are ambicomfortable boiled beef and turnip tious also of showing some outward sort of expression, for the “foray or sign of their Christian profession in starve” look of a Scotch tower; but the repairing and amending of their a modern antiquity is like a false churches. In all, you will see an date, it is apt to mislead, and has the approach to the old Ecclesiastical samé amount of fitness as if a sane style,-a divergence, as far as posman were to raise a house for him. sible, from the appearance of an inself according to the plan and eleva- habited house-of a town-hall- of a tion of a lunatic asylum; or a gentle- shop-or of a feudal tower. People man at large were to build an exact need not worship with less devotion imitation of a model prison.

that their meetings are held in a But there is one style of building chapel which can no longer be miswhich it is to be hoped will never taken for a cow-shed, por that their change, and that is the Ecclesiastical. parish-church is no longer allowed The church that is built to-day should to have one of the transepts walled always have the same distinctive fea- off and used as a pig-stye. tures as the churches that first uprose But we will now put an end to in this island in the light of Chris- this disquisition on architecture, and tianity. There is no false date here, ask the reader's attention to the no assumption of antiquity, nothing short and simple annals of a real old that misleads the observer. And the building-the best known, and perreason is this. There is a sameness haps the most characteristic in Engin the purpose to which it is devoted. land—with more tales of terror and The worship now carried on within interest about it than ever clustered, it, though of a purer form, is ad- like ill-omened ravens, round a builddressed to the same unchangeable ing before,-a building that, in all and Almighty Being who heard the the changes of our history, has still first prayers of the converted heathen borne its bad pre-eminence as the in this land. There is no change of home of despair and sorrow. The manners here, as has occurred in the groans that have resounded through inhabitant of the modern feudal cas- those dismal chambers, the screams tle, and therefore there is no impro- that have startled the sentinel on priety in preserving the same style of guard, proceeding from tortured pribuilding, which has become conse- soners- the broken hearts that beat crated in our minds by the one un- their last in those dungeons -- the varying use to which it has been agonies, the fears that have thrilled applied. To show how completely human bosoms in that awful dwelthis is the case, we have only to ling-invest it with a gloomy horror imagine how absurd the appearance that was never equalled in the pages would be of a dwelling-house built on of fiction. The Castle of Otranto, this model-a little library in the and the mysterious Udolpho, are bell-tower, or a bedroom in thesteeple. mere commonplace habitations comChurches and chapels were equally pared to it. For eight centuries it deficient some years ago, in the ap- has shown its haggard and grim face plication of the Ecclesiastical style. to the world ; and we are now going You rode through a village, and you to recall some particulars of its hissaw a barn at one end of it, with a tory, which will perhaps make us belfry, and a barn at the other with not quite so much in love, as some out a belfry. One was the church people are, or pretend to be, with the and the other the chapel ; both ap- chivalrous grandeur of our ancestors, plied to the one holy purpose of and the superiority of the “good old teaching and prayer, and both utterly times.” destitute of the outward appearance On the left bank of the river of a place of worship at all. In both Thames, just below where the Cusa great improvement has taken place. tom-House is, in convenient juxtaThe poorest of diesenting bodies en- position with the magnificent docks deavour to bestow some adornment which, with their crowded tiers of on the outside of their temple,-a shipping, their innumerable flags, and vast variety of languages, place kings of England, from Richard modern trade and universality of in- II. till James II., a period of three terest at once face to face with an- hundred years. The Tower, throughcient isolation and power,-is seen out the life of the first of these poas we go down in a steamboat for a tentates, played a very conspicuday's holiday to Greenwich, a square- ous part. It was the scene of the built, low and dingy pile, which has grandeur and magnificence of his no feature of attraction either from youthful days. Festivals and assemgrandeur or beauty of design, but blies were held in it, that eclipsed which all turn to look at when they the magnificence of the Court of are told it is the Tower of London. France. The flood of splendour was Who originally built it is not known. indeed so great, that it overflowed Some, of course, say Julius Cæsar; into a place, which is certainly not others are more modest, and say it connected in our minds either with was built in the time of Constantine floods or splendour. Where thouthe Great; and there are certainly sands of cattle were lately penned up, some very strong proofs that on this for the weekly sustenance of two site stood a fortress, a mint, or other millions and a half of hungry building of the Romans in the time Cocknies; where the bellowing of of Honorius, or 395 years after oxen, the bleating of sheep, the Christ. But however this may be, grunting of pigs, and the baaing of the first historic record of its erec- calves, were the only sounds that tion is in the reign of William the disturbed the serenity of Smithfield, Conqueror, who built the White knightly trumpets uttered their inTower to curb the rebellious Saxons, spiring notes, summoning the great under the superintendence of his ar- and gay to tournament and revel, chitect Gundulf, who, besides hand- and ladies whispered words of enling the measuring-line, found time couragement in the ears of their to exercise the duties, or at least to favourite champions. The first day spend the emoluments, of the Bishop- of these ostentatious rejoicings in ric of Rochester.

the year 1390, was termed the Feast In the course of time it offered of Challenge; and “about three such security against attack, that o'clock in the afternoon," says the it became an object of great import- old Chronicler of their_doings, ance to the factions into which “there issued out of the Tower of this kingdom was divided. It was London, first three score of coursers strengthened by walls and bastions. appareled for the juistes, and on every Kings fled to it for safety, or in- one an esquier of honor ridyng a soft trusted it to the favoured of their pace, and then issued out threescore vassals. Armed men were ready to ladies of honor, mounted on fayre be let loose with fire and sword on palfreys, riding on the one side, the disobedient or discontented citi- richly appareled; and every lady zens of London ; dungeons were add- ledde a knight with a cheyne of ed to the other chambers of the cas- sylver, which knights were appareled tle; prisoners of consequence were to juiste; and thus they came riding committed to its impenetrable walls; alonge the streetes of London with Jews were tortured, till they sur- great number of trumpettes and rendered the last farthing of their other mynstrelles, and so came to hard-earned gains. Patriots like the Smithfield, where the King and Scottish Wallace, or the Welsh Llewel- Queen and many ladies and demoilyn, expiated their hatred ofoppression selles were ready in chambers richly with their blood in these miserable adorned to see the juistes.” But the dens; and by the time it had arrived Tower was spectator of a very difat its greatest strength, and very ferent scene in which the same king nearly, at its present form and ex- was a performer. The same streets tent, in the reign of Edward III.; that were witnesses of the glories of it was a name which created an his Smithfield shows, were witnesses involuntary shudder in the stoutest also of his fall. He was taken as a hearts. From it went in procession prisoner to the Tower, by his successon their coronation days, all the ful rival, Henry of Bolingbroke, and

« AnteriorContinuar »