페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

profusion and extravagance of his household were never before equalled by any English subject, peer or prelate. But Wolsey's day at York House, though brilliant, was brief. Anne Boleyn was prejudiced against him, and King Henry VIII. attributed to him the failure of the negotiations for the divorce of Catherine of Arragon; perhaps too the pomp and display affected by the Cardinal aroused the King's jealousy. Wolsey was ignominiously turned out of York House; the palace was seized by the King, and henceforth called Whitehall. Some authorities say that the unfortunate Cardinal handed the palace over to his rapacious master as a peace-offering in vain, others that the King took it without ceremony. However that may be, it is certain that Henry VIII. got Whitehall for nothing, and could therefore afford to enlarge and beautify it. This he did in many ways, notably by obtaining land from the Abbot of Westminster, and enclosing it with a wall as a park ' for his Grace's singular pleasure, comfort, and com'modity,' as Strype has it, 'to the great credit of the 'realm.' The King also added to the palace a spacious room for entertainments, a finer chapel, galleries, a cockpit, and a tennis-court. When all was completed Henry VIII. came to Whitehall with his Court, and the palace henceforth became the principal London residence of our English monarchs until it was destroyed by fire more than a century later.

The succeeding Tudor sovereigns did little or nothing for Whitehall. James I. on his accession found the palace sadly out of repair, and resolved to rebuild it on a regal scale. He consulted Inigo Jones, who prepared elaborate plans, far beyond his royal master's means or needs. They were only in part carried out, but the superb banqueting hall remains to this day a witness of the magnificence of the architect's designs. For the rest, it has been well said that 'the Whitehall of Inigo Jones is an unrealised dream.'

Charles I. at one time thought of carrying on the work begun by his father, and employed Kubens to paint the ceiling of the banqueting hall, and commissioned Vandyck to paint the walls, but political troubles came all too soon, and Vandyck's commission was never executed.

After the Restoration Charles II. commanded Sir Christopher Wren to draw up plans for the improvement of Whitehall, but through lack of money nothing was done, and until the end Whitehall remained much as Inigo Jones had left it. Even so it was a truly regal palace, chiefly in the style of Tudor architecture, a large rambling building, or rather group of buildings, extending far along the river.

Whitehall is rich in memories; they crowd in so fast that it is difficult to enumerate them. Memories of Wolsey quitting it for ever, all his pride laid low, and the thought already in his mind to which he later gave utterance:

* Had I but served my God as diligently as I have served (my king, He would not have given me over in my

* grey hairs;' of Henry VIII. entering upon possession of the palace he had robbed from the Church and hurling defiance at Home and its thunders; of the great Queen Bess, who held here in the early days of her glorious reign many masques and revels; of James I., 'the modern

* Solomon,' listening to the disputes of learned doctors of divinity, and occasionally lecturing them himself; of his son and successor taking counsel with Laud, who came over by water from Lambeth, as they paced beneath the trees of the privy garden. But chief of all is that tragic scene on a bleak January morning two and a half centuries ago when King Charles I. showed his people that if he did not know how to reign at least he knew how to die.

In his recent interesting work, * The Old Royal Palace of 'Whitehall,' Dr. Sheppard enters at length upon the vexed question of the exact site of the scaffold and the precise position of the window, or hole in the wall, of the banqueting hall through which Charles I. passed to his execution. The controversy is unnecessary, for the main evidence is clear. The warrant for the execution expressly prescribed that the King was to be beheaded in 'the open streete before 'Whitehall,' and Sir Thomas Herbert, who attended his royal master in his last moments, in his Memoirs says: 'The King was led along all the galleries and banqueting 'house, and there was a passage broken through the wall 'by which the King passed unto the scaffold.'

The glories of Whitehall were never greater than in the years immediately following the Restoration. Here the merry monarch held high court; the halls echoed with laughter and song, and the sound of music and the dance; gay courtiers and fair ladies flitted along the innumerable galleries and corridors, Chiffinch was busy on the back stairs, and Pepys and Evelyn came and went, and noted all they saw. The King, the Queen, Prince Rupert, and the Duke of Monmouth were lodged at Whitehall, and others too, among them Lady Castlemaine, who had hardly the same right to be there. It was here that Charles II. committed the only brutal act recorded of him, when he insulted his unfortunate Queen by forcing her to receive his mistress before all the Court. At her lodgings in Whitehall Lady Castlemaine gave birth to her son, the first Duke of Grafton. Soon after this event she wished to entertain the King at supper, but, as her lodgings were low to the water's edge and the river was high, on the day of the feast the kitchen was flooded. The cook came to tell her ladyship of the disaster, and that the sirloin ordered for the royal repast could not be cooked: 'Zounds!' exclaimed the Countess,' you may set 'the house on fire, but the beef shall be roasted.' And so it was, but outside the palace walls.

Tragedy jostles with comedy at Whitehall. A few years later the palace by the river was the scene of the fatal error which wrecked the future of the House of Stuart. On a December night Queen Mary of Modena, Consort of James II., fled from Whitehall with the infant Prince of Wales, contrary to her wish, and in obedience to the stern command of the King. The Queen, carrying her infant son in her arms, disguised, under cover of the darkness, stole down to the backstairs to the private water entrance of the palace, where a boat was waiting to convey her across the river to Lambeth. She journeyed to Gravesend and thence to France. In consequence of that mistake her son remained all his life an exile and a fugitive from the land of his birth, and the throne of his ancestors was filled by his Hanoverian cousins.

The following yeai William and Mary of Orange came to Whitehall, and here they were formally offered the crown. Of the new Queen Evelyn writes: 'Mary came to Whitehall 'laughing and jolly as to a wedding.' She ran all over the palace fingering the quilts, opening the cupboards, and entering with joy into possession of the house which only a few months before had been her father's home. Even Burnet, her warm supporter, was shocked, and thought her conduct 'very strange and unbecoming.'

After the death of Mary, William III. came but rarely to Whitehall, possibly because his sister-in-law Anne, whom he hated, had lodgings there at one time. Four years before his death, in 1698, Whitehall was burned to the ground. As a royal residence it ceased to exist, and only the magnificent banqueting hall remained to bear witness of what was once the stately palace of Whitehall. After the accession of George I. this hall was converted into a Chapel Eoyal, and it so remained until 1890, when it was dismantled as a place of worship. Many notable services were held in the Chapel Royal, Whitehall, not the least interesting being the thanksgiving service attended by their present Majesties and all their children the day after their silver wedding (March 11, 1888), when the eloquent Dr. Magee, Archbishop of York, preached.

Shortly after this event the hall was closed as a Chapel Royal. It was 'lent' by Queen Victoria to the Royal United Service Institution, and has since been fitted up by that body for the exhibition of trophies connected with the history of the army and navy. This is a utilitarian age, but as a matter of sentiment it is a pity that this ancient relic of the palace of Whitehall should be diverted to its present uses; the old order seemed much more fitting. True, as a chapel it was never consecrated, but it was hallowed by the prayers of two centuries, and to many it was sacred as the hall through which the royal victim passed on his way to the scaffold, when, in the words of the old Puritan poet, Andrew Marvell, he

'bowed his comely head Down, as upon a bed.'

Moreover, from an testhetic point of view, though the glorious Rubens ceiling remains unspoiled, the galleries whence it can best be seen are now closed; the noble proportions of Inigo Jones's hall are marred by huge glass cases containing models of ships and so forth, and the walla are disfigured by drab paint. London is not so rich in ancient monuments that it can afford thus to misuse this precious relic of the palace of Whitehall.

The burning of Whitehall led to the recognition of St. James's as a royal palace. For though St. James's was first acquired by Henry VIII., it was not until the reign of William III. that it became the accredited seat of royalty. The phrases 'The Court of St. James's,' 'The Palace of 'St. James't),' date from the Revolution era—before then it had been ' The Court of Whitehall.'

The Hospital of St. James's, founded for the reception of 'fourteen sisters, maidens, that were leprous, living chastely 'and honestly in divine service,' was acquired by Henry VIII. in the year 1532, by comparatively honest means, for though he turned the sisters out of doors he granted them pensions. The hospital was razed to the ground, and St. James's Manor House was erected in its place, under the direction of Cromwell, Earl of Essex. Holbein is said to have furnished the plan, but this may be doubted. Henry VIII. entered into occupation of his ' goodly mansion of St. James's' at a time when his passion for Anne Boleyn was at its height, and carved on the chimney-piece of the presence-chamber may still be seen the Tudor badges and the initials H. A. intertwined—the cipher of the monarch lover and his swanlike bride. Anne Boleyn must have spent some of the happiest hours of her brief reign at St. James's, and have witnessed there many a stately masque. The King, perchance, associated St. James's with his wayward fancy for Anne Boleyn, for he seldom went thither after her tragic death, but repaired to his more commodious palace of Whitehall. Mary, his daughter, passed much of her time at St. James's. From its gates at her accession she rode in state to Whitehall with the Princess Elizabeth at her side. The Tudor sisters rode on white palfreys, gaily caparisoned, and followed by a brave show of ladies and knights. In St. James's, too, a few years later Mary dragged out the last days of her inglorious reign, weeping over the loss of Calais, and sighing for Philip her husband, who came not.

After Mary's death the course of events flowed away from St. James's. Elizabeth cared nothing for the palace, but she sometimes held receptions in the state apartments. James I. went thither but little, and though he affected to be pleased that it bore his name, the magnificence of Whitehall appealed much more to him. So he made over the Manor House of St. James's to his son Henry, Prince of Wales, who occupied it until his premature death. Charles I. had a liking for St. James's, and most of his children were born there. So too had Queen Henrietta Maria, who lodged a colony of priests and friars in the Friary Court, to the great indignation of the Puritans. It was not long before the Queen's French priests were turned out of the Friary Court with scant ceremony, and the Queen, who viewed their ejection (which she was powerless to prevent) from one of the palace windows, was so enraged that she broke the glass with her clenched hands.

St. James's is full of tragic memories. It was here that Charles I. passed the eve of his execution, here that he took leave of his children and slept his last sleep before he exchanged a corruptible for an incorruptible crown. In the Chapel Royal, which he had fitted up, he attended divine service on the morning of his execution before he 'walked through the park, guarded with a regiment of foot, 'to Whitehall.'

« 이전계속 »