« 上一页继续 »
Erasmus, and More's son-in-law Roper, have given a beautiful picture of the happy home of this illustrious man. He had, says the former, "his son, and his son's wife, his three daughters and their three husbands, and eleven grandchildren, all living with him in his house at Chelsea," and all living together, as he adds, most affectionately. He generally too had there some men eminent for worth, or learning, or genius. Holbein lived here for three years with him. In his garden he had a menagerie of strange animals, with which he used to amuse a vacant hour.
"Such is the excellence of his temper," says Erasmus, " that whatsoever happeneth that cannot be avoided, he accepteth it as if it could not have fallen out more happily. You would say there was in that place Plato's Academy—but I do his house an injury in comparing it to Plato's Academy ... I should rather call his house a school or university of Christian religion; for though there is none therein but readeth or studieth the liberal sciences, their special care is piety and virtue; there is no quarrelling, no intemperate words are heard; none appear idle: that worthy gentleman doth not govern with proud and lofty words, but with well-timed and courteous benevolence; every body performing his duty, yet is there always alacrity, neither is sober mirth anything wanting."
Roper relates that when, on his disgrace, his children and grandchildren were perplexed at the fear of separation, which his diminished means appeared to render necessary, he comforted them by showing how they might yet live all together, though with more frugality than heretofore; "and yet we need not fall to the lowest fare first." Then giving them a pleasant account of student's diet, he told them how they might by degrees conform to their decreasing income—beginning with Lincoln's Inn diet, they could next year go one step to New Inn fare, and then, " if that year exceed our ability, we will the next year descend to Oxford fare, wherein many grave, learned, and ancient fathers are continually conversant. If our abilities stretch not to maintain either, then may we yet with bags and wallets, go a-begging together, and hoping for charity, at every man's door to sing 'Salve, Regina;' and so still keep company and be merry together." Thus could this great man teach his children, as well as himself, to rise above the oppression even of poverty: little wonderful is it that his children should have regarded with such intensity of affection such a parent. As long as the name of More is remembered, the memory of his daughter wjll be remembered also: and the names of both Thomas More and Margaret Roper will be preserved as long as manly worth and womanly affection are revered and cherished.
On More's execution, his house and property were of course seized by the king; the family, it is said, being left with not so much as a winding-sheet to wrap his corpse in. But Henry, with unusual generosity, afterwards granted to the widow of his great Chancellor an annuity of 201. More's house passed successively through a great many hands; and several persons of eminence at different times resided in it. In 173S it was purchased by Sir Hans Sloane, who, in 1740, pulled it down. (Lysons.) Among other eminent men who have lived by the water-side here may be mentioned Sir Richard Steele;—who it will perhaps be recollected, has in the 'Tatler' celebrated "Don Saltero's Coffeehouse" in Cheyne Walk, of which the shadow still occupies the old locality. Many distinguished persons have resided in Cheyne Walk, and some in our own day, for whose sakes a future generation may visit it.
Proceeding onwards we soon reach the Botanic Garden of the Apothecaries' Company, famed for its officinal plants, and for its cedars; in the centre is a statue, by Rysbrack, of Sir Hans Sloane, the founder of the garden and donor of the site. Just beyond is Chelsea Hospital, one of the buildings which confer renown on our river, and, as an institution, honour on the country. It is needless here to dwell on a place so well known. The reader no doubt remembers that it was erected by Charles'II. on the site of "Controversy College," and that Sir Christopher Wren was the architect. He may believe, if he pleases, that it owes its foundation to Nell Gwynn, though there really does not seem to be any better ground for the tradition than the improbability of the Merry Monarch being induced to do so noble a deed, except by the solicitation of a courtesan— and on the whole, the English lady was the most likely one of his seraglio to make the suggestion. But he should not forget the more probable statement that the true originator of the plan was Sir Stephen Fox, who also contributed 15,000^. towards the cost. The building itself is not too ornamental for its purpose, and is sufficiently stately and imposing. With its battered veterans loitering in the sunshine about it, Chelsea Hospital is an inspiriting spectacle; and Chelsea Hospital ought not to be named without honourable mention of its admirable supplement, the Military Asylum.
VOL. II. L
But we must hasten on. Just beyond the Hospital is the place where once were the Ranelagh Gardens—so familiar to every reader of our "polite literature," and so charming a spot in the eyes of the beaux and the belles of a past age. Chelsea was altogether a popular locality in the days of coffee-houses,* breakfast-gardens, bun-houses, and other forgotten places of amusement and resort. Without even casting a glance towards Belgravia, we may pass under Vauxhall Bridge, and hasten to terminate this stage of our ramble. Vauxhall Gardens might well tempt us to talk over their departed glories, but gas-works fright us from the shore. From the dismal Penitentiary on the opposite bank we gladly avert our eyes. If aught could tempt us now to turn aside for a few moments, it would be Lambeth Palace with its many memories, and various points of interest. Just a glance we must take into the venerable and picturesque court-yard, with its fine old Gate-house and Great Hall. This hall is a noticeable room, of goodly proportions, and it has an open timber roof of rather unusual and very good design. The Guard-room with its high pointed roof is another curious architectural feature. So too is the Chapel with its crypt. But the most remarkable is the Lollards'Tower, of which the grim exterior so well accords with its grim associations. The Lollards' Prison is in this tower. The part of the edifice which forms the residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury is chiefly recent. The noble library,
* Our river itself, it will be remembered, had its floating coffee houses in the palmy days of those favourite haunts of wits and politicians.