網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

hastily fleeing from us while we write; who does not feel that a heavy cloud has settled down upon them? Yet let us listen to our noble dramatist:

“Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes,

Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then they say no spirit stirs abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planet strikes,
No fairy takes, no witch has power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is the time.”

May the holy influence of the season be with us and

If there must be less mirth and more reflectionless boisterous jollity, and more refreshing calm—the change may work like a heavenly panacea on our overwrought minds; and looking forth from the watch-tower of the resting, but not enfeebled soul, over the stormy prospect of the approaching year-war looming in the distance, and mourning at home-we shall draw supplies of unfailing strength and courage from the unwavering assurance that there is an Omnipotent Being “who reigneth over the kingdoms of men,” and that the ark of England, with the Queen and our sacred laws aboardthough the trusted earthly pilot has been summoned to his rest-has still a celestial Guide, who

ours,

“Rides on the whirlwind and directs the storm."

172

DRAPERS HALL.

Tus Hall, though very inferior as a building to such splendid examples of civic taste as the Goldsmiths' or Clothworkers', has such an air of respectability and solidity about it that it well deserves notice, and I accord it the rather because I pay the Company a yearly groundrent, and feel pleased to bear testimony to the importance of my

landlords. Drapers' Hall is situate in Throgmorton-street, though there is nothing to indicate the spot save a high brick wall, which encloses it from the footway. This Company, third on the list of the twelve great Corporations, received a charter in 1439, and settled in the present locality in 1541, when they purchased the house and gardens of Thomas Cromwell, the attainted Earl of Essex, under Henry VIII. Stow in his “Chronicle," p. 68, thus describes the place :-" The house being finished, and having some reasonable plot of ground left for a garden, he (Cromwell) caused the pales of the gardens adjoining to the north part thereof on a sudden to be taken down, twenty-two feet to be measured forthright into the north of every man's ground, a line there to be drawn, a trench to be cast, a foundation laid, and a high brick wall to be built. My father had a garden there, and a house, standing close to his south pale. This house they loosed from the ground,

a

and bore upon rollers into my father's garden twenty-two feet, ere my father heard thereof; no warning was given him, nor other answer, when he spoke to the surveyors

of that work, but that their master, Sir Thomas, commanded them so to do.* No man durst go to argue the matter; but each man lost his land; and my father paid his whole rent, which was 68. 6d. a year, for that half that was left." Truly a most pestilent piece of tyranny; the Earl having much less conscience than Ahab, who was willing to purchase the orchard he coveted, or to give the owner a better one in lieu of it, while this upstart peer would not trouble himself with any negotiations, but took possession in the summary way

detailed. Mr. Froude, in his history, takes infinite pains to prove that the Commons, in the reign of Henry VIII., were a singularly comfortable class, well paid and equitably governed. How do such facts agree with the notion ? Ilow would the meanest proprietor of the soil in England now deal with such trespassers ? The rent-charge, too, deserves remark; 6s. 6d. per annum for a house and garden within sight of the Bank! What would the site be worth now?

The first Drapers' Hall (Cromwell's mansion) was burnt in the Great Fire, 1666, and in the following year the present building was erected, from the designs of Jerman, after whose plans the second Royal Exchange was built. The ornaments in Throgmorton-street were added by the brothers Adam. The gardens originally extended northwards as far as London-wall, and, doubtless, commanded

# The fact here mentioned deserves notice on another account. Only a few years since we heard with astonishment that our Yankee cousins, when the situation of any building.proved inconvenient, were able to move it by means of levers to a more suitable spot; and yet we find the supposed novelty spoken of without surprise so early as the fifteenth century. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

a pleasing view of Hampstead and Highgate. Indeed, there would then have been very few houses beyond them in that direction, Finsbury Fields occupying the entire space till they joined the manor of Canonbury. Ward, in the “London Spy," written within a century, speaks of them as a fashionable promenade for the gentry an hour before dinner, the dinner hour being not later than one o'clock. Think of the citizens of the present day promenading at noon, or dining at such an unheard-of hour!

The gardens behind Drapers' Hall still exist, and, the situation considered, are really extensive. When I saw them last summer they were in creditable order, while diversifying the lawns and well-grown trees were flowerbeds and fountains, the whole so cool and pleasant that no great exertion of fancy carried one back into the Tudor age, and gave the plantation quite a countrified air. The Company must exercise considerable self-denial to resist the temptation of covering their garden with bricks and mortar, especially as the governing officials no longer sojourn within the sound of Bow-bells.

Passing in from the street entrance, you find yourself in a paved quadrangle, shut in by red brick corridors, primlooking, but substantial ; from which a long passage conducts you to the various offices, where, in general, a somewhat unbusiness-like repose is observable. During my visits, I never found more persons in attendance than one clerk and two messengers, all in undress, and seemingly much surprised at my arrival. I think I could have opened all the doors and penetrated right and left without detection. Twice, at least, when attending with my ground-rent, nobody could be found able to give me a receipt, though a clause in the lease makes personal attendance for that purpose indispensable. Once too, when change was required, I suppose they went to the Bank

I for the needful, since the Anlay was almost beyond my

patience. Possibly I never reached the hall sanctum, for through a long paved passage, opening into the office, I could distinguish some dozen doors, ending with a dead glass window, behind which his honour the director in waiting might have been installed, and was perhaps asleep. No doubt the place was sufficiently lively of a court-day, when the rich perfume of a coming banquet attracts all the old and middle-aged magnates of the Company.

On one of my visits I petitioned for permission to go over the building, which was very courteously granted. There are two halls, one for the monthly dinners, and the other also used for banqueting, but called the court-room. Both are lofty, well-lit apartments, fitted with well polished oak paneling, of a deep blackish-brown colour, from age. The ceilings are elegantly moulded, and the several chandeliers in each room, when lighted, must make them appear very cheerful. The walls are hung with wholelength portraits in oil. Two Lord Mayors, worthy drapers of the olden time, have honourable posts assigned to them among the crowned heads, and really look almost as royal in their chairs and robes. Henry VIII., fat and defiant, in costume à la Holbein, heads the potentates; then comes Mary Queen of Scots, a fine painting ascribed to Zucchero, and engraved by Bartolozzi. I did not find in it the surpassing beauty usually attributed to her, but her portraits differ so widely, that it is idle to expect certainty on the subject. The head coiffure of her supposed likenesses varies amazingly, owing, it is now concluded, to her wearing different coloured wigs. Her son, King James I., when only four years old, is the next portrait, and figures as a rather well-looking child, certainly without any earnest of the ungainliness attributed to him when a man; William III., a very commonplace affair; Georges I., II., III., IV., delineated in a manner not at all likely to raise

« 上一頁繼續 »