« AnteriorContinuar »
it when his army lay in the vicinage. Prince Rupert acquired the mansion by purchase, and gave it to his mistress named Hughes, an actress of some celebrity. George Bubb Doddington, Lord Melcombe, popularly known in his day as Silly-bubb, modernised the house, calling it La Trappe, and filling it, to repletion, with statuary and mosaics. Lord Melcombe erected in the grounds of La Trappe a monumental obelisk to his lady. This having been removed, now stands in the park of Lord Ailesbury, at Tottenham, in Wiltshire, commemorative of the recovery of his late Majesty George III.; affording a useful hint of the various purposes to which obelisks may be applied when purchased at second-hand.
Lord Melcombe was the son of an apothecary in Dorsetshire, named Bubb, which name he changed for Doddington, out of compliment to a relative, one of the lords of the Admiralty, whose large fortune he inherited. A Diary from the pen of his lordship testifies his weakness, puerility, and conceit. He had a paltry affectation of patronising literary men, which Thomson and Young the poets, to their lasting discredit, recognised by servile dedications.
The Margravine of Anspach was the next distinguished occupant of Brandenburgh House, as it now was called. Here her highness, who appears to have been a woman of varied accomplishments, frequently entertained her friends with dramatic exhibitions, exerting her talents both as a writer and performer, for their amusement.
Queen Katharine, dowager of Charles II., resided for some years at Hammersmith in a house by the water-side. Dr. Radcliffe, the Abernethy of his day, resided here several years before his final removal to Carshalton. It was his intention to have founded an hospital upon his estate here, and the buildings were in a forward state, but left unfinished at his death. In Hammersmith Chapel is a monument to the memory of Sir Nicholas Crispe, a distinguished adherent of Charles I., and an eminent sufferer in his cause. He entered into business as a trader to Guinea with a larger fortune than most people retire with, and pursued it with unusual success, after losing an immense fortune in the royal service, and materially assisting the cause by his bravery in the field, and diplomacy. Crispe submitting to a robbery, called a commutation, under the Commonwealth, retrieved his losses by trade; and having lived to see the son of his friend restored to his crown and kingdom, was rewarded by being created a baronet the year before his death, leaving a large fortune to his descendants.
Arthur Murphy the dramatist, author of "All in the Wrong,” “Know your own Mind,” and “The Way to Keep Him,” translator of Tacitus, editor of the works of Fielding and Johnson, an accomplished gentleman and scholar, lived for several years on Hammersmith Terrace, and was buried in the Chapel, near his mother, whom he tenderly loved. Sir Samuel Moreland, the lessee of Vauxhall, and noted hydraulic engineer, resided at Hammersmith, where he sunk a well for the use of the public, adjoining his own house, recorded by the following inscription :—“Sir Samuel Moreland's Well, the use of which he freely gives to all persons; hoping that none who shall come after him will adventure to incur God's displeasure by refusing a cup
of cold water provided at another's cost, and not their own, to either neighbour, stranger, passenger, or poor thirsty beggar.” A short
above Hammersmith is ChiswICK, with which is intimately connected TURNHAM GREEN, where a sharp action was fought between Prince Rupert and the Earl of Essex with doubtful success, eight hundred of the Cavaliers being found dead on the field. The chief attractions of Chiswick are the Gardens of the Horticultural Society, and the mansion of the Duke of Devonshire. The last Earl of Burlington, whose skill and taste as an architect are well known, erected this small but beautiful villa from a design of Palladio. The Right Hon. Charles James Fox breathed his last at Chiswick House, whither he was removed for change of air during his last illness, on the 13th of September, 1806.
The Right Hon. George Canning, first lord of the Treasury, and Premier minister, died also here.
There is a painful interest in contemplating the spot where Fox and Canning breathed their last. The abodes
“Where lonely want retires to die,” are the source of no disquieting reflections : death comes there rather as a friend than enemy. He removes the wretched from neglected disease, unpitied want, and unrelieved distress; he robs of life the unfortunate who have nothing of life's portion but its toil, misery, and neglect. But when Death knocks at the palatial gates of Chiswick, dunning for the life of men who, like Fox, have wantoned in every enjoyment from their cradles; or like Canning, have stepped, after a life of ambitious dreams, upon the giddy height of power, there is something appalling in his approach. No more gaiety and dissipation for the one, no more indulgence of the
insolence of power for the other. On that bed those mighty men were laid, helpless as children, looking up for hope of life in the face of the physician, or drawing faint consolation from the matter-of-course aspirations of the nurse. Admiration, adulation, fled; wit, eloquence, intellect, forgotten : rising leaders take their places in the tribune, and usurp their fame; the senate, where they shone, already rings with acclamations in which they have no share; and no prospect fills those eyes, already dimmed by approaching death, than that of a tablet of brass in an abbey, or a statue of bronze in a square.
Of Chiswick House, Horace Walpole, whose judgment in the fine arts is well known, observes that it is "a model of taste, though not without faults, some of which are occasioned by too strict adherence to rules and symmetry. Such are too many corresponding doors in spaces so contracted, chimneys between windows, and what is worse, windows between chimneys, and vestibules, however beautiful, yet little secured from the damps of the climate. The trusses that support the ceiling of the corner drawing-room are beyond measure massive; and the ground apartment is rather a diminutive catacomb than a library in a northern latitude. Yet these blemishes, and Lord Hervey's wit, who said the house was too small to inhabit and too large to hang to one's watch,' cannot depreciate the taste that reigns
throughout the whole. The larger court dignified by picturesque cedars, and the classic scenery of the small court that unites the old and new house, are better worth seeing than many fragments of ancient grandeur which our travellers visit under all the dangers attendant on long voyages.
“The garden is in the Italian style, but divested of conceit, and far preferable to every style that reigned till our late improvements. The buildings are heavy, and not equal to the purity of the house. The lavish quantity of urns and sculptures behind the garden front, should be retrenched.”
The ascent to the house is by a double flight of steps, on one side of which is the statue of Palladio, on the other that of Inigo Jones. The portico is supported by six fine fluted columns, of the Corinthian order, with a very elegant pediment; the cornice, frieze, and architraves, being as rich as possible. The octagonal saloon, which finishes at top in a dome, through which it is enlightened, is truly elegant. The inside of the structure is finished with the utmost elegance; the ceilings and mouldings are richly gilt, upon a white ground, giving a chaste air to the whole interior. The principal rooms are embellished with books, splendidly bound, and so arranged as to appear not an incumbrance but ornament. The tops of the book-cases are covered with white marble, edged with gilt borders.
The gardens are laid out in the first taste, the vistas terminated by a temple, obelisk, or some similar ornament, so as to produce the most agreeable effect. At the end opposite the house are two wolves by Scheemaker; the other exhibits a large lioness and a goat. This view is terminated by three fine antique statues, dug up in Adrian's garden at Rome, with stone seats between them. Along the ornamental waters we are led to an inclosure, where are a Roman temple and an obelisk; and on its banks stands an exact model of the portico of St. Paul's Covent Garden, the work of Inigo Jones. The arched gate, formerly of Beaufort House at Chelsea, also the work of Inigo Jones, and the gift of Sir Hans Sloane to the Earl of Burlington, was removed here. The pleasure-grounds and park include about ninety acres,
together with an orangery, conservatory, and range of forcing-houses, three hundred feet in length.
Horace Walpole, being a connoisseur, must needs find fault with something. He desires that the lavish quantity of urns and statues behind the garden front should be retrenched; and this might be desirable if these urns and statues were not exquisite gems of art, and individually of great beauty and value, demanding a more undivided attention than would be given them, if considered merely as ornamental appendages to the grounds. The bronze statues of the Gladiator, Hercules with his club, the Faun, are worthy a place in any gallery. Three colossal statues, removed hither from Rome, although mutilated, are very fine, as are also the profusion of minor marbles scattered throughout the grounds. Nothing can be more exquisite than the taste that presides over this Versailles in little. The lofty walls of clipped yew, inclosing alleys terminated by rustic temples; the formal flower-garden, with walks converging towards a common centre, where a marble copy of the Medicean Venus woos you from the summit of a graceful Doric column; the labyrinthic involution of the walks, artfully avoiding the limits of the demesne, and deceiving you as to its real extent; the artificial water, with its light and elegant bridge, gaily painted barges, and wild-fowl preening themselves upon its glassy surface; the magnificent cedars feathered to the ground, kissing with pendent boughs their mother earth; the temples and obelisks, happily situate on the banks of the river, or embowered in wildernesses of wood; the breaks of landscape, where no object is admitted but such as the eye delights to dwell upon; the moving panorama of the Thames, removed to that happy distance where the objects on its surface glide along like shadows; the absolute seclusion of the scene, almost within the hum of a great city, make this seat of the Duke of Devonshire a little earthly paradise. The house, notwithstanding Lord Hervey's sarcasm, is a perfect gem, and a worthy monument of the genius and taste of the noble architect. Nowhere in the vicinity of London have wealth and judgment been so happily united; nowhere in the neighbourhood of the metropolis have we so complete an example of the capabilities of the Italian or classic style of landscape gardening.
The Horticultural Gardens were established at Chiswick in the years 1818 and 1819, and are held under His Grace the Duke of Devonshire. The objects of the society may be best understood from the