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Title: The Children of Westminster Abbey: Studies in English History

Author: Rose Georgina Kingsley

Release date: June 23, 2010 [eBook #32955]
Most recently updated: January 6, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by D Alexander, Juliet Sutherland, Christine D.
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at










Copyright, 1886.
D. Lothrop & Company.




Tachbrook Mallory
            Oct. 16, 1885


I.The Building of the Abbey—Princess Catherine and Prince Henry7
II.The Conquest of Wales—Prince Alfonso31
III.John of Eltham, the Young Knight57
IV.Edward the Fifth, and Richard, Duke of York79
V.King Edward the Sixth105
VI.Miss Elizabeth Russell, "the Child of Westminster"130
VII.The Princesses Sophia and Mary155
VIII.Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales176
IX.Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (continued)196
X.Lord Francis Villiers222
XI.Princess Anne, and Henry, Duke of Gloucester243
XII.William Henry, Duke of Gloucester269


(From rare old Prints and Photographs.)

Westminster Abbey.—FrontFrontis.
Westminster Abbey.—North Entrance12
Shrine of Edward the Confessor.—At left, Tomb of Henry the Third25
Dean Stanley37
Chapel of Henry the Fifth45
Effigy of John of Eltham58
Tomb of John of Eltham, St. Edmund's Chapel61
Ancient Canopy of the Tomb of John of Eltham67
Tomb of William of Windsor and his Sister Blanche74
Edward the Fifth83
Memorial Urn in Henry the Seventh's Chapel101
Interior of the Chapel of Henry the Seventh107
Exterior of the Chapel of Henry the Seventh113
Edward the Sixth.—From a Painting by Holbein119
Queen Elizabeth.—From Painting in the English National Portrait Gallery137
Monument to Miss Elizabeth Russell147
The Monument to Queen Elizabeth in the North Aisle157
The Cradle Tomb165
The Monuments of Princess Sophia and Princess Mary171
Entrance to Bramshill House179
Bramshill House, from the North189
Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales203
Westminster Abbey, from the North215
Tomb of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham227
Lord Francis Villiers.—After Vandyck235
The Effigies of the Lady Anna245
Henry, Duke of Gloucester253
Princess Elizabeth in Prison261
Westminster Abbey, looking toward the Altar.—From Etching by H. Toussaint273
The Old Dormitory at Westminster School279
Dining Hall, Westminster School285
A Westminster Boy289

[Pg 7]




Twelve hundred years ago, in the reign of King Sebert the Saxon, a poor fisherman called Edric, was casting his nets one Sunday night into the Thames. He lived on the Isle of Thorns, a dry spot in the marshes, some three miles up the river from the Roman fortress of London. The silvery Thames washed against the island's gravelly shores. It was covered with tangled thickets of thorns. And not so long before, the red deer, and elk and fierce wild ox had strayed into its shades from the neighboring forests.[1][Pg 8]

Upon the island a little church had just been built, which was to be consecrated on the morrow. Suddenly Edric was hailed from the further bank by a venerable man in strange attire. He ferried the stranger across the river, who entered the church and consecrated it with all the usual rites—the dark night being bright with celestial splendor. When the ceremony was over, the stranger revealed to the awestruck fisherman that he was St. Peter, who had come to consecrate his own Church of Westminster. "For yourself," he said, "go out into the river; you will catch a plentiful supply of fish, whereof the larger part shall be salmon. This I have granted on two conditions—first, that you never again fish on Sundays; and secondly, that you pay a tithe of them to the Abbey of Westminster."[2]

The next day when bishop and king came with a great train to consecrate the church, Edric told them his story, presented a salmon "from St. Peter in a gentle manner to the bishop," and showed them that their pious work was already done.[Pg 9]

So runs the legend. And on the site of that little church dedicated to St. Peter upon the thorn-grown island in the marshes, grew up centuries later the glorious Abbey that all English and American boys and girls should love. For that Abbey is the record of the growth of our two great nations. Within its walls we are on common ground. We are "in goodly company;" among those who by their words and deeds and examples have made England and America what they are. America is represented just as much as England "by every monument in the Abbey earlier than the Civil Wars."[3] And within the last few years England has been proud to enshrine in her Pantheon the memories of two great and good Americans—George Peabody, the philanthropist, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poet.

Come with me, in spirit, my American friends, and let us wander down to Westminster on some warm June morning.

We will go down Parliament street from Trafalgar Square, along the road that English kings took[Pg 10] in old days from the Tower of London to their coronations at the Abbey. Whitehall is on our left; and we remember with a shudder that King Charles stepped out of that great middle window and laid his unhappy head on the block prepared outside upon the scaffold. On our right "The Horse Guards"—the headquarters of the English army, with a couple of gorgeous lifeguardsmen in scarlet and white, and shining cuirasses, sitting like statues on their great black horses. Through the archway we catch a glimpse of the thorns in St. James' Park, all white with blossom; and we wonder whether their remote ancestors were the thorns of Edric's time. Next comes the mass of the Foreign Office and all the government buildings, with footguards in scarlet tunics and huge bearskin caps standing sentry at each door. Parliament street narrows; and at the end of it we see the Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament high up in the air, and the still larger square Victoria Tower. Then it opens out into a wide space of gardens and roadways; and, across the bright flower beds, there stands Westminster Abbey.[Pg 11]

What would Edric, the poor fisherman, think if he could see the Thames—silvery no longer—hurrying by the wide granite embankments—past Doulton's gigantic Lambeth potteries and Lambeth Palace and the River Terrace of the Houses of Parliament—covered with panting steamboats and heavy barges—swirling brown and turbid under the splendid bridges that span it, down to the Tower of London, and the Pool, and the Docks, where the crossing lines of thousands of masts and spars make a brown mist above the shipping from every quarter of the globe? Poor Edric would look in vain for fish in that dirty river; and full four hundred years have passed since "the Reverend Brother John Wratting, Prior of Westminster," saw twenty-four salmon offered as tithe at the High Altar of the Abbey.

What would King Sebert the Saxon think if we took him into the glorious building that has risen upon the foundations of his little church in the marshes?[Pg 12]


At first sight Westminster Abbey is a little dwarfed by the enormous pile of the Houses of Parliament and their great towers. And St. Margaret's Church, nestling close to it on the north, mars the full view of its length. But when we draw near to it, all other buildings are forgotten. Crossing St. Margaret's churchyard where Raleigh sleeps, we seem to come into the shadow of a[Pg 13] great gray cliff. Arch and buttress and pinnacle and exquisite pointed windows tier upon tier, are piled up to the parapet more than a hundred feet over our heads. Before us is the north entrance—well named "Solomon's Porch." It is a "beautiful gate of the temple" indeed, with its three deep-shadowed recesses, rich with grouped pillars supporting the pointed arches above the doorways—its lines of windows and arcades above and below the grand Rose Window, over thirty feet across—its flying buttresses and delicate pinnacles terminating one hundred and seventy feet above the ground—the whole surface wrought with intricate carving, figures of saint and martyr, likeness of bird and flower, grotesque gargoyles, fanciful traceries and lines and patterns—a stone lace-work of surpassing beauty.

We gaze and gaze, and try to take in the wonder of stone before us. Then, through the bewildering noise of London streets, the rattle of cabs and carriages, the whistle and rumble of underground railways, the ceaseless tramp of hurrying feet on the pavement—"Big Ben" booms out[Pg 14] eleven times solemnly and slowly from the Clock Tower. We pass the photograph and guide-book sellers, and push open the doors under the central archway of Solomon's Porch. In an instant the glare and noise and hurry are left behind. We find ourselves in a sweet mellow silence—in a dim tender light—in a vast airy stillness, such as you find at noontide in the depths of a beech forest. But here the boles of the beech-trees are huge pillars of stone—the branches are graceful pointed arches that spring from them, and vaultings and ribs that flash with gold through the blue mist that hangs forever about the roof a hundred feet overhead. Outside the Abbey surge the waves of the great city. We hear a faint murmur of the roar and turmoil of its restless life breaking like distant surf upon the shore. But within these walls we are still and peaceful—and, if we will, we may read in "brass and stony monument" the story not only of England's worthies, but of her religion, her politics, her art, and her literature for full eight hundred years. Yes! for eight hundred years. For although the present Abbey is but six centuries old,[Pg 15] there are still remains to be seen of an earlier building.

Morning service is just over. The choir boys have slipped off their white surplices, and are setting the music books in order. The crowd of sight-seers is beginning to wander about the Abbey. The monotonous voices of the vergers are beginning their explanations of tomb and chapel to the eager strangers. Let us get my good friends Mr. Berrington or Mr. Deer who show the tombs, to come quietly with us in their black gowns. Let us stand within the Sacrarium—the wide space inside the altar rails. The splendid reredos glittering with gold, mosaic, and jewels, blazes above the altar of carved cedar from Lebanon. Against the stalls on the opposite side hangs the famous picture of King Richard the Second. Beside us rise the gray stone canopies of the magnificent tombs of Aymer de Valence and Edmund Crouchback—two of the finest specimens of mediæval art in England. The great groups of pillars round the choir carry the eye upwards to the arcades of the Triforium, to the delicate tracery of the great clerestory[Pg 16] windows, to the wonderful misty roof. But it is not overhead that I would have you look. Beneath your feet is the mosaic pavement that Abbot Ware brought from Rome in 1267, when he journeyed thither to be consecrated Abbot of Westminster by the Pope. Our guide stoops down, touches a secret spring, and lifts up a square block of the pavement. You look into a space some few feet deep. It is almost filled with a mass of rudely chiselled stone—the base and part of the shaft of a huge round pillar.

Look on that pillar with reverence. It has seen strange sights.

Under the arches it once supported, Edward the Confessor was buried. Under them William the Norman was crowned king of England.

It was on the twenty-eighth of December, in the year of grace 1065, that the Collegiate Church of St. Peter was consecrated. For fifteen years Edward the Confessor, the last Saxon king, who built it "to the honor of God and St. Peter and all God's saints," had lavished time and money and pious thought on the grandest building England had yet[Pg 17] seen. It had cost one tenth of the property of the kingdom. Its vast size, covering as it did almost the same ground as the present Abbey, its great round arches, its massive pillars, its deep foundations, its windows filled with stained glass, its richly sculptured stones, its roof covered with lead, its five big bells—all these wonders filled the minds of men accustomed to the rude wooden rafters and beams of the common Saxon churches, with amazement and awe. Then too a mysterious interest had always attached to the site. Besides the old legend of the first consecration by St. Peter, the belief in many mysteries and miracles connected with the Confessor had grown up with the growth of his Abbey Church.

The saintly king, with his pink cheeks, his long white beard, his wavy hair and his delicate hands that healed the diseases of his people by their magical touch, would startle his courtiers with a strange laugh now and again, and then recount some vision which had come to him while they thought he slept. "He had seen the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus suddenly turn from their right sides to their left, and[Pg 18] recognized in this omen the sign of war, famine, and pestilence for the coming seventy years, during which the sleepers were to lie in their new position."[4]

He had given a precious ring, "large, royal and beautiful," off his finger, to a beggar who implored alms of him in the name of St. John. The beggar vanished. And the ring was brought back to him from Syria by two English pilgrims, to whom an aged man had confided it, telling them that he was St. John the Evangelist, "with the warning that in six months the king should be with him in Paradise."

The six months have ended.

The Abbey Church of St. Peter is finished, while hard by, in his palace of Westminster, Edward, the last Saxon king, lies dying. On Wednesday, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, or Childermas, the dying king rouses himself sufficiently to sign the Charter of the foundation: but Edith his queen has to represent him at the consecration. And the first ceremony after the consecration[Pg 19] of the glorious minster he loved so well, is the Confessor's own burial. In his royal robes, a crown of gold upon his head, a crucifix of gold on his breast, a golden chain about his neck, and the pilgrim's ring on his hand, he lies before the High Altar with an unearthly smile upon his lips.

A great horror and terror had fallen upon the people of England—and well it might. Well might the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus turn uneasily in their slumber—for within a year William the Norman was standing before that same High Altar—standing on the very gravestone of King Edward, "trembling from head to foot"[5] for the first time in his life amid clamor and tumult, as Aldred, the Saxon Archbishop of York, put the crown of England on his head, and made him swear to protect his Saxon subjects, while the fierce Norman cavalry were trampling those Saxon subjects under their horses' hoofs outside the Abbey gates.

For one hundred and fifty years England was under foreign kings. And although the Norman Conquerors were crowned in Edward the Saxon's[Pg 20] Abbey Church at Westminster, not one of them was laid within its walls. But with the fall of the Norman and Angevin kings, better days dawned for England. The Barons at Runnymede had forced King John, the last English Duke of Normandy and Anjou, to grant them the Great Charter—the glory and pride of all English-speaking people. And at John's death his son Henry the Third came to the throne in 1216 as the first English king of a free English people.

The young king prided himself upon his Anglo-Saxon ancestors. He was descended from King Alfred through "the good Matilda," Henry the First's wife. He called his sons by Anglo-Saxon names. His interests, and those of his descendants, were to be concentrated in the island which was now their sole kingdom. He therefore determined to desert the city of Winchester, which his Norman predecessors had made their headquarters, and "to take up his abode in Westminster beside the Confessor's tomb."[6][Pg 21]

During the Norman occupation an irresistible instinct had been drawing the conquerors towards their English subjects, "and therefore towards the dust of the last Saxon king." In Henry the Second's reign Edward the Confessor had been canonized. Many English anniversaries were celebrated yearly in the Abbey. Good Queen Matilda was buried close to her kinsman Edward and Edith the Swanneck, "the first royal personage so interred since the troubles of the conquest."[7]

It was to Henry the Third, however, that the thought came of making the Shrine of the Confessor the centre of a burial place for his race. In addition to his love for all things pertaining to his Saxon ancestry, Henry was passionately devoted to all sacred observances. "Even St. Louis," says Dean Stanley, "seemed to him but a lukewarm Rationalist." He possessed in a very high degree what we nowadays call the artistic sense. Art in all its forms was a complete passion with him; and with his Provençal wife Eleanor a swarm of foreign artists, painters, sculptors, poets, troubadours, found their way to England. Louis the Ninth was[Pg 22] re-building and re-embellishing the Abbey of St. Denys as a place of sepulture for the French kings. Henry had also seen the splendid churches of Amiens, Beauvais, and Reims, in his journeys through France. His English, his religious, and his artistic instincts therefore, all combined to fire his imagination with the idea of making the most glorious shrine for the English king and saint that the world could see.

Henry's work at Westminster began with his reign. He dedicated the newly built Lady Chapel at the back of the High Altar, the day before his coronation; and "the first offering laid upon its altar were the spurs worn by the King in that ceremony." Then Edward's Abbey, "consecrated by recollections of the Confessor and the Conqueror," was swept away. Little remains of it now save the bases of those pillars of which I have spoken above—the substructures of the Dormitory—and the heavy low-browed passage leading from the Great Cloister into Little Dean's Yard and the Little Cloisters. The famous "Chapel of the Pyx," close to the Chapter House, is still in good preservation.[Pg 23] But as it can only be opened by the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, with seven huge keys, it is impossible to gain entrance to it—the ancient Treasury of England. It is now only opened by these officers once in five years for the "Trial of the Pyx," the Standard Trial Pieces of gold and silver, used for determining the just weight of the coin of the realm issued at the Mint.

But now upon the old foundations rose the Abbey we all know and love. In every smallest detail the new church was to be incomparable in beauty. Foreign painters and sculptors expended on it all their cunning. Peter of Rome set to work on the Confessor's Shrine, where you may still read his name, and made it glow with gold, mosaics and enamels, the like of which could not be found in England. And when the wondrous building—"the most lovely and lovable thing in Christendom"[8]—was finished, the Confessor's body was translated on October 13, 1269, from its tomb in front of the High Altar to the splendid shrine prepared for it. The king, now growing old, had gathered his family[Pg 24] about him for the last time. Edward, his eldest son, was just on the eve of departure with his wife Eleanor for Palestine to join St. Louis in the Crusades. He, his brother Edmund, and his uncle Richard, king of Germany, "supported the coffin of the Confessor, and laid him in the spot where (with the exception of one short interval) he has remained ever since."[9] The King himself carried from St. Paul's the sacred relics which the Knights Templars had given him twenty years before, and deposited them behind the shrine, where Henry the Fifth's Chantry now stands.

Dear as the Abbey was to King Henry as a monument of his own piety and taste, and as the shrine of his sainted kinsman, yet he must have loved it even more tenderly for being the resting-place of a little child. The Confessor's Church as you will remember was consecrated on Childermas, the Holy Innocents' Day. And it seems to me not without significance, that the first interment of importance in Henry the Third's new building was that of a child of five years old—his beautiful little daughter Catherine. In 1257, during an insurrection of the Welsh which laid waste the Border, and which the King strove in vain to quell—the kingdom desolated with famine—the Barons mutinous and defiant—Henry's cup of trouble was filled by the death of his little child.[Pg 25]


[Pg 26]

"She was dumb, and fit for nothing," says old Matthew Paris rather cruelly, "though possessing great beauty." The poor queen fell ill and nearly died of grief at the loss of her little deaf and dumb girl, loved all the more dearly no doubt, by reason of her affliction. And her illness, his own want of success against the Welsh, and the little princess's death, so overwhelmed the king with grief as to bring on "a tertian fever, which detained him for a long time at London, whilst at the same time the queen was confined to her bed at Windsor by an attack of pleurisy."[10]

The little Catherine was buried with great pomp in the ambulatory just outside the gate of St. Edmund's Chapel to the south of the Confessor's Shrine, and close to the grand tomb of her uncle, the king's half brother, William de Valence. Her father raised a splendid monument to her memory. It was rich with mosaic and polished slabs of serpentine, in much the same style as his own magnificent[Pg 27] tomb on the north of the Confessor's Chapel. A silver image of St. Catherine was placed upon it, for which William de Gloucester, the king's goldsmith, was paid seventy marks. The image of course has vanished, like many other precious things. Most of the mosaic has been picked out. But enough of it and of the polished marbles exist to show the elaborate design of the upper slab, while on the wall above it, under a graceful trefoil-headed arch, are traces of gilding and coloring, which are supposed to be remains of a painting of the Princess Catherine and two brothers who died in their infancy.

Here then is the first memorial of the many "Holy Innocents" who lie in the great Abbey—of the children who found a resting-place among

The princes and the worthies of all sorts;

and whose histories we are about to study together. But Princess Catherine was not the only child whose early death helped to bring King Henry's gray hairs in sorrow to the grave. Before the close of his reign another young life was cut short[Pg 28] by a crime so terrible as to win a mention for Westminster from the lips of Dante himself.

In 1271, only two years after the translation of the Confessor, the king's youthful nephew, Prince Henry, son of Richard king of Germany, was returning from the crusade in which St. Louis had died. Charles of Sicily granted a safe conduct to him and to his cousin Philip, son of St. Louis, who was hurrying home to be crowned king of France. But at Viterbo in Italy, while Henry was at mass in the Church of St. Sylvester, he was stabbed during the Elevation of the Host by Guy and Simon, sons of Simon de Montfort. It was a fearful revenge on Henry the Third for the death of their father five years before at the battle of Evesham—for their own banishment—for the seizure of their father's lands and Earldom, which Henry bestowed on his own son Edmund. All Europe was filled with horror at the dreadful deed, a crime almost unheard of in its impiety. The young prince's bones were buried in the monastery of Hayles which his father had founded; while his heart was brought to Westminster, and placed in a golden chalice "in the[Pg 29] hand of a statue" near the shrine of Edward the Confessor. The old chronicler Matthew of Westminster adds with deep satisfaction, "One of his murderers, Simon, died this year in a certain castle near the city of Sienna: who during the latter part of his life being, like Cain, accursed of the Lord, was a vagabond and a fugitive on the face of the earth."[11]

Apart, however, from all other interest, the terrible deed will be forever memorable, as it drew from Dante "the one single notice of Westminster Abbey in the Divina Commedia."[12]

In the Inferno, the centaur who was then guiding Dante and Virgil, showed them a shade up to his chin in the river of blood—all alone in a corner, shunned even by his fellow-murderers—and said,

Colui fesse in grembo a Dio
Lo cuor, che'n su'l Tamigi ancor si cola.
Inferno, xii., 119.
He in God's bosom smote the heart,
Which yet is honour'd on the bank of Thames.[13]

[Pg 30]

The citizens of Viterbo had a picture of the young prince's murder painted on the wall in his memory; "and a certain poet beholding the painting, spoke thus:

Henry, the illustrious offspring of great Richard,
Fair Allmaine's king, was treacherously slain,
As well this picture shows, while home returning
From Tripoli, by royal favour guided;
Slain in the service of the cross of Christ
By wicked hands. For scarcely mass was done,
When Leicester's offspring, Guy and Simon fierce,
Pierced his young heart with unrelenting swords.
Thus did God will; lest if those barons fierce
Returned, fair England should be quite undone.
This happened in the sad twelve hundredth year
And seventieth of grace, while Charles was king.
And in Viterbo was this brave prince slain.
I pray the Queen of Heaven to take his soul again."[14]


[1] Dean Stanley says in his "Memorials of Westminster," "The bones of such an ox (Bos primicerius) were discovered under the foundations of the Victoria Tower, and red deer, with very fine antlers, below the River Terrace." I derive this from Professor Owen. Bones and antlers of the elk and red deer were also found in 1868 in Broad Sanctuary in making the Metropolitan Railway.

[2] "Memorials of Westminster," Dean Stanley, p. 21.

[3] Lectures delivered in America. Charles Kingsley.

[4] "Memorials of Westminster," Dean Stanley, p. 28.

[5] "Memorials of Westminster," Dean Stanley, p. 46.

[6] "Memorials of Westminster," Dean Stanley, p. 129.

[7] "Memorials of Westminster," Dean Stanley, p. 126.

[8] Street. Essay on Influence of Foreign Art on English Architecture

[9] "Memorials of Westminster Abbey," Dean Stanley, p. 136.

[10] Matthew Paris' Chronicle.

[11] Matthew of Westminster's Chronicle.

[12] "Memorials of Westminster Abbey," Dean Stanley, p. 140.

[13] Cary's Dante.

[14] Matthew of Westminster.

[Pg 31]



In our first stroll about Westminster Abbey, we saw its gray walls towering up in the midst of noisy, hurrying London. We stood in the Sacrarium and looked at the foundations of Edward the Confessor's great Norman Church. We learned how Henry the Third built the new and noble Abbey which is standing at this day. We saw how he crowned his long and troubled reign by the translation of the Confessor's body to the gorgeous shrine he had prepared for it. Let us now, standing for a moment beside this shrine, talk of a little boy whose memory is closely bound up with an important event in the history of Great Britain.

Yet first, for the sake of those who have not been to Westminster, I will try to explain the general plan of the eastern end of the Abbey. Imagine[Pg 32] a narrow horseshoe of which the points are straight instead of being bent inwards. The space inside the horseshoe represents Edward the Confessor's Chapel; the shoe itself the ambulatory, a wide passage where the monks used to walk, and processions passed round to the shrine; and outside this passage are built, on the south the chapels of St. Edmund, and St. Nicholas; on the north the chapels of St. Paul and St. John the Baptist; while on the east of the horseshoe curve are the steps up to Henry the Seventh's Chapel. These chapels all lie behind the grand screen that runs right across the choir at the back of the altar, and are not used for service any longer, with the exception of Henry the Seventh's. All the congregation sit in the choir in front of the altar rails, and in the north and south transepts, which spread out right and left from the choir like two broad arms of a cross.

I know few more overpowering sights than the vast Sunday congregation of between three and four thousand people. The Sacrarium black with men. The wide altar steps closely packed with[Pg 33] people who have often been waiting for more than an hour outside the doors to secure a good place. Men and women and children wedged together in the densely crowded transepts, standing willingly throughout the long service because there is not a seat left. The privileged few coming in by the comparatively empty nave from the cloisters, and taking their places in the stalls or in the seats of those connected with the Abbey; well-known faces there are among them—princes and statesmen, men of letters and foreigners of note. Then the hush as the clock strikes three in Poets' Corner, and a faint harmonious "amen" is sung in the distant Baptistery by the choir, at the end of the prayer which is always said before they come in to service. The organ plays softly, so softly that you hear the echoing tramp of the long procession now winding up the nave. Six or eight pensioners, old soldiers in quaint blue cloth gowns and silver badges, enter and take their places. And as the white-surpliced boys appear in the black shadow of the gateway under the organ screen, the whole three thousand people rise quietly to[Pg 34] their feet and stand. First come the boys of Westminster School with their masters, and take their places right and left. Then the little chorister boys, walking two and two, the smallest in front—little mites who look as if they would hardly know their letters, but who march gravely to their seats, and sing the long service like sweet-voiced little birds. Then the "singing gentlemen of Westminster Abbey," as the men in the choir are called—many of them well-known professionals, whose names are seen during the week at the best concerts in England. Then come the clergy. The minor Canons first who intone the service. Next to them the Canon in residence, who, during his two months at Westminster, is present at every service week-day and Sunday. And last of all the Dean.

After the Dean has gone into his stall on the right of the entrance, the service begins. The monotone of the prayers breaks into rich harmonies now and again at the responses—the organ re-echoes through the arches and pillars with thundering of the pedals, and wild, pathetic reed-notes. The splendid voices of the choir fill the building[Pg 35] from end to end in the Psalms and canticles; or a boy's voice, singing a solo verse, floats up quivering and throbbing like a nightingale's song in a still wood at evening. And then—but I am speaking of "the days that are no more"—a small figure—unutterably dignified, with a pale, refined, determined face—in his white robes, his scarlet Doctor of Divinity's hood, and the crimson ribbon of the Order of the Bath with its golden jewel round his neck—followed the black-robed verger who carried a silver mace, up from the stalls, through the two walls of human beings, to the marble pulpit just outside the altar rails. And every face turned with eager expectation towards the bowed head, and hung breathless on the eloquent words that rang like a clarion through the great church; for it was Arthur Stanley, Dean of Westminster, who was preaching.

But we are lingering in the choir, full, to us who know and love it, of such keen present interest. I must take you back into the Confessor's Chapel and the remote past.

We go through the iron gates that shut off the[Pg 36] chapels from the choir, and climb the steps out of the ambulatory, for the Confessor's Chapel is raised several feet above the pavement of the Abbey. It lies, as I have said, directly behind the altar, only divided from it by the splendid screen which was erected early in the fifteenth century. This screen on the western side has been beautified and restored, and forms the reredos to the altar. But in the Chapel its eastern face is untouched; and, if you have patience to trace out the quaint carvings along the top, you will find they are a history of some of the miraculous and wonderful events of Edward the Confessor's life; the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus; St. John giving the ring to the Pilgrims; the quarrel between Tosti and Harold, Earl Godwin's sons, when the king predicted the calamities they would bring in after years upon England; and many more scenes of like nature.

Below the screen, which is wrought with exquisite carving into niches and canopies, stands a curious old chair. This is the Coronation Chair, in which all English sovereigns have sat at their coronations since it was made in Edward the First's reign. But more curious than the chair is the rough block of stone which it incases. That block is the mysterious stone of Fate which Edward the First captured at Scone in Scotland—the stone on which every Scotch king had been crowned from the days of Fergus the First—the stone on which every English king or queen has been crowned since. And legends carry the history of that stone back into the remotest past. They say that it was the stone pillow on which Jacob slept at Bethel; that it was carried by the Jews into Egypt; that the son of Cecrops, King of Athens, carried it off to Sicily or Spain; that from Spain it was taken by Simon Brech, the son of Milo the Scot, to Ireland, where after many marvelous adventures it was set up on the sacred Hill of Tara as the "Lia Fail" or Stone of Destiny; and that Fergus, the founder of the Scottish monarchy, bore it at length across the sea to Dunstaffnage.[Pg 37]


[Pg 38]

[Pg 39]

Whether we believe the whole history of the Stone of Destiny or not, the chapel in which it stands is a wonderful place. In the centre rises the Confessor's shrine, the remains of the mosaics[Pg 40] with which it was encrusted showing what its splendor must have been. The mosaic pavement of 1260 is under our feet. Henry the Fifth's shield and helmet hang aloft on a bar above his chantry. All round us are the splendid monuments of the kings. Richard the Second, Edward the Third and Queen Phillipa, Henry the Fifth under his beautiful chantry, Henry the Third in his gorgeous tomb inlaid with marbles and mosaic, Good Queen Eleanor, and her husband Edward the First—they all are there! "The greatest of the Plantagenets," as he has been called, lies beneath an enormous monument of solid gray stone, absolutely plain, without carving, brass or mosaic. Only his gigantic two-handed sword lies upon it, and along it runs this inscription:

"Edwardus Primus Scotorum malleus hic est, 1308. Pactum Serva."[15]

It is of Edward the First's reign we are to talk. For besides being the Hammer of the Scots, he conquered the last stronghold of the British race, and made their land forever a part of England.[Pg 41]

For four hundred years Wales had been a thorn in the sides of the Saxon kings, a thorn in the sides of the Norman Conquerors and their descendants. The Britons, driven westward by the all-conquering Anglo-Saxons, had taken refuge in the fastnesses of that wild and mountainous region. There they had lived, "a mass of savage herdsmen, clad in the skins and fed by the milk of the cattle they tended, faithless, greedy, and revengeful."[16] Every fresh earldom which the English had wrested from them, often with barbarous injustice and cruelty, had been the signal for some equally barbarous reprisal. The history of the border countries is one perpetual record of raids and fightings, of lands laid waste with fire and sword, flocks and herds driven off, women and children carried into captivity.[Pg 42]

But in Henry the Second's reign, just as the British race seemed sinking deeper and deeper into barbarism, a strange revival of patriotism took place. The Bards of Britain, for centuries silent, suddenly burst into song again. The praise of every British hero, the glory of every fight, was sung throughout the land; and the sound of the harp heard in every house. These singers of freedom chanted of joy in battle, of their country's liberty, of hatred of the Saxon oppressor. And they sang of their great prince, Llewellyn, "towering above the rest of men with his long red lance, his red helmet of battle crested with a fierce wolf; tender-hearted, wise, witty, ingenious." Wales, stirred by their trumpet calls, had soon burst aflame to drive the Saxon from the land.

With a succession of victories for the Welsh prince, Llewellyn—the Lord of Snowdon—the hopes of his people had risen high. The dissensions of Henry the Third's reign had strengthened their hands. Llewellyn the younger, no longer calling himself Lord of Snowdon, but "Prince of Wales," had made himself sovereign of all the Welsh chieftains, and had also allied himself with Simon de Montfort during the great earl's revolt against the king.

But now in the very moment of Llewellyn's triumph, the accession of Edward the First to the English[Pg 43] throne revived all the old questions of homage to the sovereign. Llewellyn and the King of Scotland were both summoned as vassals of the crown to Edward's coronation—the first that took place in Westminster Abbey as we know it. The King of Scotland came. But the "Prince of Wales" was absent. He did not dispute Edward's right to claim his homage: but excused himself on account of the dangers he would run on a journey to London, by reason of the enmity that existed between him and some of the lords marchers. Six times in two years was he summoned. And to none of these appeals did he vouchsafe the slightest attention.

Edward was a wise and politic prince; he saw of course from the very beginning that the union of England and Wales would be a boon to both countries, and that it must inevitably come about sooner or later. But though some historians have accused him in this matter of grasping ambition, and greedy haste to seize on the principality, the records seem to show that he exercised most uncommon patience with his turbulent and troublesome[Pg 44] neighbor, wishing rather to make him his loyal vassal and friend than to wrest his territory from him.

In 1276, in reply to the sixth summons Llewellyn sent letters demanding his bride, Eleanor de Montfort, Earl Simon's daughter, and cousin of the king, who had been taken prisoner the year before on her way from France to join Llewellyn to whom she had been married by proxy. He further said that he would do homage at Oswestry or Montgomery, "provided a safe conduct were sent him guaranteed by the archbishop and the archdeacon, by the Bishop of Winchester, and by the earls of Warrenne and Gloucester, Lincoln and Norfolk"—thereby implying that the king's word was not sufficient.[Pg 45]


[Pg 46]

[Pg 47]

This insolence raised a universal feeling of anger. The king's patience was exhausted. "The Parliament at once declared Llewellyn contumacious," and the "military tenants" of the crown were ordered to assemble in the following midsummer at Worcester, to march into Wales. Six months seem in these days rather a long pause after declaring war. But this gives one a notion of the slowness of communication, and the difficulties of travel and transport in the Middle Ages. It now takes but three weeks or so to equip a whole army, and send it overseas in transports that can be had at a moment's notice. But in the thirteenth century it was all that Edward, one of the first generals and greatest politicians of his age, could do, to prepare a little fleet at the Cinque Ports, and to gather his land forces by the appointed time. When once, however, he found himself face to face with the enemy, "the fabric of Welsh greatness fell at a blow." The southern chiefs speedily submitted. Llewellyn's brothers, David and Roderick, joined the king, and were honorably received by him. The fleet attacked Anglesea by sea, and the "Prince of Wales," finding himself hemmed in on every side in the wilds of Snowdon, threw himself upon the royal mercy.

Edward now gave full proof of his natural generosity and clemency. A treaty was signed in which Llewellyn consented to pay the king a tribute of one thousand marks a year for the Isle of Anglesea; to pay fifty thousand pounds for the cost of the[Pg 48] war; and to give ten hostages for the fulfilment of these engagements. The very next day, Edward, who had made peace the moment the Welsh Prince desired it, remitted the fine of fifty thousand pounds and soon after gave up the tribute for Anglesea and restored the hostages. He then invited Llewellyn to spend Christmas at Westminster; and in the following summer prepared a princely wedding at Worcester for him and Eleanor de Montfort.

For four years the Welsh troubles seemed at an end. All was apparently peace and content. But "a prophecy of Merlin had announced that when English money became round, the Prince of Wales should be crowned at London, and a new coinage of copper money, coupled with the prohibition to break the silver penny into halves and quarters, as had been usual, was supposed to have fulfilled the prediction."[17] Upon such slight matters do the fate of nations hang. The hopes of the misguided Welsh were again excited; and in 1282, Llewellyn's brother David—who had been heaped with favors by Edward, given an English earldom,[Pg 49] and married to the Earl of Derby's daughter—suddenly broke into open rebellion. On Palm Sunday he surprised the garrison of Hawarden Castle—now well known as the residence of Mr. Gladstone, the English Premier. He hurried Lord Roger de Clifford the governor, wounded and in chains, over the mountains, while he himself and Llewellyn, who never before agreed, were now reconciled, and together overran the marches with fire and sword.

Even now Edward strove to come to terms before taking up arms. He allowed the archbishop to go to Llewellyn as a mediator. It was of no use. So in the summer of 1283 he collected his forces and once more entered Wales.

In the campaign which followed, the sufferings of the English were terrible. Llewellyn held out in Snowdon with the determination of despair. An English detachment was cut to pieces at the Menai Straits; and the war was prolonged into the winter. The undaunted king, however, rejected all proposals of retreat; and gave orders for the formation of a new army at Caermarthen to complete the circle of investment. This proved needless. Llewellyn,[Pg 50] fearing probably to be shut up and starved out in his fastness, left Snowdon and passed into Radnorshire. Here he fell in with a party of English under the command of Edward Mortimer and John Gifford; and in a skirmish at Builth on the banks of the Wye he was killed by Adam Frankton, an English soldier, who did not even know who he was. But the body of the dead man, lying in the little hollow among the broom beside the spring, was recognized by some of the leaders. His head was cut off and sent to the king. Then, crowned with ivy, it was set up over the gate of the tower of London. Thus was Merlin's prophecy fulfilled. The "Prince of Wales" was indeed crowned at London.

David of Snowdon held out in the wilds of the mountains for a few months, and at last was arrested and sentenced to a traitor's death.

With Llewellyn's death Wales became and has remained ever since, part of the kingdom of England. English laws were established, and the barbarous Welsh laws abolished. The country was divided into shires and hundreds on the English model. Strong castles were built at Conway and Caernarvon;[Pg 51] and at the latter in 1284, Queen Eleanor gave birth to "the Prince of Wales, who could not speak a word of English," as his father said when he presented the future Edward the Second to the Welsh chieftains. A tradition has existed that Edward completed the pacification of Wales by a massacre of the Bards. In spite of that very familiar quotation from Gray's Ode,

Ruin seize thee, ruthless king!

one is thankful to know that modern historians have proved this terrible accusation to be a mere fable; besides it is a fact that from the time of Edward to that of Elizabeth, the productions of the bards were so numerous as to fill more than sixty volumes in quarto.

Meantime the Abbey had been yearly growing in beauty. Edward the First added to his father's building. On his return from the crusades he brought from France the slabs of porphyry, the precious marbles, which still help to make his father's tomb one of the most gorgeous monuments in the Abbey. He filled the Confessor's Chapel[Pg 52] with trophies of his wars—the dagger with which he was wounded at Acre—the Black Rood of St. Margaret and the Stone of Fate from Scotland. But these were all given in later years. What we have to do with were certain trophies of the Conquest of Wales.

While the king was still engaged in quieting down his new principality, his eldest son Prince Alfonzo, named after his grandfather Alfonzo of Castile, came journeying back to London. He brought with him Llewellyn's golden crown, said by tradition to have belonged to King Arthur, also jewels and ornaments, and possibly the precious Crocis Gneyth (or Cross of St. Neot) which certainly was brought to the Abbey from Wales during Edward the First's reign.

The little lad who was twelve years old, came with these treasures to Westminster; and he offered up Llewellyn's crown and the jewels in the Confessor's Chapel, where "they were all applied to adorn the tomb of the blessed King Edward."[18] We can fancy the boy, dressed after the fashion of those days in chain armour from head to foot with a long flowing cloak, accompanied by a great train of knights and nobles, wending his way up the solemn Abbey with his offerings, and gravely hanging up the crown in the Sanctuary of the English Kings.[Pg 53]

There is indeed something to touch one's imagination in this act—the hand of the innocent boy putting the finishing stroke to the great struggle between the British and Anglo-Saxon races. Henceforth they were to be one. The proudest title of the heir to the English throne was to be "Prince of Wales." The Plantagenets were to reign over Arthur's mysterious realm, till two hundred years later Arthur and Llewellyn's descendants, the Tudors, should sit on the throne of England.

But Alfonzo's short life was nearly at an end. Matthew of Westminster goes on to say: "This Alfonzo died this year, being about twelve years of age—dying on the nineteenth of August, on the day of St. Magnus the king, and his body was honorably buried in the Church of Westminster, near the tomb of St. Edward, where it is placed between his[Pg 54] brothers and sisters, who were buried before him in the same place."

The exact spot where Alfonzo lies is uncertain. Bur Mr. Burges, writing in Sir Gilbert Scott's Gleanings from Westminster Abbey, makes a happy suggestion, which I like to think is a correct one. When all England was mourning for Henry the Fifth, a chantry where daily masses were said for the repose of his soul, was built over his tomb at the extreme east end of the Confessor's Chapel. The heavy stone step on which his tomb rests was laid upon, and nearly covered, a flat monumental slab in the mosaic pavement. The part of the slab which projects beyond the step is worn down by hard usage into a mere mass of gray stone. But Sir Gilbert Scott thought that if a bit of the superincumbent stone was raised, some portion of the more ancient monument might exist beneath. He therefore cut a square block out of the step, and underneath it, sure enough, found the remains of a fine Purbeck slab. It was inlaid with a brass cross, brass letters ran around the edge, and what heralds call "the field" was filled with glass mosaic. Four letters[Pg 55] of the inscription remain on each side—most likely part of the words "pries pur l'ame."[19] This monument is generally said to commemorate the infant son of William de Valence. Mr. Burges however suggests that it is just as likely to be the tomb of Alfonzo; and as it would exactly correspond with the position in which Matthew of Westminster says he was buried, I think we may safely conclude that the young prince lies there.

Near by in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist there is a very beautiful monument to a little nephew and niece of Prince Alfonzo—Hugh and Mary de Bohun. They were children of his sister Elizabeth and of the powerful and resolute Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, who more than once opposed Edward the First in measures which he thought hurtful to the kingdom.

"This gentleman and his sister," as one of the Abbey historians calls the children, died about 1300; and their tomb stood at first in the Confessor's Chapel. It was removed from thence by Richard the Second to make room for his own[Pg 56] monument, and placed in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, where it is half buried in the wall.

Young Alfonzo, the bearer of the trophies of the conquest, sleeps peacefully enough here at our feet, while we tell his part in the growth of England. But what memorial remains in the nineteenth century of the last hero of the Britons—the "Eagle of men"—the "Devastator of England." The Golden Crown that Alfonzo hung up disappeared from the Abbey at the Reformation, when sacrilegious robbers broke in and carried off the silver head from Henry the Fifth's monument, and many another treasure. At Builth a modern house is built over the "Lord of Snowdon's" grave. While at the "Llewellyn Arms," a little inn close to the spot where he fell, some local artist has made a rough copy of the well-known picture of Napoleon crossing the Alps do duty on the signboard as a portrait of Llewellyn ap Gruffyd.


[15] Edward the First, Hammer of the Scots, is here. Keep the Pact.

[16] "Green's Short History of the English People," p. 155.

[17] Green, p. 162.

[18] "Matthew of Westminster."

[19] Gleanings. p. 138.

[Pg 57]



Just within the gate of St. Edmund's Chapel lies the figure of a young knight in full armor. His hands, in their jointed gloves, are folded in prayer. His head, with the front of his helmet open to show the face, is gracefully turned to one side. His feet are crossed against a lion—a creature full of life, who looks round watching his young lord's placid face.

Who is this fair young knight, deemed worthy of a place in what Dean Stanley loved to call "the half-royal chapel, full of kings' wives and brothers"?

He is Prince John of Eltham, son of Edward the Second, created Earl of Cornwall by his brother, Edward the Third, who lies in state on the other side of the ambulatory.

Prince John was born on Ascension Day, 1315, at Eltham in Kent, "where our English kings had sometime a seat." The second son of Edward the Second and his wicked wife Isabella of France, the poor baby came into the world in sorely troubled times. The year before his birth his weak and worthless father had been hopelessly defeated by the Scots under Robert Bruce at Bannockburn. And during the young prince's short life England was a prey to war without, intrigue and revolution within. The whole of Edward the Second's reign is a confused record of public and private strife. A horrible succession of famines laid waste the land. A fresh campaign against Scotland ended in a humiliating truce for thirteen years. The Queen, Prince John's mother, on pretence of concluding a treaty between her husband and her brother, King Charles the Fourth, carried off Prince Edward, a child twelve years of age, to France. There she was joined by her vile favorite Mortimer; and neither threats nor entreaties could persuade her to return until she landed at Orwell in 1326 with a great following of exiled nobles, and proclaimed her son Edward "guardian of the realm." Deserted by all, her wretched husband was at last captured in Wales and carried to Kenilworth, where he was deposed by the Queen and Parliament in 1327. He died a few months later, murdered by Mortimer's orders at Berkeley Castle.[Pg 58]


[Pg 59]

His downfall was the sign for a new outbreak in Scotland. Bruce broke the thirteen years' truce; and the boy-king, Edward the Third, marched against him only to meet with fresh disaster. The tide of fortune however was turning. Isabella and her favorite were fast becoming[Pg 60] odious to the nation; and in 1330 Edward, the future conqueror of Cressy, with his own hands arrested Mortimer at Nottingham, whence he was hurried to execution. The Queen-mother went into lifelong seclusion at Castle Rising in Norfolk; and the young king assumed the control of the affairs of the kingdom.

In 1328, the year after his brother Edward's accession to the crown, John of Eltham was created Earl of Cornwall in a parliament at Salisbury. The next year Edward journeyed to France to do homage for his lands there; and Prince John was made "Custos of the kingdom and King's Lieutenant while he went beyond the seas." It seems an extraordinary responsibility for a boy of fourteen. But those Plantagenets were a strong and precocious race. Edward the Third was only eighteen when he took the reins of government into his own hands in 1330—the year that his eldest son, the famous Black Prince, was born. And the Black Prince won his spurs in the glorious fight of Cressy when he was barely sixteen. So there was nothing very unusual in the young Earl of Cornwall administering the government of the kingdom during his brother's absence in France, and again later on while the king was in Scotland.[Pg 61]


[Pg 62]

[Pg 63]

In 1333, when he was seventeen, proposals of marriage were made between John of Eltham and Joan daughter of Ralph the Count of Eu; and in the next year with Mary daughter of the Count of Blois: but both negotiations fell through. Perhaps Prince John, full of the fighting instinct of his race, preferred to follow his brother to Scotland, where a fresh war had broken out. In 1334 a third proposal of marriage was made between the Prince and Mary, daughter of Ferdinand, King of Spain. The agreement was drawn up and all was settled. The wedding however was not to be. "For in the month following being in Scotland in St. John's Town (now Perth) he died in October, 1334, at his nineteenth year of age."

Prince John's body was brought from Scotland to Westminster, where he was solemnly interred in the Abbey. The funeral was one of extreme magnificence; the Westminster monks receiving[Pg 64] as much as one hundred pounds for horses and armor offered as gifts at it. This practice of offering at funerals armor and horses which sometimes were afterwards redeemed for money, was by no means unusual in the Middle Ages. At Henry the Fifth's burial, his three chargers marched up the nave to the altar steps behind his funeral car. And every one who has been in the Abbey must remember how the saddle, the shield, and "the very casque that did affright the air at Agincourt—"[20] the helmet "which twice saved his life on that eventful day," and still shows the dents of the Duke of Alençon's ponderous sword—hang in the dusky light above his chantry.

King Edward seems to have been dissatisfied with the first place chosen for his young brother's tomb. There is a very interesting warrant written in curious old French among the archives of the Abbey, dated "Brussels, the twenty-third day of August, in the thirteenth year of our reign," while Edward was beseiging Tournay in 1340. In it he directs the abbot and monks to order and suffer, "que le corps de nostre trescher frere Johan jadis Counte de Cornewaill peusse estre remuez et translatez du lieu ou il gist jusques a autre plus covenable place entre les Roials. Faisant toutesfoitz reserver et garder les places plus honourables illoeques pour le gisir et la sepulture de nous et de noz heirs, selonc ce que reson le voudra droitement demander."[21][Pg 65]

St. Edmund's Chapel was therefore chosen as meeting all requirements. It lies on the south side of the Abbey, and is only separated from the Confessor's Shrine and the tombs of the kings by the ambulatory. Of all the tombs of that period in the Abbey, John of Eltham's is considered one of the most remarkable. He must have been the very pattern of a gallant young knight. His effigy of white alabaster impresses you at first with a sense of profound repose. Then when you look more closely you begin to see what a striking figure it is; and you picture to yourself the young Earl of Cornwall riding with his young brother, the king, at the head of their troops through the bleak[Pg 66] north-country, over the wild wastes of the Border, up to fair Perth lying on the Tay, where the fishermen draw in nets full of silvery salmon, and the moors—covered with pink and brown heather and swarming with plump grouse—roll up to the mountains of the Highlands. We can see the very clothes he wore, for his effigy as a specimen of military costume is most interesting and valuable. He is clad in plate armor, and wears the cyclas, a curious garment cut much shorter in front than behind; "beneath it, the gambeson; then the coat of mail; and lastly the haqueton." The Prince's sword-handle, ornamented with lion's heads, is beautifully sculptured; and the shield has three splendid lions on it—the English royal arms—bordered with the French fleur-de-lis. Round his helmet is a coronet, which is remarkable as the first of the kind known. It is of the ducal form with greater and lesser trefoil leaves alternately, instead of the usual circlet.

The tomb is surrounded by small, finely executed alabaster statues representing mourning kings, queens, and relations of the dead prince. Terribly broken though they now are—some are destroyed altogether, and all are headless—enough of them remain to show that they were sculptured with wonderful grace and spirit.[Pg 67]


[Pg 68]

[Pg 69]

But the worst loss that the monument has sustained is in the exquisite Gothic canopy of carved stone which once surmounted it. It was highly colored and gilded, with an angel on a small spire crowning the centre.

In 1776 Elizabeth Percy, first duchess of Northumberland, whose name will always be remembered as the patroness of literature to whom we owe the Percy Reliques, was buried in the family vault of the Percys in the Chapel of St. Nicholas. In spite of her repeated desire that the funeral should be "as private as her rank would permit" a vast crowd collected, so

that the officiating clergy and choir could scarcely make their way from the west door to the chapel. Just as the procession had passed St. Edmund's Chapel, the whole of the screen, including the canopy of John of Eltham's tomb, came down with a crash, which brought with it the men and boys who had clambered to the top of it to see the spectacle, and[Pg 70] severely wounded many of those below. The uproar and confusion put a stop to the ceremony for two hours. The body was left in the ruined Chapel, and the Dean did not return till after midnight, when the funeral was completed, but still amidst cries of murder, raised by such of the sufferers as had not been removed.[22]

The broken canopy was never restored. The Dean of that day seems to have thought it not worth while to take the trouble of mending it; and by his order it was swept away. The fragments, it is said, found their way to Strawberry Hill, Walpole's famous villa, where, at some time in the end of the last century, they were put up for sale, having been used as a chimney piece. Their subsequent fate I have not been able to ascertain.

It is difficult to believe that such an act of vandalism took place little more than a hundred years ago. The Deans of Westminster now are a very different race to the one who swept away John of Eltham's beautiful canopy. With the beginning of this century a spirit of love and veneration for Westminster Abbey seemed to revive. Dean Vincent[Pg 71] appealed to Parliament and persuaded the nation to repair Henry the Seventh's chapel which was falling into decay. Under Dean Ireland free admission was given to the greater part of the Abbey. And Dean Buckland, the well-known geologist, carried on the good work by taking down some hideous screens which shut off the transepts from the choir. He was succeeded by Dean Trench, the present learned Archbishop of Dublin, who inaugurated the special services on Sunday evening in the nave—a grand movement in the right direction. And all this time public interest was growing more and more keen about the Abbey. New discoveries were being made by architects and antiquarians each year. But it was not until Dean Stanley succeeded the Archbishop of Dublin that the Abbey came quite to life. No one who has ever accompanied the late Dean in those memorable excursions which he delighted to make over the building can forget the enthusiasm with which his vivid descriptions inspired his listeners. Whether he was talking to the Emperor of Brazil, or a score of poor factory[Pg 72] lads from some northern town, the brilliancy and humor of his speech held them spellbound. To him Westminster owes among many other things that unrivalled volume of Memorials—from which I have so often had occasion to quote—the most perfect handbook to any cathedral that I know, save his yet more perfect Memorials of Canterbury, written when he was canon of that cathedral. Dean Stanley's memory which must always be present in the minds of those who have known him at Westminster, is specially bound up with my recollections of St. Edmund's Chapel; it was one of his most favorite spots in the Abbey, and John of Eltham's tomb one of those he most delighted to show to all his visitors. And this brings us back from nineteenth century deans to fourteenth century princes, and to the old tombs in whose histories we can find such inexhaustible mines of interest.

In 1340, two more young "royals" were buried beside John of Eltham in St. Edmund's Chapel. These were his nephew and niece who died quite young—William of Windsor and Blanche de la[Pg 73] Tour—children of Edward the Third. The boy was born at Windsor, which was fast becoming a rival to Westminster as a royal residence; and little Blanche was born at the Tower of London. The effigies in white alabaster are very small, only about twenty inches long: but they are in full costume of the time. The boy wears the short close-fitting jerkin, with a wide jewelled belt round the hips, and a flowing cloak fastened with a jewelled clasp falls to his feet. The little girl has on a full long petticoat with a tightly fitting bodice, to the square neck of which her mantle is fastened by a cordon with a rose and two studs. The hideous muffled chins of the last century had given place to a horned headdress (the horns are broken in little Blanche's effigy) and a close net of gold, each wide mesh, through which the hair shows, being fastened at the crossing with pearls or precious stones. Blanche's feet rest against a little lion: but her brother's have been broken off obliquely. The tomb altogether has been cruelly used, and no trace of the children's faces remain. Yet who can wonder, when we see the way in which John[Pg 74] of Eltham's splendid monument has been mutilated.


When these two little children were laid to rest in the Abbey, their father was just beginning his great wars with France—the wars that lasted for a hundred years and only ended in Henry the Sixth's reign with England's final loss of her French possessions. And six years after, in 1346, Cressy was fought and won by their brother, the[Pg 75] Black Prince. With the battle of Cressy, England entered upon a career of military glory, which, though for a time it proved fatal to her higher interests, gave her a life and energy she had never known before, and laid the foundation of the Englishman's dogged love of fighting that is not quite dead yet, if we may judge by the way British soldiers and sailors fought at El Teb.

At Cressy, too, Feudalism received its death blow, when the English churl struck down the French noble, and the despised yeoman "proved more than a match in sheer hard fighting for the knight." Though the nobles rode into battle as of old at the head of their vassals and retainers, the body of the army consisted no longer of baronial levies, but of stout Englishmen serving willingly for pay, and armed like Chaucer's Yeoman on the pilgrimage to Canterbury:—

A sheaf of peacock arrows bright and keen
Under his belt he bare full thriftily.
Well could he dress his tackle yeomanly:
His arrows droopèd not with feathers low,
And in his hand he bare a mighty bow.

[Pg 76]

If you would know how men fought in those days, read for yourselves in old Froissart's chronicle, and see how he exults in the charge of the cavalry bearing down the foe on their ponderous Flemish horses—in the solid ranks of the foot soldiers—in the flights of arrows that fall like hail from the tough bows of the archers. And when the fight is over how he glories in the tourneys and jousts—the song of troubadour and minstrel—the chase with hawk and hound.

In spite of abuses, in spite of all the miseries that these protracted wars, this lust of conquest and fighting entailed, there still is something inexpressibly attractive in the nobler aspects of chivalry. To rescue the captive, to free the oppressed, to journey away

into Walachy
To Prussia and to Tartary,
To Alexandria or Turkey,

doing deeds of valor for the mere reward of a silken scarf from his lady, or, noblest of all, for the love of right and truth—is there not something admirable in this? Is not the idea of true[Pg 77] knight and lady—"a race of noblest men and women, trying to make all below them as noble as themselves"—[23] is not that a fair ideal, worthy of imitation by all of us?

The earlier phases of Chivalry with its elaborate rules, its laws written and unwritten, were past long before Cressy. The great mediæval companies of knights, which made it one of the greatest powers for good or evil in Europe, were broken up. The Crusades were over, and knights could no longer gain fame and honor by fighting against the Paynim under the banner of the Cross. But still it was in Edward the Third's reign that Chivalry entered upon a period of unequalled glory and magnificence. The Garter—the most illustrious order of English knighthood, was instituted by the king at Windsor; and he and his son were foremost to set examples of unsurpassed valor in many a deed of desperate daring. Although Chivalry was far from perfect, let us remember that Bayard "sans pure et sans reproche" was its ideal knight.—That many a gentle knight and squire was trying to do his best, to live worthy of his God, his King, and his Lady.—That[Pg 78]

all dignity, courtesy, purity, self-restraint, devotion—such as they were understood in those rough days—centred themselves round the idea of the rider as the attributes of the man whose supposed duty, as well as his supposed right, was to govern his fellow men, by example as well as by law and force;—attributes which gathered themselves up into that one word—Chivalry: an idea, which, perfect or imperfect, God forbid that mankind should ever forget, till it has become the possession—as it is the God-given right—of the poorest slave that ever trudged on foot.[24]

And when we look on young John of Eltham's noble face, let us believe that had he grown to man's estate, "Mary, daughter of Ferdinand, King of Spain," might have said to him:

For trust ye well that your estate royál,
Nor vain delight, nor only worthiness
Of you in war or tourney martial,
Nor pomp, array, nobility, richés,
Of these none made me rue on your distress;
But moral virtue, grounded upon truth,
That was the cause I first had on you ruth.[25]


[20] Shakespeare King Henry the Fifth.

[21] "Memorials of Westminster," p. 599. "That the body of our very dear brother John late Count of Cornwall should be removed and translated from the spot where it lies to another and more suitable place among the Royals. Always reserving and keeping the most honorable places for the rest and sepulture of us and our heirs, according to that which reason will justly demand."

[22] Memorials, p. 352.

[23] "Ancien Régime." C. Kingsley.

[24] "Ancien Régime." C. Kingsley.

[25] "Chaucer's Troilus and Cressid."

[Pg 79]



Across the wide roadway that runs past Westminster Abbey from the Houses of Parliament, stands a low group of buildings, facing the north door. Part of these are the Westminster Police Courts; and about one o'clock, black-gowned and white-wigged lawyers may be seen rushing out of them to get their luncheon. The part which fronts the road is the National Society's Depot, from whence maps and books, slates and pencils go to furnish all the village schools in England. Hundreds of people go in and out of the door every day. Thousands pass it by. But very few, I imagine, reflect on the meaning of the blue plate on the corner, upon which is written in white letters: "Broad Sanctuary."

From its earliest foundation, Westminster Abbey[Pg 80] shared with some thirty other English monasteries the right of "Sanctuary." Any man in danger of life or liberty, let the cause be what it might, was safe could he but once set foot within the precincts of the Sanctuary. No one could touch him. The monks would not violate this sacred privilege by giving him up. His foes dared not violate it by pursuing him and taking him by force. This right of Sanctuary, established in days when "law" meant the will of the strongest, was often useful in saving an innocent life that otherwise would have been sacrificed to some unjust tyrant. But as civilization developed, as the constitution of England encouraged the framing of wise and just laws for the protection of the good and punishment of the evil-doer, "Sanctuary" became a frightful abuse.

"The grim old Norman fortress"—the actual sanctuary—stood on the present site of the National Society's Depot. But the whole precinct of the Abbey shared the privilege; and the space now covered by St. Margaret's Church and churchyard was often occupied by a vast crowd of distressed[Pg 81] or discontented citizens who desired, as they called it, to "take Westminster."

Sometimes, if they were of higher rank, they established their quarters in the great Northern Porch of the Abbey, with tents pitched, and guards watching round, for days and nights together.[26]

Thieves or malefactors would often break away from their captors, as they were being led by the winding "Thieven Lane" outside to their prison in the gatehouse, and darting into the consecrated ground would defy all attempts to lure them forth.

Rich men run thither with poor men's goods. There they build, there they spend and bid their creditors go whistle for them. Men's wives run thither with their husband's plate, and say they dare not abide with their husbands for beating. Thieves bring thither their stolen goods, and there live thereon. There devise they new robberies: nightly they steal out, they rob and reave, and kill, and come in again as though these places gave not only a safeguard for the harm they have done, but a license also to do more.[27]

[Pg 82]

The results of this state of things were felt long after the right of Sanctuary ceased to exist in James the First's reign. The district outside the precincts of Westminster has always been one of the very worst in London. The writer remembers some twenty years ago walking home with her relative, Mr. Froude, from Sunday afternoon service at the Abbey, through Great Peter street, and being told to take care of her purse as every house was a thieves' den. In many of them there was a dressed-up manikin hung with bells, on which little children were given lessons in stealing. If they picked the manikin's pockets without ringing the bells they were rewarded: but if a bell tinkled they were beaten. Happily this street and many others like it were swept away by the great new thoroughfare, Victoria street, and its branches; and noble men and women are working day and night to civilize and christianize the slums which lie to the south of the Abbey. But it will be many a year before that Augean stable is cleaned out, which originated with those who "took Westminster."[Pg 83]

[Pg 84]

[Pg 85]

Only twice was Sanctuary broken at Westminster. On August 11, 1378, two knights named Hawle and Shackle, escaped from the Tower of London where they had been imprisoned by John of Gaunt, and fled to the Abbey. For greater security they took refuge in the Choir itself, during the celebration of High Mass. Alan Boxall, constable of the Tower, and Sir Ralph Ferrers with fifty armed men were close behind them, and burst in upon the service "regardless of time or place." Shackle escaped. But Hawle, chased round and round the Choir, at last fell dead in front of the Prior's Stall, pierced with twelve wounds. His servant and one of the monks who had tried to save him, were killed with him; and the stone on which he lay dead may be seen to this day with the effigy traced upon it. The Abbey—profaned by the horrible crime—was shut up for four months, and "Parliament was suspended, lest its assembly should be polluted by sitting within the desecrated precincts."[28][Pg 86]

The second outrage took place during Wat Tyler's rebellion, when, by his orders, one John Mangett, Marshal of the Marshalsea, was torn from one of the slender pillars of the Confessor's Shrine to which he clung for safety.

But to us, "Sanctuary" is specially interesting, as it is intimately connected with the short and tragic lives of Edward the Fifth and Richard, Duke of York, his brother.

In 1470, Edward the Fourth—betrayed by his brother Clarence, and by that terrible and splendid personage Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, "The Kingmaker"—fled over seas with a small following to the court of his brother-in-law, Charles the Bold, in Flanders. His Queen, Elizabeth Woodville, was then living in the Tower, where Henry the Sixth, the deposed king, was imprisoned; and thus by a strange conjunction, the Yorkist Queen and the Lancastrian King were within that grim building at the same time. When Elizabeth heard that her husband had taken flight, and that Henry was to be restored to the throne, she came secretly by water from the Tower, and took Sanctuary at Westminster, with her three daughters and Lady Scroope "in greate penurie[Pg 87] forsaken of all her friends." Here Thomas Millyng, the abbot, received her with kindness, sending her provisions—"half a loaf and two muttons"—daily. And here on the fourth of November was born her

faire son, called Edward, which was with small pompe like a poore man's child christened, the godfathers being the Abbot and the Prior of Westminster, and the godmother the Ladie Scroope.[29]

The Queen remained in Sanctuary until the spring of the next year, when her husband returned in triumph to the capital two days before the great battle of Barnet. There Warwick the Kingmaker, was slain, the Lancastrian forces were broken up, and Edward was once more king of England. The Queen has given in her own words an account of her joyful meeting at Westminster.

When my lord and husband returned safe again and had the victory, then went I hence to welcome him home, and from hence I brought my babe the Prince unto his father, when he first took him in his arms.[30]

[Pg 88]

Edward was not ungrateful to Westminster for the refuge it had afforded his queen in her sore distress. Abbot Millyng became a favorite at court, and was made Bishop of Hereford. The king gave at different times "fourscore oaks and about two hundred and fifty pounds[31] in money towards the new building of the nave." The Queen gave one hundred and seventy pounds, and built the Chapel of St. Erasmus on part of the present site of Henry the Seventh's chapel, and endowed it with the manors of Cradeley and Hagley in Worcestershire. And the young prince during the last eight years of his father's life gave twenty marks yearly towards the completion of the nave, which work had been begun by Henry the Fifth.

But the poor Queen was destined to fly again to Sanctuary, in yet more sore distress. In April, 1483, Edward the Fourth died. Edward, Prince of Wales—the babe born in Westminster—was twelve and a half years old, and was living in some state at Ludlow Castle in Shropshire. He had a[Pg 89] council of his own, composed chiefly of his mother's relations and friends; foremost among whom was Earl Rivers, his mother's brother, and his own half brother Lord Grey (son of the Queen by her first marriage to Sir John Grey). Shortly before his death the king had drawn up ordinances for Prince Edward's daily conduct,

which prescribe his morning attendance at mass, his occupation "at his school," his meals, and his sports. No man is to sit at his board but such as earl Rivers shall allow; and at this hour of meat it is ordered "that there shall be read before him noble stories, as behoveth a prince to understand; and that the communication at all times, in his presence, be of virtue, honour, cunning (knowledge), wisdom, and deeds of worship, and of nothing that shall move him to vice."[32]

From this quiet, happy life the little boy was rudely awakened by his father's death. He was proclaimed King of England under the title of Edward the Fifth; and a fortnight later set out for London with his uncle Lord Rivers, Lord Grey, Sir Thomas Vaughan and a large retinue. All went well until they reached Stony Stratford, a little distance[Pg 90] from Northampton. There the young king stayed for the night with his attendants, while Lord Rivers returned to Northampton to meet the late king's brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who was hurrying down from the Scotch marches—ostensibly to pay homage to his nephew.

A struggle had been long impending between two rival parties in the state. On one hand the Queen, with her relations, who had been raised to wealth and power by her marriage. On the other, Gloucester, with many of the old nobility, whose jealousy had been roused by the sudden advance of the Woodville family. The king's death and his successor's tender age would inevitably bring about a collision. It was now merely a question which faction could out-manœuvre the other. Richard of Gloucester struck the first blow. Rivers was arrested at his inn.

Gloucester and the duke of Buckingham then rode on to Stony Stratford, where they found the poor little king with his company "ready to leap on horseback, and depart forward." But it was too late. The dukes arrested Vaughan and Grey,[Pg 91] and brought the frightened boy back to Northampton. "He wept, and was nothing content, but it booted not."[33] Richard himself took his nephew to London; and at the young king's public entry on the fourth of May he bore himself "in open sight most reverently to the prince, with all semblance of lowliness."[34] The peers also took the oath of fealty. But it was only "a semblance." Able and unscrupulous, Richard of Gloucester had long been meditating a scheme of daring ambition. The first step was accomplished. He had possession of his young nephew's person. Now he was appointed "Protector of England." And during poor little King Edward's short reign his signature was used as an instrument for the ruin of his mother's kindred and friends, and for the aggrandizement of his uncle Gloucester's party.

The Queen, meanwhile, saw only too clearly whither these events tended. Terrified at Richard's successful blow, seeing that her own faction was utterly undone, and fearing for the lives of herself and her children, she flew again to her well-known refuge. She left the Palace of Westminster at midnight with her youngest son, Richard Duke of York, and her five daughters, and lodged in the Abbot's Place.[Pg 92]

It was in one of the great chambers of the house, probably the Dining-hall (now the College Hall) that she was received by Abbot Esteney.[35]

The Queen sate alow on the rushes all desolate and dismayed, and all about her much heaviness, rumble, haste and business; carriage and conveyance of her stuff into Sanctuary; chests, coffers, packers, fardels, trussed all on men's backs; no man unoccupied—some lading, some going, some discharging, some coming for more, some breaking down the walls to bring in the next (nearest) way.[36]

In the midst of all this dismay and confusion the Archbishop of York, Thomas Rotheram, Chancellor of England, brought the Queen the Great Seal, trying to comfort and encourage her with a message from the Lord Chamberlain Hastings, who thought matters were not so hopeless as she imagined. But she mistrusted Hastings as "one of those that laboreth to destroy me and my blood." The Archbishop left the Great Seal with her,[Pg 93]

and departed home again, yet in the dawning of the day. By which time, he might in his chamber window (his palace was on the site of the present Whitehall) see all the Thames full of boats of the Duke of Gloucester's servants, watching that no man should go to Sanctuary; nor none could pass unsearched.

The Queen seems to have withdrawn into her old quarters in the fortress of the Sanctuary itself, where she had before found safety; and the Protector, determined to get possession of both his nephews, proposed at his council in the Star Chamber, that if she would not give up the Duke of York to keep his brother company he should be taken from thence by force. But this proposition only served to show in what respect the privilege of Sanctuary was held. The archbishops and spiritual lords promptly refused their consent to such a sacrilegious measure. Said the Archbishop of Canterbury,

God forbid that any man should for anything earthly, enterprise or break the immunity and liberty of the sacred Sanctuary,[Pg 94] that hath been the safeguard of so many a good man's life.[37]

The Protector then tried to show that as the child was incapable of such crimes as needed sanctuary, so he was incapable of receiving it. This ingenious bit of casuistry convinced some of the listeners; and the archbishop and several lords went at once to Westminster to try to persuade the Queen to give up her boy. But she resisted "with all the force of a woman's art and a mother's love."[38]

In what place could I reckon him sure, if he be not sure in this Sanctuary, whereof was there never tyrant yet so devilish that durst presume to break.... If examples be sufficient to obtain privilege for my child I need not far to seek; for in this place in which we now be (and which is now in question whether my child may take benefit of it) mine other son, now King, was born and kept in his cradle, and preserved to a more prosperous fortune.... And I pray God that my son's palace may be as great a safeguard unto him now reigning, as this place was sometime unto the king's enemy.

[Pg 95]

Gallantly had the poor mother fought for her child's liberty; and at last wearied out she ended with a fierce and terrible denunciation of her persecutors:

I can no more, but whosoever he be that breaketh this holy sanctuary, I pray God shortly to send him need of sanctuary where he may not come to it. For taken out of sanctuary would I not my mortal enemy were.[39]

At length, pledging both "body and soul," the archbishop prevailed; and the Queen determined to deliver up Prince Richard as a sacred trust. Then turning to the child she took leave of him in those well-known and most pathetic words:

"Farewell mine owne sweete sonne, God send you good keeping; let me kisse you yet once ere you go, for God knoweth when we shall kisse togither againe." And therewith she kissed him and blessed him, turned her back and wept and went her way, leaving the child weeping as fast.[40]

[Pg 96]

Poor mother! Her fears were only too well founded. She never saw her sons again. When little Richard was taken into the Star Chamber, the Protector took him in his arms and kissed him saying, "Now welcome, my Lord, even with all my heart." The boy was then conveyed to the Bishop of London's palace, where his brother, the young king, met him with delight. This was in the beginning of June; and the two children were next removed to the Tower (under pretext of preparing for the coronation fixed for the twenty-second), "out of the which," says Sir Thomas More, "after that day they never came abroad."

Richard Duke of Gloucester's policy had been developing fast since the day he took possession of the young king at Stony Stratford. The Queen's party were all in prison—many of them awaiting execution. Shakespeare has vividly described how Richard ridded himself of Lord Hastings,[41] the late king's favorite adviser, who was the only remaining check on his plans. After Hastings' execution the Protector declared that Edward the Fourth's marriage was invalid, and that his children could not therefore succeed to the crown. After a faint show of reluctance he allowed himself to be proclaimed king, under the title of Richard the Third, and was crowned at Westminster on the sixth of July.[Pg 97]

Every one knows the tragic end to the story. While the little boys lived their uncle's throne was insecure. They were still in the Tower. Rivers their uncle was beheaded; so were their half-brother Grey and many more of their mother's kinsmen and friends. A mystery must always hang over this dreadful deed. Whether by Richard's direct order, or simply in accordance with his known but half-expressed wishes, the two children suddenly disappeared—murdered, as it was alleged, by their uncle. Sir James Tyrell, when tried for high treason in Henry the Seventh's reign, only eight years after, confessed to the murder. And it was commonly supposed that the boys were "buried in a great heap of rubbish near the footstairs of their lodging; where is now the raised terrace."[42] But the priest of the Tower having died shortly after, "left the world in dark as to the place."[Pg 98]

For nearly two hundred years nothing more was known. In Charles the Second's reign, however, orders were given to rebuild some offices in the Tower. In taking away the stairs going from the King's Lodging into the Chapel of the White Tower, the workmen found a wooden chest buried ten feet deep in the ground, which contained the bones of two boys, about eleven and thirteen years of age. Charles the Second hearing of this discovery ordered the bones to be carefully collected and put in a marble urn, which he placed in Westminster Abbey, with an inscription in Latin of which the following is a translation:

Here lie
The Reliques
of Edward the Fifth King of England, and Richard, Duke
of York.
These brothers being confined in the Tower,
and there stifled with Pillows,
Were privately and meanly buried,
By order of
Their perfidious Uncle Richard the usurper;
Whose bones, long enquired after and wished for,
After two hundred and one years
In the Rubbish of the Stairs (i. e. those lately leading to
the Chapel
of the White Tower)
Were on the 17th day of July, 1674, by undoubted Proofs
Being buried deep in that Place.
Charles the Second, a most compassionate Prince, pitying
their severe fate,
Ordered these unhappy Princes to be laid
Amongst the monuments of their Predecessors,
Anno Dom 1678, in the 30th year of his Reign.

[Pg 99]

The mean and ugly little urn, which was the only monument that "most compassionate Prince" could afford to the memory of these two children, stands at the end of the north aisle of Henry the Seventh's Chapel, close to Queen Elizabeth's tomb.

But let us turn from this dismal theme to something much more cheerful. While little Richard Duke of York was in Sanctuary with his mother, he must have often run across under the shadow of the great elms that stood before the Abbots House, to the Almonry, a small building near by. For to the Almonry eight years before a wise man had come with a strange new invention. He hung a red pole at the door for a sign; and soon all the learned men in the kingdom began to gather at the[Pg 100] Almonry of Westminster, and talk to William Caxton, the printer of books. For he it was who had come from Bruges in Flanders, bringing with him the first printing press that had ever been seen in England. And at Westminster he worked away for fifteen years, translating and printing with ceaseless industry. It was a hard task that the industrious printer had undertaken, for the English language was in a state of transition. The tongue of each shire varied so as to be hardly intelligible to men of the next county; and Caxton says that the old-English Charters which the Abbot of Westminster fetched him as models seemed "more like to Dutch than to English." In his translations he had to choose between two schools—French affectation, and English pedantry. "Some honest and great clerks," he says, "have been with me and desired me to write the most curious terms I could find;" and others blamed him, saying that in his translations he "had over many curious terms which could not be understood of common people, and desired me to use old and homely terms." "Fain would I please every man," the good-tempered printer exclaims. But, happily for his successors, Caxton's excellent sense inclined him to good, plain English, "to the common terms that be daily used"—and he therefore left a far more lasting mark on English literature than can be gauged by the number and importance of the books he printed.[Pg 101]


[Pg 102]

[Pg 103]

The Almonry soon became a centre for all that was most cultivated in England. Lord Arundel pressed the printer to take courage when the length of the Golden Legend made him "half desperate to have accomplisht it," and ready to "lay it apart;" and promised him a yearly fee of a buck in summer and a doe in winter if it were done. Noble ladies lent him their precious books. Churchmen brought him their translations. A mercer of London prayed him to undertake the "Royal Book" of Philip le Bel. The Queen's brother, the hapless Lord Rivers, chatted with him over his own translation of the "Sayings of the Philosophers." His "Tully" was printed under the patronage of Edward the Fourth. And among his chief supporters was Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to whom his "Order of Chivalry" was dedicated.[Pg 104]

It is therefore no mere flight of fancy, but a supposition founded on good evidence, that little Prince Richard may have beguiled some of the weary hours of his captivity by visits to the Almonry, watching the curious presses which struck off sheet after sheet of printing, and talking to the good-natured printer, who must, by all accounts, have been the cheeriest and busiest of men.

The Almonry is gone.

Bareheaded boys from Westminster School play foot-ball under the few remaining descendants of the old elms in Dean's Yard, and hurry in and out of the gateway with their school books under their arms. All that remains of the ancient Sanctuary is that blue plate with white letters. But within the great Abbey, the two little princes are in Sanctuary once more; never again to leave it while the fabric stands. And William Caxton sleeps in St. Margaret's Church close by, while his memory lives in every printed page of the English tongue.


[26] "Memorials of Westminster Abbey." p. 405. Dean Stanley.

[27] Speech of Duke of Buckingham in Sir T. More's "Life of Richard the Third."

[28] "Memorials of Westminster Abbey." p. 408. Dean Stanley.

[29] Holinshed's Chronicle. Vol. 3. p. 300.

[30] Sir Thomas More's History of Edward the Fifth, and Richard the Third.

[31] Equal to about £2500 in the present day.

[32] C. Knight's History of England. Vol. 2. p. 176.

[33] More.

[34] More.

[35] "Memorials of Westminster Abbey," Dean Stanley. p. 411.

[36] More's Life of Edward the Fifth. p. 40.

[37] More.

[38] "Memorials of Westminster Abbey." p. 412.

[39] More.

[40] More.

[41] "King Richard the Third." Act III., Scene IV.

[42] Dart. Vol. I. p. 170.

[Pg 105]



Between the death of Edward the Fifth and the coronation of another boy-king, Edward the Sixth, Westminster Abbey saw momentous changes. Its fabric and its constitution were alike altered by the stupendous transformation through which England passed in those seventy years.

Henry the Seventh's reign marks a great break in English History. It is the close of the Middle Ages. And the Abbey tells the story of this break in a strangely vivid and emphatic fashion. As we walk up the wide flight of steps beyond the Confessor's Chapel at the extreme east end of the Abbey, we find ourselves in a new world. The grave, stately, mediæval church is left behind. And, entering Henry the Seventh's matchless chapel, a sense of fervor and richness in the architecture[Pg 106] seizes on us. Our eyes feast on the bayed windows with their innumerable little diamond panes; the traceries and mouldings on the walls—not a foot left unwrought—the niches with figures of saint and martyr; the grand bronze gates with their Tudor arms—the rose and portcullis, the falcon and fetterlock—the rich dark wood carving of the stalls, with the banners of the Knights of the Bath hanging motionless above each; and then the roof, that marvelous stone cobweb, with its bosses, carvings and coats of arms, its vaultings springing from the slenderest pillars imaginable like graceful palm stems, and spreading out into the exquisite fan-tracery that covers the whole—a network of stone lace. As Washington Irving says in his unrivalled description of Westminster,

Stone seems, by the cunning labor of the chisel, to have been robbed of its weight and density, suspended aloft as if by magic; and the fretted roof achieved with the wonderful minuteness and airy security of a cobweb.

[Pg 107]


[Pg 108]

[Pg 109]

Those prodigious pendants of stone, richly carved over their whole surface, which hang poised aloft in airy splendor, may well fill the mind with wonder almost akin to terror. How do they hold together? How has the cunning of man been able to counteract the force of gravity? What keeps them from falling on us as we stand gazing up at the stone miracle, and grinding us to powder? Not only we, but many wise architects have marvelled at that "prodigy of art,"—at the "daring hardihood" which keyed that roof together, every block depending on the next, and the whole structure cohering by the perfection of each minutest part. The very richness of the work, the seemingly lavish tracery, the perforated ornaments behind the spring of the main arches, all help to weld it into one abiding whole. It is a fit type of the noble strength of perfect unity. For, so say the masons, if one stone were to give away, if one pendant were to fall, the whole roof would collapse.

Nothing gives one a just idea of the awful weight of stone in that roof until one has climbed above it. Would that I could take you, my readers, as I have taken more than one American child, for a wander about the roofs of the Abbey. It is a world[Pg 110] within a world. Do not fancy it is all dark and dirty and terrific. Not at all. I know few more charming excursions. A little door in the corner of the north transept lets us into a turret staircase. Up and up it winds, round the solid smooth shaft of stone, till we reach the Triforium. This is the row of double trefoil-headed arches that runs all around the Abbey above the great pier-arches. From below you think, how frightful to be up on that narrow ledge, clinging to the wall. But when you get up to it you find it anything but a narrow ledge. It is a grand gallery twenty feet wide, large enough to drive a coach and four along it, and lighted at many points by rose-windows in the outer walls. The double arches and slender pillars which look so beautiful from the ground, are just as interesting when seen close. Hardly two of them are alike; the builders of those days did their work in no grudging spirit: but lavished fresh designs upon every yard.

It is a strange sensation up aloft in this wide gallery, looking down a sheer sixty feet into the Abbey, peeping at the stalls of the choir[Pg 111] peering down the pipes of the organ, watching the people wandering like flies over the pavement below us. But the strangest experience of all is an excursion such as I am describing at night. One such wandering is specially impressed on my memory. Some American friends were with us; and lighted by one little lantern we threaded our way through the darkness, through the solemn stillness of the wonderful building, and came out into the Triforium. Then suddenly three or four clear rich voices, one of which is well-known to all who frequent the services at Westminster, came floating up from the gulf of gloom beneath us, singing,

Lift thine eyes, oh! lift thine eyes to the mountains, whence cometh help.

I do not think any one of us will ever forget the startling, overpowering effect; or listen again to Mendelssohn's trio without a thrill.

But we must go on. In only one place is the way perilous—just under the great window in the north transept; for there the passage does narrow to a ledge; and the Clerk of the Works, who always[Pg 112] accompanies these wanderings in high places, bids the untried hands be careful. Once past the window all is plain sailing again. We make our way round, above the Confessor's Chapel, and see his coffin lying in his shrine. We pass great rooms where all sorts of débris from the building are kept—old oaken chairs, bits of stone carving, paraphernalia for the coronation or for any great ceremony. We walk under the painted glass windows that we have watched, shining like jewels at the end of the apse, when we are at service in the choir. Then comes another door, another narrow stair, and we find ourselves in the strangest place of all. We are on the roof of Henry the Seventh's chapel. Overhead the great rafters are piled, supporting the outer roof; and as we advance a whirr and a rush of wings startle our nerves which are perhaps a little on edge by this time. There is nothing to alarm us however, for it is we who have startled some of the flock of pigeons who live up in the roofs of the Abbey. Hundreds of them congregate here, and get their living down in the great restless city below, especially in Palace Yard. The cabmen on the cabstand there, waiting for the members to come out of the House of Parliament, are greatly attached to the Abbey pigeons. I have often watched a rough, gruff "cabby" fetch a pailful of water and set it down near his hansom for the pretty birds, who flutter fearlessly, bridling and cooing, on to the edge, and dip their pink bills in the cool water, and then hop down and peck up the oats the cab-horse has dropped from his nose-bag. One would think that nowhere could birds be safer than in the sanctuary of Westminster. But alas! they have enemies who respect sanctuary far less than King Richard the Third. The vast roofs of the Abbey are infested by a breed of fierce half-wild cats. They have lived up there for years, and cannot be exterminated; and not only are they a perfect pest and plague to all dwellers in the cloisters, but they get their living by preying on the poor dear Abbey pigeons.[Pg 113]


[Pg 114]

However, we did not climb all this height to talk of cats and pigeons; and if you once find yourselves in this strange place you will give them but little thought. For under our feet is a great stone sea—vast circular pits and troughs of solid stone—a very maelstrom of rock. Each of those great wells narrowing towards the bottom represents one of the gigantic pendants below. And here one's wonder is I think increased sevenfold, and we ask how was it possible to poise this prodigious weight on those slender walls. If we want an answer to our question we must look outside the chapel, and observe the graceful Flying Buttresses, which hold roof and walls together, springing from the upper[Pg 115] part of the windows, and ending in tall turrets which run down and bury themselves in the ground. The buttresses are so light, and so richly carved, and the turrets look so completely ornamental, with their crockets, and the delicate canopies over the niches—empty alas! and their string-course formed of the Tudor arms, that one thinks of them merely as a lovely part of a lovely whole. So they are. But they are one of the chief means of binding that splendid roof together—of keeping the walls from being pulled inward by the mass of stone they have to support. They act like the guy-ropes which keep a flagstaff upright.

Thus far we have seen how by Edward the Sixth's time the mediæval architecture has given place to the Tudor, the feudal Gothic to the more domestic Perpendicular. But in the constitution of the Abbey a far more momentous change had taken place. In Henry the Eighth's reign the Reformation shook the life of England to its very foundation. It is not my intention to enter upon that vast and deeply important subject. I only wish to show you some of its effects on Westminster[Pg 116] Abbey. The Abbey and Monastery of Westminster shared in the general Dissolution of Monasteries in 1539. The last Abbot of Westminster was converted into a Dean, and "the Monks were succeeded by twelve Prebendaries, each to be present daily in the Choir, and to preach once a quarter."[43] The "Abbot's Place" was to be known henceforth as the "Deanery." And for us, who have known that Deanery in the brilliant days of Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, what memories does the name awake. But more. All the relics in the Abbey that had been given, as we have seen, by successive kings, and with them Llewellyn's golden crown, and the banners and statues around the shrine of St. Edward, all these were swept away as worthless or worse than worthless. Even the bones of the Confessor were not respected; but were moved and buried apart, until Queen Mary brought them back and laid them once more in the shrine where they had reposed so long, and where they rest to this day. Then robbers broke into the Abbey and carried off, among other treasures, the silver head from Henry the Fifth's monument. And in Edward the Sixth's reign, when the spirit of iconoclasm was at its height, the Protector Somerset even talked of demolishing the Abbey Church, and was only deterred from such an act of vandalism by the rising, some say, of the inhabitants of Westminster, or, by the sacrifice of seventeen manors belonging to the Chapter for the needs of the protectorate.[Pg 117]

A boy king was once more head of the English nation. When Henry the Eighth died in January, 1547, Prince Edward was not quite ten years old, his sister Elizabeth nearly fourteen, while Mary, the elder sister, was thirty-one. In less than a month after his father's death, Edward was crowned at Westminster, and very curious the accounts are of the ceremony. As was usual, the prince spent the few days before his coronation at the Tower; and the procession from thence to Westminster was of extreme magnificence. The little boy was delighted by an Arragonese sailor who "capered on a tight-rope down from the battlements of St. Paul's to a window at the Dean's Gate."[44][Pg 118]

An old man in a chair, with crown and sceptre, represented the state of King Edward the Confessor. St. George would have spoken, but that His Grace made such speed for lack of time he could not.[45]

The service at which Archbishop Cranmer, the king's godfather, officiated, was still that of the Church of Rome: but it was greatly shortened,

partly "for the tedious length of the same," and "the tender age" of the King—partly for "that many points of the same were such as, by the laws of the nation, were not allowable."[46]

And there were various other differences in matters of detail, into which we have no space to enter, which showed that a radical change had taken place in England since Henry the Eighth's coronation. Even shortened as it was, the service was so long and exhausting that the poor little king was carried out fainting before it was over.[Pg 119]

EDWARD THE SIXTH.—From a Painting by Holbein. EDWARD THE SIXTH.—From a Painting by Holbein.

[Pg 120]

[Pg 121]

A "marvellous boy," "monstrificus peullus" as an Italian physician described him, must King Edward have been. When other boys have their heads full of bats and balls, of bird'snesting and fishing, this little lad was writing a diary of political events, the history year by year of his own reign—a strange document when one thinks of the author's youth. In it he gravely set down all manner of questions which usually trouble only old heads. And King Edward's journal is still one of the most valuable records of the time. Although it does not exhibit any very original views, this diary shows a strangely impartial spirit. It shows too a good deal of the coldness of the Tudor nature; for one is unpleasantly impressed at finding the young king recording the executions of his two uncles—Somerset and Seymour—with the most stoical indifference; and setting aside the right of his sisters Mary and Elizabeth to the crown, with a hard cold remark that they are "unto us but of the half-blood."

Edward held very strong and decided opinions on all points connected with the Reformed Church of England.

He was the first sovereign to whom the Bible had been presented at his coronation,[Pg 122]

an act which may perhaps have suggested to the young King the substitution, which he had all but effected, of the Bible for St. George in the insignia of the Order of the Garter.

By the time he was fourteen his precocious mind became aware of the manner in which his uncle Somerset, had abused his power and taken advantage of his childhood. He saw how the exchequer had been emptied by the rash wars with France and Scotland into which the Protector's ambition had dragged England. How the coinage was debased. How crown lands worth five million of English money of the present day, had been granted away to the Protector's friends. All this the boy-king saw. He felt the shame of his debts; and although he could do little to stop such scandals, he did what he could. According to a schedule he devised, we find him diminishing the garrisons of the forts and the Irish army; ordering greater economy in his household; cutting down the wardrobe charges, and disallowing various claims for fees.

Edward now took part regularly in public business, and began to inquire into the daily transactions of the Council. "He required notice beforehand of[Pg 123] the business with which the council was to be occupied, and an account was given in to him each Saturday of the proceedings of the week." There is a rough draft of his will, dictated to Sir William Petre the year before his death, which shows how his mind had dwelt silently on the events of his boyhood. "Should his successor like himself, be a minor, his executors, unlike his father's, should meddle with no wars unless the country was invaded." But of all the writings he left, the most interesting and important is an unfinished fragment on the condition of England. Although it was written three hundred years ago by a boy of fifteen, some of it is such fine and wholesome reading for us nowadays, that I must quote part of Mr. Froude's account of it.

"A king who at fifteen could sketch the work which was before him so distinctly, would in a few years have demanded a sharp account of the Stewardship of the Duke of Northumberland."

Looking at England, ... as England was, the young king saw "all things out of order." "Farming gentlemen and clerking knights" neglecting their duties as overseers of[Pg 124] the people, "were exercising the gain of living." ... Artificers and clothiers no longer worked honestly; the necessaries of life had risen in price, and the labourers had raised their wages, "whereby to recompense the loss of things they bought." The country swarmed with vagabonds; and those who broke the laws escaped punishment by bribery or through foolish pity. The lawyers and even the judges were corrupt.

Peace and order were violated by religious dissensions and universal neglect of the law. Offices of trust were bought and sold; benefices impropriated, tillage-ground turned to pasture, "not considering the sustaining of men." The poor were robbed by the enclosures; and extravagance in dress and idle luxury of living were eating like ulcers into the State. These were the vices of the age; nor were they likely, as Edward thought, to yield in any way to the most correct formula of justification. The "medicines to cure these sores" were to be looked for in good education, good laws, and "just execution of the laws without respect of persons, in the example of rulers, the punishment of misdoers, and the encouragement of the good." Corrupt magistrates should be deposed, seeing that those who were themselves guilty would not enforce the laws against their own faults; and all gentlemen and noblemen should be compelled to reside on their estates, and fulfil the duties of their place.[47]

[Pg 125]

Boys and girls in all countries are apt to say "as happy as a king." I wonder if they ever think of the meaning of that phrase. Certainly a less enviable position than that of this young king cannot well be imagined. Holbein's portraits show him to us a delicate, precocious looking boy, with fine features, small mouth, and odd narrow eyes which glance with a keen penetration from under the sleepy lids. If he had been the son of some country squire he would have been living out of doors, making his frail little body strong and healthy, doing ordinary lessons, riding and leaping and playing tennis like any other lad of his age. But instead of this, we find him a mere tool in the hands of unscrupulous advisers, who are filling their own pockets and ruining the kingdom at his expense. He is pondering on matters of state when he ought to have been playing at marbles. Sitting for long hours in the council chamber, when he should have been riding about the forest with his hawks and hounds. Galloping all the night through, from Hampton Court to Windsor, when his uncle Somerset carried him off to serve[Pg 126] his own ends, and thereby did the king's delicate chest an injury which it never recovered. And at length, after six years of a miserable, troublous reign, dying at Greenwich before he was sixteen, with the lords in council and the judges quarreling about his death bed. Poor boy! surely no one would be tempted to envy his fate.

He was buried at Westminster in the splendid chapel that his grandfather built and that his father finished under "the matchless altar" which stood at the head of Henry the Seventh's tomb. This sumptuous "touchstone altar, all of one piece," with its "excellent workmanship of brass," was the work of Torregiano, the rival who broke Michael Angelo's nose in the gardens of St. Mark at Florence. He came to England to complete the adornment of Henry the Seventh's chapel, and lived for twenty years in the precincts of the Abbey, where he kept up his Florentine reputation by sundry fighting feats against the "bears of Englishmen."

The Altar was "by the hot-brained zealots in 41 (1641) demolished; so that not the least footsteps[Pg 127] now remain;" and only a gray stone slab marks the resting place of the last male heir of the Tudors. But when in 1868 Dean Stanley made the memorable search in the vaults of the Abbey to discover where James the First was buried—a mystery unsolved till then—a beautiful piece of a carved white marble frieze was found at the entrance of Edward the Sixth's grave. This fragment, three feet eight inches long, seven inches high, and six inches thick, is the only relic which exists of Torregiano's altar. It is now restored as far as possible to its original position, under the present altar in Henry the Seventh's Chapel.

King Edward's funeral, like his coronation, was remarkable in many ways. It was the first service of the Reformed Church of England ever used over an English sovereign; and this concession was made by the King's Roman Catholic sister, Queen Mary. She was not present; being at the requiem sung in the Tower under the direction of Gardiner, her chief adviser. Archbishop Cranmer conducted the service at Westminster. Thus "the last and saddest function of his public ministry which he[Pg 128] was destined to perform," was the burial of his godson, this young king, whom he had both baptized and crowned.

"The one admirable thing which the unhappy reign produced," must however never be forgotten. While King Edward's uncle Somerset was ruining the kingdom, and paying with his head for his ambition—while the Duke of Northumberland was plotting to set aside Henry the Eighth's will, and to place his own daughter-in-law, the hapless Lady Jane Grey, on the throne of England—Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, was working on quietly in the midst of all the uproar of war and treason, plot and counter-plot, at the English prayer book.

As the translation of the Bible bears upon it the imprint of the mind of Tyndal, so, while the Church of England remains, the image of Cranmer will be seen reflected on the calm surface of the Liturgy. The most beautiful portions of it are translations from the Breviary; yet the same prayers translated by others would not be those which chime like church-bells in the ears of the English child. The translations, and the addresses which are original, have the same silvery melody of language, and breathe the same simplicity of spirit.

[Pg 129]

One other admirable memory has the reign of Edward left in England. If you stand on Westminster Bridge near the houses of Parliament, and look across the Thames, you see several huge piles of red brick and white stone rising on the Lambeth shore. This is the modern St. Thomas's Hospital, one of the finest in England, built on the foundation which Edward made. Ridley in a sermon preached before the young king, urged the rich to be merciful to the poor and to comfort and relieve them by charitable works. The sermon so impressed the boy that he founded St. Thomas's—St. Bartholomew's Hospital, in Smithfield, where a few years later the martyrs were to suffer at the stake under his ruthless sister Mary—and Christ's Hospital, which we all know as the "Bluecoat" school, where Charles Lamb, and Coleridge, and Thackeray and many another learned man spent their schooldays. But the boy-king did yet more. In eighteen towns of England he founded the famous Grammar Schools which "throw a lustre over the name of Edward," although he did not live to see the fruit of his noble thought.


[43] Memorials, 464.

[44] "Memorials of Westminster Abbey." p. 81.

[45] Memorials. p. 81.

[46] Leland. p. 324.

[47] (Froude. Vol. V. p. 441.)

[Pg 130]



On the 27th of October, 1575, there was a grand christening at Westminster. The tiny baby, wrapped in a mantle of crimson velvet, was carried with royal pomp into the Abbey. Some of the most splendid and famous personages of the day attended to do honor to the child, and the queen's majesty was godmother.

Who was this baby? Why was all this display and ceremony expended on an infant only five days old?

The little girl was of noble birth. She was daughter of John, Baron Russell, second son of the Earl of Bedford, one of that famous family which has given England some of her best statesmen for hundreds of years. Her mother was a daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, of Gildea Hall in Essex, "a[Pg 131] man of the ancient equanimity and worship," well known for his goodness and learning. Sir Anthony brought up his daughters to follow in his own footsteps. They were noble and accomplished gentlewomen and learned withal, for they could write easily in Greek, Latin and Italian, as well as in their own tongue. One of them, Mildred, married Sir William Cecil, afterwards Lord Burleigh, Queen Elizabeth's famous councillor and adviser. Anne was wife of Sir Nicholas, afterwards Lord Chancellor Bacon, whose son was the great philosopher, Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam. Elizabeth, Lady Russell, the mother of our "child of Westminster," had been married before to Sir Thomas Hobby, ambassador to France. And when he died in 1566, Queen Elizabeth wrote a letter full of affection and esteem to his widow. In this letter she praises the dead Sir Thomas; and then goes on:

And for yourself, we cannot but let you know that we hear out of France such singular good reports of your duty well accomplished toward your husband, both living and dead, with other your sober, wise and discreet behaviour in that[Pg 132] court and country, that we think it a part of great commendation to us and commendation to our country, that such a gentlewoman hath given so manifest a testimony of virtue in such hard times of adversity. And therefore, though we thought very well of you before, yet shall we hereafter make a more assured account of your virtues and gifts; and where-insoever we may conveniently do you pleasure, you may be thereof assured. And so we would have you rest yourself in quietness, with a firm opinion of our special favour towards you. Given under our signet, at our city of Oxford, the —— of September, 1566, the eighth year of our reign.

Your loving friend,

Elizabeth R.

It was "at our city of Oxford" that we chanced upon this letter. Reading in the Bodleian Library, at the end of the great cross gallery lined with rows of books, tier upon tier, we sat in the month of September, 1884, at a quiet table beside a huge stone-mullioned window. One of its casements of leaded panes, guarded with brown rusty iron bars, was open. In the acacia-tree outside a bird was singing. Beyond the delicate green foliage, untouched by any thought of autumn, the towers and spires of the glorious city rose above red and[Pg 133] gray roofs. The silence about us was only broken by the crisp turning of leaves or the stealthy foot-fall of the attendants bringing fresh heaps of books to the half-dozen busy workers. There was a fragrant smell of old books—of leather bindings—so dear to the student's heart. The warm, sweet outer air and hot sunshine streamed in at the open window. "The merry, merry Christ Church bells—one, two, three, four, five, six," chimed the quarters; and "Mighty Tom" tolled the hours as the morning stole by only too quickly.

Two hundred and eighteen years ago in this very month of September, Queen Elizabeth was at Oxford, on her way to or from Kenilworth Castle, and she wrote the letter to Lady Hobby with those same Christ Church bells chiming the quarters and the hours within hearing of her lodgings.

What times those were! The fortunes of England under Elizabeth were recovering from long disgrace and decay. The foundation of the Royal Exchange, by Sir Thomas Gresham, in that very year 1566, gave English trade an impetus of which we in England and America are reaping the benefits.[Pg 134] English ships under such men as Drake and Frobisher, Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Humphrey Gilbert, were sailing the seas, fighting the Spaniards, and bringing home the wealth of every country in the known globe to the port of London. A few years later, Drake in his little vessel with eighty men would sail through the straits of Magellan, and load his bark with gold-dust and silver ingots, with pearls, diamonds and emeralds, the spoils of the "great galleon that sailed once a year from Lima to Cadiz," and Raleigh would name Virginia after Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen.

But something more precious than commerce, or mere tangible wealth, was reviving in England. The prosperity of Elizabeth's reign was signalized by an outburst of literature such as the world has seldom seen. In 1566 Edmund Spenser was fourteen; Sir Philip Sidney was twelve; and William Shakespeare was a little two-year-old lad playing about his father's black and white half-timbered house in sunny Stratford-on-Avon. What need to go further? Those three names alone are enough, to say nothing of the host of other writers—Bacon[Pg 135] and Fulke Grenville with the philosophers and the essayists, Hakluyt and his library of voyages and travels, Michael Drayton and the patriotic poets. These were some of the men who as statesmen, soldiers, discoverers, poets, have made the Elizabethan age the synonym for all that is most splendid, most brilliant at home and abroad.

Nine years after the queen's letter from Oxford, Elizabeth Hobby, who had meanwhile married Lord Russell, took refuge at Westminster from the plague which was then prevalent in London—that is to say in what we now call the city, where all the grand folks of those days lived.

Having obtained so much favor from Dr. Goodman, Dean of Westminster, as to have her lodgings within the late dissolved Abbey,

her little daughter was born in the precincts on October 22, 1575. Lord Russell wrote to announce the fact to his brother-in-law Lord Burleigh. He was sorely disappointed at the child being a girl. "I could have wished with all my heart to have had a boy:" but as that could not[Pg 136] be he would like a wise man "rejoice in having a girl." Then he goes on to ask Lord Burleigh to pray the queen to be the baby's godmother. The queen willingly granted the request; for her old admiration for Lady Russell had by no means abated. Being at Windsor she sent Lady Warwick as her deputy, "attended by Mr. Wingfield, the queen's gentleman usher, to direct all things in the same cathedral."

Mr. Wingfield caused "a traverse of crimson taffeta"—a kind of enclosure or regal pew if there be such a thing—to be set on the right side of the altar, near the steps within the chancel; and in the traverse a carpet, a chair and cushions of state. This was for the deputy, Lady Warwick, who, as she represented the queen, was treated as if she were royal.

Then a great basin was set up in the middle, near to the high table, a yard high, upon a small frame for the purpose covered with white linen, and the basin set thereon with water and flowers about the brim.

[Pg 137]

QUEEN ELIZABETH.—From painting in the English National Portrait Gallery. QUEEN ELIZABETH.—From painting in the English National Portrait Gallery.

[Pg 138]

[Pg 139]

On Thursday, October 27, at ten o'clock, all was ready. The witnesses and a great company were assembled; and they proceeded from the Deanery through the cloister. First came the gentlemen in waiting; then the knights in their places; the barons and earls in their degree. Then the godfather—none other than that famous and brilliant personage, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the only man whom the great Queen Elizabeth really loved—her cousin, "Sweet Robin." If you ever come to Warwickshire go to Kenilworth Castle, and see the remains of the grand Hall where he received the queen with more than royal state at three different times. Then go to Warwick, and see his effigy in the Beauchamp Chapel, lying beside his third wife, whom he married after poor Amy Robsart's death.

Look at the Earl's handsome proud face; and then picture him to yourselves as he walked through the cloisters and into the noble Abbey, magnificent in dress and bearing, in the heydey of his youth, splendor and prosperity at little Bess Russell's christening. After the godfather came the unconscious baby—the centre of all this display—wrapped[Pg 140]

in a mantle of crimson velvet, guarded with two wrought laces of gold, having also over the face a lawn, striped with bone lace of gold athwart, and powdered with gold flowers and white wrought thereon.

She was carried by the nurse, Mrs. Bradshaw. Her second godmother, the Countess of Sussex—Frances Sidney, aunt of Sir Philip Sidney, and foundress of Sidney-Sussex College at Cambridge, followed her. Then a gentleman usher. And then the Countess of Warwick, deputy for the queen. Her train was borne by Lady Russell's two sisters, Lady Burleigh and Lady Bacon; and after them came "other ladies and gentlemen, many."

The deputy went within the traverse, the rest remaining without, while the Dean made a short address. After it was over

Lady Bacon took the child and brought it to the font, where the Dean attended in his surplice. Then the Earl Leicester approached near to the traverse, and there tarried until the deputy came forth, from whence they leisurely proceeded to the font, the deputy's train still borne, where she christened the child by the name of Elizabeth; which done[Pg 141] the deputy retired back into the traverse again, and the nurse took the child, and came down, and there dressed it.

Now comes one of the most impressive and picturesque episodes in the story.

The account says—

In the meantime, Mr. Philip Sidney came out of the Chapel called St. Edward's shrine having a towel on his left shoulder, and with him came Mr. Delves, bearing the basin and ewer. Then the deputy came forth, her train borne, and they two kneeling, she washed.

Imagine Philip Sidney, then twenty-three years old, appearing from the Confessor's Chapel, which as I have explained lies directly behind the altar, with his towel over his shoulder, to kneel before the good and charming Countess of Warwick—Philip Sidney, that exquisite and noble soul, the very type and pattern of all that is most beautiful and admirable in the age of Elizabeth.

Fair as he was brave, quick of wit as of affection, noble and generous in temper, dear to Elizabeth as to Spenser, the darling of the Court and of the camp; his learning and his genius made him the centre of the literary world which was springing into birth on English soil.

[Pg 142]

Poet, philosopher, chivalrous knight errant, grave councillor, what wonder that he was the idol of the whole country? And the story of his death, which we all know, but of which I, for one, never tire, was a fitting close to the thirty-two years of this Bayard without fear and without reproach. He threw away his life to save the army of his queen in Flanders. As he lay dying he called for water. But when it was brought and the bottle was put to his lips he saw a poor soldier dying near him, and bade them give it to him. "Thy necessity," he said, "is greater than mine." And so he died. This was the man who humbly served Lady Warwick, the deputy, at our baby's christening.

Then other gentlemen with two basins and ewers, came to the Countess of Sussex and the Earl of Leicester; and they having washed, immediately came from the aforesaid place of St. Edward's shrine, gentlemen with cups of hippocras and wafers; that done, they all departed out of the Church through the choir, in such order as before, the Lady Bacon carrying the child, and so the said ladies and godfather went into the Lady Russell's chamber.

[Pg 143]

Then the company went to dinner, "a stately and costly delicate banquet;" and grace being said by Lord Russell's chaplain, the lords washed, and after rose and returned to Lady Russell's rooms.

The baby Bess, like babies nowadays, had her christening presents: "By the queen's majesty a great standing cup; Countess of Sussex a standing cup; Earl of Leicester a great bowl."

So the pretty child's life began; ushered into that splendid and brilliant court with all the pomp and circumstance possible. Not only is the record of her baptism curious because it gives us a vivid picture of the court at that time, and a glimpse of many famous men and women who were present at it: but christenings have been few and far between at Westminster. For a long while they ceased altogether; and during this century up to about 1868 the few baptisms have been those of children of members of the Abbey body. Since that date a very few children, more or less connected with Westminster, have been christened each year in Henry the Seventh's chapel. And on the last page of the register for 1883, there is the name[Pg 144] of a little grandson of Alfred, Lord Tennyson—the Poet Laureate—a baby well-deserving such an honor, for his grandfather claims descent from King Edward the Third; and from his mother, whose wedding took place in the Abbey, he inherits the blood of Robert Bruce.

The next we hear about our little Bess is some years later, when we learn that she and her younger sister, Anne, were appointed maids of honor to the queen. Their mother, Lady Russell, who was brilliant and vivacious, as well as learned in Latin and Greek, had considerable influence with Queen Elizabeth, and seems to have used her "kind enchantments" in the service of peace and goodwill at court. Towards the close of her reign sad days had come upon the great queen. She was growing old—though she could not bear to acknowledge the fact. Some of those in whom she had trusted most proved false to her—like Essex. Her splendid progresses through the country, her three thousand dresses, could no longer cheer the sad, lonely old woman, who had outlived so many of her early friends and counsellors. The violent Tudor[Pg 145] temper which she inherited from her father became more and more ungovernable, and sometimes it showed itself towards the unlucky maids of honor.

"The Queen," says Sir Rowland Whyte to Sir Robert Sidney, in 1600:

hath of late used the fair Miss Brydges (daughter of the Lord Chandos), with words and blows of anger; and she with Miss Russell, were put out of the coffer-chamber, lying three nights at Lady Stafford's, before they could return to their wonted waiting.

And what was their offence? They had ventured to take medicine without leave; and had broken some rule of court etiquette by "going through the private galleries to see the lords and gentlemen play at the ballon." This was early in 1600. But shortly afterwards the queen, with one of her capricious changes of temper, made the full amende for her words and blows of anger to poor Bess Russell, on the occasion of her sister Anne's marriage to Lord Herbert, son and heir to Edward, fourth Earl of Worcester. On June 9, 1600, Lady Russell went to court to fetch her daughter Anne away, "of whom the queen in public used as gracious[Pg 146] speeches as she had been heard to indulge in of any." She sent her lords and maids in waiting to escort the bride and her mother to their house at Blackfriars. "All went in a troop away"—the court attendants filling eighteen coaches.

The marriage took place on June 16 at Blackfriars, and the queen honored the ceremony with her presence. The bride met the queen at the waterside, where Lord Cobham, who had offered Her Majesty the use of his house, had provided a "lectica made like half a litter, wherein she was carried by six knights to Lady Russell's house." The mere name Blackfriars now conjures up a vision of the smokiest and dirtiest parts of smoky, dirty, dearly-beloved London. A vision of grimy houses crowded together, and piled up story on story to utilize every inch of the space that is now so valuable—of tall factory chimneys; Powell's glass-works; bustling wharves; huge warehouses; of yelling railway trains, whistling and thundering over the great iron bridges that span the Thames; of penny steamboats; of heavy barges on the muddy river all defiled by the great city that presses down to its banks. St. Paul's dome, the grand old Tower of London, and the towers and spires of Sir Christopher Wren's "fifty new churches," pierce the smoke and the haze, and rise above the roofs of the busiest part of the city. The only trees to be seen are the planes on the embankment, along that waterside where the bride met the queen. Is this a fit place for a brilliant court to come to a gay wedding?[Pg 147]


[Pg 148]

[Pg 149]

Happily we know what Blackfriars was like in Elizabethan days. At Sherbourne Castle in Dorsetshire, Lord Digby possesses a most interesting picture supposed to be painted by Isaac Oliver, of this very procession from the waterside. There is a pleasant background of fields and trees with two or three fine houses standing on the wooded slopes of Holborn hill. The queen, clad in a long-waisted dress covered with jewels, and wearing a great ruff open at the throat, which was then only worn by young unmarried women, is seated in a chair under a light canopy borne by six knights. Anne Russell, the bride, walks directly behind the litter, in huge hooped skirt of white, with a richly worked[Pg 150] and bejewelled bodice. She wears an open ruff like the queen's, which shows her throat. Her mother and Lucy Harrington, Countess of Bedford, who are her supporters, have close ruffs that cover their necks, and are dressed in black and gray with rich jewels. Nobles splendidly habited, go before, two and two; and ladies follow, among whom we may suppose that the fair Bess Russell figures. Lord Herbert, the bridegroom, carries the right end of the pole that supports the litter, and reaches his left hand back to his pretty bride who is close behind him. Next him a slim and exquisitely dressed figure is thought by Mr. Scharf F. S. A. to be Sir Walter Raleigh, who had just returned with Lord Cobham from a mission in Flanders.

After the marriage the queen dined with the wedding party at Lady Russell's, where "the entertainment was great and plentiful; and the mistress of the feast much commended for it." At night—for in those days dinners were early—she went to Lord Cobham's where she supped. And

after supper came a memorable masque of eight ladies, each clad in a skirt of cloth of silver, a rich waistcoat wrought[Pg 151] with silks and gold and silver, a mantle of carnation taffeta cast under the arm, and their hair loose about their shoulders curiously knotted and interlaced. The masquers were Lady Dorothy (Sidney), Miss Fitton, Miss Carey, Miss Onslow, Miss Southwell, Miss Bess Russell, Miss Darcy, and Lady Blanch Somerset, who danced to the music that Apollo brought; and a fine speech was made of a ninth muse, much to her praise and honor. "Delicate," says the narrator, "it was to see eight ladies so prettily and richly attired." Miss Fitton led; and after they had finished their own ceremonies, the eight lady masquers chose eight other ladies to dance the measures. Miss Fitton went to the queen and wooed her to the dance. The queen asked what she was. "Affection," was the answer. "Affection!" said the queen, "affection is false!" yet she rose and danced as did the Marchioness of Winchester.

Poor, sad old queen, clinging like a child—like the true daughter of her hapless mother Anne Boleyn—to any amusement, excitement, display, that could divert her weary thoughts from her loneliness, from the burdening cares of state; with her bitter jibe at the falseness of affection, yet rising and dancing a measure with her maids of honor. It is as pathetic a picture as one can look upon.[Pg 152]

So ends the record of the gay wedding at Blackfriars. But alas! within a fortnight the marriage rejoicings were turned into mourning. Our beautiful Bess Russell, the child of the court, the child of the Abbey, was consumptive. She grew rapidly worse, and a fortnight after her sister Anne's wedding she was dead. Her illness indeed, at the last, was so sudden that it gave rise to an absurd story, which was commonly believed one hundred and fifty years ago; namely, that she died of the prick of a needle in her finger which produced gangrene. This however is a mere fable, and only came into existence some seventy years after her death. She was buried in Westminster Abbey—that Abbey under whose shadow she was born, within whose walls she was christened. Well may Dean Stanley call her "the child of Westminster."

Her beautiful monument stands in the Chapel of St. Edmund, near that of her father, and of John of Eltham. She sits "in a curiously wrought osier chair," leaning her head upon her hand, and pointing at the skull, on which her right foot rests, with an expression on her face of great sadness[Pg 153] and sweetness. On the richly carved pedestal upon which the figure is placed are engraved these words: "Dormit, non mortua est"—she is not dead but sleeping—and below on a scroll we read that to the "sacred and happy memory of Elizabeth Russell" this monument is dedicated by her afflicted sister Anne.

Sweet Bess Russell's effigy is remarkable in more ways than one. It is the first of all in the Abbey that is seated erect. Hitherto kings, princes, warriors, noble ladies have been content to lie in profound repose, their hands crossed or folded in prayer. Lord Russell's figure on his splendid monument hard by, shows the first sign of restlessness. He lies on his side, supporting his head on his elbow. At his feet is the son he wished for so greatly—little Francis—who only lived a few months; and graceful figures of his two daughters in mourning robes support the coat of arms above. In a few years the effigies will begin to kneel—as in the case of Sir Francis Vere's noble tomb where four kneeling knights carry his arms on a slab resting upon their shoulders. So intensely alive[Pg 154] do they look that Roubillac the famous sculptor was found standing wrapt before them, and when questioned said softly, with his eyes fixed on the fourth knight, "Hush! hush! he will speak presently!" A little later they will sit—then stand, like Walpole's beautiful mother. Then they will gesticulate with the orators, and rise out of the tomb, or the sea, and soar among the clouds, in the execrable taste of the last century. All this new movement and life in marble, was ushered in by pretty Elizabeth Russell and her worthy father; so that their monuments mark a very distinct period in the history of the Abbey. The reign, too, of her royal godmother inaugurated the "recognition of the Abbey as a Temple of Fame." Queen Elizabeth loved the Abbey, and the chapels were crowded with the "worthies" who served her so loyally and faithfully. Henceforth not only kings and princes were to be buried in the Church of Henry the Third, but all who were great and wise in action or in thought, statesmen, soldiers, poets, were to rest within the walls of the Pantheon of the English Nation.[Pg 155]



In 1603 a great change came over the destinies of England. Queen Elizabeth, the last of the house of Tudor, died. And James of Scotland, the first of those Stuart kings who were to bring civil war, ruin and disgrace on our land, came to the throne. A hundred years before, the rich Tudor architecture had taken the place in Westminster of the grave Gothic of the Middle Ages. Now the strong rule of the Tudors—often unscrupulous, but generally able—was in like manner succeeded by the extravagant misrule of the Stuarts.

It was, however, through their Tudor blood—through their descent from Henry the Seventh, the great-grandfather of that most unhappy woman, Mary, Queen of Scots—that the Stuarts succeeded to the English throne. It was fitting, therefore,[Pg 156] that they should turn to the chapel which had been built as a burial place for the Tudor race. And within four years of James the First's accession, two "royal rosebuds" were laid to rest within its walls.

Let us go to-day and see their monuments.

We mount the wide steps at the extreme east end of the ambulatory, that form a sort of vestibule of deepest shadow under the massive archway which joins the Abbey to Henry the Seventh's Chapel. The black and white marble floor gleams cold, and the sun streams in through the southern windows upon the brass of Henry the Seventh's tomb as we look through the great bronze gates. But we will not enter them. We will turn to the left, where an open doorway leads us out of the dark entry at the head of the steps into the quiet light of the north aisle. On either side of the great central chapel run these two aisles, only divided from it by slender pillars and by the dark oak stalls of the Knights of the Bath. They are separate chapels, narrower and smaller than the main one, but equally beautiful; with the same cobweb-like stone roof; the same clusters of pillars spreading out into fan traceries; and deep, embayed windows full of hundreds of diamond panes toned down by the grimy London air into a mellow amber color.[Pg 157]


[Pg 158]

[Pg 159]

As we enter the north aisle we tread on a stone that bears the name of Addison. Famous men, poets, generals, statesmen, are all about us. But the great monument that stands in the centre of the chapel claims all our attention. Under a magnificent marble canopy, still and stern in death, lies the last of the Tudors—that splendid personage who, for more than fifty years, ruled over England and kept all Europe at bay; and who by word and deed encouraged those who laid the foundation of the great transatlantic England. Yes! there sleeps Queen Elizabeth—the old lioness. And in spite of vanities and weaknesses that we are apt nowadays to dwell on all too hardly, she was perhaps the greatest woman that England has ever seen. Her tomb, built by James the First, "of white marble and touchstone from the royal store at Whitehall," is not only a worthy memorial of her, but a token of the peace and goodwill that the great Abbey speaks of to all[Pg 160] who will hear. For by her own desire, Elizabeth was buried in the same grave with her sister Mary, that sister whose very name seems only to bring to mind hatred and persecution, the stake and the fagot. Now she and Elizabeth are at peace. And on their monument James the First inscribed "two lines full of a far deeper feeling than we should naturally have ascribed to him":[48]

Fellows in the kingdom, and in the tomb. Here we sleep; Mary and Elizabeth, the Sisters; in hope of the resurrection.

There is another effigy of Queen Elizabeth in the Abbey; and a very curious one it is. From the thirteenth century until the beginning of the eighteenth, it was the custom at royal funerals to carry a life-size, waxen image before the coffin, representing the dead in the clothes they wore. These effigies were left on the grave for about a month, and some of the Abbey officials gained their living by showing them to visitors. Most of the waxen figures have crumbled to dust. The writer believes that she was the last person to look at that of hapless[Pg 161] Anne Boleyn. It had so fallen to pieces as to be a very hideous object, and it has since been locked up and shown to no one. But in an upper chamber over the Islip chapel, reached by a little dark stairway, eleven of these strange figures are still to be seen in wainscot cupboards with glass doors. Among them is Queen Elizabeth; not the original effigy—that was worn out in 1708, when a certain Tom Brown who wrote A Walk through London and Westminster, says that he saw the remains of it. This is a copy made in 1760; and we see the poor old queen, dressed in the long-waisted bodice and hooped skirt we know so well in pictures. It is a piteous sight, however; for the effigy, battered and sorely the worse for wear, is leaning up against the side of the glass cupboard in a most undignified attitude. One would rather think of her as she lies still and stately in the beautiful north aisle.

But we must linger no longer about Elizabeth's effigy or her tomb. We must pass on to the east end of the chapel, and there we shall find the monuments of her two little cousins.[Pg 162]

On what used to be the altar step of the north aisle stands a baby's cradle—a cradle on real rockers. A gorgeous coverlet, all trimmed with rich guipure lace, falls from the corners of the cradle in splendid, rich folds. The arms of England, Scotland, and Ireland are carved on the back. And when you look under the head of the cradle you see that a baby lies sleeping in it. A darling tiny baby it is—its little wee face set in a close lace cap and lace ruff, under a kind of lace-trimmed hood that forms part of the pillow. You can almost fancy that if the cradle were set rocking the babe might open her eyes. But "baby and cradle, and all," are marble—marble, yellow with the dust and wear of nearly three hundred years.

"The Cradle Tomb" of Westminster, as it is called, has been far better described than by any words of mine. A card hangs close beside it, placed there by desire of Lady Augusta Stanley, on which is a poem "by an American lady." That lady is a well-known favorite of American readers; for she is none other than "Susan Coolidge." And the lovely verses—some of which[Pg 163] I venture to transcribe—appeared in Scribner's Monthly for 1875:

A little rudely sculptured bed,
With shadowing folds of marble lace,
And quilt of marble, primly spread,
And folded round a baby face.
Smoothly the mimic coverlet,
With royal blazonries bedight,
Hangs, as by tender fingers set,
And straightened for the last good-night.
And traced upon the pillowing stone
A dent is seen, as if, to bless
That quiet sleep, some grieving one
Had leaned, and left a soft impress.

But dust upon the cradle lies,
And those who prized the baby so,
And decked her couch with heavy sighs,
Were turned to dust long years ago.

The inscription on her cradle tells us that this dear baby,

Sophia, a royal rosebud, plucked by premature fate, and snatched away from her parents—James, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, and Queen Anne—that she[Pg 164] might flourish again in the rosary of Christ, was placed here on the twenty-third of June, in the fourth year of the reign of King James, 1606.

The little creature was born on the twenty-first of June at Greenwich—a favorite palace of the English sovereigns. Great preparations had been made for her christening, and for the tourneys which were to be held at the same time in honor of her grandfather the King of Denmark's visit. But the baby only lived two days, and was hastily baptized "Sophia," after the Queen of Denmark. James the First gave orders that she should be buried "as cheaply as possible, without any solemnity or funeral."[49] Nevertheless he made a contract with Nicholas Poutrain, the royal sculptor, for her monument, the cost of which was not to exceed one hundred and forty pounds. And we find that her coffin was very solemnly conveyed up the river by barge, covered with black velvet, accompanied by three other barges covered with black cloth and bearing many nobles, lords, ladies, and the officers-of-arms, to the Parliament stairs at Westminster.[Pg 165] Thence the procession went to the south-east door of the Abbey, where it was met by the great lords of the Council, the Heralds, and chief officers of the court, the

Dean and Prebends with the choir; and so they passed to King Henry the Seventh's chapel where there was an Antiphon sung with the organ; in the meantime the Body was interred in a Vault at the end of the Tomb then erecting for Queen Elizabeth.[50]


The chief mourner was that unhappy Lady Arabella Stuart, king James' cousin, who, years after,[Pg 166] ended her troubled life in the Tower, and was brought like little baby Sophia "by the dark river," and laid in the same grave as Mary, Queen of Scots, her kinswoman.

Upon the same altar step there is another monument to a little princess—Sophia's sister Mary. She was the third daughter of James the First: but the first princess of the new dynasty who was born in England, and the first royal child baptized in the Reformed Church. As "three quarters of a century had elapsed since a child was born to the Sovereign of England," great were the rejoicings on little Mary's birth upon the eighth of April, 1605. Bonfires were lighted, church bells were rung all day long, and there were scrambles for money in the streets.

There is a curious account of the clothes provided for this first princess of Great Britain, which shows us how royal babies were dressed then. She had

a carnation velvet cradle, fringed with silver fringe, and lined with carnation satin; a double scarlet cloth to lay upon the cradle in the night; a cradle cloth of carnation velvet with[Pg 167] a train, laid with silver, and lined with taffety to lay upon the cradle; two small mantles of unshorn velvet, lined with the same velvet; one large bearing cloth of carnation velvet, to be used when the child is brought forth of the chamber, lined with taffety; one great head sheet of cambric for the cradle, containing two breadths, and three yards long, wrought all over with gold and colored silks, and fringed with gold; six large handkerchiefs of fine cambric, whereof one to be edged with fair cut work, to lay over the child's face; six veils of lawn, edged with fair bone lace, to pin with the mantles; six gathered bibs of fine lawn with ruffles edged with bone lace; two bibs to wear under them, wrought with gold and colored silks, etc.[51]

The total value of these fineries and of all the lace and cambric required for the baby's trousseau was estimated at three hundred pounds.

Her christening upon the fifth of May, was conducted on the most gorgeous scale that had ever been seen in England. Many peers were raised to higher rank, and numbers of knights were created barons in honor of the occasion. The chapel at Greenwich palace was hung with green velvet and cloth of gold. "A very rich and stately font[Pg 168] of silver and gilt, most curiously wrought with figures of beasts, serpents, and other antique works,"[52] stood under a canopy of cloth of gold twelve feet square. The child was carried from the queen's lodgings by the countess of Derby, under a canopy borne by eight barons. Dukes and bishops, earls and barons went before the Earl of Northumberland, who bore a gilt basin; and the Countess of Worcester came after him, "bearing a cushen covered with Lawne, which had thereon many jewels of inestimable price."[53] The Lady Derby's train was borne by the greatest countesses in the land; and the baby's "train of the mantle of purple velvet, embroidered round about with gold, and furred with ermines,"[54] was borne by noblemen. The Archbishop of Canterbury christened the little princess. Her godparents were the Duke of Holstein, brother to the queen, the Lady Arabella Stuart, and the Countess of Northumberland. And when the christening was over, "the heralds put on their coats, the trumpets sounded."

[Pg 169]

King at arms, "making low reverence unto the King's Majesty,"[55] proclaimed the little girl's name aloud in the chapel.

Times have happily changed since those days. Contrast all this fuss and cold formality with a simple christening that took place only a week ago in England. A little royal duke, in whose veins the blood of the Stuarts still flows, was brought to the font of the quiet village church of Esher in Surrey. Very peaceful and unpretentious was the baby Duke of Albany's christening—poor little fatherless boy. But there were none present who did not truly love and honor the widowed grandmother who held him in her arms and the young widowed mother who stood by, or mourn for the accomplished, studious father, who died but a few months ago. Which is likely to have the happiest childhood—the little Guelph wrapped in the pure white Honiton-lace robe in which all the children and grandchildren of Queen Victoria have been christened; or the little Stuart in her purple velvet train, among the cloth-of-gold, and heralds, and grandees of James the First's heartless, luxurious, extravagant court?[Pg 170]

Babies were differently treated in those days. Now, be they children of a queen, or of the humblest commoner, they stay safe at home in their nice, warm nurseries, under their mother's eye. But the royal children of that date were sent off to be cared for "by trusty persons of quality." Little Princess Mary was given into the charge of Lady Knyvett. And on the first of June, when she was not two months old, she was taken down to Stanwell where Sir Thomas Knyvett lived.

He was allowed twenty pounds per week for the diet of the princess and of her suite, consisting of six rockers, and several inferior attendants; but the king took upon himself the payment of their wages, the expenses of her removals from house to house, of her apparel, coach and horses, etc.[56]

[Pg 171]


[Pg 172]

[Pg 173]

Lady Knyvett took the greatest care of her little charge. But children were badly understood in those times. Badly nursed, and fed, and clothed, two thirds of the babies that were born in England died. It was only the very strong ones who could survive their bringing-up. Think only of that stuffy cradle of "carnation velvet," and the "mantles of unshorn velvet," and the bibs "wrought with gold and colored silks." Hot, uncomfortable, unhealthy things—one shudders to think of a little tender baby in such garments. Then think of the utter ignorance of most of the physicians of those days; and of the appalling disregard of ventilation, baths, and proper food. What wonder, then, that little Princess Mary did not live long. When she was scarcely more than two years old she caught a violent cold, which settled on her lungs with burning fever. The queen came constantly to see her little girl. But no tenderness or skill availed; and after a month's illness the little creature sank on the sixth of September, 1607. For fourteen hours

there was no sound of any word heard breaking from her lips; yet when it sensibly appeared that she would soon make a peaceable end of a troublesome life, she sighed out these words, "I go, I go!"[57]

[Pg 174]

And again when some stimulant was given her she looked up and said, "Away, I go." And yet once more she repeated faintly "I go;" and so went home.

Thus another "royal rosebud" was laid beside the baby Sophia at Queen Elizabeth's feet.

On her monument Princess Mary is represented lying on her side, half-raised on one elbow which rests upon an embroidered pillow, with one chubby little hand uplifted and clenched. She wears a straight-waisted bodice which looks as stiff as armor; an immensely full skirt that stands out all round her waist; a close lace cap; and a great square collar—the first representation in the Abbey, as far as I recollect, of those square collars that were soon to take the place of the beautiful Elizabethan ruff. At the corners of her tomb sit four fat weeping cherubs, one of whom has his hands raised in a perfect agony of grief. And a nice fierce little lion lies at the child's feet, looking very alert, and on the watch to guard his young mistress from harm.

It is a beautiful place to rest in—this quiet chapel, with its walls all covered with traceries, and[Pg 175] great stone bosses suspended aloft in the blue mist of the roof. Over the stalls in the central chapel hang the old banners of the Knights of the Bath with famous names written upon them in letters of gold—names of warriors, explorers, statesmen, lawyers, men of science. Glints of deep red, blue and amber from

Storied windows richly dight,

flash through the dusky air. And above the tombs of the two young princesses is the urn containing the bones of Edward the Fifth and Richard Duke of York; making this chapel, as Dean Stanley aptly says, "The Innocents' Corner."


[48] Memorials of Westminster Abbey. p. 181.

[49] Fuller's Worthies.

[50] Sandford. Kings and Queens of England. Book VII. p. 577.

[51] "Princesses of England." M. A. E. Green. Vol. VI. p. 91.

[52] Nichols. Vol. I. p. 572.

[53] Stow's Chronicle, p. 862.

[54] Green's Princesses, p. 92.

[55] Nichols. Vol. I. p. 573.

[56] Green's Princesses. p. 94.

[57] Funeral Sermon for Prs. Mary, by G. Leech, preached in Henry the Seventh's Chapel, Sept. 23, 1607.

[Pg 176]



Among the Hampshire moors, covered with sheets of purple heather and dark forests of Scotch firs, stands a grand old house built of red brick with stone facings. It is a noble mansion, with its saloons and libraries; its great hall where the Yule log burns at Christmas on the hearth of a vast fireplace; its wide oaken staircases, secret doors and passages; its "Long Gallery" running the whole width of the building; its wonderful ceilings fretted with patterns and pendants of plaster-work; its oak-panelled bedrooms; its attics big enough to house a whole regiment. Outside there are terraces and lawns of finest turf, where Troco and bowls used to be played nearly three hundred years ago; and walled gardens opening one into the other with beautiful wrought-iron gates of intricate[Pg 177] pattern. The Virginian creeper climbs over the house, and veils the stone mullions of the deep embayed windows in a delicate tangled tracery of stems and leaves. Groups of tall red brick chimneys rise above the gables of the roof. And crowning the splendid western front—above the great entrance through a triple arched porch, above the exquisite oriel window that hangs out from the walls of the chapel-room—the Prince of Wales's three feathers, the badge that Edward the Black Prince won at Cressy, are carved in stone.

It seems a long way from Westminster Abbey to Bramshill House. But the two are connected in more ways than one with the young hero of our story. For King James the First began to build that fine old house as a hunting box for his son Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. He brought those giant fir-trees from Scotland, that stand like sentinels on Hartford Bridge Flats and in Bramshill Park; and he planted them in groups here and there as a memento of his northern home, little dreaming that they would take so kindly to the soil, and that millions upon millions[Pg 178] of their self-sown children would turn the bleak moorland into thick deep forest. Lastly it was in Bramshill Park that the writer's worthy ancestor, George Abbott, Archbishop of Canterbury, the dear friend and adviser of Henry, Prince of Wales, met with the misfortune that blighted his life. King James who was staying either at Bramshill, which had been bought by Lord Zouch, or at Elvetham close by, insisted on the archbishop going out shooting with him. And when, much against his will, the prelate consented, his shot aimed at a deer, glanced off a tree and killed one of the keepers instead. The archbishop was suspended from his office for a year, and it is said he never smiled again, a tradition that is borne out by his beautiful, sad portrait painted by Van Dyck.[58] It is not, however, with George Abbott, but with the young prince he loved so devotedly, that we have to do.[Pg 179]


[Pg 180]

[Pg 181]

The boy on whom the hopes of England were to be centered, was born at Stirling Castle in 1594. He was christened six months later at Edinburgh—a guard of the youths of the city, well dressed, standing on either side, as Lord Sussex, who had been sent by Queen Elizabeth to the ceremony with a present of plate, valued at three thousand pounds, carried the baby to the chapel. The child was named by his father, "Frederick Henry and Henry Frederick;" and the Bishop repeating these names over three times, they were proclaimed by heralds to the sound of trumpets. The little fellow was confided to the care of Lady Mar until he was five years old, and a very hard time he must have had. For "the severity of her temper, as well as the duty of her office, would not permit her to use any indulgence towards the prince."[59] But already, baby as he was, he gave signs of the sweetness of his disposition; for he showed not only reverence, but affection for the fierce old dame, and for Lord Mar, her son, who was his governor. When the Prince was taken from Lady Mar's severe care, he was given over to a tutor, Mr. Adam Newton, to whom he became greatly attached; and Lord Mar, Sir David Murray, and[Pg 182] several lords, knights, and gentlemen made up his body of attendants. King James lost no time in teaching this little prince the duties and responsibilities of his station. The boy was scarcely six years old before his father wrote his book of "instructions to his dearest son, Henry the Prince," the best of all his works according to Bacon, who pronounced it "excellently written." These instructions are divided into three books;

the first instructing the prince in his duty toward God; the second in his duty when he should be King; and the third informing him how to behave himself in indifferent things, which were neither right nor wrong, but according as they were rightly or wrongly used.[60]

Before he is seven years old we find the child writing a letter in French to the States General of Holland, in which "he expresses his great regard for the States, and gratitude for the good opinion, which they had so early conceived of him, and of which he had received an account from several persons."[61] And on his ninth birthday he writes a letter to his father in Latin, beginning "Rex serennissime et amantissime pater," in which he tells the king what progress he has made, and how that "since the king's departure he had read over Terence's Hecyra, the third book of Phædrus's Fables, and two books of Cicero's Select Epistles; and he now thought himself capable of performing something in the commendatory kind of Epistles."[62] This is a good deal for a little boy of eight years old to accomplish. How would boys of our day like to do as much? They would probably prefer the other part of young Prince Henry's education. In 1601, when he was seven years old, he[Pg 183]

began to apply himself to, and take pleasure in, active and manly exercises, learning to ride, sing, dance, leap, shoot with the bow and gun, toss the pike, etc., being instructed in the use of arms by Richard Preston, a gentleman of great accomplishments both of mind and body,

[Pg 184]

who was afterwards made Earl of Desmond in Ireland. Prince Henry was devoted to these manly pursuits as we shall see further on; and his fondness for them and his disregard of fatigue or exposure, helped, some thought, to bring about his untimely death.

In 1603, at Queen Elizabeth's death, the prince was nine years old. Before King James left Scotland, which he did immediately upon receiving the proclamation that raised him to the throne of Great Britain, he wrote a sensible letter to his son, telling him of the immense change in their fortunes, but warning him not to let this news make him "proud or insolent; for a king's son and heir was ye before, and no more are ye now. The augmentation that is hereby like to fall unto you, is but in cares and heavy burthens. Be therefore merry, but not insolent: keep a greatness, but sine fastu: Be resolute, but not wilfull: keep your kindness, but in honorable sort."[63] Excellent maxims; and it would have been well for the writer of them to lay them to heart as earnestly as his little son did.[Pg 185]

The Prince and his mother, Anne of Denmark, followed the king to Windsor later in the year, spending a whole month on the journey from Edinburgh. This seems an absurd waste of time to us, who rush through in ten hours and a half by the Limited Mail, breakfasting at Edinburgh, and dining comfortably in London. However these Royal progresses were very slow and stately affairs. All the great lords and gentlemen whose places lay on the route, were honoured by visits. Their grand old castles, their beautiful new Elizabethan houses, such as Bramshill which I have described, or Hatfield, or Hardwicke Hall, were thronged with guests. There were hawking and hunting parties, masques and tourneys, and every sort and kind of amusement for the Royal visitors. And we can well imagine how interested the precocious young prince must have been in the novelty of this journey through the rich kingdom which he hoped to rule over one day.

The queen and prince arrived at Windsor during the feast of St. George, the patron saint of the famous order of the Garter. The little boy was made a knight of this most illustrious order; and astonished those present by his "quick witty answers, princely carriage and reverent obeisance at the altar,"[64] which [Pg 186]seemed extraordinary in one so young and so ignorant of such ceremonies.

As the plague was increasing about Windsor, Prince Henry removed to the royal palace of Oatlands on the Thames near Weybridge. Here for a time his sister, Princess Elizabeth, lived with him. Few pages of history are prettier or more interesting than the story of Henry and Elizabeth's affection for each other. She was two years younger than her brother, a gay, sprightly girl, destined to a most troubled after-life, for she is best known to the world as "the unfortunate Queen of Bohemia," grandmother of our English King, George the First. At sixteen she married the Elector Palatine, who was made king of Bohemia by the Protestant party in Germany, and thereby found herself in direct opposition to the Roman Catholic party, who, backed by Spain, supported the claim of Austria to the Bohemian throne. Poor Elizabeth, in spite of trouble and sorrow, poverty and the horrors of war, retained, though a fugitive and an exile, much of her gayety to the very end of her life; and some of her letters,[Pg 187] even in her days of sorest need, are most amusing reading. But the letters that are chiefly interesting to us are those which passed between the young brother and sister in their happy youth, while Elizabeth was still a merry, light-hearted girl. The wretched system of which we have already spoken, that of sending royal children away from home to be "boarded out" in the house of some great noble or gentleman, caused no little sorrow to this brother and sister. Prince Henry, as heir to the crown, was given a separate establishment in 1603, and for a time Princess Elizabeth was permitted to share it. When they went to Oatlands the king allowed them seventy servants; twenty-two above stairs and forty-eight below. This number was soon increased to one hundred and four, and later in the year to one hundred and forty-one—fifty-six above and eighty-five below. But this happy arrangement did not last long. The princess was sent to Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire, under the care of good Lord Harrington, her governor. And the prince went to Wolsey's famous palace of Hampton Court,[Pg 188]

where he resided chiefly till about Michaelmas of the year following, when he returned to housekeeping, his servants having in the interval been put to board-wages.

Now began a constant interchange of letters between the children. The meetings were rare. So they consoled themselves by writing, telling each other of their amusements, their occupations, their journeys, their lessons and readings. Here is a pretty one from Prince Henry, written a few years later:

That you are displeased to be left in solitude I can well believe, for you damsels and women are sociable creatures; but you know that those who love each other best cannot always be glued together; and if I have gone from you to make war on hares, as you suppose, I would you should know that it is not less honorable to combat against hares than conies, and yet it is well authenticated by the experience of our age, that this latter is a royal game. But this north wind, preventing us from our ordinary exercises, will blow us straight to London, so in a short time it is probable we may celebrate together, the feast of St. Mangiart and St. Pensard;[65] to whom recommending you this next Shrove Tuesday,

I am            etc. etc.[66]

[Pg 189]


[Pg 190]

[Pg 191]

We now begin to learn something of the boy's tastes. So early as 1604 when he is but ten years old, he is looked upon as a patron of letters. Lord Spencer sends him a present of Philippe de Comines' Memoirs from Althorpe, knowing his liking for solid reading. And he is given Pibrac's Quatrains in French to learn by heart. He is already corresponding in Latin with the Doge of Venice, the Landgrave of Hesse, the Duke of Brunswick, the Prince of Poland, and his grandfather, the King of Denmark. Then a year or so later we come upon a charming series of French letters between the prince and Henri Quatre, the famous King of France, who had a strong affection for the clever, high-minded boy, and foresaw how important his influence would be in Europe should he live. Prince Henry and the little Dauphin of France, afterward Louis the Thirteenth, were also warm friends, although they never met. When Monsieur de la Boderie came over to England as ambassador from France, he was charged with special messages to Prince Henry from Henri Quatre and the Dauphin. The latter begged the ambassador to tell the prince[Pg 192]

that he cherished his friendship and often spoke of him and of the pack of little dogs which his Highness had sent him, and which he was very sorry that his Governess and Physician would not permit him to make use of.[67]

Poor little Dauphin! To have a pack of little dogs, and not be allowed to use them, must indeed have been hard. But he was not quite six years old then, so that perhaps he was a little young for field sports.

Prince Henry and his sister were both devoted to horses, and were bold and accomplished riders. When the Prince was hardly ten years old he wished "to mount a horse of prodigious mettle," and refusing the help of his attendants, who were greatly alarmed and tried to dissuade him from the attempt,

he got up himself from the side of a bank, and spurred the animal to a full gallop, in spite of the remonstrance of those who stood by; and at last having thoroughly exercised the horse, brought him in a gentle pace back, and dismounting, said to them, "How long shall I continue to be a child in your opinion?"[68]

[Pg 193]

King Henri Quatre sent over a French riding-master to the boy, a Monsieur St. Anthoine, for in those days France excelled in the "manège"—the elaborate art of horsemanship—which was a part of every fine gentleman's education. When the French ambassador came over to England he went to the Riding School to see how Prince Henry was profited by his French teaching, and wrote to the French Secretary of State:

The Dauphin may make a return for the dogs lately sent him by the Prince; for St. Anthoine tells me, that he cannot gratify the Prince more, than by sending him a suit of armour well gilt and enamelled, together with pistols and a sword of the same kind; and if he will add to these a couple of horses, one of which goes well, and the other a barb, it will be a singular favor done to the Prince.[69]

The Spanish ambassador, hearing of this present, instantly tried to curry favor with the boy by telling him that a number of horses were coming to him from the court of Spain—for young as he was, this wily statesman saw the important part the Prince might play in the fortunes of Europe.[Pg 194]

But Henry was loyal in his friendship to France, and waited with great eagerness for the Dauphin's horses and armour, which speedily arrived. Monsieur de la Boderie writing again to France about the Prince, says:

None of his pleasures savour the least of a child. He is a particular lover of horses and what belongs to them; but is not fond of hunting; and when he goes to it, it is rather for the pleasure of galloping, than that which the dogs give him. He plays willingly enough at Tennis. . . . . but this always with persons elder than himself, as if he despised those of his own age. He studies two hours a day, and employs the rest of his time in tossing the pike, or leaping, or shooting with the bow, or throwing the bar, or vaulting, or some other exercise of that kind; and he is never idle. He shows himself likewise very good natured to his dependants, and supports their interests against any persons whatever; and he pushes what he undertakes for them or others with such zeal as gives success to it. For beside his exerting his whole strength to compass what he desires, he is already feared by those who have the management of affairs, and especially the Earl of Salisbury, who appears to be greatly apprehensive of the Prince's ascendant; as the Prince, on the other hand, shows little esteem for his Lordship.[70]

[Pg 195]

Here we have a fair picture of this twelve-year-old boy who had already seen how to choose the good, and reject the evil. And everything we learn of him as he grew older only serves to confirm the French ambassador's estimate of his character.

He was a fine, brave child, regardless of pain and danger; liking an old suit of Welsh freize, better than velvet and satin; obedient and dutiful to his parents, although he often disagreed with their opinions. And this was all the more creditable to him; for his mother openly showed her preference for his younger brother Charles; while his father was jealous and afraid of the noble-minded, truthful boy who would not countenance the scandals and evils of James's corrupt court.


[58] Now in the possession of Maurice Kingsley, Esq.

[59] Life of Henry, Prince of Wales. By Dr. Thomas Birch. p. 11.

[60] Birch. p. 16.

[61] Birch. p. 20. The letter is in the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum.

[62] Birch. p. 22.

[63] Harleian MSS.

[64] Edward Howe's Chronicle. p. 826.

[65] A pun on manger and penser, to eat and to think.

[66] Green's Princesses. Vol. 5. p. 172.

[67] Birch. p. 68.

[68] Birch. p. 385.

[69] Ambassades de la Boderie. Birch. p. 70.

[70] Birch. p. 75. Ambassades de la Boderie. Vol. I, p. 400.

[Pg 196]



All English and American children have heard of the Fifth of November. It was a day of mingled terror and delight in our childhood. Just at dusk a band of men and boys used to tramp down the road, and gather close under the windows. They were armed with guns, and bore on poles a chair upon which was seated a hideous life-size effigy of a man, dressed in an old tattered coat and battered tall hat. Then they began in sepulchral voices to repeat the following words, very fast, with no stops, and in broad Hampshire dialect:

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder trayson and plot.
I know no rayson why gunpowder trayson
Ever should be forgot.
[Pg 197]
Old Guy Fox and his companions,
With fifty-two barrels of gunpowder
To blow old England up.
Look into your pocket, there's a little chink,
Pray pull it up and give us some drink;
All we wants is a little more money
To kindle up our old Bonfire.
If you won't give us one bavven[71] we'll take two,
The better for we and the wuss for you.
Holler, boys, holler, boys, God save the King!
Holler, boys, holler, boys, make the house ring.
Hip! Hip! hip! Hoorah![72]

And "holler" they did. While the children, knowing what was coming, cowered shuddering inside the window curtains, frightened to death, and yet so fascinated with horror they were obliged to look, "Bang, bang, bang," went all the guns, fired up into the air round old Guy, with tremendous shouts. But that was not all. In the evening the huge bonfire twenty feet high down on the Common, for which all the men and boys had been begging "bavins" or cutting furze for days, was lighted. And round it every one in the parish assembled.

[Pg 198]

Ah! the delights of Bonfire Night! the thrill of excitement as the match was applied to a heap of well-dried sticks and straw in a sheltered hole on the leeward side. The yells of joy as the furze caught and crackled as only furze can crackle, and the flames ran up the sides of the stack and lit up Guy Fawkes, whose effigy, after going the rounds of the parish, was at length deposited on the top of the bonfire; the cloud of sparks that streamed out from the cracking, snapping pile; the squibs and crackers that every body threw at every body else; and then the climax, when the fire reached old Guy himself, and with a mighty heave the old fellow sank into his fiery grave in the centre of the bonfire, the squibs in his hat exploding like a round of musketry, and a roar rose from the good Hampshire throats as the whole burning mass collapsed while the flames rushed up fiercely with one last effort high into the foggy air. Then the good-nights, and the walk home, our hair and clothes smelling of smoke, and our eyes so dazzled that we stumbled[Pg 199] and staggered along across the Common, while the shouts of the boys, dancing about the embers of the great fire, gradually died away in the distance.

What can all this have to do with Prince Henry you may ask?

A great deal, we answer. For these bonfires all over England on the Fifth of November, commemorate an event in James the First's reign which had a great effect on our young hero's mind.

Certain persons in England, who hated King James for his hard treatment of the Roman Catholic party, resolved to take the law into their own hands. They thought that if the king, Prince Henry, and the Parliament could be destroyed at one blow, they might take possession of Prince Charles and Princess Elizabeth, bring about a revolution and put the government into the hands of the Roman Catholics who would be helped by Spain. Robert Catesby was the chief of the conspirators; and for eighteen months he and a small band of desperate men worked in the utmost secrecy at their hideous scheme. The day chosen for[Pg 200] its accomplishment was the fifth of November, 1605, the day on which Parliament met at Westminster. Everything was in readiness. Thirty-six barrels of gunpowder (not fifty-two as the Hampshire rhyme has it) were stored beneath the Parliament House. And Guido Fawkes, a daring adventurer, was in waiting in the cellar to set a light to them, and blow up King, Prince, and Parliament. But at the last moment, in spite of all their well-laid plans, in spite of all their wonderful secrecy, the plot leaked out. Lord Monteagle, a Roman Catholic Peer, received a mysterious warning from Tresham, one of the conspirators, whose courage failed him. Monteagle instantly told the Earl of Salisbury and the king. At midnight on the eve of the fifth, the cellars under the Parliament House were searched. There was Guido Fawkes, with touchwood and matches upon him, only waiting for the signal which was to be given him in a few hours. He was seized, dragged before the king and consigned to the Tower. The great heap of wood and coals in the cellar was torn down, and the barrels of gunpowder found beneath it. The conspirators fled.[Pg 201] All Protestant England was roused to a frenzy of horror and dread at the discovery of such a fearful crime. The guilty men were chased from county to county, till at last all of them were either killed fighting, or captured and brought next year to the block. And thus ended the Gunpowder Plot. But its memory is still kept alive in England by the yearly bonfires and fireworks and Guy Fawkes processions of the Fifth of November.

This escape from a sudden and dreadful death, affected Prince Henry deeply. He was a boy of strong religious feelings. And from this time he never suffered any business to keep him from hearing a sermon every Tuesday, which was the day of the week on which the Gunpowder Plot was to have been carried out. But hearing of sermons was not the only sign of Prince Henry's piety. He was diligent in his own private prayers, generally going apart three times a day to pray quietly by himself. He was most careful too of the good behavior of his household. And above all things he had a horror of profane swearing. At his three palaces, St. James's in London, Richmond, and[Pg 202] Nonsuch, he ordered boxes to be kept for the fines he exacted from all those who used bad words; and this money was given to the poor.

There is a story told by Coke, the historian, how that the prince was once hunting a stag. The stag was spent, and crossing a road fell in with a butcher and his dog. The dog killed the stag; and when the hunting party came up and found their sport was over they were enraged, and tried to incense the prince against the butcher. But Henry answered quietly: "What if the butcher's dog killed the stag? Could the butcher help it?" The rest replied that if the king had been so served "he would have sworn so as no man could have endured it." "Away," rejoined the prince; "all the pleasure in the world is not worth an oath."[73][Pg 203]


[Pg 204]

[Pg 205]

The prince was keenly interested in all foreign countries, and kept himself well informed upon their politics and customs by the large correspondence he now carried on with distinguished persons both at home and abroad. When he was just thirteen his curiosity caused no little amusement at the French Court. Prince Henry had long wished for an opportunity of learning something about the fortifications of Calais. And when the Prince de Joinville, who had been on a visit to England, returned to Paris, Henry sent an engineer of his own in the French prince's train, who made a careful examination of Calais and of the Rix-bank. This came to the ears of the French ambassador, who wrote in hot haste to the Court at Fontainebleau and to the Governor of Calais. But Henri Quatre was only entertained at the boyish inquisitiveness of his young cousin, and sent back word that he did not consider the occurrence betokened any dangerous designs upon the kingdom of France.

A far more important report was sent in to the prince in the same year by his gunner, Mr. Robert Tindal. This gunner was employed by the Virginia Company established in 1606, to make a voyage to America. He set out on December 19, 1606, with Captain Christopher Newport, in a fleet of three ships, and arrived at Chesapeake Bay about the beginning of May, 1607. A letter which he[Pg 206] wrote to the prince on his arrival is in the Harleian collection of MSS., together with his journal of the voyage and a map of the James River. In his letter, dated Jamestown in Virginia, the twenty-second of June, 1607, he says:

that this river was discovered by his fellow-adventurers, and that no Christian had ever been there before; and that they were safely arrived and settled in that country, which they found to be in itself most fruitful, and of which they had taken a real and public possession in the name and to the use of the King his Highness's father.[74]

It seems to bring our young prince nearer to American children, to know that his youthful imagination was fired by accounts of the wonderful unexplored Western land—to think of him poring over the map of Richmond and the beautiful James River. What would he have thought, could he have foreseen a tithe of the wonders which have come to pass on those Transatlantic shores—the marvels of modern civilization; the railroads stretching away into the wilderness of which Robert Tindal only saw the outskirts; the telegraph lines[Pg 207] that bind together Europe and America; and, above all, the great nation that has grown out of the first bands of hardy adventurers who went out to Virginia with the prince's gunner, or who fled from King James's stern rule a few years later to the bleak New England coast.

The account of these distant voyages must have been especially interesting to Prince Henry; for of all matters pertaining to the welfare of his country that which occupied his attention most was the British Navy. Sir Walter Raleigh was the young prince's close friend. From his childhood the boy attached himself to the last of the Elizabethan heroes, visiting him in his prison in the Tower, and taking council with him as he grew older on all matters of war and seamanship. He made many efforts to obtain Raleigh's release, and is reported to have said that "no king but his father would have kept such a bird in a cage." But it was in vain; and the prince was happily spared the shame of seeing his glorious friend die on the scaffold, a sacrifice to Spain—the very power from which Raleigh had fought and toiled to save his country in Elizabeth's[Pg 208] days. When Henry was ten years old, the Lord High Admiral Howard ordered a little ship to be built for the prince's instruction and amusement, by Phineas Pett, one of the Royal shipwrights at Chatham. This ship was twenty-eight feet long by twelve wide, "adorned with painting and carving, both within board and without." Can you imagine a more delightful possession for a boy of ten than this beautiful little ship, gay with ensigns and pennants? No wonder that he "shewed great delight in viewing" her, when she was brought to anchor outside the Tower where he and the king were then lodging. And his delight must have increased when he went on board her at Whitehall a few days later, accompanied by the Lord Admiral, Lord Worcester, and various other noblemen.

They immediately weighed, and fell down as far as Paul's Wharf, under both topsails and foresail, and there coming to anchor, his Highness, in the usual form, baptized the ship with a great bowl of wine, giving her the name of Disdain.[75]

Mr. Pett, the builder, was on board; and the[Pg 209] prince took him at once into his service, and formed a warm friendship with him.

From this time the boy's interest in the navy grew keen; and we find constant mention made of visits to the Royal Dockyard at Woolwich, where, under Mr. Pett's guidance the prince was thoroughly instructed in questions of ships and shipping. He closely watched the building of a splendid vessel which the king gave him for his own. She was launched in 1610; and was the largest ship that had then been built in England. "The keel was an hundred and fourteen feet long, and the cross-beam forty-four feet. It was able to carry sixty-four pieces of great ordnance, and the burthen was fourteen hundred tons."[76] On September 24, the King, the Queen, the Duke of York,[77] Princess Elizabeth, and a large company, went with Prince Henry to see his great ship launched. But owing to the narrowness of the dock, the launch failed. So the prince had to return next morning; and in the midst of a terrific thunderstorm he stood on her deck as she floated out into the river, giving her the name, Prince Royal. Next year Henry determined to examine personally into the condition of the navy. He therefore made a private journey to Chatham, and spent three days closely inspecting all the shipping and storehouses there, and at Queenborough, Stroud, and Gravesend, making careful notes of the state of each ship in his own notebook from Mr. Pett's and Sir Robert Mansel's information, "no other persons being suffered to come near."

[Pg 210]

In January, 1610, Prince Henry gave a great banquet to his father at St. James's Palace, where he now kept his separate Court and gathered round him the most promising young men in the kingdom. The banquet was preceded by a tourney at Whitehall, in which the prince took part, in the presence of the king and queen, the foreign ambassadors and all the greatest personages of the realm. Princess Elizabeth helped her brother to do the honors of the banquet, and distributed the prizes won at the tilting match, which were trinkets garnished with diamonds, the king handing them[Pg 211] to her. The banquet was not over till ten at night; by which time King James, who was easily bored, especially with anything done by his son, had gone away. But Henry and Elizabeth, full of the enjoyment of young hosts, went off to a comedy which lasted two hours, and then returned to the gallery, where a fresh supper had been set. It was a most gorgeous affair. The crystal dishes were filled with sweetmeats of all shapes—fountains of rosewater, windmills, dryads, soldiers on horseback, pleasure gardens, the planetary system, etc. Prince Henry led his sister twice round the table to see all these marvels, and they then departed, leaving the company to their own devices. A most crazy company it must have been. For, no sooner had the prince and princess gone, than "the guests scrambled for the plunder, broke down the table and carried off, not only the supper, but all it was served in, to the very water bottles."[78]

In this same year Henry was created Prince of Wales. This was the occasion for further display, such as King James delighted in. There were[Pg 212] processions of barges on the river, banquets, splendid dresses, tilting matches in the Tiltyard, and a solemn and magnificent ceremony "within the great white chamber in the palace of Westminster," when, in the presence of both Houses of Parliament and an immense company, the prince was declared Prince of Great Britain and Wales. Robed in purple velvet he knelt before the king, who gave him with his own hands the crown, the sword, the ring, and the gold rod of the principality over which Llewellyn once ruled. A very gallant young figure must our prince have been. He was sixteen years old; a tall, well-made lad, with somewhat broad shoulders and a small waist. His hair was auburn; his face long, with a broad forehead; "a piercing eye; a most gracious smile, with a terrible frown."

Henry had some years before been created Duke of Cornwall. And although these titles and dignities sound very grand and imposing for a boy of sixteen, yet his father's warning was fulfilled in his case. The augmentation of honours that fell to him, was "but in cares and heavy burthens."[Pg 213] He was not merely a ruler in name. He managed his estates well and wisely. Not only were his tenants more contented and happy, and better off than they had ever been before; but by his good management he so improved the value of his lands, that they brought him in an immensely increased revenue.

Besides the three palaces we have mentioned, Prince Henry purchased with his own money, in 1612, beautiful Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, from the widow of the famous Earl of Leicester. And in the same year King James gave his son another house connected closely with the story of Leicester and Amy Robsart—Woodstock Manor in Oxfordshire. But the prince's days were numbered, and as far as we know he never visited his new purchase of Kenilworth. His health was not in a satisfactory state in this year of 1612, and he was careless about it. While he was staying at his palace of Richmond in June, he took great delight in swimming in the Thames after supper on the warm summer evenings; a most dangerous practice for any one. His attendants besought him to[Pg 214] give it up. But he, like most of the Stuarts, was fond of his own way. He was deaf to all entreaties, and went on with his swimming. He also took much pleasure in walking beside the Thames in the moonlight, "to hear the sound and echo of the trumpets," regardless of the evening dews which rose cold and damp along the river. Then in exceedingly hot weather, he made a desperate journey on horseback, of ninety-six miles in two days, from Richmond to Belvoir Castle, to meet the king who was on a great progress—riding sixty miles the first day in nine hours. The progress ended at Woodstock, where the prince entertained his father and mother and Princess Elizabeth, after making several hasty and fatiguing journeys thither to see that all was in order in his new manor. He then returned to Richmond and busied himself with preparations for the coming of the young Elector Palatine, on whose marriage with Princess Elizabeth all Henry's hopes were fixed.[Pg 215]


[Pg 216]

[Pg 217]

The Elector arrived. But already Prince Henry was seriously ill. However his "pluck," as we should say now, carried him on for a time. He removed with his court to St. James's to receive the young Elector, for whom he conceived a great friendship. He even played a tennis match with his future brother-in-law on the twenty-fourth of October. But the next day he was much worse, and could with difficulty manage to go to church (it was a Sunday), and dine afterwards with the king. This was the last time he went out; for in the afternoon he was seized with sudden faintness and sickness and had to take his leave. That night he was in a burning fever. The ignorant physicians of those days mismanaged him hopelessly. Some of their remedies to lower the fever sound almost too absurd to be treated seriously—such as a cock, newly-killed, split down the back and applied all reeking hot to the soles of his feet. Raleigh from his prison sent him a cordial, which the old hero's enemies of course pretended was poison. However after it had been duly tested, the prince was allowed to take it, and it gave him temporary relief. But nothing availed. He grew worse and worse. His faithful friend, Archbishop Abbot, came to him and prayed with him. The[Pg 218] fever increased in violence. And on the fifth of November, the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, the archbishop told the prince of his extreme danger, and asked him if he should die, "whether or no he was well pleased to submit himself to the will of God?" To which the prince replied, "with all his heart."

A few hours later the end was near. Henry was past speaking; and the archbishop, leaning over him, called upon him to believe, to hope and trust only in Christ. He then spoke louder:

Sir, hear you me? hear you me? hear you me? If you hear me, in certain sign of your faith and hope in the blessed resurrection, give us, for our comfort, a sign by lifting up your hands. This the prince did, lifting up both his hands together.

And the archbishop with bitter tears, poured out by his Highness's bedside, a most pathetic prayer. At a quarter before eight that evening the hopes of the country were gone. Henry, Prince of Wales, was dead, who, had he lived, might have changed the whole course of events in English history during the seventeenth century. And the[Pg 219] heir to the crown was Charles, Duke of York, destined within forty years to die upon the scaffold.

While our gallant young prince lay dying, the king showed himself as selfish and indifferent as we might expect. He came once to visit his son: but fearing that the fever might be contagious, he went away without seeing him, and retired to Theobalds, Lord Salisbury's estate. The Princess Elizabeth was kept away from the prince for the same reason. But she tried her best to see him, coming disguised in the evening to St. James's and endeavoring to gain access, but in vain, to her dearly-loved brother, who asked for her constantly during his illness—almost his last intelligible words being, "Where is my dear sister?"

But if his father showed want of feeling, the whole English nation mourned their young prince. He was buried at Westminster Abbey on the seventh of December, with all possible pomp. Prince Charles and the Elector Palatine were the chief mourners, attended by a train of two thousand mourners. Through the streets, thronged[Pg 220] with weeping people, wound the great procession, with banners carried by nobles, led horses draped in black bearing the scutcheons of the prince's different titles and estates, all the notables of England and Scotland, clergy and peers, privy councillors and ambassadors. Then came the funeral car bearing the coffin, on which lay a beautiful effigy of the prince, dressed in his state robes; and the sight of it "caused a fearful outcry among the people, as if they felt their own ruin in that loss."[79]

Henry, Prince of Wales, was laid to rest in the south aisle of Henry the Seventh's Chapel, in the vault which had just been made to receive his grandmother, the unhappy Mary, Queen of Scots, whose body had been removed there a month before. Over Mary's grave King James erected a monument even more magnificent than Queen Elizabeth's in the north aisle. Yet not a thought did the selfish father give to the grave of his son.

But Prince Henry's memorial is a less perishable one than "brass or stony monument." He has left behind him a memory fragrant with all[Pg 221] that makes youth lovely and manhood noble—the record of a pure and good life, which will last, as the memory of every good life must last, when stone and marble has crumbled to dust.

Note.—While writing the above words on Gunpowder Plot, Jan. 24, 1885, Westminster Hall, the House of Commons and the White Tower in the Tower of London, all closely connected with the histories of these children of Westminster, were partially wrecked by "forces"—to use the words of an Austrian writer—"such as to make those of Guy Fawkes' time look almost childish."


[71] "Bavin." Hampshire for faggot.

[72] There are many different versions of this old rhyme in the different counties of England. I give the Hampshire one exactly as it is used.

[73] Birch. Life of Henry, Prince of Wales. p. 379.

[74] Birch. p. 91.

[75] Birch, p. 39.

[76] Birch, p. 208.

[77] Afterwards Charles the First.

[78] Green's Princesses. Vol. V. p. 170.

[79] State Papers. Dec. 19, 1612.

[Pg 222]



On the north side of Henry the Seventh's Chapel, close to King Henry's tomb, there is a small side chapel, divided off by a low wall of carved stone, and almost filled up by a magnificent monument. A splendid personage of the time of Charles the First, remarkably handsome, and dressed in robes of state, lies on the tomb beside his fair wife. Allegorical figures stand at the four corners. The recumbent effigies are in brass, richly gilded. Behind their heads kneel three children, a boy and two girls, beautifully carved in marble; and above this trio an exquisite child leans on his elbow, tired out with grief and fallen gently asleep.

Standing beside this tomb, Dean Stanley says:

We seem to be present in the Court of Charles as we look at its fantastic ornaments ("Fame even bursting herself, and[Pg 223] trumpets to tell the news of his so sudden fall") and its pompous inscriptions calling each State in Europe severally to attest the several virtues of this "Enigma of the World."[80]

Who, we may well ask, is this man who lies buried among the tombs of the kings of England, in state far exceeding that accorded to many sovereigns?

Every one who has read the history of the reigns of James the First and Charles the First will remember the most famous, and perhaps most dangerous of all the court favorites who helped to bring ruin upon England—George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.

His story reads like a chapter out of the Arabian Nights:

Never any man in any age, nor, I believe, in any country or nation, rose in so short a time to so much greatness of honour, fame, and fortune, upon no other advantage or recommendation than the beauty and gracefulness of his person.[81]

[Pg 224]

Young and exceedingly handsome, George Villiers, the son of a Leicestershire squire, was taken into favor by James the First, on the disgrace of his first favorite, the Earl of Rochester. In an incredibly short space of time "Steenie," as his royal masters called him, rose through every rank of the peerage to a dukedom, and to the actual direction of English policy. Haughty, reckless, selfish, his only good quality was his personal bravery.

This was the man whose evil influence made itself felt throughout England, who plunged the country into disastrous wars and encouraged King Charles in those fatal measures which at last brought him to the scaffold. When Charles the First came to the throne in 1625, Buckingham was at the height of his glory and power. In vain did Parliament remonstrate with the king. In vain did they petition him again and again to rid himself of a favorite who was becoming more hated and dreaded by the country each year. In vain did they impeach Buckingham. Charles, in his blind affection, took all the blame of the duke's deeds upon himself—burnt the remonstrance of the Commons—and actually dissolved Parliament in order to save his favorite.[Pg 225]

But what the Commons of England failed to do, came to pass by the hand of one discontented man.

The Duke of Buckingham, after wasting men, money, and English prestige in one disastrous expedition to help the French Protestants at La Rochelle, was on the eve of setting out for a second attempt to relieve the beleagured town. He was at Portsmouth, and was to embark the very next day, when he was stabbed by John Felton, a lieutenant in the navy who had been disappointed of promotion.

All England and the court rejoiced at the death of the favorite. But King Charles "flung himself upon his bed in a passion of tears when the news reached him."[82] On his first visit to the widowed Duchess of Buckingham he promised to be a father to her sons. He ordered the duke to be buried in the Chapel of Henry the Seventh—which hitherto had been reserved for anointed kings. And it is George Villiers who lies in state to this day on the splendid tomb we have been looking at.[Pg 226]

Soon after the duke's death, the lovely boy who leans sleeping above his father's monument was born.

The king stood godfather to the baby at his christening, together with Francis, Earl of Rutland, the duchess's father. "After some compliments who should give the name," the king called the baby Francis, and the grandfather gave him his benediction, which was in the very pleasant form of seven thousand pounds a year.

King Charles faithfully kept the promise he had made the duchess. Alas! it had been well for him had he kept all other promises as faithfully. He was indeed a father to young Francis and to his handsome, headstrong, worthless elder brother the young Duke of Buckingham.

The boys were brought up with the royal children under the same tutors and governors. They were sent quite young to Trinity College, Cambridge, where their names were entered in the college-book in the same year as that of Prince Charles. And here among other famous and learned men, they made the acquaintance of Abraham Cowley, the poet, who had lately published his pastoral comedy "Love's Riddle," which had been performed by members of the college.[Pg 227]


[Pg 228]

[Pg 229]

From Cambridge the two brothers went to travel under the care of Mr. William Aylesbury, who was appointed their tutor by the king. But their sojourn abroad was short.

Public affairs had been growing darker and darker at home. And at last, in 1642, there was an open breach between the king and the Parliament. The Royal Standard was raised at Nottingham, August 25, and England was plunged into civil war, the most horrible of all scourges that can come on any country.

Francis Villiers was fourteen years old, and his brother, the young duke, a year older. Boys as they were, they now tried to show their gratitude to the king for his care of them. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War they hastened back to England. The king's headquarters were at Oxford; and his nephew, the famous Prince Rupert, kept the whole country between Oxford and London in constant alarm with his sudden raids and fierce skirmishes. To Oxford then the two young brothers[Pg 230] came. They were a beautiful pair, inheriting from both their parents "so graceful a body, as gave lustre to the ornament of the mind." Full of headstrong courage, they "laid their lives and their fortunes at the king's feet," and chose Prince Rupert and Lord Gerard as their tutors in the art of War. They soon had their first lesson; for they were present at the storming of the Close at Lichfield on March 2, 1643. When they returned to Oxford, happily without harm after their first fight, their mother, the duchess, was very angry with Lord Gerard for "tempting her sons into such danger." But he told her it was by the boys' own wish, "and the more the danger the greater the honor."

Parliament at first seemed to look on this escapade as a serious offence, for they seized upon the brothers' estates. But they were soon restored in consideration of the two boys' extreme youth. However, says Bryan Fairfax, their historian, "the young men kept it (their fortune) no longer than till they came to be at an age to forfeit it again."[83][Pg 231]

To keep these young fire-eaters out of fresh honorable danger, the king placed them in the care of the Earl of Northumberland, and sent them abroad again. They spent the next four or five years in France and Italy, living chiefly in Florence and Rome, where they kept as great state as many sovereign princes. It was the fashion of those days to send young noblemen for a time to foreign countries; and the result in a good many cases was that they abjured Protestantism and returned to England either concealed or avowed Roman Catholics. But the Villiers brothers "brought their religion home again, wherein they had been educated under the eye of the most devout and best of kings."[84][Pg 232]

The moment at which the young men returned was a critical one. The royal cause had been going from bad to worse. And at the beginning of 1648 England was in the hands of Cromwell and Fairfax. The king, given up by the Scots the year before to the Parliamentarians, was a prisoner at Carisbrooke Castle in the Isle of Wight. The Royalist forces were scattered and broken; and it seemed an almost hopeless task to make any further resistance in the king's behalf. Nevertheless, there were still a few faithful followers left; and the old English love for the monarchy still blazed up here and there in fierce outbursts against the Parliament and its army. But the Parliamentarians despised all these attempts, until in the spring of 1648 a serious rising took place in Kent, which was suppressed after a heavy fight at Maidstone. It was just at this juncture that the young Duke of Buckingham and his brother Francis returned to England. Strong, active, and courageous, they were burning with zeal to venture their large estates for the crown on the first opportunity.

They had not long to wait.

No sooner was the Kentish rising quelled than the Royalists crossed the Thames into Essex, and collected a large force at Colchester, intending from thence to march on London. Fairfax invested the town, and beseiged it for two months until it fell, August 27.

Meanwhile the Earl of Holland had offered his[Pg 233] services to the queen, his late mistress, in Paris, and informed her of his resolution to adventure everything for the king. The young Villiers threw in their lot with Lord Holland, and declared themselves ready and willing to sacrifice their estates and their lives if need be in the royal cause. The siege of Colchester which engaged the main body of the army under Fairfax seemed to offer a good opportunity for a rising nearer London. The young Duke of Buckingham was made General of the Horse. Lord Francis Villiers and various other young noblemen were given other posts. And these hot-blooded lads, impatient for action, urged Lord Holland to begin his perilous undertaking without further delay.

Unhappily for them the whole business was miserably mismanaged. Such a rising could only hope to succeed if it were kept the most profound secret. But so far from being a secret, it was, says Clarendon, "the common discourse of the town." There was a great appearance every morning at Lord Holland's lodging of officers who were known to have served the king—.[Pg 234]

his commission showed in many hands; and no question being more commonly asked than—when doth my Lord Holland go out? and the answer—Such and such a day; and the hour he did take horse, when he was accompanied by an hundred horse from his house was publickly talked of two or three days before.[85]

But these indiscretions were not all. The first rendezvous was to be at Kingston-on-Thames—the charming old town full of old red brick houses, and sunny walled gardens full of lilacs and laburnums and cedars of Lebanon, ten miles southwest of London. Here Lord Holland stayed for two nights and one whole day, expecting numbers to flock to his standard, "not only of officers, but of common men who had promised and listed themselves under several officers."[86] During his stay, some officers and soldiers, both of foot and horse did come. But the greater number of those who resorted to Kingston were "many persons of honor and quality," who came down from London for the day in their coaches to visit the little army, and returned to town again, "to provide what was still wanting and resolved to be with him soon again."[Pg 235]


[Pg 236]

[Pg 237]

Is it not a pitiable story? Want of plan, of management, of forethought, of seriousness. The whole thing arranged like a play upon the stage. The fair ladies, and the gallant cavaliers in their curly wigs and deep Vandyke collars, driving down on the hot summer day to visit their friends, and laugh and talk over the great victory that without doubt they would win—the victory that would restore the king to his throne, and drive the Parliamentarians into the sea. And beautiful young Francis Villiers, in the heyday of his youth and strength—his debts all paid two days before[87]—longing for a chance to strike a blow for the king who had been a father to him.

How the grim puritan soldiers must have laughed at such a set of amateurs in the art of War. They were not far-off—those grave fighting men.

The chief officer with Lord Holland's band was one Dalbeer, a Dutch malcontent. He seems to have been as incompetent as the rest of the little army; for he kept no watch at night round the camp.[Pg 238]

Early on the morning of July 7, the Parliamentary Colonel Rich, "eminent for praying but of no fame for fighting," surprised the town with a troop of horse. There was a general scrimmage. No one was ready to receive them. Lord Holland and a number of his followers made the best of their way out of the town, never offering to charge the enemy. Most of the footsoldiers and some of the officers "made shift to conceal themselves until they found means to retire to their close mansions in London."[88]

But Francis Villiers alone seems to have made a stand. At the head of his troop, his horse having been killed under him, he

got to an oak-tree in the highway about two miles from Kingston, where he stood with his back against it, defending himself, scorning to ask quarter, and they barbarously refusing to give it; till with nine wounds in his beautiful face and body, he was slain.[89]

[Pg 239]

So died Francis Villiers, in the twentieth year of his age—"This noble, valiant and beautiful youth," says Fairfax. "A youth of rare beauty and comeliness," says Clarendon. And so ended the unhappy fight of Kingston. Dalbeer defended himself till he was killed. Lord Holland with a hundred horse, wandered away and was caught at an inn at St. Neot's in Hertfordshire and thence sent prisoner to Windsor, of which place he had but lately been constable. The Duke of Buckingham reached London, and hid until he could escape to Holland "where the prince was; who received him with great grace and kindness."[90] And in six months the king for whom young Francis had died, was led out to execution at Whitehall.

Lord Francis' body was brought by water from Kingston up the Thames to York House in the Strand; and was then embalmed and laid in his father's vault in Henry the Seventh's Chapel.[Pg 240]

The late duke's magnificent monument, and the position in which it was placed, gave rise to much comment at the time. No monument had been erected to King James. And when Charles the First sent for Lord Weston "to contrive the work of the tomb" for his favorite, Lord Weston, putting into words the opinion of the greater part of England "told his Majesty that not only our nation, but others, would talk of it, if he should make the duke a tomb, and not his father."[91]

The tomb, however, was made. Henry the Seventh's Chapel for the first time was opened to a person not of royal lineage. And by the irony of fate, this burial of a royal favorite paved the way for the interments of many others in the next thirty years who were not of royal blood, and were bitterly opposed to kings and all that pertained to them, save power.

Two years after Francis Villiers was killed at Kingston, Ireton, Cromwell's son-in-law, was buried in a vault at the extreme east of Henry the Seventh's Chapel. Then came Blake, the first of England's naval heroes—Colonel Mackworth, one of Cromwell's Council—Sir William Constable, one of the regicides—Worsley, Oliver's "great and rising favorite." And Bradshaw, Lord President of the High Court of Justice, was laid "in a superb tomb among the kings."[Pg 241]

Ten years after Francis Villiers' death, Cromwell's favorite daughter—the sweet Elizabeth Claypole—was buried in a vault close to the entrance of the Villiers Chapel. She was the "Betty" of Cromwell's earlier letters, "who belongs to the sect of the seekers rather than the finders. Happy are they who find—most happy are they who seek."[92]

The great Protector never held up his head after the death of this lovable woman; and within a month of his daughter's funeral "his most serene and renowned highness, Oliver, Lord Protector, was taken to his rest"[93] in the same Chapel in which we have spent so much time of late.

[Pg 242]

If we needed any fresh proof that the great Abbey of Westminster is a sign and symbol of reconciliation, here is one. Within its walls Kings and Covenanters, Puritan women, and gallant young Cavalier nobles who fought against those women's husbands and fathers, lie side by side. The feuds, the hatreds, the heart-burnings, the differences, political and religious, are all forgotten; and nothing is left but the common brotherhood of man with man, in the still peaceful atmosphere of the Abbey Church of St. Peter.


[80] Stanley. "Memorials of Westminster." p. 237.

[81] Clarendon. Vol. I. p. 16.

[82] "Short History of English People." Green, p. 488.

[83] "Life of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham." Bryan Fairfax.

[84] Fairfax.

[85] Clarendon. Vol. XI. p. 102.

[86] Ibid. Vol. XI. p. 102.

[87] When he left London he ordered his steward, Mr. John May, to bring him a list of his debts, and he so charged his estate with them, that the Parliament, who seized on the estate, payed the debt.—Fairfax.

[88] Clarendon. Vol. XI. p. 104.

[89] Fairfax.

[90] Clarendon. Vol. XI. p. 105.

[91] "Court and Times of Charles the First." Vol. I. p. 391.

[92] Carlyle's Cromwell. Vol. I. p. 295.

[93] Commonwealth Mercury. Sep. 2-9, 1658.

[Pg 243]



In 1637 a little daughter was born to King Charles the First, at St. James's Palace. Archbishop Laud christened her privately twelve days later; and she was named after her aunt, Anne of Austria, Queen of France.

There were great rejoicings at the baby's birth. The University of Cambridge alone produced more than one hundred and thirty odes, in which she and her sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, were compared to Juno, Minerva, Venus, the Fates, the Graces, the Elder Muses, and many other classic celebrities. In the face of all these protestations of loyal affection no one would imagine that within six years Princess Anne's father would be fighting with his own subjects for his throne and his liberty,[Pg 244] and that two of his children would be in the hands of his enemies.

But little Anne was spared these sad experiences. Very soon after her birth she was assigned her place in the royal nursery at Richmond, with her regular suite of attendants, ten in number. From her earliest infancy she was extremely delicate. "A constant feverish cough showed a tendency to disease of the lungs;" and before she was four years old she died of consumption. The short account of her death is most touching:

Being minded by those about her to call upon God even when the pangs of death were upon her; "I am not able," saith she, "to say my long prayer" (meaning the Lord's Prayer), "but I will say my short one: Lighten mine eyes, O Lord, lest I sleep the sleep of death." This done the little lamb gave up the ghost.[94]

She was buried in the tomb of her great-grandmother, the beautiful Mary, Queen of Scots, in the South Aisle of Henry the Seventh's Chapel.[Pg 245]

The Effigies of the Lady Anna, who was borne ye 17th of March 1636, buried ye 30th of ye same month in the yeare of our Lord god—1637 The Effigies of the Lady Anna, who was borne ye 17th of March 1636, buried ye 30th of ye same month in the yeare of our Lord god—1637

[Pg 246]

[Pg 247]

The curious and very rare engraving, which we are fortunately able to reproduce, was published a few months after her death. The little creature, in a close-fitting skull-cap covering her head and fastened under her chin, stands grasping a rose in her little hand, with a thoughtful expression on her baby face. Based on the spelling of the name of the little princess we find the following quaint verse:

Anna is like a circle's endless frame,
For read it forward, backward, 'tis the same.
Eternity is circular and round,
And Anna hath eternal glory found.[95]

In the same year, 1640, that little Anna found "eternal glory," her brother Henry was born at Oatlands Park in Surrey.

There is a strong resemblance between this young prince, and his uncle Henry, Prince of Wales, with whom we are so well acquainted. Both were grave and studious beyond their years. Both were diligent and active in whatever work came in their way to do. Both were strong Protestants. Both cared for the society and friendship of older and wiser men, rather than that of the gay, frivolous young courtiers of their own age. In face and form they must have been somewhat alike; but the circumstances of their lives were different.[Pg 248]

Nothing could outwardly have been more happy and successful than the life of Henry, Prince of Wales, the son of a poor Scotch king, raised suddenly to the position of heir to the most prosperous kingdom in Europe. Henry, Duke of Gloucester, on the contrary, was destined to take his share from his earliest childhood in the disasters of his family. Before he was two years old his troubles began. While his father, as an old royalist writer expresses it, "was hunted from place to place like a partridge upon the mountains," his mother was over in Holland, where she gathered together an army with the proceeds of the crown jewels which she sold or pawned. She landed in England in 1643, fought several battles on her own account, and joined the king in Warwickshire on July 13, sleeping the night before in Shakespeare's house at Stratford-on-Avon, which then belonged to the poet's daughter, Mrs. Hall.[Pg 249]

Henry of Oatlands, as the little Duke of Gloucester was called from his birthplace, was left meanwhile by his parents at St. James's Palace, with his sister Elizabeth. The Parliament on the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, secured complete possession of London, and the two children remained in their hands in a sort of honorable captivity.

They were both of so tender years that they were neither sensible of their father's sufferings nor capable to relieve them; so that their innocent harmlessness on any account not only protected them from the malice of their enemies, but proved to be a meanes to work on their evil mindes to provide for them not only an honorable sustenance, but a royal attendance.[96]

Little Henry must have been a charming child; and we can well imagine that he was kindly treated by his captors, who appeared to have entertained a notion that a royal child brought up under the stern puritan rule, and separated so early from the evil influences of courts and cavaliers, might be a good ruler for England when he grew up. The boy's natural disposition was all in favor of this possibility.[Pg 250]

Such was the seriousness of his tender age, as wrought admiration in his attendants, for he proceeded in so sweet a method, that he was able in point of Religion—to render an account beyond many whose years should have manifested a surer and more certain judgment.[97]

The little boy did not even know his father by sight; for they had never met since the king left London in 1642. But when Henry was six years old an unexpected opportunity offered itself of learning more about his absent father. Henry's elder brother, the Duke of York, afterwards King James the Second, was taken prisoner at Oxford in 1646. His servants were all dismissed; and he was brought to London to live with the Duke of Gloucester and Princess Elizabeth.

This new society was exceedingly pleasing to the young innocent, who began now to hearken to his brother's discourses with man-like attention imbibing from his lips a new, though natural affection, towards his unknown and distressed father.[98]

[Pg 251]

This pleasant companionship between the two brothers lasted for nearly two years. Then the Duke of York escaped from St. James's and went to Holland to join his brother Charles, Prince of Wales, who had fitted out a fleet to attempt to rescue his father. Henry and Elizabeth were again left alone. Princess Elizabeth however kept her little brother constantly informed "of the hourely danger both themselves and father stood in." Poor little children! Our hearts ache for the eight-year-old boy and the thirteen-year-old girl who were trembling for their own and their father's safety. Their fears for the king were only too well founded.

The extreme party in Parliament had been steadily gaining in strength. And on December 6, 1648, Colonel Pride "purged" the House of Commons of one hundred and forty-three members, who were willing to treat with the king and accept the concessions he offered. On December 18, King Charles was removed from Hurst Castle in the Isle of Wight, where he had been closely imprisoned, and brought to St. James's; and thence he was taken to Windsor Castle.[Pg 252]

On January 20, 1649, the king appeared before the High Court of Justice assembled in Westminster Hall. On January 27, judgment of death was pronounced against "Charles Stuart, King of England." Two days later, upon January 29, which

was the day before he dyed, he desired he might see and take his last farewell to his children, which with some regret was granted, and the Lady Elizabeth and the Duke of Gloucester brought to him. The King taking the Duke upon his knee, said "Sweet heart, now will they cut off thy father's head, mark child what I say, they will cut off my head, and perhaps make thee a King, but you must not be a King so long as your brothers Charles and James be living, for they will cut off your brothers' heads (when they can catch them) and cut off thy head too at the last, and therefore I charge you not to be made a King by them." At which words the child smiling said, "I will be torn in pieces first," which falling so unexpectedly from one so young made the King rejoice exceedingly.... And after that day he never saw his father's face more.[99]

[Pg 253]


[Pg 254]

[Pg 255]

Whatever were King Charles's faults, and they were many, he at least knew how to die. The next day after this interview, he came on foot from St. James's to his banqueting room at Whitehall, and laid his head on the block like a gallant and Christian gentleman.

What a strange and tragic memory that meeting must have been for the little Duke of Gloucester. At last he saw his unknown father; and found him a sad, worn man, on the eve of dying a terrible death.

But the child's troubles were not to end here. The next year he and his sister were taken to Carisbroke Castle in the Isle of Wight, where their father had been confined for so long. And there Elizabeth fell into a consumption and died.

"Now is the little Duke left totally alone, to take comfort only in his solitary meditations,"[100] says his historian, who indulges in rather violent expressions against the Protectorate. For he goes on to call the Parliament "those monsters at Westminster." The so-called "monsters" were somewhat embarrassed by the possession of the young duke; and at last resolved to send him abroad to complete his education on certain conditions.[Pg 256]

Henry was now eleven years old; and the prospect of comparative freedom was very welcome to him. "My father told me" (said he to one about him) "that God would provide for me, which he hath abundantly done, in that he delivereth me as a Lamb out of the pawes of the devouring Lyon."[101]

A tutor was chosen for the Prince; and an allowance of three thousand pounds a year was to be granted him if he fulfilled the following conditions:

I. He was to go to a Protestant School.

II. He was to correspond with the Parliament by letter, and his tutor was to render account of his proficiency and learning.

III. He was not to go near his mother or brothers, or have anything to do with them, "but in all things utterly disown them."

IV. That he should immediately return upon notice from the Parliament given to him for that purpose.

The third condition was one which the boy found it impossible to keep. For the moment he landed in France he went to see his mother and[Pg 257] brothers, "takes the blessing of the one and salutes the other, and after a short stay for the future improvement of his learning, he goes to Leyden, and settles there to study."[102]

For three years Henry stayed at Leyden, and eagerly profited by the teaching of the wise men who gathered to this famous university from all parts of Europe. "Such was his forwardnesse and zeal to learning, and to attain the arts, that he would steal from his houres of rest to adde to them of his study."[103] He was beloved and honored by all who knew him, and was soon pronounced "a most compleat Gentleman, and rarely accomplished." In looks he resembled his father; "his hair of a sad or dark brown, of a middle stature, strong judgment, a deep and reaching understanding, and a most pleasing affable delivery."[104]

[Pg 258]

Our prince was no mere pedant. Young as he was, he knew that there is other precious knowledge besides mere book-learning—though that was pleasant to his studious mind. A man who is to rule men must understand them. He must study men, or he will only be able to govern by theories, which are always dangerous things if they are not backed up by practical knowledge. The duke believed in the great importance of a knowledge of the world and of human nature. Therefore when he was fourteen, after laying the foundation of his learning by hard work at Leyden, he returned to the Court of France to study men instead of books for a time, in order to make himself more capable of assisting his brother Charles, if he should come to his father's throne again.

The compact between Henry and the Parliament was completely at an end. Whether he ever received the allowance of three thousand pounds seems doubtful. Fuller declares it never was paid. The lad was therefore free to go where he chose. He travelled a great deal. And in France he always tried to know and imitate the best, "not being caught with novelties, nor infected with customes, nor given to affectation."[105][Pg 259]

In Paris a sore trial of the boy's strength of principle awaited him. Charles the Second, the king without a kingdom, left Paris in 1654 with the Duke of York, and returned to Flanders where most of his exile was spent, leaving Henry with his mother, Queen Henrietta Maria, in order to pursue his studies. The queen was a strong Roman Catholic; and no sooner had Charles left the French Court than she tried by every means in her power to convert her son Henry to her own church. She first told him that his brothers' fortunes were almost desperate: but that if he would embrace the Romish Faith, the Pope and other European Princes would at once take part in King Charles's cause. Then she said that as the duke had no fortune of his own, and as she could give him none, if he would but abjure his faith the Queen of France would confer rich abbeys and benefices upon him, such as would enable him to live

in that splendour as was suitable to his birth, that in a little time the pope would make him a Cardinal; by which he might be able to do the king, his brother, much service, and contribute to his recovery; whereas without this he must be[Pg 260] exposed to great necessity and misery, for that she was not able any longer to give him maintenance.[106]

But no argument the queen used could shake the resolute boy. He reminded her of the precepts he had received from the king, his father, who had died in the faith of the Anglican Church. He put her in mind of the promise he had lately made to his eldest brother, never to change his religion. And he besought the queen to press him no further, until he could at least communicate with the king his brother.[Pg 261]


[Pg 262]

[Pg 263]

Queen Henrietta knew well enough what Charles's views were on the subject. So finding that her persuasions availed nothing, she dismissed the tutor, and packed Prince Henry off to the Abbey of Pontoise, of which her almoner, Montague, was abbot. Here the duke was entirely separated from every one but Roman Catholics; and a very bad time he had, for every hour some one or other was trying to break down his resolution. Happily for the boy, the king heard of his mother's doings. In a fury he sent off the Marquis of Ormonde to Paris, who managed the disagreeable negotiation so well, that the queen at last said, ungraciously enough, "that the duke might dispose of himself as he pleased, and that she would not concern herself any further, nor see him any more."[107]

Lord Ormonde thereupon hastened to Pontoise, brought the duke away rejoicing at his release, and took him shortly after, to join the king in Flanders.

Henry now had some experience of warlike training; for during the next two or three years he and his brothers joined the French against the Spaniards. And when Cromwell's alliance with their French relatives made it impossible for them to keep up any further connection with the French Court, the young men joined Condé in the Spanish camp for a time. The Duke of Gloucester, however, soon tired of soldiering; and went back again to his books and his wise friends at Leyden, where he gained great renown by his retired, studious life, until another change came over the fortunes of his family.[Pg 264]

In 1660 Cromwell was dead. England was weary of war and revolution—weary of army rule—and when Charles the Second signed the Declaration of Breda on April 4, the English nation was rejoiced to return to its natural government by King and Parliament. The Duke of Gloucester was at Breda when that famous Declaration was signed. He accompanied his brothers to England, and rode on the king's left hand in his triumphal entry into London on May 29.

Henry now proved that in prosperity, as in adversity, his love of work, almost the best gift that any young lad can possess, was as strong as ever. "He was active, and loved business, was apt to have particular friendships; and had an insinuating temper which was generally very acceptable."[108] The king was strongly attached to him, and was vexed when he saw that no post was left for this favorite brother; for Monk was General, and the Duke of York was in command of the Fleet. However, although Lord Clarendon considered the post was beneath his dignity, Henry begged to be made Lord Treasurer, "for he could not bear an idle life."[Pg 265]

Alas! he only enjoyed this prosperous change in his fortune for four short months. "The mirth and entertainments" of the restoration, "raised his blood so high, that he took the smallpox." The ignorant physicians bled him three times, thus effectually taking away his last chance of recovery. And on September 13, 1660, this promising young prince died at Whitehall, the very palace where, eleven years before, his sad, broken father had been executed.

All the nation mourned the loss of the duke, for every one loved and admired him.

With his namesake Prince Henry he completed not twenty years, and what was said of the unkle, was as true of the nephew.

In searching at the British Museum a little while ago for documents concerning this prince, we came upon a mention under his name in the catalogue of "Some Teares." Curious to see what they were, we were told that the book which contained[Pg 266] them was too valuable to be brought into the great reading room, where hundreds of workers congregate in busy silence every day. So we were taken through locked doors into an inner sanctum; and there the precious document was intrusted to us. It was a large sheet of stiff paper, with wide black borders, and on it a long poem (of which I can only give a few lines) was printed, entitled,



Fatal September to the Royal line
Has snatch'd one Heroë of our hopeful Trine
From Earth; 'tis strange heaven should not prœdeclare
A loss so grievous by some Blazing Star,
Which might our senses overjoy'd, alarm,
And time give to prepare for so great harm.

He was Fair Fruit sprung from a Royal Bud,
And grown as great by fair Renown as Blood;
Ripe too too soon; for in a Youth so green
An Harvest was of gray-haired Wisdome seen.
[Pg 267]
Minerva's Darling, Patron of the Gown,
Lover of Learning, and Apollo's Crown
He was; the Muses he began to nourish,
Learn'd men and arts under his wings did flourish.
But lest we should commit Idolatry,
Heav'n took him from our sight, not Memory.

London: Printed by W. Godbid for Henry Brome at the Gun in Ivy Lane, and Henry Marsh at the Princes Arms in Chancery-lane near Fleet-street, M.D.C.L.X.

As we handled the stiff old sheet with its black borders, and saw September 20, written in before the date in faded ink, we seemed to see the handsome, gentle, studious prince, borne out of the palace where the tragedy of his father's death was yet fresh in the minds of those who were rejoicing at the young king's restoration. We seemed to follow the sad procession down to the Abbey of Westminster, and watch him laid in the grave of his great-grandmother, beside his little sister Anna. And it saddened us to think of that gallant young lad cut off just when fortune smiled upon him after his lonely childhood, his stormy boyhood. But then we thought again of all he was saved from—of[Pg 268] the corruption and evil-doing of his brother Charles's abominable court—of the troubles and disgraces of James the Second's reign. And the little chapel where he lies was transformed into a safe haven of refuge from evils far worse than death.

No monument is raised to his memory. But above his grave, Mary, Queen of Scots, with her proud beautiful face in scornful repose, lies under her splendid canopy, a fierce little Scotch lion crowned at her feet. And in the dim mysterious light that comes through the tiny diamond panes of the windows, we read words on her tomb that are indeed true of her great-grandson, Henry, Duke of Gloucester; and as we leave him here at rest we too say:

Bonæ Memoriæ
Et spei Æternæ.


[94] "Fuller's Worthies." Vol. II. p. 108.

[95] "English Princesses." M. A. Greene, p. 395.

[96] Short view of the Life of Henry, Duke of Gloucester, 1661, p. 16.

[97] Life of Henry, Duke of Gloucester. p. 17.

[98] "Life of Henry, Duke of Gloucester." p. 19.

[99] "Life of Henry, Duke of Gloucester."

[100] "Life of Henry, Duke of Gloucester."

[101] "Life of Henry, Duke of Gloucester."

[102] "Life of Henry, Duke of Gloucester." p. 26.

[103] Ibid.

[104] Ibid.

[105] "Life of Henry, Duke of Gloucester." p. 39.

[106] "Somers' Civil Tract." p. 316.

[107] "Somer's Civil Notes."

[108] "Bishop Burnet's History of his own Time." Vol. I. p. 248.

[Pg 269]



From our childhood up we have all heard of "Good Queen Anne." When we were small tots in the nursery we sang little rhymes about

Queen Anne, Queen Anne, she sat in the sun.
I send you three letters, you don't read one.

Then as we grew older we succumbed more or less to the rage for the eighteenth century which has laid hold on so large a section of English and Americans during the last few years. And we began to use Queen Anne's name in season and out of season—to talk glibly of Queen Anne architecture, Queen Anne furniture, and Queen Anne plate. The subject is doubtless an interesting one. And I for one am grateful to Queen[Pg 270] Anne—or rather to the architects of her reign. Those stately red brick houses of her time, though they are far less graceful than Elizabethan mansions, and less romantic than the French chateaux of the same period with their high roofs, and charming tourelles with extinguisher tops, are among the most comfortable, homelike, lovable dwelling-places we can find in England.

The plate too of Queen Anne's reign is justly esteemed as the handsomest and richest that can be found. As I write a bit of veritable Queen Anne plate stands beside me on the table—a graceful little candlestick five inches high, of plain, solid silver. No need to look at its Hall-mark, or puzzle over its history; for the only ornament on its foot is an open-work pattern formed of roughly cut letters, "Queen Anne. 1702"; and on the rim above is engraved "His Highness Prince George. S.LS. Anno Dom. 1702."

The candlestick was a present from Queen Anne on her coronation, to a certain old ancestress of ours, who had been one of the ladies in attendance on the Queen's young son, William[Pg 271] Henry, Duke of Gloucester—the only one of her numerous children who lived beyond his babyhood.

This little boy, the last of our children of Westminster Abbey, was born on July 24, 1689. It was a memorable year in the history of England, for it had seen the great and bloodless revolution by which James the Second had been driven from Great Britain, and William the Third put on the throne. The misgovernment of James had become unbearable; and William, Prince of Orange, who had married the king's eldest daughter Mary, was invited "by a small party of ardent Whigs to assist in preserving the civil and religious liberties of the nation." William and Mary accepted the Declaration of Right, and were crowned as joint sovereigns on April 11, 1689. They had no children. So when Princess Anne, the Queen's sister, and wife of Prince George of Denmark, gave birth to her little boy in the following July, he was welcomed as the future King of England.

King William and the King of Denmark were the baby's godfathers. The marchioness of Halifax was his godmother. Queen Mary adopted[Pg 272] him as her heir; and the king conferred upon him the title of Duke of Gloucester: but he was not created Duke "because his mother considered that title dreadfully unlucky."

But at first it seemed highly improbable that the poor child would live long. He was delicate from his birth—very small—and for two months his death was constantly expected. The doctors advised an incessant change of nurses; and the wretched baby, as was to be expected, grew weaker and weaker. At last, however, a fine-looking young Quakeress, a Mrs. Pack, with a month-old baby in her arms, came up from Kingston to tell the Princess Anne of a remedy which had done her children good. The Prince of Denmark besought her to become wet-nurse to the suffering little prince; and from that moment the unfortunate child began to thrive.[Pg 273]


[Pg 274]

[Pg 275]

Then came the question of the most healthy residence for the baby on whom so much depended. And Princess Anne at length chose Lord Craven's fine house at Kensington Gravelpits, which he offered to lend her for the little prince's nursery. He went out every day, no matter how cold it was, in a tiny carriage which the Duchess of Ormonde presented to him. The horses were in keeping with the size of the carriage; for they were a pair of Shetland ponies "scarcely larger than good-sized mastiffs," and were guided by Dick Drury, the Prince of Denmark's coachman.

The first two or three years of the little Duke of Gloucester's life were spent between Lord Craven's house at Kensington, and London. For in those days Kensington was a country village, out in the woods and fields. West of Mayfair there were no houses until Kensington was reached on the breezy slopes of Camden Hill. South Kensington, that vast quarter of handsome houses, has only come into existence in the last fifty years. The writer's grandfather was laughed at for going "out of town," when he and his old friend, Lord Essex, built themselves two of the first houses in Belgrave Square about 1830. And one of his sons-in-law, when a lad at Westminster School early in the century, remembers snipe-shooting in the marshes which separated Chelsea from London.[Pg 276]

The Princess Anne and the queen were on exceedingly bad terms, the chief reason of their disagreement being Anne's passionate devotion to the famous Sarah Jennings, wife of the yet more famous Duke of Marlborough. The Marlboroughs, a clever, able, ambitious, unscrupulous pair, encouraged the jealousy between the sisters to secure their own ends, and at length formed a "Princess's party," which gave William the Third considerable trouble during his reign. The Queen insisted that Lady Marlborough, as she then was, should be dismissed from the Princess's service. Anne was equally determined to keep her beloved friend about her at all risks. This led to endless disputes and quarrels between the royal ladies; and the little Duke of Gloucester became a fresh subject of contention. When she was in town,

the Princess, who was a tender mother, passed much of her time in the nursery of her heir.... Whenever the Queen heard her sister was there she forebore to enter the room, but would send an inquiry or a message to her royal nephew—"a compliment," as it was called in the phraseology of the day. The set speech used to be delivered by the queen's[Pg 277] official in formal terms to the unconscious infant, as he sat on his nurse's knee; and then the courtly messenger would depart, without taking the slightest notice of the Princess Anne, although she was in the room with her child. Sometimes Queen Mary sent her nephew rattles or balls, or other toys, all which were chronicled in the Gazette with great solemnity; but every attention to the little Gloucester was attended with some signal impertinence to his mother.[109]

For two years the little boy throve well in the good air of Kensington, without any illness. But in the third year he was attacked by ague. Fifty years before he would probably have been bled and reduced in every way, and would speedily have died. But medical science was improving; and a wonderful discovery had been made in far-off Peru. The ague was cured by Doctor Radcliffe and Sir Charles Scarborough, "who prescribed the Jesuit's Powder, of which the Duke took large quantities early in the spring of 1694, for the same complaint most manfully."[110]

[Pg 278]

This Jesuit's Powder was none other than the famous Peruvian Bark, made as we all know from the bark of the Chinchona trees, so-called by Linnæus after the Countess of Chincon, wife of the Viceroy of Peru. This lady's cure in 1638 from a desperate fever, brought the quinine—the "bark-of-barks" as its Indian name signifies—into notice, and gave the world one of the most precious remedies we possess against disease.

This ague was the first, but by no means the last illness our poor little boy had to endure; for all through his short life he was delicate.

His faithful attendant, Jenkin Lewis, a young man who was tenderly attached to him, has left us a most interesting memoir of the young prince. And from this we get charming details of his daily life, his many illnesses, and his character.

When first he began to walk about and speak plain, he fancied he must be of all trades; one day a carpenter, another day a smith, and so on; which the queen observing sent him a box of ivory tools, said to cost twenty-five pounds, which he used till he learnt the names of them, and also the terms of those mechanical arts.[111]

[Pg 279]


But from his infancy the little duke began to show his passion for horses, drums, and anything to do with soldiers. In 1693, when he was only four years old, he threw away childish toys, saying he was a man and a soldier. And he had up from Kensington village a little company of twenty-two boys, wearing paper caps and armed with wooden swords, who enlisted themselves as his guard. The duke was enchanted; and appointed a very pretty boy, Sir Thomas Lawrence's son, to be lieutenant. This little army was his constant delight. In a short time the child gained a real[Pg 280] knowledge of military matters; and before long he began to use his bodyguard to some purpose. In 1694, seeing how active he was, and that "his stiff-bodied coats were very troublesome to him in his military amusements," the Prince and Princess put him into breeches on Easter Day.

His suit was a white camblet, with silver loops, and buttons of silver thread. He wore stiff stays under his waistcoat, which hurt him; whereupon, Mr. Hughes, his taylor, was sent for; when he came the duke bade his boys (whom he stiled his Horse Guards) put the taylor on the wooden horse, which stood in the presence-room for the punishment of offenders, as is usual in martial law: who presently were for hoisting him on, if they had had strength enough.[112]

It must have been an absurd scene. The little duke, not five years old, in his first pair of breeches, long waistcoat of white and silver, and coat with wide skirts and handsome, deep-cuffed sleeves—the bodyguard of small rogues setting on their victim—and the hapless tailor, who was so genuinely alarmed at these violent proceedings, that good-natured Jenkin had to beg him off.[Pg 281]

A year or two later we find the duke going down to Kensington Palace, where he ordered his boys—now two companies numbering ninety in all, armed with wooden swords and muskets, and in red grenadiers' caps—to exercise in the garden before the king and queen. The king was delighted; and gave the young soldiers twenty guineas, besides two gold pieces which he presented to one of them, William Gardner, who beat the drum "equal to the ablest drummer." The next day, Sunday, the king sent word he was coming to visit his nephew. This was a great occasion, as the king very seldom came to see him. The duke prepared a pasteboard fortification, and got his four little brass cannon ready; and when the king arrived the boy was so engrossed in shewing him that he could salute him like a soldier and afterwards "compliment him," that he could not be persuaded to thank His Majesty first for coming. He fired his cannon, and he

then talked to the king of horses and arms, and thanked him of his own accord for the honor he did him in coming to see him. He told the king that one of his cannon was[Pg 282] broke; the king promised to send him some cannon, but never did; the duke thanked him and complimented him in these words—"My dear king, you shall have both my companies with you to Flanders," where the king was to go soon after.[113]

All his talk was of wars, soldiers, and fortifications.

He was scarce seven years old when he understood the terms of fortification and navigation, knew all the different parts of a strong place, and a ship of war, and could marshall a company of boys, who had voluntarily listed themselves to attend him.... He had a particular aversion to dancing and all womanish exercises, his whole delight being in martial sports and hunting.[114]

[Pg 283]

Even when he was ill in bed he insisted on having his cannon drawn up in his sight, and made his servant stand sentinel at his door as in a fortress. The faithful Jenkin told him stories of Alexander and Cæsar, and on the sly studied the art of fortification, in order to teach the young duke more about it. But this was discovered by Lady Fitz Hardinge, who was the queen's spy in Princess Anne's household. Jenkin Lewis was threatened with instant dismissal if he ventured again to instruct the boy in matters with which he had no concern; and he was obliged regretfully to put away his fortification books. But he found a more allowable diversion in putting some of the young duke's words of command into verse, and had them set to music by Mr. John Church, "one of the gentlemen of Westminster Abbey, who had studied Mr. Henry Purcel's works and imitated his manner." It was not very grand poetry, but the little soldier was delighted. It begins—

Hark! hark! the hostile drum alarms;
Let ours now beat and call to arms!

In 1696, after the discovery of the Rye House Plot, loyal addresses were offered to the king by both Houses of Parliament, and an association was formed to preserve King William or avenge his death, which was very generally signed throughout the kingdom. The Duke of Gloucester and his boys were eager to follow the public example.[Pg 284] The duke composed an address which one of his boys wrote down as follows:

I, your Majesty's most dutiful subject, had rather lose my life in your Majesty's cause, than in any man's else; and I hope it will not be long 'ere you conquer France.

(Signed)             Gloster.

He also dictated one for his boys and his household to sign, which was much to the point, and ran thus:

We, your Majesty's dutiful subjects, will stand by you as long as we have a drop of blood.

The prince and his boys were closely associated in all their pursuits and interests. Not only did they study the art of war, but they were catechised together by Mr. Prat, the duke's first tutor. The child had been carefully instructed in religion from his infancy. "He had early suck'd in his mother's piety," says one writer, "and was always attentive to prayers." One day in the catechising, Mr. Prat asked him before his boys, "How can you, being born a prince, keep yourself from the pomps and vanities of this world?" And the little[Pg 285] fellow made the simple and straightforward answer, "I will keep God's commandments, and do all I can to walk in his ways."


He was a pretty boy. Something like his royal mother in her younger days; for she is described as a "sylph-like creature" when a girl, though she afterwards grew to be the mountain of fat we know in most of her portraits. His face was oval; and for the most part glowed with a fine colour. His shape was fine, his body easy, and his arms finely hung.[115][Pg 286]

His disposition was naturally a sweet one; and he was admirably loyal to his friends and attendants, always willing to take blame himself rather than allow another to be scolded. But his weak health, a strong will, and a hot temper made him liable to fits of passion in which he lost all control over himself. Jenkin Lewis describes some of these outbursts of fury, and one in particular when he was the object of the prince's wrath. Jenkin quietly turned him round to the looking-glass, so that the boy might see what a shocking spectacle he was making of himself. Whereupon his passion fell as quickly as it had risen. He grew calm upon seeing himself, and expressed his sorrow.

When he was nine years old, the king appointed Bishop Burnet to be his preceptor, and the Duke of Marlborough to be his governor.

The Bishop writes two years later, that he had made "amazing progress." They had read together the Psalms, Proverbs and Gospels, and the bishop had explained things that fell in his way "very copiously, and was often surprised at the questions he put me, and the reflections that he[Pg 287] made. He came to understand things relating to religion beyond imagination."[116] Besides religion the good bishop seems to have crammed his pupil's head with a mass of knowledge—geography, forms of government in every country, the interests and trades of every nation, the history "of all the great revolutions that had been in the world;" and he explained "the Gothic constitution and the beneficiary and feudal laws."

No wonder that as one historian says, "his tender constitution bended under the weight of his manly soul, and was too much harass'd by the vivacity of his genius, to be of long duration.... In a word, he was too forward to arrive at maturity."[117]

On July 24, 1700, the Duke of Gloucester was eleven years old. The next day Bishop Burnet tells that he complained a little: but every one thought he was tired with his birthday festivities. The day after he grew rapidly worse. A malignant fever declared itself, and he "died on the fourth day of his illness, to the great grief of all who were concerned[Pg 288] with him." He was buried quite quietly, in the same vault as his great-uncle Henry, Duke of Gloucester, beside their common ancestress, Mary, Queen of Scots.

The death of this little boy was an event of enormous importance to England. The Stuart line was at an end, and the eyes of England now turned to George Lewis, the Elector of Hanover, grandson of that unfortunate Queen of Bohemia, who we know best as Princess Elizabeth, the favorite sister and playfellow of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. And with the death of "the last hope of the race—thus withered, as it must have seemed, by the doom of Providence"[118]—our history of the children of Westminster draws to a close. Besides those whose lives and stories we have studied together, there are several of whom little is known but the facts of their death and burial in our stately Abbey. The year before little William, Duke of Gloucester, was born, two "holy innocents" were laid to rest at Westminster; one, Nicholas Bagnall, an "infant of two months old, by his nurse unfortunately overlaid," is commemorated by a white marble urn in the Chapel of St. Nicholas, among the Percys and the Cecils. And in the Cloisters there is a touchingly simple tablet which Dean Stanley delighted to point out to every one, bearing these words:[Pg 289]

"Jane Lister, dear child, died October 7, 1688."


In 1711, three years before Queen Anne's death, a young Westminster Scholar, Carteret by name, aged nineteen, was buried in the North Aisle of the Choir, "with the chiefs of his house." This is, I think, the only instance of a Westminster boy being buried in the Abbey. And young Carteret, the Westminster Scholar, leads me to an institution[Pg 290] at Westminster which I have too long neglected. I mean Westminster School.

From the earliest days of the Abbey, from Edith and Edward the Confessor's time, a school for the training of the novices was attached to Westminster as to other great monasteries. When the constitution of the Abbey was changed by the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539-40, Henry the Eighth founded a school in connection with the reformed Abbey. But the school was refounded and enlarged by Queen Elizabeth in the year of the Armada, and to her we owe its prosperity and fame. The great tables of chestnut wood in the black-beamed College Dining Hall, are said by tradition to have been given by the queen from the wrecks of the Spanish Armada. From this time forth Westminster School took its place among the most famous public schools in England. The names of many of the greatest of England's worthies are inscribed on the walls of the old schoolroom. In Elizabeth's reign the famous Camden was its head master. And a few years later we find young George Herbert being commended to the Dean for Westminster[Pg 291] School, where "the beauties of his pretty behavior and wit shined and became so eminent and lovely in this his tender age, that he seemed marked out for piety and to have the care of heaven, and of a particular good angel to guard and guide him."[119]

Westminster School was always loyal, and during the Protectorate the boys were ardent partisans of the king, whose scholars they said they were and would always remain. "It will never be well with the nation until Westminster School is suppressed," said the Puritan Dean of Christ Church, John Owen.

However, the "King's School" remained vehemently loyal in spite of all the efforts of the Presbyterian and Independent preachers in the Abbey; and it was not suppressed.

In Queen Anne's reign the School buildings took their present form. The old Dormitory, which had been in the Middle Ages the Granary of the Convent, stood on the west side of Dean's Yard.

"The wear-and-tear of four centuries, which included the rough usage of many generations of schoolboys, had rendered[Pg 292] this venerable building quite unfit for its purposes. The gaping roof and broken windows, which freely admitted the rain and snow, wind and sun; the beams, cracked and hung with cobwebs; the cavernous walls, with many a gash inflicted by youthful Dukes and Earls in their boyish days; the chairs, scorched by many a fire, and engraven deep with many a famous name—provoked alternately the affection and derision of Westminster students."[120]

So the Dormitory was doomed, and was re-built by Lord Burlington after designs by Sir Christopher Wren, in the College Garden—a lovely space of cool green beyond the Little Cloisters—where it stands to this day.

The school of Westminster has been always intimately connected with the Abbey Church, since the days when the abbot sat on one side of the Great Cloisters with his monks, and the master of the novices on the other with his disciples. And quaint customs still survive from early days in which the Chapter and the Scholars take part more or less.

Across the Great School runs the famous Bar,[Pg 293] over which it is the duty of the college cook to toss a pancake on Shrove Tuesday "to be scrambled for by the boys and presented to the Dean." Once a year the Dean and Chapter "receive in the Hall the former Westminster Scholars, and hear the recitation of the Epigrams, which have contributed for so many years their lively comments on the events of each passing generation,"[121] a relic of the old custom by which the Dean and Prebendaries dined in the College Hall—the ancient Refectory—with all the School. Every Sunday and Saint's day during the school year, the Westminster Scholars troop into the Choir in their white surplices in front of the Abbey body, and take the seats which have been theirs by right since the coronation of James the Second. And in modern days their shouts from those seats have testified the assent of the people of England to the sovereign's election in the Coronation Service.

And now from the shouts of the young, vigorous, active boys of Westminster, let us turn once more to the Abbey. In its still dim aisles, under the[Pg 294] vaulted, misty roof, let us bid a tender and loving farewell to its children—the Holy Innocents who have "gone before"—whose sweet memories live in the minds of men; whose souls are safe in God's good keeping; and whose ashes rest in England's Pantheon.


[109] Strickland. "Lives of the Queens of England." Vol. VII. p. 237.

[110] "Memoirs of Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester." By Jenkin Lewis. p. 7.

[111] "Memoirs of Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester." By Jenkin Lewis. p. 8.

[112] Memoirs. Jenkin Lewis. p. 8.

[113] Memoir. Jenkin Lewis. p. 16.

[114] "Impartial History of Queen Anne's Reign." Bishop White Kennett. p. 39.

[115] Jenkin Lewis.

[116] Memoir. Jenkin Lewis. p. 100.

[117] Bishop White Kennet. "Impartial History of Queen Anne's Reign." p. 39.

[118] "Memorials of Westminster Abbey." Dean Stanley, p. 196.

[119] Walton's Life. Vol. II. p. 24.

[120] "Memorials of Westminster Abbey. Dean Stanley." p. 536

[121] "Memorials of Westminster Abbey." Dean Stanley, p. 481.

[Pg i]


Aisle, the lateral divisions of a church, on each side of the nave. From Aile—a wing. p. 99.

Almonry, a room where alms were distributed. In Abbeys generally a stone building near the church. p. 99.

Ambulatory, a place to walk in. At Westminster the passage round the outside of the Chapel of St. Edward. p. 26.

Arcade, a series of arches, supported by columns, either open or closed with masonry. Frequently used for the decoration of the walls of churches, on the exterior and interior. p. 13.

Baptistery, the part of a church containing the font. p. 33.

Boss, an ornament placed at the intersection of the ribs in vaulted roofs. p. 106.

Breviary, the book containing the daily service of the Roman Catholic Church. p. 128.

Buttress, a projection from a wall to give extra strength and support. The flying buttress, or Arc-boutant is carried across by an arch from one wall to another. p. 13.

Chalice, the cup used at the celebration of the Eucharist. p. 28.

Chantry, a sepulchral chapel, in which masses for the dead were chanted. p. 24.

Choir, the chancel of collegiate or cathedral churches. p. 32.

Clerestory, (old spelling clear-story) the upper story or row of windows in a Gothic Church. p. 15.

Cloisters, covered galleries of communication between the different parts of a monastic building or college. They generally have roofs of groined stone. At Westminster they[Pg ii] run round the two quadrangles of the Great and Little Cloisters, and join them together by long stone passages. p. 33.

Crocket, detached flowers or bunches of foliage, used to decorate the angles of spires, pinnacles and gables. p. 115.

Gable, the upright triangular piece of masonry or woodwork at the end of a roof.

Gargoyle, a projecting stone water-spout in the shape of some monster, or the figure of a man from whose mouth the water runs. p. 13.

Gothic Architecture is chiefly distinguished by the pointed arch. It is divided into three periods. The Early English, which prevailed during the thirteenth century. The Decorated style, which prevailed during the fourteenth century. And the Perpendicular, or style of the fifteenth century. In France the latest Gothic style is called Flamboyant. p. 115.

Mullions, upright bars of stone between the lights of a window.

Nave, the principal or central division of a Gothic Church, extending from the west end to the entrance of the Choir. p. 64.

Oriel, a window projecting from the face of the wall, frequently resting on brackets.

Pendant, a sculptured ornament hanging from a Gothic roof. In the latest or Perpendicular style the pendants are sculptured in the most delicate manner and form the Keystones of the roof, taking the place of the bosses. p. 106.

Pier-Arches, arches supported on piers (or pillars) between the centre and side aisles. p. 110.

Pyx, a gold or silver circular vessel in which the Eucharistic wafer was reserved before the Reformation for communicating the sick. The term is also used sometimes, for a casket in which relics are kept; or for boxes in which deeds are preserved. p. 22.[Pg iii]

Reredos, the screen at the back of the Altar. p. 15.

Rood, the Holy Rood, or Crucifix. A cross with the figure of our Saviour upon it. p. 52.

Rose-Window, a circular window, called also a Catherine-wheel, or a Marigold window. p. 13.

Sacrarium, the part of a temple where the sacred things were deposited. At Westminster, the wide space within the Altar rails. p. 15.

String-course, a projecting line of mouldings running horizontally along the face of a building, frequently under the windows. p. 115.

Transept, the division of a church running north and south, forming the arms of a cross. p. 32.

Triforium, a range of small arches or panels between the top of the pier-arches and the bottom of the clerestory windows, usually opening into a passage above the side aisles. p. 15.

Troco, an old game played with large wooden balls which were pushed through a ring set up in the turf, by poles with a little iron cup at the end.

Tudor or Perpendicular style. In the windows the mullions are continued through the head of the window.

Turret, a small tower of great height in proportion to its diameter. p. 115.

Vaulting, or Vaulted Roof. An arched roof, the stones or materials of which are so placed as to support each other. p. 106.

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Transcriber's notes

Inconsistencies in spelling of proper names retained.

Punctuation normalised.