Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

acres.

the crown, and no notice taken of its enclosure by the name of Kensington Gardens; to the history of Henry, it has been generally assumed that it was which we must now turn our attention. enclosed while yet the patrimony of the convent. It has already been stated that the gardens attached

Kensington Gardens are properly part of Hyde to Kensington Palace, when purchased by King William, Park. William III., not long after his accession to did not exceed twenty-six acres. Evelyn alludes to the throne, purchased from Daniel, second Earl of them on the 25th of February, 1690-1, in these words : Nottingham, his house and gardens at Kensington. -"I went to Kensington, which King William had The extent of the gardens was about twenty-six bought of Lord Nottingham, and altered, but was yet acres, and with this William seems to have been per- a patched building; but with the gardens, however, fectly satisfied.

Even in this small space a part of it is a very neat villa, having to it the park and a the original Hyde Park was already included. Queen strait new way through this park." Bowack, who Anne enclosed nearly thirty acres of the park (lying wrote in 1705, has given an account of the improvenorth of her conservatory) about 1705, and added ments then carrying on by order of Queen Anne :them to the gardens. Caroline, Queen of George II., “But whatever is deficient in the house, is and will be appropriated no less than three hundred acres of it, made up in the gardens, which want not any advantages about 1730; and it is only since her time that the of nature to render them entertaining, and are beautigreat enclosure of Kensington Gardens, and the cur- fied with all the elegancies of art (statues and fountains tailed Hyde Park, have a separate history.

excepted). There is a noble collection of foreign The resolutions adopted by the House of Commons plants, and fine neat greens, which makes it pleasant in 1652, relative to the sale of the crown lands, contain all the year, and the contrivance, variety, and dissome curious details regarding Hyde Park. The House position of the whole is extremely pleasing; and so resolved on the 21st of December, 1652, that Hyde frugal have they been of the room they bad, that Park should be sold for ready money; and in con- there is not an inch but what is well improved, the sequence of this resolution it was exposed for sale in whole with the house not being above twenty-six parts, called the Gravel-pit division, containing 112 Her Majesty has been pleased lately to plant acres; the Kensington division, consisting of 147 near thirty acres more towards the north, separated acres ; and three other divisions--the Middle, Ban- from the rest only by a stately green-house, not yet queting.house, and Old Lodge divisions. About | finished; upon this spot is near one hundred men £17,000 were obtained for the whole. * The deer of daily at work, and so great is the progress they have several sorts within the said park” were valued in made, that in less than nine months the whole is addition at £765 6s. 2d. The yearly rental of the levelled, laid out and planted, and when finished will park was assumed to be £894 13s. 8d. On the site be very fine. Iler Majesty's gardener has the manageof the Old Lodge which gave name to one of the above ment of this work." It appears from this passage divisions now stands Apsley House. In another that previous to 1705, Kensington Gardens did not part, now occupied by Hamilton-place, was the fort, extend farther to the north than the Conservatory, with four bastions, thrown up by the citizens of London originally designed for a banqueting-house, and fre. in 1612.

quently used as such by Queen Anne. The eastern From the specifications in the indenture o! sale, it boundary of the gardens would seem to have been at is clear that the boundaries on the north, east, and this time nearly in the line of the broad walk which south, were the same as at present; on the west it crosses them before the east front of the palace. seems to have extended almost to the front of Ken- Palace-green seems at that time to have been considered sington Palace. We may also infer from them that

a part of the private pleasure-grounds attached to the Hyde Park was then intersected by a chain of "pools,” palace, for the low circular stone building now used (which old muniments of the manor of Paddington as an engine-house for supplying the palace with and the manor of Knightsbridge show must have been water was erected by order of Queen Anne, facing an expansions in the bed of a stream,) tracing the same avenue of elms, for a

The town of line as the Serpentine of the present day, and a Kensington for some years later did not extend so far shallow water-course running down to it from an to the east as it now does. The kitchen gardens enclosed meadow where Cumberland-gate now stands. which extend north of the palace towards the GravelThe park was enclosed—it is described in the inden- pits, and the thirty acres north of the Conservatory, tures as " that impaled ground called Hide Park”- added by Anne to the pleasure gardens, may have but with the exception of Tyburn meadow, the en- been the fifty-five acres

“ detached and severed from closure for the deer, the Old Lodge, and the Ban- the park, lying in the north-west corner thereof," queting-house, it seems to have been left entirely in a granted in the 16th of Charles II. to Hamilton, ranger state of nature. Grammont alludes to the park as of the park, and Birch, auditor of excise, to be walled presenting the ungainly appearance of a bare field in and planted with " pippins and red-streaks," on conthe time of Charles II. In this state Hyde Park dition of their furnishing apples or cider for the king's seems to have continued with little alteration till the The alcove at the end of the avenue leading year 1730, and even then the improvements were from the south front of the palace to the wall on the almost exclusively confined to the part enclosed under Kensington-road was also built by Ann's orders. So

summer reces3.

use.

that Kensington Palace in her reign seems to have already mentioned. All the waters and conduits in stood in the midst of fruit and pleasure gardens, with the park, granted in 1663 to Thomas Haines on a pleasant alcoves on the west and south, and a stately lease of ninety-nine years, were re-purchased by the banqueting-house on the east-the whole confined Crown. Along the line of the ponds a canal was between the Kensington and Uxbridge roads, the west begun to be dug. The excavation was four hundred side of Palace-green, and the line of the broad walk yards in length and forty feet deep, and cost £6000. before the east front of the palace. Tickell has At the south-east end of the gardens a mount was perpetrated a dreary mythological poem on Ken- raised of the soil dug out of the canal. On the north sington Gardens, which we have ransacked in vain for and south the grounds, of which these works formed some descriptive touches of their appearance in Queen the characteristic features, were bounded by high Anne's time, and have therefore been obliged to have parallel walls.

parallel walls. On the north-east a fosse and low recourse to Addison's prose in the 477th Number of the wall, reaching from the Uxbridge-road to the Ser- . 'Spectator :'-"I think there are as many kinds of pentine, at once shut in the gardens, and conducted gardening as poetry: your makers of parterres and the eye along their central vista, over the Serpentine flower gardens are epigrammatists and sonnetteers in to its extremity, and across the park. To the east of this art ; contrivers of bowers and grottos, treillages Queen Anne's gardens, immediately below the prinand cascades, are romance writers. Wise and Loudon cipal windows of the east front of the palace, a reserare our heroic poets; and if as a critic I may single voir was formed into a circular pond, and thence long out any passage of their works to commend, I shall vistas were carried through the woods that circled it take notice of that part in the upper garden at Ken- round, to the head of the Serpentine ; to the fosse and sington, which was at first nothing but a gravel-pit. low wall, affording a view of the park (this sort of It must have been a fine genius for gardening that fence was an invention of Bridgeman, “an attempt could have thought of forming such an unsightly then deemed so astonishing, that the common people hollow into so beautiful an area, and to have hit the called them Ha-has, to express their surprise at finding eye with so uncommon and agreeable a scene as that a sudden and unperceived check to their walk "), and which it is now wrought into. To give this particular to the mount constructed out of the soil dug from the spot of ground the greater effect, they have made a canal. This mount was planted with evergreens, and very pleasant contrast ; for as on one side of the walk on the summit was erected a small temple, made to you see this hollow basin, with its several little turn at pleasure, to afford shelter from the wind. The plantations lying so conveniently under the eye of the three principal vistas were crossed at right angles, by beholder, on the other side of it there appears a others at regular intervals-an arrangement which has seeming mount, made up of trees one higher than been complained of as disagreeably formal, with great another as they approach the centre. A spectator injustice, for the formality is only in the ground plot, who has not heard of this account of it, would think not in any view of the garden that can meet the eye of this circular mount was not only a real one, but that the spectator at one time. Queen Anne's gardens it had been actually scooped out of that hollow space, underwent no further alteration than was necessary to which I have before mentioned. I never yet met with make them harmonise with the extended grounds, of any one who had walked in this garden who was not which they had now become a part. struck with that part of it which I have mentioned." Since the death of George II. Hyde Park and Ken

In reference to the operations of Queen Caroline, sington Gardens have undergone some further changes. Daines Barrington remarks, in his 'Essay on the Pro- The Ring, in the former, has been deserted for the gress of Gardening :'—" It is believed that George I. rather improved the gardens at Herrnhausen than those of any of his English palaces. In the succeeding reign, Queen Caroline threw a string of ponds in Hyde Park into one, so as to form what is called the Serpentine River, from its being not exactly straight, as all ponds and canals were before. She is likewise well known to have planted and laid out the gardens of Richmond and Kensington upon a larger scale, and in better taste, than we have any instances before that period. She seems also to have been the first introducer of expensive buildings in gardens, if one at Lord Barrington's is excepted.” And yet Queen Anne's Green-house or Conservatory in the very gardens he was writing about must have cost something. Nearly 300 acres were added by Queen Caroline to Kensington Gardens. Opposite the Ring in Hyde Park a mound was thrown across the valley to dam up the streams connecting the chain of "pools"

[graphic]

3.-TIL BOAT-HOT SL.

1

Drive, and presents now

an appearance which

any on the evening of the 30th April, 1661, (he was then Jonathan Oldbuck might pardonably mistake for on a pleasure jaunt,) to this effect :-“I am sorry I the vestiges of a Roman encampment. New plant- am not in London to be at Hide Park to-morrow ations have been laid out to compensate for the gradual morning, among the great gallants and ladies, which decay of the old wood. That part of the south will be very fine." It was very fine, for Evelyn has wall of Kensington Gardens which served to in- entered in his Diary,' under the date of the identical tercept between it and the Kensington-road a narrow 1st of May referred to by Pepys :--" I went to Hide strip of the park where the cavalry barracks have Park to take the air, where was his Majesty and an been erected, has been thrown down. Queen Caro- innumerable appearance of gallants and rich coaches, line's artificial mound had previously been levelled. being now at time of universal festivity and joy.” A new bridge has been thrown across the Serpentine, But even during the sway of the Puritans, the Lonand more ornamental buildings been erected on its doners assembled here “to do observance to May," bank, to serve for a powder-magazine and the house of as we learn from 'Several Proceedings of State Affairs, the Humane Society, (beautiful antithesis !) (Cut, No. 27th April to 4th May, 1654.'—"Monday, 1st May. 3.) and infantry barracks have been erected within This day was more observed by people going a maying the precincts of the park near Knightsbridge. The than for divers years past, and indeed much sin comflower-walk has been of recent formation. The boats mitted by wicked meetings with fiddlers, drunkenness, for hire are also a very picturesque addition.

ribaldry, and the like; great resort came to Hyde Kensington Gardens now occupy the Gravel-pit Park, many hundreds of coaches and gallants in division and the larger portions of the Kensington and attire, but most shameful powdered hair men, and Middle divisions of the time of Oliver Cromwell. painted and spotted women. Some men played with Farther along the Serpentine, and below the waterless a silver ball, and some took other recreation. But waterfall, at its termination, the appearance of the his Highness the Lord Protector went not thither nor park has been wonderfully changed since the time of any of the Lords of the Commonwealth, but were the Protectorate. The remainder is characterised, | busy about the great affairs of the Commonwealth.” perhaps, by a more careful surface-dressing, but in We would give a trifle to know whether one John other respects it has, if anything, retrograded in in Milton, a Secretary of the Lord Protector, was equally ternal ornament. .

Of the Ring, once the seat of gaiety self-denying. In 1654 the morning view from the and splendour, we may say with Wordsworth, that- Ring in Hyde Park must have been not unlike this “ Dying insensibly away

description of what had met a poet's eye in his early From human thoughts and purposes,"

rambles

“ Some time walking not unseen it seems

By hedge-row elms on hillock green,
“To yield to some transforming power,

Right against the eastern gate
And blend with the surrounding trees.”

Where the great sun begins his state,

Robed in flames and amber light, We sometimes feel tempted to regret its decay, and

The clouds in thousand liveries diglt, also the throwing down of part of the south wall of

While the ploughman near at hand the gardens, which seems to have let in too much sun

Whistles o'er the furrow'd land; light upon them (to say nothing of east winds), and

And the milkmaid singeth blithe, spoiled their umbrageous character. On the whole,

And the mower whets his scythe, however, the recent changes in Hyde Park are more

And every shepherd tells his tale striking in regard to its immediate vicinity, to the

Under the bawthorn in the dale." setting of the jewel as it were, than to the ground It may be added, that the said John Milton (perhaps itself. Any one who enters the park from Grosvenor with a view to be near the scene of his official duties) Gate (opened in 1724) and advances to the site of the resided for some time in a house on the south-side of Ring, will at once feel this change in its full force. St. James's Park, at no immeasurable distance from Hemmed in though the park now is on all sides by the place where the enormities of May worship were long rows of buildings, one feels there, on a breezy perpetrated in 1654, under the very noses of a puritanupland with a wide space of empty atmosphere on ical government. every side, what must have been the charm of this Be this as it may, the sports affected by the habitual place when the eye, looking from it, fell in every frequenters of Hyde Park at all times of the year had direction on rural scenes. For Hyde Park until very a manly character about them, harmonising with its recently was entirely in the country. And this re- country situation. For example, although the Lord mark naturally conducts us to those adventures and Protector felt it inconsistent with his dignity to incidents associated with Hyde Park which contribute sanction by his presence the profane mummery of even more than its rural position to render it less the 1st of May, he made himself amends for his exclusively of the court, courtly, than St. James's. self-denial a few days afterwards, as we learn from the

Hyde Park was a favourite place of resort for those Moderate Intelligencer :'-" In Hyde Park, this day, who brought in the 1st of May with the reverence there was a hurling of a great ball by fifty Cornish once paid to it. Pepys breathes a sigh in his 'Diary gentlemen of one side, and fifty on the other; one

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

at ano

party played in red caps, and the other in white. the rougher business of life. During the time of the There was present his Highness the Lord Protector, Commonwealth, as we have seen, it became private many of his Privy Council, and divers eminent gentle- property. Evelyn (11th April, 1653) complains feelmen, to whose view was presented great agility of ingly of the change :-"I went to take the aire in body, and most neat and exquisite wrestling, at every Hide Park, where every coach was made to pay a meeting of one with the other, which was ordered with shilling, and horse sixpence, by the sordid fellow (poor such_dexterity, that it was to show more the strength, Anthony Deane, of St. Martin's in the Fields, Esq.) vigour, and nimbleness of their bodies than to endanger who had purchased it of the state, as they are called.” their persons. The ball they played withal was silver, The courtly Evelyn had no words of reprobation for and designed for that party which did win the goal.” Mr. Hamilton, the ranger appointed at the Restoration, Evelyn, in May, 1658, "went to see a coach-race in who continued for ten good years to let the park in Hide Park ;” and Pepys mentions in August, 1660, farms; it not having been enclosed with a wall and To Hide Parke by coach, and saw a fine foot-race restocked with deer till 1670. three times round the park." Evelyn's coach-race II yde Park has from an early period down to our recalls an accident which happened to Cromwell in own times been a favourite locality for reviews. A splenHyde Park, in 1654. Ludlow's version of this story did one took place at the Restoration, and in the very is :-"The Duke of Holstein made him (Cromwell) a height of the show the Lord Mayor received notice that present of a set of grey Friesland coach-horses; with 'Colonel John Lambert was carried by the park a priwhich taking the air in the park, attended only with soner unto Whitehall.” Pepys, “ did stand his secretary Thurloe, and a guard of Janizaries, he ther in 1664, when Charles II. was present, while "the would needs take the place of the coachman, not doubt- horse and foot march by and discharge their guns, to ing but the three pair of horses he was about to drive show a Frenche Marquisse (for whom this muster was would prove as tame as the three nations which were caused) the goodnesse of our firemen ; which indeed was ridden by him ; and therefore, not content with their very good, though not without a slip now and then; ordinary pace, he lashed them very furiously. But and one broadside close to our coach as we had going they unaccustomed to such a rough driver, ran away in out of the parke, even to the nearenesse to be ready to a rage, and stopped not till they had thrown him out burn our hairs. Yet methought all these gay men are of the box, with which fall his pistol fired in his not the soldiers that must do the king's business, it being pocket, though without any hurt to himself: by which such as these that lost the old king all he had, and were he might have been instructed how dangerous it was beat by the most ordinary fellows that could be.Horace to meddle with those things wherein he had no expe- Walpole's account of a somewhat similar scene, 1759, rience.” Cromwell seems to have been partial to Hyde may serve a pendant to these remarks :-“I Park and its environs.

The “We ly Post,' enu- should weary you with what everybody wearies me-merating the occasions on which Syndercombe and the militia. The crowds in Hyde Park when the Cecill had lain in wait to assassinate him in Hyde Park King reviewed them were unimaginable. My Lord (“the hinges of Hide Park gate were filed off in order Orford, their colonel, I hear looked ferociously marto their escape "), enumerates some of his airings all in tial and genteel, and I believe it; his person and this neighbourhood :-" when he rode to Kensington air have a noble wildness in them; the regimentals, too, and thence the back way to London ;" " when he went are very becoming, scarlet, faced with black, buff to Hide Park in his coach ;" " when he went to Turnham waistcoat and gold buttons. How knights of the Green and so by Acton home ;” and “when he rode shire, who have never shot anything but woodcocks, in Hide Park.” One could fancy him influenced by like this warfare I don't know; but the towns through some attractive sympathy between his affections and which they pass adore them, everywhere they are the spot of earth in which he was destined to repose treated and regaled.” The Brobdignaggian scale of the from his stirring and harassing career. The unmanly reviews of the volunteers in the days of George III. are indignities offered to his dead body harmed not him, beyond the compass of our narrow page. The encampand they who degraded themselves by insulting the ment of the troops in Hyde Park in 1780, after Lord dead were but a sort of sextons more hardened and George Gordon's riots, and of the volunteers in 1799, brutal than are ordinarily to be met with. Cromwell must be passed over in silence ; as also the warlike sleeps as sound at Tyburn, in the vicinity of his doings of the fleet in the Serpentine in 1814, when a favourite haunts, as the rest of our English monarchs Lilliputian British frigate blew a Lilliputian American sleep at Westminster or Windsor.

frigate out of the water, in commemoration of the The fashionable part of Hyde Park was long con

founders of the feast confessed themselves at a loss to fined within very narrow limits; the Ring being, from say what. all time previous to the Restoration till far in the reigns But Hyde Park, unlike St. James's, has witnessed of the Georges, the exclusive haunt of the beau monde. the mustering of real as well as of holiday warriors. It Subsequently Kensington Gardens, at the opposite was the frequent rendezvous of the Commonwealth extremity of the park, was appropriated by the race troops during the civil war. Essex and Lambert that lives for enjoyment; but even after that event a encamped their forces here, and Cromwell reviewed his considerable space within the park remained allotted to terrible Ironsides. And though Butler's muse, which,

as

[ocr errors]

as the bee finds honey in every flower, elaborates the where he had been stopped was near the Halfway ludicrous from all events, has sneered at the labours of House, between Knightsbridge and Kensington. As we the citizens of London who threw up the fort in Hyde came near the house the prisoner came to us on foot Park, the jest at which royalists could laugh under and said, 'Driver, stop!' He held a pistol tinderCharles II. was no joke to the cavaliers of Charles box to the chaise and said, “Your money directly: I. The very women shared the enthusiasm, and, as you must not stay, this minute your money. I said the irreverend bard alluded to sings

‘Don’t frighten us; I have but a trifle; you shall “ March'd rank and file with drum and ensign,

have it.' Then I said to the gentlemen (there were T'entrench the city for defence in ;

three in the chaise), Give your money.'

I took Rais'd rampions with their own soft hands,

out a pistol from my coat pocket, and from my And put the enemy to stands.

breeches-pocket a five-shilling piece and a dollar. I From ladies down to oyster wenches,

held the pistol concealed in one hand and the money Labour'd like pioneers in trenches,

in the other. I held the money pretty hard : he said, Fall'n to their pick-axes and tools,

'Put it in my hat.' I let him take the five-shilling And help'd the men to dig like moles."

piece out of my hand: as soon as he had taken it I One circumstance that tends to impress us with the snapped my pistol at him; it did not go off: he idea of the solitary character of Hyde Park and its staggered back, and held up his hands and said, 'Oh environs, when compared with St. James's Park during Lord ! oh Lord !' I jumped out of the chaise : he ran the reigns of the last Stuarts and the first sovereigns of away, and I after him about six or seven hundred the present dynasty, is its being frequently selected, in yards, and there took him. I hit him a blow on his common with the then lonely fields behind Montague back; he begged for mercy on his knees; I took his House, now the British Museum, as the scene of the neckcloth off and tied his hands with it, and brought more inveterate class of duels. In the days when men him back to the chaise: then I told the gentlemen in wore swords there were many off-hand duels-im- the chaise that was the errand I came upon, and promptu exertions of that species of lively humour. wished them a good journey, and brought the prisoner Horace Walpole, sen., quarrelled with a gentleman in to London. Question by the prisoner : 'Ask him how the House of Commons, and they fought at the stair- he lives.' Norton : 'I keep a shop in Wych-street, and foot. Lord Byron and Mr. Chaworth stepped out of sometimes I take a thief.'” The postboy stated on a dining-parlour in the 'Star and Garter' Tavern, the trial that he had told Norton if they did not meet Pall-mall, and fought, by the light of a bed-room | the highwayman between Knightsbridge and Kensingcandle, in an adjoining apartment. More than one ton, they should not meet him at all-a proof of the duel occurred in Pall-mall itself. But there were also frequency of these occurrences in that neighbourhood. more ceremonious duels, to which men were formally Truly while such tricks were played in the park by invited some time beforehand, and in which more noblemen and gentlemen in the daytime, and by footguests than two participated. The pistol-duel in pads at night, the propinquity of the place of execuwhich Wilkes was severely wounded occurred in Hyde tion at Tyburn to the place of gaiety in the Ring was Park. Here too the fatal duel in which the Duke of quite as desirable as it seems upon first thought Hamilton and Lord Mahon (November, 1712) fell, anomalous. and their seconds were wounded, took place. Swift The Ring, we have already observed, was the first enables us to fix with precision the locality of this part of the park taken possession of by the gay world. last event: he says in his 'Journal to Stella,' The Evelyn's complaint of the exaction of the “sordid Duke was helped towards the Cake-house by the Ring fellow who had purchased it of the state, as they are in Hyde Park, where they fought, and died on the called," seems to imply that it had been a resort for grass

before he could reach the house." Its loneliness horsemen and people in carriages previous to 1653. is also vouched for by the frequency of highway He more than once notes a visit to Hyde Park, robberies in its immediate vicinity : pocket-picking is “ where was his Majesty and abundance of gallantry." the branch of industry characteristic of town places The sight-seeing Pepys, too, appears from his journal, like St. James's Park; highway robbery and fox- as might have been anticipated, to have been a hunting are rural occupations. The narrative of the frequent visitant. His Paul Pry disposition has led principal witness in the trial of William Belchier, him to leave on record, that on the 4th of April, 1663, sentenced to death for highway robbery in 1762, he went " after dinner to Hide Parke ; at the parke shows the state in which the roads which bound was the King, and in another coach my Lady CastleHyde Park were at that time, and also presents us maine, they greeting one another at every turn." with a picture of the substitutes then used instead of After King William took up his abode in Kena good police —" William Norton : The chaise to sington Palace, a court-end of the town gathered the Devizes having been robbed two or three times, as around it. The praises of Kensington Gardens, I was informed, I was desired to go in it, to see if I as they appeared in the days of Queen Anne, by could take the thief, which I did on the 3rd of June, Tickell and Addison, have already been alluded about half an hour after one in the morning. I got to. The large gardens laid out by Queen Caroline into the post-chaise; the postboy told me the place were opened to the public on Saturdays, when the

« PředchozíPokračovat »