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While William was attending to business, Mary amused herself by inspecting everything, walking out five or six miles a day, superintending the gardening, making fringe, and playing basset, and doubtless doing as she had done at Whitehall, on her first arrival as Queen, where she went from room to room, looking at all the arrangements, and sleeping in the same bed where the Queen of James II. had slept. The Duchess of Marlborough, who was in attendance on her when she first arrived, tells us that she ran about “looking into every closet and conveniency, and turning up the quilts upon the beds, as people do when they come into an inn, and with no other sort of concern in her appearance but such as they express.” Evelyn's testimony is to a like effect: “She smiled upon all, and talked to everybody; so that no change seemed to have taken place at Court as to queens, save that infinite throngs of people came to see her, and that she went to our prayers. In this last particular, however, the zeal of the newly-installed sovereigns rather outran their discretion ; for it was complained of the Queen that her Protestant feeling was so deep as to lead her to suppress the fiddlers and other musicians who used to play in the Chapel Royal; while the King set his face against any church music at all
, and deeply offended the prejudices of English ecclesiastics by adhering to the Dutch custom of wearing his hat in chapel.
It was here, also, that he shocked the religious feelings of many of his new subjects by scoffing at the old English custom of touching for the King's evil—a superstition consecrated by the usage of centuries, and sanctioned by the highest authorities in the Church. The close of Lent was the usual time for the ceremony; and the fact of the King being at twelve miles' distance from London did not prevent a crowd of poor scrofulous wretches flocking from the capital to Hampton Court, to crave the magical virtue of the kingly touch. They received, however, but little medical consolation at the end of their laborious journey. “It is a silly superstition,” exclaimed William ; "give the poor creatures some money, and let them go.
Previous to this, Queen Mary had written to a friend of hers in Holland, giving her impressions of Hampton Court, and saying that, though the air was very good, the place had been much neglected, and was, in her opinion, wanting in NEW ROYAL APARTMENTS DETERMINED ON. 291
many of the conveniences of a modern palace. William was of the same opinion. “The King,” says Burnet, “found the air of Hampton Court agreed so well with him, that he resolved to live the greatest part of the year there; but that palace was so very old built and so irregular, that a design was formed of raising new buildings there for the King and Queen's apartments.'
The architect to whom was intrusted the designing of the new apartments was Sir Christopher Wren, by whose aid he hoped to rear an edifice that might in some degree vie with, if it could not excel, the palatial splendours of Versailles. This, of course, determined the architectural style of the building, which—our own old English Gothic being then in great disrepute—was to be that of the debased Renaissance of Louis XIV. Wren's task was, as a consequence, no easy one; for he had to unite his own to another work, totally different in style, and yet do so in such a manner as to maintain an appearance of consistence in the whole design, and to exhibit no glaring incongruity. This result, at any ratewhatever we may think of the new building in other respects -Wren, it must be confessed, has been pretty successful in attaining; partly through having employed red brick, with dressings of white stone in the windows, doors, and string courses, as in the old Tudor work, and partly, also, by arranging the new buildings into the shape of a quadrangle, in conformity with the plan of Henry VIII.'s old Cloister Green Court, on the site of which Wren's new State Apartments stand.
When we learn that, in addition to working with these fetters on his constructive skill, Wren had to consult William III.'s taste in everything, and to defer to his sovereign's judgment instead of following his own, it is not surprising that the building, as it was finally completed, should scarcely be worthy of the great architect's genius.
Horace Walpole, indeed, tells us, on the authority of a descendant of Sir Christopher's, that he submitted another design for the alteration of the ancient palace “in a better taste, which Queen Mary wished to have executed, but was overruled.” If this, however, means that an imitation of the old Tudor building was projected, we cannot but be glad, with Wren's mock Gothic Towers at Westminster before our eyes, that the style selected was one with which he was more familiar. In any case, it is much to be regretted that King William should have deemed it advisable to destroy Henry VIII.'s old State Rooms, with the galleries, towers, and turrets appurtenant to them; which comprised the most interesting parts of the old palace, and were impressed with the historic associations of two centuries. The new apartments he wished to build might, one would suppose, have been erected without any demolition of the older structure.
Altogether, we heartily wish that William of Orange, foreigner as he was, had never thought of laying his irreverent hand at all on the ancient home of our English Kings and Queens. That he should have had
sentimental feeling about preserving and perpetuating the charming old red-brick courts with their mullioned windows, quaint gables, and moulded chimney shafts, or the curious chambers in which so many interesting events had occurred—with their fretted ceilings, their latticed casements, their old stained glass, and their gorgeous tapestries—could not be expected; but, leaving the old palace intact, he might have carried out instead the idea, which he is believed to have entertained at one time, of erecting an entirely new palace at the west end of the town of Hampton, on an elevation about half a mile from the River Thames, which design, however, is said to have been abandoned on account of the time necessary for such an undertaking.
However this may be, we can say for certain that William and Mary's existing quadrangle was far from being the whole building that the King and his architect contemplated erecting at Hampton Court. For it is expressly stated in Wren's “Parentalia” that the apartments built for the King and Queen were “a part only of the Surveyor's design for a new Palace there”; and in the Office of Her Majesty's Works there is preserved a careful and detailed plan-probably drawn by the hand of Sir Christopher himself-for a magnificent new Entrance Court to the palace, on the north side, and an approach to it from Bushey Park, which improvements would doubtless have been carried out, as essential adjuncts to the new apartments actually erected—to say nothing of schemes still more grand and extensive, which we shall notice in a subsequent chapter-had not want of WILLIAM'S RUDENESS TO PRINCESS ANNE. 293
money delayed the works, and the death of King William supervened, before his projects were completed.
The fact that we do not, therefore, see Wren's entire design should be borne in mind when criticising his work at Hampton Court, especially if we are disposed to find fault with the insignificance of the approach.
While William and Mary were busying themselves with plans and suggestions for the new buildings, preparations were actively going on in London for their coronation, and in view of that great event, their Majesties publicly received the sacrament in the Chapel at Hampton Court from the hands of the Archbishop of York, on the 31st of March. A few days after, they went to London for their coronation in Westminster Abbey, on April 11th; but they soon returned to the palace again.
Here they were joined by the Princess Anne, who took up her abode at Hampton Court, where a suite of rooms had been prepared for her reception, in expectation of her approaching confinement. But in spite of her condition, she was treated with no civility or kindness by her sister and her brother-in-law, and sometimes with positive disrespect and indignity, William not only refusing to let her have the allowance settled on her, but scarcely giving her enough for her commonest wants. “I could fill many sheets,” says the Duchess of Marlborough, “with the brutalities that were done to the Princess in this reign. William III. was, indeed, so ill-natured, and so little polished by education, that neither in great things nor in small had he the manners of a gentleman. I give an instance of his worse than vulgar behaviour at his own table, when the Princess dined with him. It was in the beginning of his reign, and some weeks before the Princess was put to bed of the Duke of Gloucester. There happened to be just before her a plate of green peas, the first that had been seen that year. The King, without offering the Princess the least share of them, drew the plate before him and devoured them all. Whether he offered any to the Queen I cannot say, but he might have done that safely enough, for he knew she durst not touch one. The Princess Anne confessed, when she came home, that she had so much mind for the peas that she was afraid to look at them, and yet could hardly keep her eyes off them.”
The regal dinner hour was half-past one, or two at the latest. Supper took place at half-past nine; if Queen Mary had to write a letter or despatch at eleven at night, she could not keep her eyes open.
Except for brief excursions, William was rarely seen beyond the precincts of Hampton Court, and great dissatisfaction was already beginning to be expressed, in various quarters, at the King's spending so little of his time in London. Even his ardent supporter, Bishop Burnet, is constrained to admit the justice of the complaint. “The King," he says,
a very few days after he was set on the throne, went out to Hampton Court, and from that palace came into town only on council days : so that the face of a court and the rendezvous, usual in the public rooms, was now quite broken. This gave an early and general disgust. The gaiety and diversions of a court disappeared." The founding of an English Versailles was, in fact, an idea in every way repugnant to the ordinary Londoner; "and,” as the Bishop adds," the entering so soon on so expensive a building afforded matter of censure to those who were disposed enough to entertain it.”
Reresby also mentions that Lord Halifax, the minister, told him that the King's inaccessibleness and living so at Hampton Court altogether, and at so active a time, ruined all business; that he had desired him to be in town sometimes.” He pointed out to him also the inconvenience it entailed on his ministers, who, every time they went to see him, lost five hours in going and coming. But the King would listen to no remonstrances. “Do you wish to see me dead ?” he asked, peevishly.
His absence from the seat of government was the more inconsiderate at this time, as a question of the very highest importance was just then being debated, namely, what should be the provisions of the Bill of Rights, and especially whether the crown should be entailed on the Electress Sophia and her issue. This last point was rendered the more pressing as misgivings were beginning to arise whether the Princess Anne would ever have a child at all, in which case the ultimate chances of the descendants of the Electress would be of more immediate interest.
But in the middle of the discussion such doubts were laid at rest. For on the 24th of July,—as announced in the