« PreviousContinue »
FURNITURE OF THE KING'S STATE ROOMS. 335 standing sixteen and a half inches high, having scroll-shaped pedestals, repoussée with foliage and festoons of oak leaves and acorns, and surmounted by a boy holding a basket of fruit, while in front of each is a medallion, with W. R. in monogram crowned.
Magnificent, however, as the furnishing of William III.'s rooms was, it would probably seem meagre if gauged by the ideas of our own day, when ladies cram their rooms as
though they were upholsterers' show-rooms or bric-à-brac shops—though in appropriateness and taste the fashion of the time of William III. was perhaps not so much wanting.
At last the King's apartments being ready for his reception, he came down on Friday, November 17th, to stay here for five days. It was probably during one of these visits of the King's to Hampton Court that he gave orders for the completion of the rest of the State and other rooms in the palace, for the full details as to which we must refer to the third volume of the “History of Hampton Court Palace."
He also gave directions for further improvements in the gardens—especially the formation of the magnificent Broad Walk in front of the East Façade of the palace, which extends from the Flower-Pot Gate on the highway to Kingston, to the Water Gallery by the riverside, a distance of no less than 2,264 feet, or nearly half a mile in length, its width being 39 feet.
King William was back again at Hampton Court in the summer of the following year; but even amid the charms of his new palace, he was pining for his annual visit to Holland. To him, in truth, England was always a foreign country; and as Macaulay, his panegyrist, is constrained to admit, “as soon as the passing of the last bill of supply had set him at liberty, he turned his back on his English subjects, and hastened to his seat in Guelders, where during some months he might be free from the annoyance of seeing English faces and hearing English words."
In the first few days of the month of June he had been unwell, Vernon noticing, on the 4th, that he looked pale, and had been a little feverish, which was attributable either to his riding in the sun, or walking about the gardens in the evening without a great coat.
On the score of his state of health, he took his meals as often as possible in private, using for this purpose the room already mentioned under the names of the “Beauty Room and “Oak Room,” which is on the ground floor, under the
King's Guard Chamber,"and is connected by the Orangery with the King's Private Apartments, in the south-east corner of the palace. While on this topic we may mention a very curious memorandum as to his diet, drawn up while he was at Hampton Court in the summer of the year after the period of which we are now treating, by the doctors attending on him: “He eat most of the first course, viz., soup made of pulse, pot herbs, and stewed meat. Of the second service he used to eat but little ; but he eat a great deal of fruit, though never, or very seldom, between meals. . . . For five or six months of the year, both his wine and his beer was always cooled in ice; and the last was always bottled. His breakfast was only a dish of chocolate, without any water in it."
In the meanwhile his ill-health increased his desire to ANXIETY ABOUT THE KING'S HEALTH.
leave England; and all his private letters at this time abound in expressions of impatience at being so long detained by business.
His anxiety to be off was not unnatural, for his health was really occasioning much solicitude to his ministers and physicians. Unfortunately, however, his three doctors, Sir Thomas Millington, Dr. Radcliffe, and Dr. Laurence, agreed in nothing-neither as to the disease, nor as to the remedies. Dr. Radcliffe thought the swelling in the King's leg was little less than dropsy, and advised “purging and asses' milk.” Millington, on the other hand, said both such remedies were contrary to the King's constitution, and he was for the King's taking garlic, as it might be prepared and qualified." “That,” said Radcliffe, "will destroy such weak lungs as the King's.” “Weak lungs !” cried Millington in answer, “why his lungs are the soundest part about him!” Then they fell out as to his Majesty's journey. Radcliffe maintained that he would be the worse for going to sea, while Millington asserted that he would be all the better for going to Loo-opinions which might certainly be consistent. So far they could differ without serious altercation. But when Millington happened to say "that Dr. Hatton ought to be called to the consultation, he being the King's first physician, and long acquainted with his constitution, Radcliffe, as if he were frightened at the name, flung out of the room in a passion; and so they broke up, resolving nothing."
A few days after, however, they seem to have so far agreed as to let Radcliffe have his way ; for we find it duly and solemnly recorded, that on the night of Wednesday, June 26th, 1700, King William III. "took a pill that the doctors gave him," and we learn also from another source that it was composed of "Pillula Stomachicæcum cum gummis, the volatile Salt of Hartshorn, and the Syrup of violets.” At the same time they prescribed “20 drops of the tincture of the Salt of Tartar to be taken every day; and the juice of 30 Hog-lice at six o'clock at night.” The “next day” we are surprised to learn that "he looked very well and was cheerfull.” But the success of a rival's remedy could carry no conviction to the minds of the other worthy medicos, and Laurence, who sided with Millington, announced that he
had determined not to relinquish his own prescription of garlic.
At the same time, Locke the philosopher, who happened to have come down to Hampton Court on business, was asked, as a scientific man, to take a diagnosis of the King's condition, and he was able so far to endorse Millington's opinion as to state that, in his view, "if the King had a dropsy, he would not have so fresh a colour." Thus fortified with the philosopher's pronouncement, Millington and Laurence proceeded to treat his Majesty after their own fashion, and accordingly on the 23rd he was ordered "2 grains of Scammony sulphurated, with 26 grains of the Stomachic pills, to be taken at night, going to bed.” That their recipes were not without an effect of some sort is clear from Vernon's account of an interview he had with the King a few days after. He says: “I was at Hampton Court this morning, and the King seeming a little heavy, I asked him 'if he were out of order?' He said, 'he should be very well, if they would leave off giving him remedies. He had taken something that had put his stomach out of order. ”
But the hour of his escape both from England, and from the antagonistic remedies of his physicians, had now arrived. Next day, being Wednesday, July 3rd, he held a grand council at the palace, which was attended by the Lords Justices, who came to bid him farewell. Up to the last moment, however, the doctors would not relax their hold on his Majesty. A few days after another consultation was held and they prescribed more severe remedies. I hope,” says Vernon," the King will be better, when he is out of their hands at Loo."
During the King's absence from England this summer the work of improvement at Hampton Court was again actively renewed—the remaking of the ground which lies between the South Front of the palace and the river, and which had hitherto escaped the reformer's hand, being now undertaken by his Majesty's orders. The scheme, as decided on in consultation with Sir Christopher Wren, Talman, and Wise, involved, in the first place, the demolition of the old Water Gallery, which by its situation impaired the appearance of the new palace, and obstructed the view of the river from the State Apartments. This work was soon accomplished,
THE GREAT TERRACE AND PAVILIONS.
the Board of Works reporting, on the 25th of September, 1700, that it had already been taken down, and all the useful material preserved, as the King directed, and “ used in places where it hath saved money in lieu of new materialls."
In the me report it is stated that “the foundations of the New Terrace were in prosecution of a design for a building sent to Loo, and approved by the King, but were not intended to be carried higher than the level of the terrace this year.”
Here we have the inception of the Great Terrace along the riverside, extending from the end of the Broad Walk, for a distance of 2,300 feet, or nearly half a mile, to the Bowling Green and Pavilions at the end of it. Switzer, the writer on gardening, pronounces it “the noblest work of that kind in Europe.” A reference to Kip's bird's-eye view on page 297 will show its position and appearance.
The Pavilions were four small square houses, built in the corners of the Bowling Green. Here, throughout the reigns of Queen Anne, George I., and George II.,
the Court used to resort on summer afternoons and evenings to play bowls, to sit about in nooks and arbours watching the game, and to play ombre and sip tea and coffee in the Pavilions. A reproduction of an old print of them is given further on at page 365.
WILLIAM III.'S DECLINING HEALTH AND DEATH.
On King William's return from Holland in the autumn of the year 1700, he came straight back to the palace, arriving on the night of Sunday, October the poth; and the next day the State Apartments were thronged with the nobility and gentry, who came down from town to offer him their congratulations on his safe return.