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MORE ARREARS OF DEBT.
reign, although directed by the late King," was met by the Treasury with the evasive answer,
“ There is no money at present for arrears.”
A similar reply was given to “ John Tissue,” i.e. Jean Tijou, who prayed for payment of £1,889 is. 6 d. still due and owing to him for the ironwork at Hampton Court, in regard to which he was “indebted to several persons, who threaten to imprison him.”
Nor do we find that any notice whatever was taken of the petition of Thomas Highmore, her Majesty's sergeantpainter, who was owed £163 odd, for painting done in the gardens at Hampton Court, although the Board of Works reported that the painting was since her Majesty's accession, that the allegations of the petition were true, and that the claim was just and should be paid.
Queen Anne made a somewhat prolonged stay at Hampton Court in the autumn of 1710, and it was probably during this sojourn of hers at the palace that she gave orders for the re-decoration of the Chapel, the elaborate Tudor ceiling of which was repainted, the walls embellished with carving by Gibbons, the windows deprived of their Gothic mullions, the floor paved with black and white marble, and new pews made of fine Norway oak in the classic taste.
These alterations are, of course, quite out of harmony with the original style of the Chapel, though they are made to blend with considerable skill; and time and historic association help to tone the incongruity. Probably it was at the same period that the old gallery at the west end of the Chapel, over the ante-chapel, was entirely altered, the magnificent Tudor decorations of Henry VIII. being swept away, and a small royal pew made in the centre of it for the Queen. The ceiling of the pew is noteworthy, being painted, probably by the hand of Verrio, with a group of cherubim sustaining the British crown imperial over Queen Anne's initials, A. R., and waving over it an olive-branch. About the same time, also, a new organ was ordered to be made for the Chapel by Christopher Schrider, one of “Father” Schmidt's pupils, and who, having become his son-in-law, succeeded, after his death in 1708, to his business, and in 1710 to his post of “Organ-Maker to her Majesty.” The cost of Schrider's organ was £800.
To the summer of the year 1711 is to be assigned an incident, originally of most trivial import, but which will be perpetuated, as long as the English language endures, by the imperishable fame with which it has been invested through the genius of Pope. We refer to the cutting off of a lock of a lady's hair, which occurred at Hampton Court about this time, and which led to the composition of the immortal poem, “The Rape of the Lock.” The exact date of the occurrence, on which that airy poetic structure was founded, has nowhere been revealed, even amid the vast mass of critical comments which, for nearly two centuries, have been showered upon every line, allusion, and expression in that exquisite creation.
But from the facts that the first sketch of the poem was written in 1711, in less than a fortnight's time, and that it was conceived in response to the request of a friend, Mr. Caryll, to put an end to an estrangement that had arisen between two families, hitherto on terms of great intimacy and friendship, we may presume that the incident itself took place but a very short time previously.
The facts, so far as they transpierce the poetic glamour with which they have been clothed, or can be derived from other sources, were these: One summer's day there set out on an excursion to Hampton Court a party of friends, amongst whom were Lord Petre, “the Baron” of the poem, Sir George Brown of Berkshire, immortalized under the designation of “Sir Plume,” Mrs. Morley, who figures as “Thalestris," and Miss Arabella Fermor, the heroine of the poem, under the name of “Belinda.” These four friends, who by the way were all Catholics, were accompanied by one or two others, and started, probably from London, to go up the Thames, and spend the day at the palace. Their progress up the river is exquisitely described in the verses :
“But now secure the painted vessel glides,
Arrived at Hampton Court, the company had dinner
whether in the Banqueting House, the Pavilions, some of the private apartments, or at the “Toy” inn, there is nothing to show; and, afterwards, they sat down to play at the then fashionable game of ombre, described so wonderfully in the third canto of the poem as finally published. In the middle of the game utensils for coffee were brought in, and, as was the custom in those days, the ladies of the
THE RAPE OF THE LOCK.” (From the engraving by Lud. du Guernier in the first edition of the
completed poem, published in 1714.)
party roasted and ground the coffee berry, and boiled the
“For lo ! the board with cups and spoons is crowned,
It was just after this that “the Baron,” Lord Petre, with a pair of scissors belonging to “ Clarissa,” one of the ladies of the party, was tempted to cut a lock of Miss Fermor's hair, as she bent her beautiful head over her cup. The accompanying plate affords a curious contemporary illustration of the scene.
“The peer now spreads the glittering forfex wide,
This liberty “the nymph,” who was the victim of it, deeply resented; and Lord Petre refusing to restore the lock, a serious breach arose between the two families. Miss Fermor is made to deplore what had occurred in the following couplets :
“For ever cursed be this detested day,
If Hampton Court these eyes had never seen ! "
This is not the place to enter into any careful gauging of the merits of the poem, or into the many discussions and disquisitions that have been lavished on the question of the use of the supernatural “ machinery,” and Pope's resulting quarrel with Addison on the subject. But we may draw attention to the fact, already adverted to, that, poetic excellence and merit altogether apart, “The Rape of the Lock” presents us with the most perfect picture in miniature possible of life at Hampton Court during the reign of Queen Anne. We have already cited at the beginning of this chapter the opening lines of the third canto, beginning with the words, “Close by those meads,” etc. : the verses that follow them, with their delicate irony on the fashionable frivolities of the inhabitants of Hampton Court at that time,
GEORGE I. ARRIVES AT HAMPTON COURT. 359
give us a peep into the interior social life of the palace, than which nothing could be more vivid :
“ Hither the heroes and the nymphs resort
Thus it comes about that the subject-matter of these pages is associated with the most brilliant and exquisite mock-heroic poem in the English, or perhaps any, language, replete with all the subtlest delicacies of humour, satire, language, and invention, and redolent of the refined and airy graces of the artificial world which it so intimately describes.
Hampton Court, in the autumn of the year 1711, was again visited for a short time by the Queen, who arrived on October 23rd, in a terrible storm of rain ; and here she entertained the envoys of the King of France. She was at this time laid up with gout, and Swift, writing to Stella, says, “She is now seldom without it any long time together; I fear it will wear her out in a very few years' -a prognostication which was verified in less than
GEORGE I. AT HAMPTON COURT.
GEORGE I., not long after his arrival in England, removed from London to Hampton Court, thinking it a commodious place to which he might retire from his obnoxious subjects.
The King, as we are told by the Comte de Broglio, who came over to England as ambassador from France, had no