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HORACE WALPOLE AND HIS RELATIONS. 385 Lord Chamberlain's office during the subsequent sixty years or so, some of the inhabitants of Hampton Court Palacethough they stopped short of the scandal of openly letting their apartments-continued to indulge in this irregular practice “under the rose,” throughout the reigns of George III., George IV., and William IV.
Of the inner social life of Hampton Court Palace at this period, we shall not attempt any exhaustive or elaborate description; in the first place, because there is but little special material for the purpose, and in the second, because a general idea of it can easily be obtained by the perusal of the letters of Horace Walpole, who, living at Strawberry Hill, but four miles off, was in the same social atmosphere, as it were, as the inhabitants of the palace, and who frequently met them at dinners, balls, and parties, either in the neighbourhood, or in their own apartments. Many of them, indeed, were his own near relations; and writing to Lady Ossory from Strawberry Hill on the 4th of August, 1782, he observes: “I have dined again with Princess Amelia and with the Hertfords at Ditton, and see a great deal of my family, who are cantoned around me like those of a patriarch, when tribes begin to increase and remove to small distances. My brother (Sir Edward Walpole] is at Isleworth, Lady Dysart at Ham, the Keppels at the Stud, the Waldegraves at the Pavilions, and Lady Malpas in the Palace.”
By the “Pavilions" Walpole signifies the buildings in the Bowling Green at the end of the Pavilion Terrace or Long Walk, already mentioned more than once in these pages, and of which an engraving is given on page 365. About the year 1718 one of these little garden houses (doubtless the still existing south-east one) was adapted as a residence for Mr. Christopher Tilson, and subsequently the adjoining one was similarly altered, and the two connected by further buildings. In 1745 all four Pavilions were granted to Princess Amelia, the daughter of George II., for whom further improvements were made, and who lived here for some years. At the time of Walpole's letter they were in the occupation of the King's brother, the Duke of Gloucester, and his wife Maria, Sir Edward Walpole's second illegitimate daughter, whose first husband had been the Earl Waldegrave. The Duchess of Gloucester, as she had then become, was the
most beautiful woman of her day—“not a fault in her face and person, and the detail charming. A warm complexion, tending to brown, fine eyes, brown hair, fine teeth, and infinite wit and vivacity.” With her at the Pavilions were her three beautiful and far-famed daughters, the Ladies
Waldegrave, so well known from Sir Joshua Reynolds's charming picture.
We may observe here that on the Duchess of Gloucester's death the Pavilions became the residence of the Duke of Kent, in virtue of his office as Ranger; and after him of his equerry, General Moore. It was in the General's time that Theodore Hook, who often stayed at Thames Ditton on the opposite side of the river, and who delighted in the situation,
THE DUKE OF KENT.
wrote, in 1834, his well-known verses on “The Swan at Ditton,” among which occur the lines :
“I'd rather live, like General Moore,
In one of the Pavilions
Than be the King of Millions." After the death, in 1854, of the General's widow, all the buildings were demolished, except the existing south-east Pavilion, which was then successively granted to two widows of distinguished officers. In 1894 the occupation of the Pavilion was granted by Her Majesty the Queen to the author.
An inhabitant of Hampton Court during the reign of George III., who should be mentioned, was William V., Prince of Orange, whose mother was Anne, daughter of George II., and who, having to fly from his dominions in 1795, on the invasion of Holland by the French Revolutionary troops, took refuge in England, where he and his family were received with much kindness and sympathy by George III., and by the public in general.
The King at once assigned him apartments at Hampton Court, whence, very soon after his arrival, on the 28th of May, 1795, he issued a protest against the decree of the StatesGeneral abolishing the Stadtholdership. The exact extent of the apartments in the palace occupied by him and his family, cannot be precisely ascertained; but we know that they embraced the suite in the range on the east side of the Clock Court, with several adjacent rooms, including such of the State Rooms, in the ranges north and south of the new palace, as abut on the Fountain Court. The Stadtholder and his family continued to reside here until 1802, when they returned to the Continent, after the Treaty of Amiens.
It is, perhaps, to his wife and her ladies-in-waiting that the walk under the elms and chestnuts against the Tilt Yard wall owes its curious name of the “Frog Walk,” which, it is supposed, was the favourite promenade of the Dutch Fraus or Frows of her Highness's household.
HAMPTON COURT DURING THE REIGNS OF GEORGE IV.
AND WILLIAM IV.
GEORGE IV.'s accession to the throne on the 29th of January, 1820, caused little, if any, change in the fortunes of Hampton Court; and of its history at this period we have not much to record, beyond some reminiscences and anecdotes, handed down by tradition, or culled here and there from memoirs and letters of the time. As to the palace itself, it presented, as far as the State Rooms were concerned, a most desolate and deserted appearance. “These princely halls,” remarks a visitor in 1823, “have come to be almost as silent as their dead master's tomb. They have nothing to echo back but the hurried footstep of a single domestic, who passes through them daily, to wipe away the dust of their untrodden floors, only that it may collect there again ; or the unintelligible jargon of a superannuated dependant, as he describes to a few straggling visitors (without looking at either) the objects of art that have been deposited in them, like treasures in a tomb."
An air of stately desolateness attached also to the surroundings of the palace; the same writer observing that about them there was an appearance which he knew not "how to describe otherwise than by calling it courtly. The great wide, yet unfrequented road, worn only in the middle, and grown with grass at the sides—the great walls that line the wide pathways on either hand, and the great stately elms, that stand out, here and there, almost in the middle of the road, as you see them nowhere else—all give an imposing appearance, that I do not remember to have seen elsewhere."
In the meanwhile, however, the private apartments continued to be as much sought after as ever; and whenever a vacancy occurred, there were always several eager applicants for the coveted privilege of free quarters in his Majesty's palace.
REMINISCENCES OF THE WELLESLEYS.
One illustrious inhabitant requires particular mention in this place, namely, the Countess of Mornington, mother of those two great brothers, the Marquess Wellesley, the brilliant and sagacious statesman who consolidated the British Empire in India, and the Duke of Wellington, who saved the liberties of Europe, and conquered Napoleon.
NORTH-EAST ANGLE OF THE OLD PALACE,
The apartments occupied by Lady Mornington, who had, at this time, been residing at Hampton Court for about thirty years, were those on the ground floor in the northeast angle of William III.'s palace, formerly occupied, in the reign of George II., by the Prince of Wales. Here Lady Mornington was often visited by her two famous sons; and here several persons still living remember seeing them to