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was defended on the pretext that they were perishing from neglect and rust, as if they could not have been repaired, repainted, and taken care of where they stood ! Assuredly the time has arrived to consider, whether these splendid works of art should not all be restored to the royal palace, for which they were originally designed, where they would be seen by more people and to greater advantage, and whence, in the view of many, it was a mistake ever to have removed them. The sounder views that now prevail on questions of historic art, and the interest attaching to local association, should, we venture to think, effect this desirable restitution before long.
Two of them, indeed, were afterwards, in deference to many protests, returned to Hampton Court, and are now placed, somewhat incongruously, in the Queen's Guard Chamber; while five others are scattered about in various museums throughout England.
To return to the current of our narrative. All the works above described were still in active operation, when on December 28th, 1694, Queen Mary, who had been taken ill with small-pox but a few days before, breathed her last at Kensington Palace. It is to be noticed, therefore, that her Majesty probably never occupied the State Apartments of the new palace, the construction of which she had watched with so lively an interest; and further, that the works in the palace, gardens, and parks, which, one would infer from Macaulay's observations on William's improvements at Hampton Court, were carried out in a few months, were not in effect completed, as we shall find, for upwards of twelve years.
After the demise of Queen Mary the works at Hampton Court came more or less to a standstill for several years; for the King felt her loss so keenly as to care no more for the buildings and gardens, which they both had projected and superintended together. As Switzer observes: "Upon the death of that illustrious Princess, gardening and all other pleasures were under an eclipse with that Prince; and the beloved Hampton Court lay for some time unregarded.”
But early in January, 1698, an event occurred which induced King William to turn his attention once more to Hampton Court, and to make up his mind to complete what he had begun in conjunction with his wife. For, on the 4th
WHITEHALL DESTROYED BY FIRE.
of that month, the famous palace of Whitehall, which had already been partially consumed by fire in 1691, was, through the carelessness of a Dutch washerwoman, reduced to a heap of smoking ruins.
Without heeding the ridiculous accusation of the Jacobites, that the King himself instigated the firing of it, we can well believe that the destruction of that interesting shrine of English history-founded by Cardinal Wolsey, enlarged by Henry VIII., and sanctified by the memories and associations of five generations of Tudors and Stuarts—affected William of Orange but little. For in our history he took small interest, and for English tradition or antiquities he had no reverence or sympathy; and from the eagerness with which he demolished the ancient State Apartments at Hampton Court, and abandoned Greenwich and Richmond, and other ancient palaces of the sovereigns of England, to neglect, we might almost suppose that there was some foundation for the notion of the followers of King James, that he had "an unconquerable aversion to inhabit the houses of the uncle he had driven out.”
We are, consequently, not surprised to learn that the flames, that devoured Wolsey's chapel and the "glorious gallery, that destroyed Holbein's splendid frescoes, and played round the Banqueting House of Inigo Jones, whence the MartyrKing had stepped forth on to the scaffold, though watched with grief and dismay by the inhabitants of London, excited little concern in the breast of the alien Prince. Perhaps, indeed, he viewed it with less than indifference; for, abhorring as he did the right which every Londoner enjoyed, by a prescription too long to be gainsaid, of entering Whitehall and seeing the King sitting at table and dining in state, he probably welcomed the opportunity this conflagration afforded him of putting an end to a custom, which, though considered unobjectionable by the genial and popular Tudors and Stuarts, undoubtedly was excessively obnoxious and irksome to his shy, unsociable nature, and his exclusive habits, and to that “disgusting dryness,” which, even according to his toady Bishop Burnet, was his character at all times.'
In his secret correspondence with Heinsius he frankly owned : “ The loss is less to me than it would be to another person, for I cannot live there.” No attempt was therefore
made to rebuild the devastated home of our English kings, though public opinion strongly urged that this should be done, and though the opposition writers bitterly attacked him for not doing so, and for not availing himself of the opportunity thus offering itself of giving London a palace worthy of England's kings. On the contrary, the portions that escaped the fire were demolished, and the ground scandalously parcelled out among his Dutch parasites.
A fresh reason was thus afforded for expending further sums on the completion of the new palace at Hampton Court, the works at which, after having been more or less suspended for nearly six years, were now ordered to be pressed on to completion without delay.
KING WILLIAM'S WORKS AND IMPROVEMENTS.
VERY soon after the disastrous fire at Whitehall, King William instructed Sir Christopher Wren to furnish him with "an estimate of the expense of fitting the Inside of the Rooms of State at Hampton Court.” The estimate, which is dated April 28th, 1699, and which is entirely in Sir Christopher's handwriting, was discovered in 1847, all saturated with wet, and reduced almost to a pulp. With great care it was dried unhurt, unravelled and flattened into pages, and is now safely preserved in the Record Office.
The works, which, we may observe, relate only to the King's own rooms, and do not apply to the Queen's rooms or the bulk of the rest of the new palace, were authorized and begun forthwith; and about a fortnight after-on Monday, the 15th of May—the King came down to Hampton Court to dine and see what progress was being made. The first six rooms cost £5,246, while the “finishing of the Great Bed Chamber," the King's Writing Closet, the socalled Queen Mary's Closet, and several other rooms and lobbies, raised the total to £7,092 193. d.
ROOMS ADORNED WITH GIBBONS'S CARVINGS. 323
These charges, however, were independent of the sums paid to Verrio for painting the King's Great Staircase, William III.'s State Bedchamber, and his Dressing Room ; and possibly, also, those paid to Gibbons for the exquisite carvings with which he ornamented every room.
As to Gibbons, we have already seen in a previous page, that he had, in the earlier half of the decade, done a good deal of work here for the King, both in stone on the outside, and in wood in the inside, of the palace; and in the summer of this year, 1699, we may be sure that he was hard at work on those beautiful garlands of fruit, flowers, and dead game in limewood that are among the most attractive ornaments of the King's State Apartments. His skill in this particular style of work—which he may be said to have originated, and in which he has remained without a rival to this day—was consummate. Never before or since has an artist's hand given to wood, with such exquisite delicacy, the loose and airy lightness of the leaves and petals of flowers, and the downy softness of the feathers of birds. And it was not only in limewood that he produced these remarkable effects : even in oak he achieved results, which were almost more wonderful, considering the difficulty of working in so hard a wood. Of this there is a beautiful specimen, in one of the rooms on the ground floor in the south-east angle of the new palace, in the suite which seems to have formed part of William III.'s private apartments, and which communicates by a private stair with the State Apartments on the first floor above.
This carving, which consists of a beautiful oak mantelpiece representing various musical instruments and a music score, was probably executed in the summer of the year of which we are now writing; as was doubtless also that in King William's State Bedchamber, which is more elaborately decorated in this respect than other rooms of the suite; and which, beside the usual festoons, is ornamented with a rich border or frieze of foliated scroll-work just below the cornice.
It was the King's State Bedchamber, also, on which Verrio first began to work, and on the ceiling of which he expended his best efforts of art, when he came-probably in the summer of 1699--to paint the State Apartments for William III. For some time after the Revolution, he, as a Catholic and a loyal adherent of King James, refused to work for William of Orange at all; but at length, by persuasion of Lord Exeter, for whom he had executed a great many ceilings and staircases at Burleigh, he condescended to serve the heretical usurper in this palace.
The ceiling of the State Bedchamber, which, as we have said, he seems to have undertaken first, and which may be looked upon as one of his most successful achievements, is appropriately painted with designs emblematic of Sleep, showing in one part Endymion reposing in the lap of Morpheus, while Diana, in her crescent, admires him as he slumbers; and in the other part a figure of Somnus, with his attendants. The border has four small landscapes, and boys with baskets, intermingled with poppies.
The King—so we learn from a letter of Verrio's, written after his Majesty's death-"contracted for painting his great bedchamber at Hampton Court at a rate certain, which came to the neat sume of £400, and was paid. It was agreed he should be paid at the same rate for whatever work he did. He had painted the great staircase and little bedchamber, amounting to £1,800." The room here mentioned as the “ Little Bedchamber" is the one which adjoins the great State Bedchamber, and is now known as the “King's Dressing Room.” Verrio's ceiling, which is still as fresh as on the day it was painted, represents Mars reposing in the lap of Venus, while Cupids steal his shield, armour, spear, sword and helmet, and entwine his arms and legs with wreaths of roses.
The border is decorated with orange trees in ornamental pots or vases, with jasmine and other trees, and with parrots and other birds. The whole appearance of this little room, which is only 24 feet by 14, is pretty and attractive; and the corner fireplace, with its marble chimney-piece, its antique iron fireback—showing Neptune and attendant mermaids—and its curious oak mantelpiece, the shelves of which diminish as they rise one above another, and have pieces of Queen Mary's china ranged upon them, is characteristic of old times.
With regard to the painting of the King's Great Staircase, it is certainly one of Verrio's largest and most gorgeous, if not most important, works; and though, in the opinion of Horace Walpole, he painted it “as ill as if he had spoiled it