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appointments, arms, of course, only excepted, resembling those of troops of the line : on stated days, they are reviewed by the commandant, and at such times, this Lilliputian regiment attracts numbers of spectators; and their mimic evolutions, and miniature representations of “the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war," form a really curious and interesting spectacle.
Chelsea town is a large and straggling place, the parish extending almost to Hyde Park Corner, and including a part of Knightsbridge. Cheyne Walk, where the tourist may disembark, contains some fine houses, once the residence of persons of distinction, now, by the caprice of fashion, comparatively deserted. In this handsome promenade, at the upper end, stood the palace of the Bishops of Winchester, and still remains a once noted place of entertainment, called Don Saltero's Coffeehouse, from one Salter, a barber, who attracted many visitors to his house by a collection of rarities, to which Sir Hans Sloane contributed largely from the superfluities of his collection. The Tatler more than once notices this eccentric character, whose museum was disposed of at the close of the last century. Pennant, in his history of Holywell and Downing, says that his father used to visit him, when a boy, at Chelsea, and that he was frequently taken by him to the coffeehouse, which he supposes with much reason to have been Don Saltero's,
and that there he used to see poor Richard Cromwell, “a little and very neat old man, with a placid countenance.”
If it were for nothing else than to muse upon the various fate of sublunary things, it were worth while to take a turn in the coffeehouse where an ex-Protector of an extinct Commonwealth was accustomed to resort: to see, or recal by imagination, the man who had wielded supreme power settling a tavern score; or, instead of deciding upon the destinies of nations, criticising the beer, or approving the tobacco. We can imagine how many curious spirits must have thronged Don Saltero’s to catch a glimpse of the placid son of a fearful father ; the fool and coward who stole away from his palace with “the lives and fortunes of the people of England” in his pocket : or, if you will, the truly wise man, who was content to be obscurely happy, rather than miserably great. Richard may have been wise, but he could not have been great. The tastes of the man who was Protector of England must have indeed been of a low kind, to have carried him into the vulgar mediocrity of tavern companionship; respect for the pre-eminent position he once held should have restrained him from becoming the lion of a pot-house, if he had not been withheld by respect for himself. The truth is, Richard Cromwell was a placid, and, to an unmanly extreme, a timid man : he was probably ashamed, even while Protector, of the memory of his father, and of the elevation procured for him by that ferocious and bloodthirsty fanatic, who used to call man's murder by the name of God's mercy. When danger threatened he became afraid ; the king's son returned to his kingdom, and the brewer's son to his beer.
In the hamlet of LITTLE CHELSEA, resided Lord Shaftesbury, author of “The Characteristics ;" Sir Bulstrode Whitelock, Commissioner of the Great Seal during the Usurpation; the profligate and witty Duke of Buckingham, author of “ The Rehearsal ;" Pym, the celebrated member of the House of Commons; the Duchess of Mazarin, one of the many favourites of Charles II. ; Bishop Fowler, Sir Robert Walpole, Sir Richard Steele, Dr. Mead, Addison, the celebrated John Locke, and Dr. Smollett, have resided in Chelsea. The quarrel between Lord Mohun and the Duke of Hamilton, which ended in a duel in Hyde Park, proving fatal to both parties, commenced about an estate here. The celebrated Dr. Atterbury resided at Chelsea several years; there he commenced an intimacy with Dr. Jonathan Swift, who in the year 1711 accidentally took lodgings opposite his house.
“I lodge,” says Swift in his Journal to Stella, "just over against Dr. Atterbury, and perhaps I shall not like the place better for that;" an acquaintance nevertheless commenced, and soon improved to intimacy. Arbuthnot also resided for a time at Chelsea.
But the most illustrious name associated with this place is that of Sir Thomas More, who resided in a mansion afterwards called Beaufort House, situated at the north end of Beaufort Row, extending westward to the distance of about a hundred yards from the water-side, and which, after having stood empty for some years, was purchased by Sir Hans Sloane, and taken down in 1740. Here this truly great man lived happy in the converse of ingenious men, and in the society of his family: Holbein was patronised by him, residing in his house for three years, where he executed many of his works. Erasmus visited Sir Thomas here, and a description of his manner of living with his family, from the pen of that learned man, is highly characteristic :“ There he converses,” says Erasmus, “with his wife, his son, his daughterin-law, his three daughters and their husbands, with eleven grand-children. There is not any man living so affectionate to his children as he, and he loveth his old wife as well as if she was a young maid. Such is the excellence of his temper, that whatsoever happeneth that could not be helped, he loveth it as if nothing could have happened more happily. You would say
there was in that place Plato's Academy, but I do his house an injury in comparing it to Plato's Academy, where there were only disputations of numbers and geometrical figures, and sometimes of moral virtues. I should rather call his house a school or university of Christian religion ; for though there is none therein but readeth or studieth the liberal sciences, their special care is piety and virtue: there is no quarrelling or intemperate words heard; none seem idle; that worthy gentleman doth not govern with proud and lofty words, but with well-timed and courteous benevolence; everybody performeth his duty, yet there is always alacrity; neither is sober mirth anything wanting.”
Sir Thomas was a great benefactor to the church of Chelsea, constantly attending divine service, and frequently assisting at its celebration. Among other instances of his benevolent disposition, we are told that he hired a house at Chelsea, for the reception of aged people, who were supported by his bounty, and that it was the province of his amiable daughter, Margaret, to see that all their wants were duly relieved. A few years before his death, Sir Thomas caused a vault to be made in the south side of Chelsea church, to
which he removed the bones of his wife, designing it for the place of his own interment.
The inscription upon the monument of the great man, serving as well for a biographical memoir as for an epitaph, and being from his own pen, I give at length, translated from the original Latin: “Thomas More, of the city of London, -was descended from an honourable, though not distinguished family, and possessed considerable literary acquirements. After having for some years, during early manhood, practised at the bar, and served the office of sheriff for his native city, he was, by that invincible monarch Henry VIII. (who received the distinguished honour unattained by any other sovereign, of being justly called the Defender of the Faith, which he had supported alike by sword and pen), summoned to the palace, and constituted a member of the Privy Council. He was then created a knight and vice-treasurer, and through the royal favour was appointed chancellor, first of the duchy of Lancaster, and afterwards of England. Meanwhile, he had been returned to serve in parliament, and was frequently appointed ambassador by His Majesty. The last time he filled this high office was at Cambray, where he had for his colleague, as chief of legation, Tunstall, Bishop of London, shortly afterwards of Durham, a man hardly surpassed by any of his contemporaries in erudition, prudence, and moral worth; at this place he was present at the assembly of the mightiest monarchs of Christendom, and beheld with pleasure ancient treaties renewed, and a long wished-for peace restored to the world. Vouchsafe, ye gods, this peace to make eternal !
“While attaining these high honours, pursuing his official career, he con
ciliated the esteem of the best of princes, of the nobility and the people, and proved himself a stern foe to thieves and murderers. At length his father, Sir John More, was nominated by the king a member of the Privy Council. He was a man of a mild, harmless, and gentle disposition, imbued with a strong sense of justice, and remarkable for the purity of his life; he was now advanced in years, but in the enjoyment of remarkably good health. After he had seen his son chancellor of England, he considered that his life had been sufficiently extended, and cheerfully left this world for a better.
“At his death, his son, who during his father's life-time was looked upon both by himself and others as a young man, now deeply lamenting the loss of his father, and seeing around him four sons and eleven grand-children, began to feel the hand of time press heavily upon him. This feeling was increased by a delicacy of the chest, which shortly after afflicted him, and which he looked upon as a sure signal of rapidly approaching old age. Wearied accordingly with sublunary enjoyments, he obtained permission from the best of princes to resign his dignities, in order to spend the latter years of his life free from care, his desire from his earliest youth, and that, estranging his mind from worldly affairs, he might devote himself solely to the contemplation of hereafter. To put him in mind of the inevitable approach of death, he caused this vault to be constructed, whither he has removed the remains of his first wife. That he may not have built it in vain; that he may feel no terror at the approach of death, but on the contrary may meet it with cheerfulness through love of Christ; that he may find death not death eternal, but the gate of a happier life; I beseech thee, good reader, favour him with thy prayers, both living and dead.”
This biographical epitaph is concluded by the following example of elegant Latin, not excelled by any epitaph in that or any other language, and which it would be an impertinence in any (save a poet) to render into English :
“Chara Thomæ jacet hic Joanna uxorcula MORI
Qui tumulum Aliciæ hunc destino, quique mihi.
Me vocet ut puer, et trina puella patrem.
Tam pia, quam gnatis, vix fuit ulla suis.
Charior incertum est, quæ sit an illa fuit.
Quam bene, si fatum religioque sinant.
Sic mors, non potuit quod dare vita, dabit.”