Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lest we should be led into the fallacy of supposing that the author of the above touching and beautiful composition was more than man, we must not neglect to observe that the application of the term best of princes,” to Henry VIII., was not quite apposite, or that the term “heretiques," which originally occupied a blank space in the epitaph, immediately following the words “thieves and murderers,” and the expression of his unmitigable hostility towards the last of the three classes, thus so unceremoniously united, does the memory of this great man little credit. A letter is said to be extant, in which Sir Thomas boasts of having expressed his enmity to heretics upon his epitaph.

Such is the poisonous nature of religious bigotry, that it impresses its venom upon the very tombs of the otherwise wise and great, damning their memories, until some friendly hand, as in this case, charitably erases the disgraceful record of the unworthy rancour of the dead !

His monument appears to have been erected in his life-time, in the year 1532. This great man was beheaded in 1535 for refusing to take the oath which acknowledged the king's supremacy. After the attainder of Sir Thomas, Henry VIII. seized upon all his possessions, without any regard to his widow and family, whom he left so poor that his great-grandson says they had not money wherewith to buy him a winding-sheet.

In this church is also a monument to the memory of Lady Jane Cheyne, of the Newhaven family, within a spacious niche, supported by columns of veined marble, of the Corinthian order; upon a black sarcophagus lies the effigy of the deceased, as large as life. This monument is the work of the celebrated Bernini.

At the east end of Sir Thomas More's Chapel, against the south wall, is the monument of the Duchess of Northumberland. This lady, says the Rev. Mr. Lysons, was a singular instance of the vicissitudes of fortune. Having been the wife of one of the greatest men of that age, she lived to see her

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

SIR THOMAS MORE'S MONUMENT

[merged small][ocr errors]

husband lose his head upon the scaffold; to see one son share his father's fate; another escape it only by dying in prison, and the rest of her children living but by permission. Amidst this distress, which was heightened by the confiscation of her property, she displayed great firmness of mind, though left destitute of fortune and of friends, till the arrival of some of the nobility from the Spanish court, who interested themselves so warmly in her favour, that they prevailed upon the queen to restore her some of her former possessions; and she conducted herself with such wisdom and prudence, as enabled her to restore her overthrown house even in a reign of cruelty and tyranny. Her surviving progeny were no less remarkable for their prosperity, than their brethren for their misfortunes. Ambrose was restored to the title of Earl of Warwick, and enjoyed many other honours and preferments. Robert was created Earl of Leicester, and became one of Queen Elizabeth's prime ministers; and her daughter Mary was the mother of Sir Philip Sidney.

The will of this duchess is a testamentary curiosity; one sentence especially is worthy of observation, perhaps of imitation. “My will is earnestly and effectually, that little solemnitie be made for me, for I had ever have a thousand-foldes my debts to be paid, and the poor to be given unto, than any pomp to be shewed upon my wretched carkes: therefore to the worms will I go, as I have before written in all points, as you will answer y' before God. And if you breke any one jot of it, your wills hereafter may chance to be as well broken. After I am departed from this worlde, let me be wonde up in a sheet, and put into a coffin of woode, and so layde in the ground with such funeralls as parteyneth to the burial of a corse. I will at my years mynde have such divyne service as myne executors thinke fit, with the whole arms of father and mother upon the stone graven : nor, in no wise to let me be opened after I am dead. I have not lived to be very bold afore women, much more wolde I be lothe to come into the hands of any lyving man, be he physician or surgeon.”

Cheyne Walk is the promenade of Chelsea, and a delightful promenade it is; remaining somewhat in the fashion of the olden time, its stately old piles of building, a row as it were, of goodly manor-houses; its elms, planted at regular intervals, recal to us the days of hoops, brocade, and powdered periwigs; a vivid imagination may readily picture that silver-headed collegian, as the pensioners delight to call themselves, in his lappelled waistcoat,

long-tailed coat, knee buckles, and cocked hat, an antiquated beau of the olden time. But the grand attraction of Cheyne Walk is, that it is one of those few places about town where a sight of the silvery Thames, and a stroll along the river's brink, is not a breach of privilege. Thames is treated at Chelsea with respect. Cheyne Walk approaches him in a proper manner; and instead of condemning him to grope his way through stores, warehouses, soap manufactories, timber-yards, vinegar works, or the filthy and squalid hovels of eel fishers and founder catchers, invites him to linger by Chelsea, and to let the natives have a look at him. Chelsea deserves our humble tribute of respect, for affording us what we look for in vain, save in one or two other places, an opportunity of enjoying the freshness of the breeze, the unwonted openness of prospect, and the animated scene upon the bosom of the waters.

Let any one show us a minister desirous of immortality, and we will point out to him a mode by which his name will be remembered with respect and gratitude for ever. Let him borrow from the Thames as much of his bed as will make a Cheyne Walk from Chelsea to London Bridge: let him plant it with rows of fair elms : let him make a broad carriage-way in the midst, and by the water-side a causeway for pedestrians. Noble mansions, spacious warehouses, and structures of all kinds worthy such a river, will grow up, as if by enchantment, upon its margin. The huddled sheds and tumble-down tenements that now shut us from a sight of it would vanish, and be no more seen ; and only think, what a beautiful sight a Cheyne Walk or a Temple Garden, miles in length, opening an avenue of fresh air, and a new element of health to the entire population of our vast metropolis—as much a blessing as a beauty! Imagine how much longer we should live, how much more healthy, and therefore how much more happy, we should be, if, when wearied with confinement, enfeebled by sickness, or oppressed by toil, we could enjoy in its plenitude the health and pleasure dwelling by the river-side! Now, if one would stroll by the river, he must explore Billingsgate, the Temple, or the fishy lanes of Lambeth, ere he can have a turn on the Custom House wharf, the Bishop's Walk, or the Temple Gardens; and even these neighbours of the river are hemmed in on the land side by lofty buildings, intercepting sun and air.

Our Parks might well tremble for their supremacy, if a promenade extended along the shore of Thames. What a solid practical good such a work would be, and how much honour would attach to those who might be engaged upon it! Nor,

in a utilitarian point of view, could anything be lost ; while in that, and every other way of viewing the matter, the gain would be incalculable. You take from the river what the river can so well afford—a strip of muddy bank, and you convert it into a noble quay; you set the mirror of Thames in an appropriate and costly frame; you bestow upon the river-side proprietary a broad expanse of wharfage; you facilitate communication to and from either end of the town; you let in a succession of interesting objects, beautiful points of view ; you give the entire world of London a new, innocent, and exhaustless source of health and recreation.

Surely, the embankment of Thames is an undertaking worthy the greatest minister—the greatest sovereign!

Against the north wall of the churchyard is a monument to the memory of Admiral Munden ; near the south wall stands that of Sir Hans Sloane, Bart. and M.D. This eminent physician, a native of Kilileagh, in the north of Ireland, but of Scottish extraction, is a striking example of the force of talent, industry, and uniform good conduct, in raising men from comparatively obscure conditions to opulence and respect. At an early age his love of nature predominated; and, in due time, determined his choice of the profession of physic, as the one most congenial with the tastes and pursuits of the naturalist. Pursuing his studies with diligence at Paris and Montpelier, where he took medical degrees, he returned to London, and engaged in the active duties of his profession. Having been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, he soon after went out to Jamaica as physician to Christopher, Duke of Albemarle, Governor of that island. The death of that nobleman, shortly after his arrival at the seat of his government, occasioned the return of Dr. Sloane to England, after an absence of about fifteen months; which period he had most sedulously employed in collecting, from Jamaica and some of the Caribbee Islands, plants and other objects of natural history, serving as the foundation of a splendid work soon after published.

His reputation and practice increasing, honours and profit flowed fast upon

[graphic]

SIR HANS SLOANE's MONUMENT

him. He became a graduate in medicine of Oxford, an associate of the Academy of Science at Paris, Physician to Christ's Hospital, and Secretary to the Royal Society.

He attended Queen Anne in her last illness, and was created a baronet by George I., being the first medical man upon whom that honour had been conferred. He succeeded, in 1719, to the Presidency of the College of Physicians; and had the still greater honour of succeeding Newton in the chair of the Royal Society. Sloane was a man of great information, an active and inquiring mind, and great energy of character ; but he enjoys the more valuable reputation of having been a benevolent, humane, and liberal citizen. Few charities were unassisted by him; he originated the dispensary system for the relief of the sick poor, and was a governor and benefactor to most of the metropolitan hospitals.

The collection of books, medals, manuscripts, objects of natural history, amassed by Sir Hans Sloane, and much augmented by donations and bequests from other professional and scientific men, among others the Museum of William Curten, the traveller—was bequeathed by Sir Hans to the nation, on condition that the sum of 20,0001. should be paid to his executors, being little more than the intrinsic value of the medals, metallic ores, and gems, comprised in his collection.

After his death, Parliament fulfilled the intentions of the legacy by passing an act " for the purchase of the Museum or Collection of Sir Hans Sloane, Bart., and of the Harleian Collection of MSS., and for procuring one general repository for the better reception and more convenient use of the said collection, and of the Cottonian library, and additions thereto.”

Sir Hans retired in the year 1742 to Chelsea, whither he removed his library and collection of natural curiosities. “He did not, however, pass into that kind of solitude which excludes men from society. He received at Chelsea, as he had done at London, the visits of persons of distinction, of learned foreigners, of the royal family; and, what was still more to his praise, he never refused admittance or advice to rich or poor, who came to consult him concerning their health. During his residence at Chelsea this eminent man was so infirm as to be wholly confined to his house, except occasionally taking the air in his garden in a wheeled chair. Edwards the naturalist used to visit him every Saturday, and inform him what was passing among his old acquaintance in the literary world.” Sir Hans pur

« PreviousContinue »