Page images

which cannot longer be enjoyed. While those sources of enjoyment which enervate the mind and enfeeble the frame are expensive as they are hurtful, pleasant it is to reflect that our enjoyments, our excursions, are of little cost : that those delights which raise the mind above low pursuits and sordid considerations, lie open to us without trouble or difficulty, and that our most inexpensive pleasures are at once the most elevating and the most innocent.

While the pursuit of wealth is attended with doubt, uncertainty, and care —while the paradise of fashion is delicious only as it is exclusive—while the workings of ambition are dashed with perpetual fear of fall, communion with Nature is free from every unpleasant feeling, every jarring sensation. From the troubles of working-day life (and every man finds his troubles, if he does not make them), from the heartlessness and sordid ways of our fellowmen, or it may be of ourselves; from the hand-to-hand struggles of human competition, we turn to Nature, as the tired infant turns to the mother's breast.

And oh! is it not good that the God of nature thus spreads a feast for us in the desert ? though we neglect the country of His making for the town which is of our own; though we refuse the invitation that comes to us in our city homes, borne on every breath of spring; though the lark and nightingale sing, and the primrose and violet bloom for us in vain, while

goes well with us, and certainty, like her shadow, waits on hope, whatever we may pursue in the business of life: yet, let a change come over our fortunes-let sickness blanch the cheek-let the worse than sickness come upon us, when the cankered mind eats into itself, and all that the saddened eye looks upon is distasteful—whither then do we turn? Then to thee, Nature, we return! The heart leaps up at thy approach, and the face of sickness looks smilingly: the weary mind is refreshed, the broken spirit finds balm for its wounds with thee, fair minister of quiet pleasures, and not unpleasing cares!

Yet—even yet, there is more to say for the country, and a reason of more moment why it is good to commune with her. There is an upward tendency of thought, a purification of spirit, an alienation of mind from the world and worldly things, that are more to the immortal part of our nature than the song of birds, the budding flowers, or the bubbling of waters. The spirit of peace descends upon us, the heart grows and swells with a sober

ecstacy, and is lifted up in grateful homage to the Giver of this good, eloquent though speechless. Whatever of good town may have left in the recesses of man's heart, the country brings to the surface. The poetry of the country is a poetry of devotion ; for is not the country a huge temple, wondrous in its azure roof fretted with “patines of bright gold;" its verdant carpet overspread with thousand divers hues and shapes of beauty; its pillars, aisles, chapels, in trees, groves, glens; the pure soft air of May, is it not incense, and are there not choristers on every bough?

Verily, in this temple, with lowly heart, will we this day worship.

On such a soft, sunny, balmy morning as this, the eye and the mind are athirst for a green field: desire of the country asserts its supremacy like an instinct, and we cannot, do what we will, expel it from our thoughts: we are restless, unsatisfied, and melancholy, like men in love, and so we are-in love with Nature; and it is the memory of her sweet face, and the pleasures we have erewhile enjoyed in her society, that now haunt us like a vision of delight. We cannot get on with our work within-doors; and without, how tantalising the clear blue sky, transfixed by thousand staring chimney-pots, and the balmy breeze wafting along city odours and city dust! The sunbeams gilding puddles that the watering-carts have left, mock our town imprisonment with their glancing: we feel as prisoners in a dungeon, when noontide lets a downward ray of sun-light into their miserable cell: we are mewed up, and while flowers are springing from the grassy turf, the birds singing on every spray, and the little flies swarming in the sunny beam, we are here impounded between double files of ugly brick houses, hard flags under our feet, a Babel of discordant sounds around us, and nothing of quiet, beautiful nature visible but the narrow strip of heaven's azure overhead.

All this we must know, and feel, and suffer; for the cares and necessities of the world are too many for us, and though Nature invite us as she will, still we are slaves of the lamp and of the town: let it go—resume our pen. Hardly have we lifted it, when a sparrow on the overhanging spout exults in song, as it were a very nightingale :-provoking little wretch ! it is too much; we can stand it no longer. Seizing our hat, stick, and sandwich-box, we rush distractedly to Hungerford or Queenhithe, and without a moment's consideration, enter for the day on board a Richmond steamer !

[ocr errors]

Ah ! this will do; the river alone is worth the time and money; and looking towards Westminster and its bridge, we cannot but recal to memory

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

the sonnet of Wordsworth, composed upon that very bridge in the calm of a summer's, perhaps a May, morning.

“ Earth has not anything to show more fair :

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty :
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning : silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples, lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright, and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill,
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will :
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep ;
And all that mighty heart is lying still."

While our little vessel is getting her steam up, or awaiting the completion of her living cargo, we may as well amuse ourselves with the historical associations of LAMBETH, over the way; especially as we have nothing of picturesque description to employ our pen in that densely populated locality.

[ocr errors]

Yet few of the circumjacent towns of the city of London have historical recollections of greater interest than Lambeth. Hardicanute, whose memory is preserved in one of the famous ballads collected by Bishop Percy, died here suddenly, during an entertainment with which he was celebrating the marriage-feast of a noble Dane. The palace, whose lofty twin towers of massive brick by the river-side attract our notice when we pass beneath Westminster Bridge, is a large pile of building exhibiting the architecture of various ages. Nor have its vicissitudes been without a moral. Alternately a palace, a prison, a barrack, and a place of public entertainment, we are reminded of the strange and uncongenial uses to which even the high places of the church may be applied in times of civil war or popular commotion. The worn, crumbling tower, east of the gateway, is the Lollards' Tower. Within the prison-room, which is boarded over, resembling much the cabin of a ship, being about thirteen feet by twelve, and about eight feet high, are eight rings, to which the chains of the unhappy prisoners, whose only crime was the fidelity with which they clung to their belief, were attached. The old dilapidated tower stands a monument at once of the cruelty and folly of coercion, in matters of faith and conscience. The portion of the palace occupied by the present archbishop is from designs by Mr. Blore, and is justly considered a work of great architectural taste and merit. The Great Hall, also, is a conspicuous object from the river: this magnificent room is supposed to have been erected by Archbishop Boniface, and was rebuilt by Archbishop Juxon after the Restoration. This spacious room, adorned with a lofty and beautiful painted window, contains portraits of Archbishop Chichely, the founder of that part of the palace containing the Lollards’ Tower ; of Philip and Mary; and of Archbishop Juxon. The roof of this hall is of oak, elaborately carved, and of exquisite construction. The library of the archbishop now occupies this venerable hall: during the civil war the books were all seized by the Parliament, and afterwards given to Sion College; but at the suggestion of Selden, both houses of parliament concurred in an ordinance for removing the library to Cambridge. At the Restoration it was demanded of the university by Archbishop Juxon, and restored to his suc

The Guard-Chamber of Lambeth Palace is one of the most noblyproportioned apartments anywhere to be seen; but its grand attraction consists in the portraits of successive Archbishops of Canterbury, wherewith it is adorned. Here is that of Arundel, the earliest compurgator of heresy


by fire; Chichely, another bigot of the same class; Cranmer, Grindall, Whitgift, Abbot, and subsequent archbishops, from Laud to the late Archbishop Sutton, inclusive. The gardens and park, containing about thirteen acres, are laid out with great taste. The celebrated fig-trees, of the white Marseilles sort, planted by Cardinal Pole, and noted in their day for producing abundance of delicious fruit, no longer exist, unless we consider the small shoots growing between the buttresses of the Great Hall to appertain thereto; the whole east end of the former building was overshadowed by one of these fig-trees, whose trunk was twenty-eight inches in circumference. The prospects from the windows of the palace are magnificent.

Queen Elizabeth was several times an honoured guest at Lambeth Palace. An account of one of her visits is given in Archbishop Parker's Antiquities : “The queen, removing from Hampton Court to Greenwich, visited the archbishop at Lambeth, where she staid all night. Here, on Tuesday, the archbishop invited a large party of the inferior courtiers. In the same room, on the Wednesday, he made a great dinner ; at his own table sat down nine earls and seven barons ; at the other table, the comptroller of the queen's household, her secretary, and many other knights and esquires; besides the usual table for the great officers of state, where sate the lord treasurer, lord admiral, the chamberlain, and others. The whole of the charge was borne by the archbishop. At four of the clock on the Wednesday afternoon, the queen and the court removed to Greenwich.” During the commotions that preceded the civil war, Lambeth felt the first effects of the popular fury. Archbishop Laud was attacked in his palace with great fury, by “the apprentices,” instigated, it is said, by John Lilburne: soon after, the unhappy prelate was committed to the Tower.

Lambeth was famous for astrologers: Moore, the almanac-maker, Simon Forman, and many others of that once popular profession, resided here. It is a curious fact, and one worthy of record, as an illustration of the tenacity with which certain classes adhere to certain neighbourhoods, that to this day Lambeth forms the winter quarters of the greater part of that wandering population which in the summer migrates from fair to fair, with shows and catch-pennies of every description. Here, in plots of waste ground, you may see their vans, caravans, and waggons, laid up like so many privateers in ordinary, until the return of summer puts them into commission, and enables them to cruise about, levying contributions upon credulous rustics. We are

« PreviousContinue »