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William and Queen Anne, and who was at one and the same time Lord Chamberlain of the Household, Lord High Treasurer of England, and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, three offices never before united in the same person, resided at Isleworth, and there died.
Dorothy, daughter of Sir Robert Sidney and Lady Dorothy his wife, of the noble house of Penshurst, better known as the Sacharissa of Waller, was born at Isleworth.
George Keate, author of an "Account of the Government Laws and History of Geneva," a "Journey to Margate” in imitation of Sterne, two volumes of Poems, the subject of one being that upon which there can be no lack of inspiration, namely, the “Distressed Poet,” but better known as the author, or rather compiler, of Captain Wilson's memorable Voyage to the Pelew Islands, was born and buried at Isleworth.
A sudden turn of the stream at Isleworth brings us within sight of the proposed termination of our little voyage. Rest and refreshment demand the attention of the reader, and the animal must needs usurp the intellectual for the present. While dinner is getting ready, we may bestow a word or two upon the picturesque of the Thames from London to Richmond, and its pretensions thus far to merely natural beauty. From our place of embarkation to Chelsea we may consider ourselves traversing a watery way, or high street; of which the sides, studded with a variety of buildings, few picturesque, some ugly, and very many mean, offer little upon which the
eye curious of rural scenes, or spots of greenery, rests with gratification. From beneath Battersea Bridge we catch a glimpse of country, and may now begin to “babble of green fields;" but we have little to boast until Putney and Fulham come into view. Thence all the way, except where at Hammersmith we become rather townish for a short distance, we have at every turn something to admire. But when we pass the bridge, we feel that we are approaching the spot where the silver Thames first rural grows; we get among the swans; swan-like, pleasurable sensations of escape from the long-drawn and apparently interminable town, come freshly over the buoyant spirit; we breathe more freely, the brow becomes unclouded, and the mind participates in the calm and sunshine of external nature.
The Thames, at all times beautiful, like other beauties, has days of good and better looks, days of vapours and spleen, days of full dress, and days of dishabille. We need hardly add, that the judicious will take care that their visit shall be so timed so as not to catch the naiad of the stream when she is
not disposed to see company. Those who, without due consideration, pay a first visit to the river on a chilly, gusty day, when the tide is low, and the bed of the stream partly exposed, may chance to be disappointed, and look wondering around for those charms poet after poet has delighted to sing. It is on a clear, sunny Mayday, or we may say, a bright day throughout the summer months, when the tide is flowing, and near the flood, that the noble expanse and silvery surface of this classic river is seen to most advantage.
While other streams owe much of their reputation to their banks—as men rise in the world by the interest of patrons—Father Thames owes everything to himself. His banks are nowhere sublime, and although in the greater part of his career beautiful, yet it is a quiet beauty. But it is the gently gliding character of the stream itself
its transparent waters and silvery surface, its copiousness without profusionthese make the pretensions of the Thames. Then, how rich is it not in classic associations; and not merely in these, but in associations of national utility and glory! These last, however, belong to another portion of our subject. We are here at Richmond, metaphorically and literally, among the swans of Thames, and we must endeavour to catch somewhat of the inspiration of the place before inflicting more of our tediousness upon the indulgent reader who may have borne with us so long.
The reader will remember that in our last excursion, we had the pleasure of accompanying him to Richmond by the river Thames : to-day, we propose to conduct him thither by land, and to devote a long Midsummer's day to the delightful neighbourhood of “resplendent Sheen :" thence to wander by the river's brink to the classic shades of Twickenham; to bestow a few recollections
upon the departed glories of Strawberry Hill, and to terminate our day in that favourite haunt of the disciples of Izaak Walton, Teddington.
Kensington, at the distance of a mile and a half from Hyde Park Corner, on the great western road, is a place of considerable interest. Kensington Palace was the seat of Sir Heneage Finch, afterwards Earl of Nottingham and Lord Chancellor of England, by whose son it was sold to King William soon after his accession to the throne. The palace is a large, irregular, and, as far as the tout ensemble is concerned, by no means royal
residence, built at various times, each successive addition rivalling in bad taste its predecessor. Within the walls expired King William and Queen Mary, Queen Anne, her consort Prince George of Denmark, and King George the Second. After the decease of the last-mentioned monarch, Kensington Palace has been usually occupied by some of the members of the royal family. Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, afterwards Queen Caroline, resided here; as also the Duke of Kent, father of Her present Majesty. The Duke of Sussex now resides here, together with several favoured individuals who occupy apartments during the pleasure of the Crown.
KENSINGTON GARDENS, a favourite and delightful lounge in the season, are well worthy the attention of the tourist. Although disposed in the formal style introduced into this country by King William, and known to landscape gardeners as the Dutch taste, yet their formality is not offensive, as it uniformly is where space does not exist to give breadth and depth to the masses of foliage, or majesty to the walks and vistas. Tickell has invoked the Muse to the celebration of these gardens in song:
“Where Kensington, high o'er the neighbouring lands,
Mid greens and sweets, a regal fabric stands ;
These gardens consisted originally, as we are informed by Pennant, of only twenty-six acres : Queen Anne added thirty acres, which were laid out by her gardener Wise; but the principal additions were three hundred acres taken from Hyde Park, and disposed by Bridgeman. The gardens are now three miles and a half in circumference, including somewhere about three hundred and thirty-six acres, together with eight acres of water, forming a circular pond to the eastward of the palace. At this time of the year, these delightful gardens look remarkably well, having an air more park-like, more secluded, than any other of the public walks around the metropolis, and
affording a more unbroken shelter from the noonday heat. The trees here are more numerous and lofty, casting a greater breadth of shade than in the parks; but regarded individually, are comparatively insignificant, having been planted too close, and from want of room to expand their lateral boughs, running up to poles. The disposition of the trees in squares
and battalions, is said to have been an attempt to display the position of the allied armies immediately before the battle of Blenheim. Whether this be the case or not, the union of a judicious formality and natural arrangement has been happily accomplished here. The long, unbroken, regular avenues of greensward, with the dense columnar masses of foliage between, give fine effect to the snatches of dusky town which terminate the view; while the absence of statues, hermitages, marble temples, spouting monsters, and sarcophagi relieves the scene from the constrained and artificial appearance of the vast majority of parks laid out in this style.
The view from the centre of the broad walk, exactly in front of the palace, is one of the finest anywhere around the metropolis. This walk is a favourite promenade, being at once dry and sheltered. During May, June, and July, the bands of the household troops assemble twice a week for practice in these gardens, near the bridge over the Serpentine, from four until six in the afternoon, when the concourse of fashionable people is immense, and the scene altogether one of great animation.
The Gardens of Kensington have been thought worthy of mention in the Pastoral Calendar and elsewhere. The best passage in Tickell's poem upon this subject, which is also the first, we have given above. We quote a few lines from another effusion descriptive of the character of the gardens, which, if they possess no other merit, have the advantage of sprightliness; and if not good, are at least not dull.
“Far in the west, remote from citizens,
Where Hyde Park ends and Bayswater begins,