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THE ALBERT MEMORIAL
was supposed to be modelled upon the design of one of the Eleanor crosses which Edward the First erected at the different stages where his queen's body rested during its progress to London. Speaking of his work, Sir Gilbert Scott, then Mr. Scott, said, "I have not followed an existing type, but struck out one suited, to the best of my judgment, to the individual subject."
Be this as it may, the result has not been fortunate; for, in appearance, the Memorial, with its superabundant gilding, resembles nothing so much as a glorified Christmas card of feeble design.
One of the original schemes for the erection of a memorial to Prince Albert comprised the erection of a monolith; and this would have actually been carried out but for the supreme difficulty of not only finding a stone large enough for the purpose, but transporting it safely to the metropolis.
A number of other schemes were also mooted; perhaps that for an Albert College was the best, but it was too comprehensive, and did not meet the precise object; eventually, the whole matter was settled by Queen Victoria herself selecting the present design.
A prominent memorial in the West End is the Duke of York's column, of which very little can be said, except that it is ninety-four feet high, and some years ago the jumping down from the top and being smashed on the broad stones at its base was a fashionable mode of committing suicide.
It is a pity
that none of the poor suicides ever thought of overthrowing and jumping down with the statue of the Duke of York, for it stands ridiculously high, and the impression it makes is not particularly agreeable.
A monument I always regret is the crude old statue of the Iron Duke (now at Aldershot) which used to stand on the top of the Arch, where the effigy of Lord Michelham's son, Herman, now drives the horses (rather spirited in design) which draw the chariot containing the enormous effigy of Victory or Peace, one cannot quite make out which.
The great Duke himself particularly liked his quaint statue; and considering this, it is difficult to understand why it was not allowed to remain.
Altogether, the victor of Waterloo has not been very fortunate in his monuments; the one at Hamilton Place-though the soldiers around it are good-is lacking in spirit and devoid of character.
Far better, I believe, is the only recently completed design of Albert Stevens in the crypt of St. Paul's, where the Duke sleeps his last sleep.
At the time of his funeral much difference of opinion existed as to the part of the crypt in which his remains should be placed. The tomb of Nelson already occupied the portion of the vault immediately beneath the centre of the dome of the Cathedral. Many considered that to place the Duke on either side of Nelson would not be treating the soldier with sufficient distinction. Some proposed that the
WHERE THE GREAT DEAD SLEEP 297
Duke of Wellington and Lord Nelson should be placed side by side in an enlarged tomb, but this idea was very properly abandoned. On the day of the funeral, the Duke's coffin was lowered to the flat top of the sarcophagus which covers Nelson (the coronet and cushion of the Viscount having been previously removed); and here the enriched coffin of the Duke remained nearly two years, enclosed by a wooden casing, which hid both the tomb of Nelson and the remains of the Duke. In 1854 the coffin was moved down an inclined plane from the centre of the area to the middle of a square chamber about forty feet to the east (almost immediately under the entrance to the choir of the church), in which compartment of the crypt no interment had previously taken place.
Mr. Penrose, the architect attached to St. Paul's, prepared the tomb, the material of which, it was eventually decided, should be porphyry, from Luxalyan, in Cornwall, excessively beautiful and rich in colour. Singularly enough, this porphyry has never been found in situ, but strewed in huge boulder-stones over part of Cornwall. Pretty well all the big blocks, however, had been blasted away, as they occupied much space, and formed obstructions in the centre of fields and roads, with the exception of one noble boulder, which the people of the district regarded with almost superstitious veneration as the last of its kind-so much so that they would never allow it to be removed or broken. This huge block,
weighing upwards of seventy tons, was, by order of the Crown, destined to uses which saved it from the oblivion which has overtaken its fellows. It was wrought and polished by steam power at Luxalyan on the Treffry estates, and in the field wherein the huge porphyry boulder was found.
Amongst our oldest statues, one of the oddities of London is the effigy of George II, placed on the apex of the steeple of St. George's, Hart Street, Bloomsbury. It elicited the following epigram from Walpole :
When Henry VIII left the Pope in the lurch,
The people of England made him head of the Church,
The father of the monarch just mentioned has now, I believe, no monument, though at one time mounted on a horse he lorded it in old Leicester Square.
This statue of George I was modelled by C. Buchard for the Duke of Chandos, and brought from Cannons in 1747, when it was purchased by the inhabitants of the square. It was finely gilt, and in 1812 was regilt. In later years, however, it fell into terrible disrepair, the horse losing a leg and its tail; indeed it became a sad object of derision, being occasionally smeared with coats of paint and subjected to other indignities. The square itself was in a shocking state till 1875, in which year it was com
pletely enclosed with posts about twelve feet high. It was then reported that the square itself would be levelled, asphalt laid down, and the enclosure used as a drill-ground. The hoarding was made an extensive field for advertisements.
Eventually, however, Baron Grant stepped in, and to his liberality the public owe the present pleasant, if small, pleasure-ground.
There is no longer any tradition of English town architecture; the best proof of this is St. James's Street, which is now merely a collection of architectural samples, one of which was apparently designed in imitation of a child's toy castle.
Our best modern building, let it be remembered, is the Automobile Club in Pall Mall-the work of a Frenchman.
Whilst modern architects disfigure our old streets with their hideous and colossal constructions, the memory of a good many of the real architects of the past fades out of all recollection.
How many Londoners to-day know the name of James Gibbs, the builder of the dignified and stately St. Martin's-in-the-Fields (1722-1726)? Of a 'rambling disposition," Gibbs, even as a youth, had a great genius for drawing, travelled in the "Low Countries," France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, also studying architecture under Carolo Fontana, Surveyor General to Pope Clement XI, and architect to St. Peter's at Rome. After his return to London he was patronized by John, second Duke of Argyll,