BURNING OF THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT.
Between the hours of six and seven on Thursday evening, a fire burst out from one of the apartments connected with the House of Lords: the burning spread with fearful rapidity, and soon consumed the Houses both of Lords and Commons, the Library of the latter, many of the Committee-rooms, the Painted Chamber, and a number of other offices. The house of Mr. Ley, Clerk of the House of Commons, and all the habitations situated between the Lords' Journal Office and the Speaker's house, with the greater part of the Speaker's house it- self, were burnt. The conflagration ultimately extended all round the new front buildings of the Lords, utterly consuming the rooms of the Lord Chancellor, Mr. Courtenay, and the other offices ranging round to Hayes' Coffeehouse. Bellamy's kitchen and rooms are destroyed. Westminster Hall is saved ; and the Courts of Law have escaped, though their roofs were stripped off, and water poured in by the engines. Westminster Abbey was untouched, the wind having blown from the south-west and west. Great exertions vere made to preserve papers, records, and books from the Libraries ; but as yet it is impos- sible to say what is the extent of the damage. Copious accounts appeared in yesterday's newspapers, descriptive of the awful scene. We have selected from several of them the following particulars.
About seven o'clock, the flames appeared to Ire bursting through almoq every window of the facade of the House of Lorde, and at the same time breaking through its roof. It seemed then even a desperate case. The crowd was pretty well kept back by the Police force, and some four or live engines were worked in the open space of Palace Yard. Other engines came rolling along in rapid succession. tut the wind was from the south-west, unfortunately. The strung iron-railed gate of Westminster Hill was closed fast ; but the inner door was open, and through the great southern window volumes of flame might be seen rolling through three windows oppondte and immediately near it. There was no one in the Hall ; it seemed as if it were deserted and abandoned to the ap- proaching fire. It was in vain to think of breaking the iron fence. Some gen- tlemen suecceded ht persuading a party of firemen to break open the small side- door which leads into the Hall. %%len the wink of sledge and axe had been nearly dune, sonic one from within (fur at leugth a person connected with the building was forthcoming!) called out to stop, and by his key saved further la- bour. The short passage of some ten paces in length which led from the Hall into the body of the Parliament building, alone intervened between the great window of the former and the three from which the triumphant flame rolled. To save the Hall, seemed to be the only object to which the attention of all parties, usefully occupied on the occasion, could be rationally directed. After a while, the iron gates were opened, and two engines were introduced into the body of the building ; the one to convey water to the other, which worked against the formidable enemy. The Hall has been of late in the halals of masons to be newly faced, and it is full of brick and mortar and scaffolding. From the latter some ladders were quickly taken, under the direction, still, of casual advisers, and placed against the great window ; and the firemen, as- cending to its haw!, found there ample morn to play upon the blazing element, which thence confronted them. 'they had to work amid dense smoke and a constant fall of sparks ; while they had also occasionally to brave the more for- midable danger of molten lead, which in one instance fell on and completely burned the front of one of their helmets. It was about eight o'clock when they established themselves in their position ; and by ten they had so success- fully opposed the fire, that although it had consumed all but the beams and walls of the building in width it raged, it made no further impression on the Ball than by causing extensive fractures of the glass of the window. While they were thus employed, a partial attempt was made to save some papers from one of the (flees of the Parliament buildings, to the lower part of which the Ire had not as yet reached. Tbes.e appeared to be, for the most part, printed acts of Parliament, and were scarcely worth the time and labour which were bestowed on their preservation. In the mean time, the fire had been making some progress at each side of the Hall, notwithstanding the torrents of water with which numerous engines deluged the building. Considerable bodies of the Guards bad now arrived at Palace Yard ; some in arms to preserve order, and others to aid in the suppression of the fire. The red jackets appeared at all the engines. Lord Munster, Lord Melbourne, Sir John Cans liohhouse, and many other persons connected with Government, besides several officers of the Guards, appeared at this time on the scene of action. But in the opera- tions which they overlooked, or in which they interfered, there was the greatest want of unity of design and sagacious vigour of proceeding. There was zealous interference on all sides, but a great want of a commander- in- chief. Between ten and eleven, two great masses of the frontage of the House of Lords fell in ; but, in consequence of the heaviness of its timbers, and, probably, its numerous mural subdivisions, it still continued to burn most fiercely. The House of Commons had at this time fallen. The flames were attacking with great force both flanks of the Hall; the COM- inittee-rooms on the one hand, and on the other certain private apartments and passages communicating between the Coalitions and the Speaker's house. T./ those within the Hall, at this peeled, the scene was singularly- impressive. The flames at each side showed ominously through the upper line of Gothic case. merits, flaring against the old oak thubere—through some of the large lower windows on the middle line; and on the eastern side, next the Speaker's house, the tire seemed to glow through the lath and plaster with which they have been screened up; while in one place, where there has been a private door, the wooden framework blazed round an orifice, which seemed like the mouth of one of the potteries. Before the great window, at the same time, there was a deep dull mist, in the midst of which the ribs of the burnt building stood, but occasion. ally veiled by thick volumes of smoke, or a fall of burning particles. On the floor of the .Hall, and amid piles of brick, newly. hewn stone, timbers, and all manner of obstructions, were the two engines worked by their respective cow. ponies' labourers. The firemen shouted their directions from above ; and nu. inerous busy, meddling people, whose rank embarrassed, but whose wisdurn afforded but little guide, from below. The wind had, in the mean time, provi- dentially drifted more to the west, and, with the exception of the flames at the Committee.room corner, turned the fire river 'ward and from the Hall.
This account, taken from the Herald, describes the progress of the fire as seen from the Hall. Its appearance from the corner of Abing- don Street was also exceedingly striking; and is as strikingly described by one of the writers in the 7'inees.
For a length of time, the exertions of the firemen appeared to be principally directed to save that part of the House of Lords which consisted of the tower that rose above the portico. All the rest of the line of building was enveloped in flame., which had extended themselves along the whole (except the wing) of that part of the adjacent building to the left that:fronts Abingdon Street, and the upper stories of which were Committee-rooms, while at the basement were the stone steps leading to the House of Commons. The wing of this building, however, which roe high above the rest, the upper part being a portion of Bellamy's, and the lower being used as a receptacle of the greatcoats of Members. of the House of Commons, was for some time, like the tower above the portico at the entrance to the !louse of Lords, but slightly injured by the flames; and these two objects, seeming to bound the ravages of the fire, and to offer suecesAl resistance to its further progress, while all between them was in one uninter- rupted blaze, attracted universal attention. The flames did not in fact extend beyond these two points, but seemed to exhaust themselves in the destruction of them. They took fire nearly at the same moment ; and burning furiously for nearly half an hour, the whole structure, from the entrance of the House if Commons to the entrance of the House of Lords, presented one bright sheet of flame. At length the roofs and ceilings gave way ; and when the smoke and sparks that followed the crash of the heavy burning mass that fell hail cleared away, nothing met the eye but inn unsightly ruin, tinted w:th the dark red glare reflected from the smouldering embers at its fiLl.
As viewed from the River, the scene was very grand.
On the first view of it from the water, it appeared as if nettling could Sate Westminster Hall from the fury of the flames. There was an immense pinata bright clear fire springing up behind it, and a cloud of white, yet dazzling smoke, careering- above it ; through which, as it was parted by the wind, yea could occasionally perceive the lantern and pinnacles by which the building is ornamented. At the sante thin.., a shower of fiery particles appeared to he filling upon it, with such unceasing rapidity as to render it miraculous that the roof (lid not burst out into one general blaze. Till you passed through West- minster Bridge, you could not catch a glimpse of the fire in detail—you hal only before you the certainty that tire fire was of greater magnitude than usnni, but of its ali,chievous shape and ins real extent you could form no conception. Westminster Bridge, covered as it was with individuals standing on its balus- trades, was a curinns spectacle ; as the dark masses of individuals formed a striking contrast with the aqui white stone of which it is built, and which stood out well and boldly in the clear moonlight. As you approached the bridge, you caught a sight through it arches of a motley multitude assembled on the strand below the Speaker's garden, and gazing with intense eagerness on the progrol of the flames. Above them were seen the dark caps of the Fusileer Guards, who were st rtioned in the garden itself to prevent the approach of unwelcome intruders. Advancing still nearer, every branch and fibre of the trees which are in front of the House of Commons became clearly defined in the overpewer- ing brilliance of the conflagration. As soon as you shot through the bridje, the whele of this melancholy spectacle stood before you. Fronk the new pile of buildings, in which are the Parliament offices, down to the end of One Speaker's !mese, the flames were shooting fast and furious through every window. The rorifs of Air. Ley's house, of the douse of Commons, and of the Speaker's home, had already fallen in ; annul as fir as they were concerned, it was quite evident that the conflagration had done its worst. The tower, between these buildings and the Jerusalem Chamber, was a-light on every floor. lire roof had partially faller in, but had nut yet broken clean through the floors. The rafters, however, were all blazing ; and from the volume of flame which they vomited fill th through the broken casements, great fears were enfertanaed for the safety of the other tenements in Cotton Garden. The fire, crackling and rustling with prodigious noise as it went along, soon devoured all the interior of this tower ; which contained, we believe, the Library of the House of COM- MODS. By eleven o'clock, it was reduced to a mere shell; illuminated, however, from its base to its summit in the 'nest bright and glowing tints of thane. The two oriel windows, which fronted the River, appeared to have their frame- works fringed with innumerable sparkles of lighted gas; and, as those fraire- works yielded before the virulence of the fite, seemed to open a clear passige right through the edifice for the destructive element. Above the upier window was a strong beam of wood burning fiercely from end to oil It was evidently the main support of the upper part of the building ; and as the beam was certain to be reduced in a short time to ashes, ?ppre- bensions were entertained of the speedy fall of the whole edifice. At this tune the voices of the firemen were distinctly heard preaching caution ; and their shapes were indistinctly seen in the lurid light flitting about in the must dangerous situations. Simultaneously were heard in other parts of the frontage to the River, the smashing of windows, the battering down of wooden parti- tions, and the heavy clatter of falling bricks, all evidently displaced for the pur- pose of stopping the advance of the flames. The engines ceased to play ou the premises whose destruction was inevitable, and poured their discharges upon the neighb ming houses which were yet unscathed. A little after wive o'clock, the Library tower fell inwards with a dreadful crash ; and shortly after- wards, the flame, as if It had received fresh aliment, darted up in one startling blaze, which was almost immediately quenched in a densecolunin of the blackest smoke. As soon as this smoke cleared away, the destructive ravages of the fire became more evident. Through a vista of flaming walls, you beheld the Abbey frowning in melancholy pride over its defaced and shattered neighbours. An far as you could judge from the River, the work of ruin was accomplished but too effectually in the Parliamentary buildings which skirt its shores. Few accidents have as yet been recorded. Lord Augustus Fitzclarence, and sonic policemen and soldiers who were with him, were at one time in great danger, being in one of the top MOWS of the turret at the western corner, while it was burning below. A fireinan's hinder was, however, put against the top window ; and they deseendt d one by one. He had scarcely reached the ground before part of the turret fell
in ; Lord Fitzelarence being the last. The Earl of Munster also, later in the morning, had a narrow escape: be was about to eater one
of the libraries at the eastern wing of the Commons, when a labourer seized him by the collar and dragged him out ; almost instantly the
ceiling of the apartment fell in, and the labourer's shoulder was dislocated by one of the falling rafters. Mrs. Wright, the Housekeeper of the House of Lords, only left her room just in time. When the roof of the House of Commons fell in, some firemen were buried in the ruins, but were got out without being much hurt.
Lords Melbourne, Duncannon, Althorp, and Auckland, Sir John Ilobhouse, Lord Hill, Mr. Hume, and Lord Munster, were on the spot soon after the tire began, and were active in giving orders ; but whether they really were of much service, is doubtful. Mr. Hume is said to have been actively employed in superintending the removal of
the more valuable books and records from the Libraty. The crowds that pressed towards the scene were immense ; but they were kept back from Palace Yard by the Military and Police. All the Bridges from which a glimpse of tli fire could be caught, the roofs of the houses, and the boats on the River, were crowded with anxious spectators. The Police generally behaved very well, as did the firemen ; though the want of sonic commander-in-chief and a superior system of manage- ment was very manifest. The soldiers who were ordered to remove furniture and valuables from the Speaker's house acted disgracefully: the Herald says that many of them got drunk in the wine-cellars. ltlany of the books and papers were removed to St. Margaret's Church, others to the new State Paper Office in Downing Street, and others to private houses. All the papers and boxes in the Law Courts were thrown through the windows into the streets, by Lord Melbourne's orders, about ten o'clock, and carried off in hackney-coaches and waggons. The Speaker was at Brighton, but returned to town yesterday ; his son, Mr. Sutton, was on the spot. The Speaker's plate, of which he has three services, and a magnificent marble mantelpiece which cost 20W., were saved. The mace, worth 400/. was saved by the Deputy Sergeant at Arms. It was unfortunate that the tide was out, and the water in the River very low. A floating engine from Woolwich played from the River with much effect, but arrived late in the night. When the day dawned on Friday morning, all was over. The origin of this conflagration is not known ; nor the exact spot at which it broke out, though it was probably in the Chamberlain's room. One story is that it came from Bellamy's kitchen ; another, from Howard's Coffeehouse ; another, from an escape of gas ; and by some it is supposed that it was purposely set on fire—a bundle of matches, with one end burnt, having been found in the Speaker's garden ! The most probable account is, that it originated in the flues used for warmina the House of Lords, and which had been unusually heated by a large fire made by the burning of the old wooden Exchequer tallies. The amount of damage incurred is a mere matter for guessing. A cer- tain quantity of building has been destroyed, but how much more cannot he ascertained for some time. Yesterday, many of the books and papers, very much injured, were carried back to the Law Courts. Strong bodies of Military and Police are employed to keep off the crowds, who press to see the ruins.
There was a good deal of joking among the people during the fire. One said, "Mr. Hume's motion is carried by fire, without a division !" others, "There goes a bit of the Poor Law Bill !"—" the Reform Bill ! "—" the Evidence of the Temperance Committee ! "&c. &e. A poor sweep was in high glee at the thought of their new " hact" being destroyed, and commenced roaring " Sweep !" most lustily : he was corrected, however, by a brother in the same calling, who assured him that " master bad a copy of the bact at home ;" but, rejoined the other, "he'll not be such a fool as to let the Parliament chaps know that." Mr. Hume, in the opinion of some sagacious persons, was at the bot- tom of the mischief, because, as a cab-driver told a gentleman whom be Was driving, "the Menibers wouldn't build a new house, though Mr. Mune axed 'etn ever so many times to do it, and told 'em how very un- comfortable he was in the old tin." Lord Althorp, in his eagerness to save Westminster Hall, spoke with extreme irreverence of the House of Commons]: while some were talking of saving the latter, he exclaimed, " Damn the House of Commons, let it blaze away; but save, oh save the Hall!"
The pickpockets were busy; hut the mighty multitude behaved well, and even decorously, upon the whole.
The following official account of the damage actually done was yes- terday put forth by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests.
HOUSE OF PEERS.
The House, Robing-rooms, Committee-rooms in the west fiont, and the rosins of the resident officers, as far as the Octagon Tower at the south end of the huilding—totally destroyed. The Painted Chamber—totally destroyed. The north end of the Royal Gallery abutting on the Painted Chamber— destroyed from the door leading into the Painted Chamber, as far as the first compartment of columns. The Library and the adjoining rooms, which are now undergoing alterations, as well as the Parliament Offices and the Offices of the Lord Great Chamber- lain, togeiher with the Committee-rooms, housekeeper's Apartments, &c. in this part of the building, are saved.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
The House, Libraries, Committee-rooms, Housekeeper's Apartments, &c. are totally destroyed (excepting the Committee-rooms Nos. 11, 12, 13, and 14, which are capable of being repaired).
The official residence of Mr. Ley (Clerk of the House)—this building is totally destroyed. The official residence of the Speaker—The State Dining-room under the House of Commons is much damaged, but capable of restoration.
All the rooms from the oriel window to the south side of the House of Com- mons are destroyed. The Levee-rooms and other parts of the building, together with the Public Galleries, and part of the Cloisters, very much damaged.
THE COURTS OF LAW.
These buildings will require some restoration.
No damage has been done to this building.
The furniture, fixtures, and fittings to both the Houses of Lords and Com- mons, with the Committee-rooms belonging thereto, is with few exceptions destroyed. The public furniture at the Speaker's is in great part destroyed.
TIIE COURTS OF LAW.
The furniture generally of these buildings has sustained considerable damage.
The strictest inquiry is in progress as to the cause of this calamity, but tilers is not the !ilightest reason to suppose that it has arisen from any other than acci- dental causes.
Office of Woods, 17th October 1834.
As soon as the King was informed of the disaster, he made offer of the new Pimlico Palacc to the nation. It is not yet known whether this offer will be accepted ; and it does not exactly appear whether it was intended to give up the Palace for the temporary or constant use of Parliament. A Cabinet Council was held yesterday, attended by the Ministers in town : Lord Brougham did not leave Brighton to join his colleagues. The result of the Ministerial deliberation, if any was come to, is not known.