23 JUNE 1860, Page 17



COURT OF ENGLAND.* WHEN the best portion of Britain had become Roman, "among the stations which diffused over the land the refinements of Latin civilization, was one called Thamesa, in Britannia Prima, which united Kent, Sussex and Surrey." To this district Mr. Folkstone Williams, supposes the name Shene, to have been given by the Saxons, soon after their settlement in it. "It is stated that a palace was built here by Edward the Confessor, and that it was known by the title Shene or resplendent," a word, adds our author, which has become Anglicized into Shine, and is pre- served in the German Scholl. In a later day Belet, a follower of the Norman Conqueror "obtained lands in Surrey to hold by per- sonal service to the King of England as cupbearer." These lands were called Shene—the Shene of Edward the Confessor. Shene remained in possession of the Belet family, apparently till after Henry the Third's decease. The rights of the Belet family, were then purchased by Robert Burnel, Bishop of Bath and Wells, who retained the property till the 31st of the reign of Edward III., when he died, and from some cause or other the estate re- verted to the Crown. Included among the royal residences of this monarch, Shene became the scene of many important, or pic- turesque incidents in the lives of the Plantagenet sovereigns, of the Tudors, of the Stuarts, and of the first two Georges. In the Christmas of 1497, while the Royal family were at Shene, a de- structive fire broke out in the palace. The old manor house had to be rebuilt. On its completion, the King, Henry VII., desired that the place should henceforth bear his hereditary title ; conse- quently Shene was styled Richmond, and the new building Rich- mond Palace. The eastern division of the district, however, con- tinued and still continues to bear its Anglo-Saxon appellation.

Conceiving such a locality to be invested with an enduring interest to Englishmen, Mr. Williams has collected and arranged the materials for a historical and biographical report of this an- cient abode of royalty. In the prosecution of his labours, he has consulted antiquaries and arclueologists ; examined contemporary authorities, and referred to those "trustworthy digests," recently sent from the press under the auspices of the Master of the Rolls, and the Secretary of State for the Home department,—the Calendars of State Papers. The result is the publication of a work in three volumes, pleasant and instructive enough, but perhaps somewhat overlaid with detail and quotation. Yet if occasionally diffuse, deficient in art and dramatic effect, and without any decided originality of thought, feeling, or language, the book is informing, abundant in anecdote, and agreeably gos- sipping. It moreover evinces considerable research, and a generally sound historical judgment. In a work where minute- ness of statement is inevitable, some inaccuracies may possibly have crept in. We are certainly much perplexed at learning (p. 182, vol. iii) that "it is not difficult to fancy "that during the contemplation of the scenic attractions of Richmond, Andrew Marvel wrote that beautiful hymn, "The spacious firmament on high ; " a hymn which, in common, we presume, with the majority of our countrymen, we have always been accustomed to ascribe to Addison.

After a brief account of Roman conquest and civilization in Britain, and the expression of his belief that "Uriconium is only the beginning of a new chapter in the social history of this island," and that the manners, customs, pursuits, and arts of our Anglo- Roman ancestors will, in due time, be illustrated by the explora- tions of the spade, Mr. Williams proceeds to sketch the archi- tectural arrangements of the king's manor-house at Shene, in the time of the Third Edward, describing the hall, the solar, the kitchen, the garden, and ending with an account of some of the sports and pastimes of the heroes of romance. The armour, the costume, the entertainments, tournaments, furniture, wardrobe, and court literature of the fourteenth century ; the organization of the royal household and the family of Edward III. then receive a share of our author's attention. The King's visit to the fair Countess of Salisbury, and the story of the subsequent Order of the Garter, are presumed to rest on no better foundation than the gossip of the pages. The character of Alice Perrers, an attendant of the Queen while she lived, and after her death a member of the Royal Household at Shene Palace, is vindicated against the al- 'edged misrepresentations of Kennet, and more recent writers. Mr. Williams believes that the beautiful Alice was regarded by the King as a daughter, and behaved as a daughter ; he points out that the princesses and ladies of rank who shared with her the amusements of the Court, never seem to have considered her society a degradation ; and asserts the falsehood of the libel which exhibits her as 'eventing from the palace with all the property she could secure, after abstracting even the rings from the fingers of the dying and deserted Edward. He shows, also, that though the Commons, obedient to a clamour got up for political purposes, un- doubtedly complained against Alice Perrers, they afterwards atoned for this injustice by moving for "revocation of the judg- ment given," and for her "restitution."

"Among the celebrated persons who belonged to the English Court during part of the reign of Edward III. must be placed Jean Froissart, the well-known chronicler," the secretary of the Queen, and the recorder of her sons' heroic deeds. The still more • Domestic memoirs of the Royal Family and of the Court of England, Chiefly at &gene and Richmond. By Folkstone Williams, F.G.S., F.R.G.S. In three volumes. Published by Hurst and Blacken. famous Geoffrey Chaucer, too, was a member of the King's Esta- blishment. Ex-Envoy to Genoa and " Scutifer floater " with the office of Comptroller of the Customs; a wardenship of 1041. yearly, and a grant of forfeited wool, valued at 711. 4s. 6d. ; husband of Philippa, one of the maids of honour of the late queen, and herself a royal annuitant to the amount of ten marks, we may fancy glorious old Geoffrey drinking his "daily pitcher of wine" at Shene, with supreme self-satisfaction. We must pass over the doings of Richard II. and "Good Queen Anne" at the" resplendent " Manor-house ; over its restoration by Henry V. and his religious foundations, with the visit from the Emperor Sigismund and William of Bavaria ; over Henry the Sixth's residence there ; over the romantic incidents which oc- curred there in Edward the Fourth's time, when Anthony Lord Rivers, Caxton's most liberal patron, was the selected knight of the fair ladies that thronged around him with their golden forget-me-not garter, as he was leaving the chapel ; an act that resulted in a victory over the renowned bastard of Burgundy, with whom this favoured champion, then Lord Scales, fought in single combat. We must pass too, over the Court usages in Henry the Seventh's time, when Shene acquired the new name of Richmond, when the Prior of the Charterhouse was "sinfully murdered," and "Margaret, the King's eldest daughter, then but thirteen," was betrothed in the Queen's great chamber to "James King of Scotland, who was more than double her age." In the following reign, we make acquaintance with the Princess Mary,— afterwards our poor queen with the ugly red name,—welcoming and entertaining the gentlemen of France "with most goodly coun- tenance" and with pleasant pastime in playing on the virgi- nals," a perfect musical prodigy. A more tender interest hal- lows the spot that witnessed the affection of Dudley and Amy Robsart, of Guildford and Lady Jane Grey, of Sir Philip Sydney, and Elizabeth W alsingham, of Stella and Dean Swift. On the accession of Elizabeth to the throne, the splendour of the Court at Richmond revived with its gaiety. Mr. Williams by no means agrees with the disparagers of this illustrious queen. In her rides and rambles in the neighbourhood of Richmond, Elizabeth was accustomed to resort to Mortlake, to converse with Dr. John Dee, a fellow of Trinity College, who had studied at Louvain and been a professor at Rheims. A profound scholar and mathematician, he was naturally regarded by the ignorant vul- gar as a magician ; who suspecting him of dealings with the evil one, assembled in great force in the year 1576, "attacked his house and destroyed nearly all his philosophical instruments, MSS., and rare books." Elizabeth's visits to Mortlake were, Mr. Williams affirms, prompted by a desire to converse with a man of erudition and science ; a sentence entirely opposed to that of Miss Strickland, who (says our author) characterizes them las those of a foolish dupe to an unprincipled. impostor ;" an assumption for which he assures us there is not the slightest ground. It is said indeed in the Book of Spit-its, published fifty years after Dr. Dee's death, and in his name, that Edward Kelly, an apotheiary, was once retained by him as an astrologer and evocatAir of souls. This authority, Mr. Williams pronounces suspicious. It would seem, in any case, that "at Mortlake Dr. Dee did not profess such knowledge, though he studied chemistry with as much ar- dour as other branches of natural science. He published several scientific works' and his diary has lately been edited by the Cam- den Society." As a scholar he was known to Cecil, who intro- duced him to Edward. From the young king be received a pen- sion of a hundred crowns and the rectory of Upton-on-Severn. By the queen, his sister, he was appointed Warden of Manchester College, where he resided nine years. He died at Mortlake at the age of eighty-one. Mr. Williams gives instances of the habitual acts of kindness of the "much libelled" Queen Elizabeth towards her attendants, and cites passages from the Losely MSS., which give us glimpses of the palace life during her reign ; suggesting a picture "in which we find no trace of the royal virago and of her licentious courtiers, elaborately pourtrayed by Catholic writers and a few other historians who have been content with their authority." It was at Richmond December 3, 1586, that Elizabeth's pro- clamation was dated, for the declaration of the sentence lately given against the Queen of Scots. The view which Mr. Wil- liam's takes of Elizabeth's conduct on this occasion is more fa- vourable and probably more just than the ordinary popular judg- ment of it. "Mary Stuart had a fair trial, was found guilty, and sentence of death was passed upon her." The warrant for her execution when signed by Elizabeth, "remained in Davison's hands; and he, without consulting his sovereign, forwarded it, with the connivance of Burleigh and of the Council to Fotherin.- gay, with orders for proceeding upon it forthwith. Indignant at the slight which she considered Davison had put upon her, she committed him to the Tower. Subsequently liberated on the payment of a fine he was never afterwards employed by the Queen. Finding that his royal mistress was inexorable to all his entreaties for forgiveness, he began writing accounts of the tran- saction in which he made Elizabeth appear in the most odious light possible. "Fortunately for her fame these allegations rest exclusively on state- ments made by a discarded servant, under the bitterest feelings of' disap- pointment : and though they have been readily endorsed by Dr. Lingard, Sir Harris Nicholas, and other historical writers, similarly biassed., it would not be difficult to show that Davison totally mistook the meaning of the Queen, and that the alleged correspondence with Sir Amiss Paulet and Sir Drew Drury, if genuine, of which there is no legal proof, was without her authority.' In the year 1588, the Invincible Armada attempted the inva- sion of England. It was at Richmond that the Queen with her principal officers concerted means for the defence of the kingdom. It was from Richmond that the Privy Council addressed a letter to the Deputy-Lieutenants, announcing the appearance of the Spanish fleet off the coast, enjoining them to direct the firing of the beacons and to march troops into Essex, to aid in repelling the enemy, if they landed on that part of the coast. From Elizabeth we pass to Prince Henry, eldest son of James I., and his Queen Anne, of Denmark, and the next royal resident at Richmond Palace. Mr. Williams describes the establishment and education of "England's darling," as this accomplished prince was designated ; introduces us to Bishop Hall, Ben Jenson, and other notabilities, tells us of the interest taken by the young Henry in maritime affairs, and of the discussion of a probable North-west passage at Richmond ; of the gallery of paintings which the young prince formed there and his patronage of Oliver, Peake, Vanderdort, and Vinekenboom. Richmond under Charles I., the Protectorate, and the Restoration, with Dr. Duppa and the " Eikon Basilike," John Evelyn, and William Lily ; Richmond, when the family of James II. resided there ; when William of Orange "lay there last night and hunted this day," (February 5, 1697-8); when Anne "sometimes counsel took and sometimes tea ; " when George I. and Sir Robert Walpole followed the hounds in the new park when Queen Caroline, after walking in the gardens with that politic minister, and listening to his advice, wrote a letter to the second English Guelph, the royal saint then in Hanover, requesting him, like an amiable wife, to bring his be- loved Madame Walmoden to England—Richmond under all these aspects is described and illustrated by our admiring author.

Later we come to Horace Walpole—the Princess Emily, Ad- dington, and the Duke of Queensbury ; to the villa, with the en- chanting view, and the ducal interrogation, "What is there to make so much of in the Thames ? I am quite tired of it—there it goes, flow, flow, flow, always the same Later still we find the sailor-king to whom "we owe the terrace walk, delighting in the amenities of Richmond." In our own day, we have seen the White Lodge selected for the educational residence of the Prince of Wales, while Science in the person of Professor Owen is now honourably domiciled at Shene—the graceful act of the First Lady in the land.

We conclude our notice of Mr. Williams's interesting book with his revision of the "Legend of the Lass of Richmond Hill." That poetic title, he informs us, (we know not on what authority,) was not intended to designate either Mrs. Fitzherbert, as Mr. Langdale assumes, or Lady Sarah Lennox, as is stated by Mr. Leigh Hunt, in his Cburt Suburb. For "it so happens that, in the first place, the song was written by Bernard M'Nally, an Irish barrister ; in the second, that its object was a Miss Ianson ; in the third, that its locality was Richmond. Hill, Yorkshire."