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affording any continuous interest, that the editor has been obliged to make the absurd and ineffectual efforts we have noticed to connect them into an intelligible series.
There are a few letters from some gossiping acquaintance of Lord Buckingham's-Lord Bulkeley and Sir William Youngtreating of the news and tattle of the day. They are the only portion of the volumes, and a very small one it is, that affords us any glimpses of the state of public opinion or the habits of society-matters which are, in fact, infinitely more amusing, and to ordinary readers more valuable, than the hundred of pages occupied by poor Lord Grenville's laborious endeavours to keep his irascible brother in good humour.
We do not suppose that a second edition of such a work is likely to be called for, but, should it be, we suggest that the documents themselves, unincumbered by the ridiculous rigmarole of the ridiculous editor, might be collected into one 8vo., with a few notes to clear up the numerous obscurities-none of which the present performance has even attempted to elucidate. These Family Documents' would then form a very suitable and acceptable supplement to the earlier series of Grenville Papers' now in the course of publication, and which are edited in a style of which the most appropriate commendation that we can give is that it is the very reverse of that which disfigures, and, we may say, stultifies, the volumes now dismissed.
ART. VII.-1. Apsley House, Piccadilly, the Town Residence of his Grace the Duke of Wellington. J. Mitchell. 1853.
2. Apsley House. Illustrated by ten Lithographic Plates. Colnaghi and Co. 1853.
THE first of these publications, in furnishing an authentic catalogue of the contents of Apsley House, simply points out the principal objects, leaving the visitor to form his own reflections; the second work undertakes to bring before the faithful eye an accurate representation of the interior-the actual aspect of rooms left exactly as when the great inhabitant quitted them for the last time. A record thus remains for after ages, by which a condition of things that sooner or later must undergo change is fixed and realized. The drawings have been carefully made and lithographized by Messrs. Nash, Boys, and Dillon, and the accompanying commentary, of which we are about to make a very free use, has been supplied by an experienced Cicerone, the author of the Handbook for Spain.
Few mansions in the enormous capital of Great Britain are better
better situated or known than Apsley House. Placed at the outlet of the thick-pent town, at the entrance of pleasant parks where it never can be encroached on, approached by arches of triumph and statues symbolic of power and command, it may well attract attention of itself; but the associated religio loci awakens in the public a curiosity altogether reverential. Hence the universal desire to be admitted into those secret and secluded chambers in which the Duke of Wellington laboured in his country's service, and to lift up the curtain that concealed his daily and individual existence, over which the contrast of his out-of-doors ubiquity and notoriety cast SO much mystery. Acquainted as man, woman, and child were with the exterior of Apsley House, the interior-the actual lion's den-was a sealed book to the million; for few were privileged to pass the threshold, and enter into the sanctum sanctorum of the object of popular hero-worship. The outward bearing of the Duke of Wellington himself was not less known than his house. He was the best known man in London; every one knew him by sight: like a city built on a hill, or his own colossal statue on the arch, he could not be hid. He was the observed of all observers, and the object of universal royal-like homage, which he neither courted nor shunned. At fixed hours he lived in the public eye, familiar to all as household gods; and his movements were so certain and regular, that he might be calculated on as a planet. For more than forty years he has been the soul of every important transaction-the foremost person in every great act and danger in an age fertile of great men and events; in a word, a fourth estate in the empire. His martial countenance was a salient feature in our streets: whether on foot or horseback, he crossed the path of every one, and his image became so engraved in the memory of his countrymen, that many, half a century hence, will speak of his silvered head and his venerable form, bowed with the weight of years and honours, yet manfully stemming the crowded highways, struggling to the last against the advance of age, the conqueror of conquerors.
The pilgrim longing of the nation to visit the Duke's house has been anticipated by his son, who, to his infinite credit, while inheriting his father's title and estates, appointed himself trustee of his fame, guardian of his memory, and joint heir with us all in whatever tends to our common share in the Duke' as public property, and can lead to a better understanding of one, a model and example to Englishmen. By him, Apsley House, so long hermetically sealed, has been thrown open-a well-timed act of filial reverence and kind courtesy, which has won golden opinions from all, and especially from the thousands on thousands who have swarmed in, and testified, by every circumstance of their demeanour,
demeanour, a profound appreciation of the boon conceded. They seemed eager to celebrate once more the hero's last obsequies, and to pay yet another homage of regret while standing on his own threshold; and how could it be done more appropriately than on the very site where his days and nights had been spent in their service? The living stream flowed on for months-but that striking spectacle too has now become a thing of the pasta recollection which, once broken, never can be restored. Future generations, therefore, may well be thankful to the present Duke, by whose favour and foresight pencil and pen have been permitted to fix the transitory scene, and hand down to posterity the exact form and pressure of his father's abode, as thus inspected by the myriads of 1853.
Apsley House, in respect to architectural elevation and internal decoration, is surpassed by other town-residences of our aristocracy. Suffice it, therefore, to say-referring for other particulars to Mr. Cunningham's excellent Handbook of London-that it is built on the site of the old lodge to Hyde Park, and where once stood the suburban inn, the Pillars of Hercules, at which Squire Western put up when he arrived in pursuit of his charming daughter. The name is derived from Lord Chancellor Apsley, by whom the mansion was erected about seventy years ago, at the worst period of art-degradation. This drawback was not corrected by the learned judge's being chiefly his own architect, and by his forgetting, as it is said, to make sufficient allowance in his plan for a staircase. Nor was it less strange that the legal lord should have omitted to make good his title to a portion of the land, before he finished the stables, which in fact he did for the benefit of another person, whose interest had then to be bought out at a heavy cost. edifice came about 1810 into the possession of the Marquis Wellesley, who resided there in great state while Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and in that capacity lending a powerful cooperation to the campaigns carried on in Spain by the next occupant. The Duke purchased the house from his elder brother about 1820: thus it has always been inhabited by personages first and foremost in eminent careers. The interior arrangements were soon found to be no less inconvenient and insufficient than the red-brick, ordinary exterior was commonplace, and Messrs. S. and B. Wyatt were employed by the Duke in 1828 to mend matters, while he in the mean time resided in Downing Street, as Prime Minister; then the outside was recased with Bath-stone, and an additional wing constructed to the west, which comprised the state-saloon, afterwards used for the Waterloo banquets, and a suite of rooms on the ground-floor for his private occupation.
The Duke of Wellington, whose occupation was war and government,
government, felt himself rather a Vauban than a Vitruvius; and, however competent to construct or demolish bastions, was no master of the arts of an architect, or the crafts of a builder or upholsterer. He trusted to those he employed; and their estimates, high when originally framed, were doubled ere the works were done; a conclusion and calamity not unfrequent in the best regulated Houses of Lords or Commons: hence arose his indelible disgust of brick and mortar-raw materials of ruination -and his habit, when he related the facts by way of a warning to friends about to build, of adding, the bill for my house in Piccadilly would have broken any one's back but mine.' And we may here observe that he had a marked dislike to the name 'Apsley House,' which he never used either in speaking of his residence or in dating from it. In truth, what with one expense or another, the original purchase, and these costly alterations, this patchwork house, ill-contrived and unsatisfactory at best, did not stand him in much less than 130,000l. Neither, when these 'vast improvements' were made was the Duke fortunate in the taste of the period. Then Rococo was the rule, and a Crockford-club perversion of the Louis XIV. style marked the fashion of the day; then gentlemen of the gold-leaf and papier-mâché order, who could not make houses beautiful, made them gaudy. No wonder, therefore, that the results, outside and inside, should disappoint many, who, in these times of progress, when matters are a trifle better managed, expect to find a palace worthy of such a possessor and price.
A heavy, useless portico darkens and disfigures the severe and semi-defensive aspect of the exterior; the entrance is fenced and palisadoed; solid and ever-closed gates exclude alike the light of heaven and the sight of man. The stables to the right are anything but ornamental; but the Duke would not permit them to be changed, as their inner communication with the house was occasionally convenient. He was thus enabled to mount his horse or get into his carriage unseen, and go out at once, on opening the street-gates, and so escape the certainty of a crowd being collected by any previous notice. On the same protective principle the windows of his head-quarters were barricadoed with iron bullet-proof shutters, put up during the Reform-Bill agitation, when the house and person of the Duke of Wellington, who emancipated the western world from the most embruting despotism, were assailed by an English mob-as Sir Walter Scott was spit upon in Scotland by that people to whose country he had given a European reputation. The conqueror of a hundred fields would never remove this stern record of brutal violence. But now, if there be consciousness in the grave, how his lofty spirit must
have been soothed by the noble atonement made by a whole nation for the sins of a shameless few; when all England, in tears, bore the other day her greatest General past these still closed windows, to lay him alongside her greatest Admiral. He had pursued the even tenor of his way, through good report and evil report, undeterred by menace, indifferent to calumny, and, gradually living down all factions, spleens, and envies, was in the end really and universally understood.
Visitors to Apsley House, on entering, turn to the right hand into a waiting-room, which has no ornaments but a few views of Naples by Vanvitelli, and a portion of the Duke's collection of busts. Of these he had years ago removed many to Strathfieldsaye; among others that of Scott, the chef d'œuvre of Chantrey, and a fine bronze of Massena by Masson. He retained in London Pitt, the pilot that weathered the storm, and under whom he began his career; Perceval, the murdered Premier, than whom'-ipse dixit-'a more honest, zealous, and able minister never served the King;' George III., that good old English-hearted morarch, who gave the Duke his first badge of honour after Assaye. The scratch-wig of the royal bust in the unmitigated unpicturesqueness of the period, like the bronze pigtail of Mr. Wyat in Cockspur Street, is a specimen of art that would make Phidias open his eyes. Here, too, is the brave gentleman Castlereagh, who had the foresight to appoint the Duke to the sole command in the Peninsula, and who, when the deed was done, became his beloved colleague at the Congress of Vienna. This fine work by Chantrey was a present from Mr. Chad, whose name, written in pencil by the Duke, still remains on the bust's broad chest. Our hero, however he might in the field have rivalled Alexander the Great, who allowed none but Apelles and Lysippus to hand his likeness down to posterity, was contented to pronounce 'good' a meagre bronze statuette of himself by Count d'Orsay, which also has a place in this chamber, and does, indeed, contrast with its next neighbour, a reduced copy of Rauch's statue of Blücher-a truly admirable work, which our Duke had the satisfaction of seeing inaugurated at Breslau in 1826, when on his way to St. Petersburgh; a monument which, even in this miniature edition, sets before us, completely as he lived and moved, the rough and tough old comrade, Marshal Forwards'-who, if he had had his own way that is, but for the Duke-would have burnt Paris to the ground, and hanged the murderer of D'Enghien in the very ditch of Vincennes.
This waiting-room opens on a circular, winding staircase, contrived as best could be managed where such an accommodation was an after-thought: deficient in space and light, the palpable