« PreviousContinue »
On the death of Dr. Cox, his successor, Dr. Martin Heton, showed himself quite as averse to complete the bargain, as his predecessor had been to consent to it; and it was on the occasion of his throwing repeated obstacles in the way of the arrangement, that Elizabeth addressed to him the following well-known epistle :
“ PROUD PRELATE,
“ I understand you are backward in complying with your agreement, but I would have you know, that I, who made you what you are, can unmake you; and if you do not forth with fulfil your engagement, by G-D I will immediately unfrock you.
Sir Christopher Hatton breathed his last in Hatton House, on the 20th of November 1591; dying, it is said, of a broken heart, caused by the stern demand of his royal mistress for repayment of the sum of 40,0001. which she had formerly lent him, and which he was unable to repay. Elizabeth, it is said, repented of her cruelty when it was too late, and not only visited Sir Christopher in his extremity, at Hatton House, but administered his “cordial-broths” to him with her own hand. His name is still preserved in Christopher Street, Hatton Garden.
Ely Place subsequently reverted to the Bishops of Ely, and continued to be their London residence till 1772, in which year an Act of the Legislature empowered them to dispose of the ground to the Crown. Since that date their episcopal residence in London has been in Dover Street, Piccadilly, which was settled on them in perpetuity.
In Cross Street, Hatton Garden, lived the eminent divine, William Whiston; and in Charles Street died, on the 16th of October, 1802, Joseph Strutt, the author of the popular work, the “ Sports and Pastimes of the People of England.”
The Inns of Court in Holborn, or in its immediate vicinity, consist of Gray's Inn, Furnival's Inn, Thavie's Inn, Staple Inn, and Barnard's Inn. Of these, the most important is Gray's Inn, situated close to Gray's Inn Lane. Like more than one of the Inns of Court, it derives its name from having been originally the residence of a noble family; the word “Inne” having been anciently the usual denomination of the town houses in which persons of rank resided when summoned to attend either parliament or their sovereign.
Gray's Inn stands upon the site of a property anciently known as the Manor of Portpoole, or Purpoole, and derives its name from having been the residence of the Lords Gray of Wilton, from 1315 to 1505. The name of the ancient manor is still preserved in Portpoole Lane, running from Gray's Inn Lane into Leather Lane. In 1505 it was sold by Edmund, the ninth baron, to Hugh Denny, Esq., who, about eight years afterwards, disposed of it to the prior and convent of East Sheen in Surrey. The convent leased the mansion
to the students at law, whose tenure was subsequently rendered somewhat insecure by the dissolution of the religious houses. Henry the Eighth, however, took the property into his own hands, and the students at law were allowed to become tenants of the crown, on payment of an annual rent.
This important Inn of Court consists of a spacious court, and a large garden, laid out about the year 1600, and shaded by lofty trees. The domain of the society extends over a large tract of ground between Holborn and Theobald's Road. It has its hall, built in 1560, its chapel, and library: but, if we except the hall, they are distinguished by no extraordinary architectural merit. Let us not omit to mention, however, that the bench tables in the hall are said to have been the gift of Queen Elizabeth, who took great pleasure in the dramatic performances of the gentlemen of Gray's Inn, and, according to tradition, on one occasion partook of a banquet in their ball. It is remarkable that the only toast which is ever publicly drunk by the society, is “ to the glorious, pious, and immortal memory of Queen Elizabeth.” It is drunk only on state occasions, and then with great formality. Three benchers rise and drink the toast; they then sit down, and two others rise, and in this manner the toast passes down the bar table, and from thence to the student's table. * To the gateway of Gray's Inn a certain interest attaches itself, from its having contained the shop of the celebrated bookseller, Jacob Tonson, who appears to have resided here between the years 1697 and 1712, in which latter year he removed to a shop opposite Catherine Street, in the Strand.
* Pearce's “ History of the Inns of Court,” p. 328.
Tonson was succeeded in his shop by another eminent bookseller, Thomas Osborne, whose name more than once occurs in the “ Dunciad,” especially where he is introduced as contending for the prize among the booksellers, and carrying it off:
Osborne, through perfect modesty o'ercome,
Crowned with the jordan, walks contented home. Osborne is perhaps best remembered from his wellknown feud with Dr. Johnson. “ It has been confidently related, with many embellishments,” says Boswell, “ that Johnson one day knocked Osborne down in his shop with a folio, and put his foot upon his neck. The simple truth I had from Johnson himself. “Sir, he was impertinent to me and I beat him. But it was not in his shop; it was in my own chamber.'” Johnson says of Osborne, in his Life of Pope, that he was entirely destitute of shame, without sense of any disgrace but that of poverty. He is said to have combined the most lamentable ignorance, with extraordinary expertness in all the petty tricks of his trade.
The most interesting spot connected with Gray's Inn are the gardens, which, as late as 1633, commanded a very pleasing view of the high grounds of Hampstead and Highgate; the entire country to the north consisting of pasture-land. This spot
was a favourite resort of the immortal Bacon, during the period he resided in Gray's Inn. It appears, by the books of the society, that he planted the greater number of the elm trees, which still afford us their refreshing shade; and also that he erected a summer-house on a small mount on the terrace, where it is not improbable that he often meditated and passed his time in literary composition. From the circumstance of Lord Bacon dating his Essays from his “ Chamber in Graies Inn,” it is not improbable that the charming essay, in which he dwells so enthusiastically on the pleasures of a garden, was composed in, and inspired by, the floral beauties of this his favourite haunt. “ God Almighty,” he says, “first planted a garden ; and indeed it is the purest of human pleasures; it is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man, without which, buildings and palaces are but gross handy-works." And he adds : “Because the breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air, where it comes and goes like the warbling of music, than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for that delight than to know what be the flowers and plants that do best perfume the air.” As late as the year 1754, there was standing, in the gardens of Gray's Inn, an octagonal seat, covered with a roof, which had been erected by Lord Bacon to the memory of his friend, Jeremiah Bettenham. To the seat was attached the following inscription :
Franciscus Bacon, Regis Solicitor Generalis, executor testamenti Jeremiæ Bettenham, nuper Lectoris hujus hospitii, viri innocentis,