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HOUSE AND THE PERCYS.
WHEN Hotspur treads the stage with the first lay proprietor of the forfeited propassionate grace, the spectator hardly perty was a Sir Thomas Cawarden. It dreams of the fact that the princely was soon after acquired by Henry Howard, original lived, paid taxes, and was an active Earl of Northampton, son of the first Earl man of his parish, in Aldersgate Street. of Surrey. Howard, early in the reign of There, however, stood the first Northum- James the First, erected on the site of St. berland House. By the ill-fortune of Mary's Hospital a brick mansion which, Percy it fell to the conquering side in the under various names, has developed into serious conflict in which Hotspur was en- that third and present Northumberland gaged; and Henry the Fourth made a House which is about to fall under prespresent of it to his queen, Jane. Thence sure of circumstances, the great need of it got the name of the Queen's Wardrobe. London, and the argument of half a milSubsequently it was converted into a
lion of money. printing office; and, in the course of time, Thus the last nobleman who has clung the first Northumberland House disap- to the Strand, which, on its south side, was peared altogether.
once a line of palaces, is about to leave it In Fenchurch Street, not now a place for ever. The bishops were the first to wherein to look for nobles, the great Earls reside on that river-bank outside the City of Northumberland were grandly housed walls. Nine episcopal palaces were once in the time of Henry the Sixth ; but vulgar mirrored in the then clear waters of the citizenship elbowed the earls too closely, Thames. The lay nobles followed, when and they ultimately withdrew from the they felt themselves as safe in that fresh City. The deserted mansion and grounds and healthy air as the prelates. The were taken possession of by the roysterers. chapel of the Savoy is still a royal chapel, Dice were for ever rattling in the stately and the memories of time-honored Lansaloons. Winners shouted for joy, and caster and of John, the honest King of blasphemy was considered a virtue by the France, still dignify the place. But the losers. As for the once exquisite gardens, last nobleman who resided so far from the they were converted into bowling-greens, now recognised quarters of fashion is titanic billiards, at which sport the gayer about to leave what has been the seat of City sparks breathed themselves for hours the Howards and Percys for nearly three in the summer time. There was no place centuries, and the Strand will be able no of entertainment so fashionably frequented longer to boast of a duke. It will still, as this second Northumberland House; however, possess an English earl; but he but dice and bowls were at length to be is only a modest lodger in Norfolk Street. enjoyed in more vulgar places, and “the When the Duke of Northumberland old seat of the Percys was deserted by goes from the Strand, there goes with him fashion.” On the site of mansion and à shield with very nearly nine hundred gardens, houses and cottages were erected, quarterings; and among them are the and the place knew its old glory no more. arms of Henry the Seventh, of the soveSo ended the second Northumberland reign houses of France, Castile, Leon, and House.
Scotland, and of the ducal houses of While the above mansions or palaces Normandy and Brittany! Nunquam minus were the pride of all Londoners and the solus quam cum solus, might be a fitting envy of many, there stood on the strand motto for a nobleman who, when he stands of the Thames, at the bend of the river, before a glass, may see therein, not only near Charing Cross, a hospital and chapel, the Duke, but also the Earl of Northumwhose founder, William Marshal, Earl of berland, Earl Percy, Earl of Beverley, Pembroke, had dedicated it to St. Mary, Baron Lovaine of Alnwick, Sir Algernon and made it an appanage to the Priory of Percy, Bart., two doctors (LL.D. and Roncesvalle, in Navarre. Hence the D.C.L.), a colonel, several presidents, and hospital on our river strand was known by the patron of two-and-twenty livings. the name of “ St. Mary Rouncivall.” The As a man who deals with the merits of estate went the way of such property at a book is little or nothing concerned with the dissolution of the monasteries; and the binding thereof, with the water-marks, or with the printing, but is altogether con. of Northumberland, who married his son, cerned with the life that is within, that is, came of a noble but ill-fated race, especialwith the author, his thoughts, and his ex- ly after the thirteenth Baron Percy was pression of them, so, in treating of North- created Earl of Northumberland in 1377. umberland House, we care much less for Indeed, the latter title had been borne by notices of the building than of its in- eleven persons before it was given to a habitants—less for the outward aspect than Percy, and by far the greater proportion of for what has been said or done beneath its the whole of them came to grief. Of one roof. If we look with interest at a mere of them it is stated that he (Alberic) was wall which screens from sight the stage of appointed Earl in 1080, but that, proving some glorious or some terrible act, it is not unfit for the dignity, he was displaced, and for the sake of the wall or its builders : our a Norman bishop named in his stead! The interest is in the drama and its actors. idea of turning out from high estate those Who cares, in speaking of Shakespeare and who were unworthy or incapable is one Hamlet, to know the name of the stage that might suggest many reflections, if it carpenter at the Globe or the Blackfriars ? were not scandalum magnatum to make Suffice it to say, that Lord Howard, who them. was an amateur architect of some merit, is In the chapel at Alnwick Castle there supposed to have had a hand in designing is displayed a genealogical tree. At the the old house in the Strand, and that root of the Percy branches is “ CharleGerard Christmas and Bernard Jansen are magne”; and there is a sermon in the said to have been his "builders." Between whole, much more likely to scourge pride that brick house and the present there is than to stimulate it, if the thing he rightly as much sameness as in the legendary considered. However this may be, the knife which, after having had a new
handle, Percys find their root in Karloman, the subsequently received in addition a new Emperor, through Joscelin of Louvain, in blade. The old house occupied three this way: Agres de Percy was, in the sides of a square. The fourth side, towards twelfth century, the sole heiress of her the river, was completed in the middle of house. Immensely rich, she had many the seventeenth century. The portal re- suitors. Among these was Joscelin, brotains something of the old work, but so ther of Godfrey, sovereign Duke of Bralittle as to be scarcely recognisable, except bant, and of Adelicia, Queen Consort of to professional eyes.
Henry the First of England. Joscelin held From the date of its erection till 1614 it that estate at Petworth which has not since bore the name of Northampton House. gone out of the hands of his descendants. In that year it passed by will from Hen- This princely suitor of the heiress Agnes ry Howard, Lord Northampton, to his was only accepted by her as husband on nephew, Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, condition of his assuming the Percy name. from whom it was called Suffolk House. In Joscelin consented; but he added the arms 1642, Elizabeth, daughter of Theophilus, of Brabant and Louvain to the Percy second Earl of Suffolk, married Alger- shield, in order that, if succession to those non Percy, tenth Earl of Northumberland, titles and possessions should ever be stopand the new master gave his name to the ped for want of an heir, his claim might be old mansion. The above-named Lord kept in remembrance. Now, this Joscelin
Northampton was the man who has been was lineally descended from "Charle- described as foolish when young, infamous magne,” and, therefore, that greater name
when old, an encourager, at threescore lies at the root of the Percy pedigree, years and ten, of his niece, the infamous which glitters in gold on the walls of the Countess of Essex; and who, had he lived ducal chapel in the castle at Alnwick. a few months longer, would probably have Very rarely indeed did the Percys, who been hanged for his share, with that niece were the earlier Earls of Northumberland, and others, in the mysterious murder of Sir die in their beds. The first of them, Thomas Overbury. Thus, the founder of Henry, was slain (1407) in the fight on the house was noble only in name ; his suc- Bramham Moor.' The second, another cessor and nephew has not left a much Henry (whose father, Hotspur, was killed more brilliant reputation. He was con- the hot affair near Shrewsbury), lies within nected, with his wife, in frauds upon the St. Alban's Abbey Church, having poured King, and was fined heavily. The heiress out his lifeblood in another Battle of the Roses, fought near that town named after to pay a fine of thirty thousand pounds. the saint. The blood of the third Earl The Earl ultimately got off with fifteen helped to color the roses, which are said to years' imprisonment and a fine of twenty have grown redder from the gore of the thousand pounds. He was popularly slain on Towton's hard-fought field. The known as the Wizard Earl, because he was forfeited title was transferred, in 1465, to a studious recluse, companying only with Lord John Nevill Montagu, great War- grave scholars (of whom there were three, wick's brother; but Montagu soon lay known as “Percy's Magi"), and finding among the dead in the battle near Barnet. relaxation in writing rhymed satires against The tital was restored to another Henry the Scots. Percy, and that unhappy Earl was mur- There was a stone walk in the Tower dered, in 1489, at his house, Cocklodge, which, having been paved by the Earl, near Thirsk. In that fifteenth century was known during many years as “My there was not a single Earl of Northumber- Lord of Northumberland's Walk." At land who died a peaceful and natural one end was an iron shield of his arms; death.
and holes in which he put a peg at every In the succeeding century the first line turn he made in his dreary exercise. of Earls, consisting of six Henry Percys, One would suppose that the Wizard came to an end in that childless noble Earl would have been very grateful to whom Anne Boleyn called “the Thriftless the man who restored him to liberty. Lord.” He died childless in 1537. He Lord Hayes (Viscount Doncaster) was had, indeed, two brothers, the elder of the man. He had married Northumberwhom might have succeeded to the title land's daughter, Lucy. The marriage had and estates; but both brothers, Sir Thomas excited the Earl's anger, as a low match, and Sir Ingram, had taken up arms in the and the proud captive could not “sto“ Pilgrimage of Grace.” Attainder and for- mach” a benefit for which he was indebted feiture were the consequences; and in 1551 to a son-in-law on whom he looked down. Northumberland was the title of the duke- This proud Earl died in 1632. Just ten dom conferred on John Dudley, Earl of years after, his son, Algernon Percy, went Warwick, who lost the dignity when his a-wooing at Suffolk House, in the Strand. head was struck off at the block, two years It was then inhabited by Elizabeth, the later.
daughter and heiress of Theophilus, Earl Then the old title, Earl of Northumber- of Suffolk, who had died two years previland, was restored in 1557, to Thomas, son ously, in 1640. Algernon Percy and Eliof that attainted Thomas who had joined zabeth Howard made a merry and magnithe “ Pilgrimage of Grace.” Ill-luck still ficent wedding of it, and from the time followed these Percys. Thomas was be- they were joined together the house of the headed—the last of his house who fell bride has been known by the bridegroom's by the hands of the executioner—in 1572. territorial title of Northumberland. His brother and heir died in the Tower in The street close to the house of the 1585.
Percys, which we now know as NorthumNone of these Percys had yet come into berland Street, was then a road leading the Strand. The brick house there, which down to the Thames, and called Hartswas to be their own through marriage with horn Lane. Its earlier name was Chrisan heiress, was built in the lifetime of the topher Alley. At the bottom of the lane Earl, whose father, as jus mentioned, died the luckless Sir Edmundsbury Godfrey in the Tower in 1585. The son, too, was had a stately house, from which he walked long a prisoner in that gloomy palace and many a time and oft to his great wood prison. While Lord Northampton was wharf on the river. But the glory of laying the foundations of the future Lon- Hartshorn Lane was and is Ben Jonson. don house of the Percys in 1605, Henry No one can say where rare Ben was born, Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was being save that the posthumous child first saw carried into durance. There was a Percy, the light in Westminster. “ Though," kinsman to the Earl, who was mixed up in says Fuller, “I cannot, with all my industhe Gunpowder Plot. For no other reason trious inquiry, find him in his cradle, I than relationship with the conspiring Percy can fetch him from his long coats. When the Earl was shut up in the tower for life, a little child he lived in Hartshorn Lane, as his sentence ran, and he was condemned Charing Cross, where his mother married
a bricklayer for her second husband.” noticed in the first report of the Royal Mr. Fowler was a master bricklayer, and Commission on Historical Manuscripts : did well with his clever stepson. We can “Mr. Thinn has proved his marriage with in imagination see that sturdy boy cross- Lady Ogle, but she will not live with him, ing the Strand to go to his school within for fear of being rotten before she is the old church of St. Martin (then still) in ripe.' Lord Suffolk, since he lost his wife the Fields. It is as easy to picture him and daughter, lives with his sister, Northhastening of a morning early to Westmin- umberland. They have here strange amster, where Camden was second master, bassadors—one from the King of Fez, the and had a keen sense of the stuff that was other from Muscovett. All the town has in the scholar from Hartshorn Lane. Of seen the last; he goes to the play, and all the figures that fit about the locality, stinks so that the ladies are not able to none attracts our sympathies so warmly take their muffs from their noses all the as that of the boy who developed into the play-time. The lampoons that are made second dramatic poet of England.
of most of the town ladies are so nasty, Of the countesses and duchesses of this that no woman would read them, else she family, the most singular was the widow would have got them for her.” of Algernon, the tenth Earl. In her wi- “ Tom of Ten Thousand,” as Thynne. dowhood she removed from her house in was called, was murdered (shot dead in the Strand (where she had given a home his carriage) in Pall Mall (1682) by not only to her husband, but to a brother) Königsmark and accomplices, two to one which occupied the site on which three of whom suffered death on the scafWhite's Club now stands. It was called fold. Immediately afterwards the maiden Suffolk House, and the proud lady thereof wife of two husbands really married maintained a semi-regal state beneath the Charles, the proud Duke of Somerset. roof and when she went abroad. On In the same year Banks dedicated to her such an occasion as paying a visit, her (Illustrious Princess, he calls her) his footmen walked bareheaded on ith side · Anna Bullen,' a tragedy. He says: of her coach, which was followed by a “ You have submitted to take a noble second, in which her women were seated, partner, as angels have delighted to conlike so many ladies in waiting! Her verse with men ;” and “there is so much state solemnity went so far that she never of divinity and wisdom in your choice, allowed her son Joscelin's wife (daughter that none but the Almighty ever did the of an Earl) to be seated in her presence- like” (giving Eve to Adam) “with the at least till she had obtained permission world and Eden for a dower.” Then, to do so.
after more blasphemy, and very free alluJoscelin's wife was, according to Pepys, sions to her condition as a bride, and ful"a beautiful lady indeed.” They had but someness beyond conception, he scouts one child, the famous heiress, Elizabeth the idea of supposing that she ever should Percy, who at four years of age was left die. “ You look," he says, “as if you had to the guardianship of her proud and nothing mortal in you. Your guardian wicked old grandmother. Joscelin was angel scarcely is more a deity than you ;" dead, and his widow married Ralph, af- and so on, in increase of bombast, crowned terwards Duke of Montague. The old by the mock humility of “my muse still Dowager Countess was a matchmaker, has no other ornament than truth.” and she contracted her granddaughter, at The Duke and Duchess of Somerset the age of twelve, to Cavendish, Earl of lived in the house in the Strand, which Ogle. Before this couple were of age to continued to be called Northumberland live together Ogle died. In a year or two House, as there had long been a Somerset after, the old matchmaker engaged her House a little more to the east. Anthony victim to Mr. Thomas Thynne, of Long- Henley once annoyed the above duke and leat; but the young lady had no mind to showed his own ill-manners by addressing him. In the Hatton collection of manu- a letter “to the Duke of Somerset, over scripts there are three letters addressed by against the trunk-shop at Charing Cross." a lady of the Brunswick family to Lord The duchess was hardly more respectful and Lady Hatton. They are undated, when speaking of her suburban mansion, but they contain a curious reference to Sion House, Brentford. “It's a hobblepart of the present subject, and are thus dehoy place,” she said; “neither town
nor country.” Of this union came a son, proper. The queen does not understand Algernon Seymour, who in 1748 succeed- English, and can anything be more neces ed his father as Duke of Somerset, and sary than that she should learn the vulgar in 1749 was created Earl of Northumber- tongue ?" One of the countess's familiar land, for a particular reason. He had no terms for conviviality was “junkitaceous,"
His daughter Elizabeth had encou- but ladies of equal rank had also little raged the homage of a handsome young slang words of their own, called things by fellow of that day, named Smithson. She the very plainest names, and spelt physician was told that Hugh Smithson had spoken with an “f." in terms of admiration of her beauty, and There is ample testimony on record that she laughingly asked why he did not say the great countess never hesitated at a jest as much to herself. Smithson was the son on the score of its coarseness. The earl of “ an apothecary,” according to the was distinguished rather for his pomposity envious, but, in truth, the father had been than vulgarity, though a vulgar sentiment a physician, had earned a baronetcy, and marked some of both his sayings and dowas of the good old nobility, the land- ings. For example, when Lord March owners, with an estate, still possessed by the visited him at Alnwick Castle, the Earl of family, at Stanwick, in Yorkshire. Hugh Northumberland received him at the gates Smithson married this Elizabeth Percy, with this queer sort of welcome: “I and the earldom of Northumberland, con- believe, my lord, this is the first time that ferred on her father, was to go to her hus- ever a Douglas and a Percy met here in band, and afterwards to the eldest male friendship.” The censor who said, “ Think heir of this marriage, failing which the dig- of this from a Smithson to a true Douglas," nity was to remain with Elizabeth and her had ample ground for the exclamation. heirs male by any other marriage.
George · the Third raised the earl and It is at this point that the present line of countess to the rank of duke and duchess Smithson-Percys begins. Of the couple in 1766. All the earls of older creation, who may be called its founders so many were ruffled and angry at the advancesevere things have been said, that we may ment; but the honor had its drawback.. infer that their exalted fortunes and best The King would not allow the title to qualities gave umbrage to persons of small descend to an heir by any other wife but minds or strong prejudices. Walpole's re- the one then alive, who was the true mark, that in the earl's lord-lieutenancy in representative of the Percy line. Ireland “their vice-majesties scattered The old Northumberland House festipearls and diamonds about the streets," is vals were right royal things in their way. good testimony to their royal liberality. There was, on the other hand, many a Their taste may not have been unexcep- snug, or unceremonious, or eccentric party tionable, but there was no touch of mean- given there. Perhaps the most splendid ness in it.
In 1758 they gave a supper at was that given in honor of the King of Northumberland House to Lady Yar- Denmark in 1768. His majesty was fairly mouth, George the Second's old mistress. bewildered with the splendor. There was The chief ornamental piece on the supper in the court what was called a “pantheon," table represented a grand chasse at Her- illuminated by 4000 lamps. The King, as renhausen, at which there was a carriage he sat down to supper, at the table to drawn by six horses, in which was seated which he had expressly invited twenty an august person wearing a blue ribbon, guests out of the hundreds assembled, said with a lady at his side. This was not to the duke, “ How did you contrive to unaptly called “the apotheosis of concubi- light it all in time?” “I had two hunnage.” Of the celebrated countess no- dred lamplighters,” replied the duke. tices vary. Her delicacy, elegance, and “That was a stretch," wrote candid Mrs. refinement are vouched for by some; her Delany; “ a dozen could have done the coarseness and vulgarity are asserted by business ;" which was true. others. When Queen Charlotte came to The duchess, who in early life was, in England, Lady Northumberland was made delicacy of form, like one of the Graces, one of the ladies of the queen's bedcham- became, in her more mature years, fatter ber. Lady Townshend justified it to than if the whole three had been rolled people who felt or feigned surprise, by into one in her person. With obesity remarking, “Surely nothing could be more came “an exposition to sleep,” as Bottom NEW SERIES.- VOL. XVIII., No. I