« ForrigeFortsæt »
London Societies: No. I. Society for the Practice of Part-singing
A Conversazione at Willis's Rooms
C. H. Bennett 211, 212, 213, 214
J. D. Watson Frontispiece
F. R. Pickersgill, R.A.
A STROLL IN
DAY cold, gray, cheerless as
any day in February, and yet there is something in the air that speaks of milder breezes, of violets, and of spring-time; a something that lures me away from the warm, glowing hearth, out from between hermetically closed windows and doors; through the dreary, bustling town and away from the din and fashion of Piccadilly.
Past that statue which Westmacott and the ladies of England have raised to do honour to the Duke and themselves, to a quiet spot-quiet enough at this season of the year— in the Park which takes its name from the old manor of the Hyde adjoining Knightsbridge.
Back to some of the seventeenthcentury summers as I walk along over the delicate coating of hoarfrost crisping under my feet, through some of the years that have gone by since Hyde Park, then in possession of abbot and convent, was first enclosed for the public good.
It is not a very important fact that the first keeper, George Roper, was appointed early in the reign of Edward VI.; but it is rather interesting to know that he had only 'sixpence per diem' as a reward for the trouble it must have cost him to keep such a great, wild, unkempt and uncared-for place, as we learn this then highly rural Park was. Nor will it be necessary to dwell at length on the division of the Park in 1652 into three portions. The names of the purchasers and the sums they gave are of little consequence; they were large sums, all ending in a few pence.
VOL. I.-NO. I.
Back through the years that have passed since Hyde Park was intersected by a chain of ponds, now flowing together-the Serpentine of our days to the time when the 'Ring' which was laid out in the reign of Charles I. was in its glory; long, long before it was deserted for the Ride' and 'Ladies' Mile,' and left to present an appearance which causes an observer of the present day to waver between whether it might be the remains of a Roman encampment, or of an unrivalled troupe from Astley's at which he gazed, instead of having once been the resort of all that was brilliant, wealthy, witty and beautiful in the world of the London society of that day.
And thus, as I walk, gradually fade away these our modern days and forms, and before me rises a time when the doings here were so gay that prudent, far-sighted Pepys (the most wonderful instance on record of a man succeeding in life through always doing the right thing at the right time, whether that right thing chanced to be the eating of humble pie before Majesty, or the breathing a longwinded prayer before the Puritan Protector)-Pepys on a pleasuretour heaved a sigh on the night of the 30th April, 1661, for that he was somewhere else, and could not be in Hyde Park among the great gallants and ladies which will be very fine.'
Down the stream of time to later days than when Cromwell, whom somehow or other one can never imagine to have been much of a