ST. PAUL'S (continued).
The Rebuilding of St. Paul's—III Treatment of its Architect—Cost of the Present Fabric—Royal Vistors—The First Grave in St. Paul's—Monuments in St. Paul's—Nelson's, Funeral—Military Heroes in St. Paul's—The Duke of Wellington's Funeral—Other Creat Men in
St. Paul's—Proposals for the Completion and Decoration of the Building—Dimensions of St. Paul's—Plan of Construction—The Dome,
Ball, and Cross—Mr. Horner and his Observatory—Two Narrow Escapes—Sir James Thornhill—Peregrine Falcons on St. Paul's—Nooks
and Corners of the Cathedral—The Library. Model Room, and Clock—The Great Bell—A Lucky Error—Curious Story of a Monomaniac—The Poets and the Cathedral—The Festivals of the Charity Schools and of the Sons of the Clergy.
Towards the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral,
Charles II., generous as usual in promises, offered
an annual contribution of £1,000; but this,
however, never seems to have been paid. It, no
doubt, went to pay Nell Gwynne's losses at the
gambling-table, or to feed the Duchess of Portsmouth's lap-dogs. Some £1,700 in fines, however,
were set apart for the new building. The Primate
Sheldon gave £2,000. Many of the bishops contributed largely, and there were parochial collections all over England. But the bulk of the money
was obtained from the City duty on coals, which (as
Dean Milman remarks) in time had their revenge
in destroying the stonework of the Cathedral. It
was only by a fortunate accident that Wren became
the builder; for Charles II., whose tastes and vices
were all French, had in vain invited over Perrault,
the designer of one of the fronts of the Louvre.
The great architect, Wren, was the son of a
Dean of Windsor, and nephew of a Bishop of
Norwich whom Cromwell had imprisoned for his
Romish tendencies. From a boy Wren had shown
a genius for scientific discovery. He distinguished
himself in almost every branch of knowledge, and
to his fruitful brain we are indebted for some fiftytwo suggestive discoveries. He now. hoped to
rebuild London on a magnificent scale; but it was
not to be. Even in the plans for the new
cathedral Wren was from the beginning thwarted
and impeded. Ignorance, envy, jealousy, and
selfishness met him at every line he drew. He
made two designs—the first a Greek, the second
a Latin cross. The Greek cross the clergy considered as unsuitable for a cathedral. The model
for it was long preserved in the Trophy Room of
St. Paul's, where, either from neglect or the zeal of
relic-hunters, the western portico was lost. It is
now at South Kensington, and is still imperfect.
The interior of the first design is by many considered superior to the present interior. The
present recesses along the aisles of the nave,
tradition says, were insisted on by James II., who
thought they would be useful as side chapels when
masses were once more introduced.
The first stone was laid by Wren on the 21st
June, 1675, but there was no public ceremonial.
Soon after the great geometrician had drawn the
circle for the beautiful dome, he sent a workman
for a stone to mark the exact centre. The man returned with a fragment of a tombstone, on which
was the one ominous word (as every one observed)
"Resurgam!" The ruins of old St. Paul's were
stubborn. In trying to blow up the tower, a
passer-by was killed, and Wren, with his usual
ingenuity, resorted successfully to the old Roman
battering-ram, which soon cleared a way. "I build
for eternity," said Wren, with the true confidence
of genius, as he searched for a firm foundation.
Below the Norman, Saxon, and Roman graves he
dug and probed till he could find the most reliable
stratum. Below the loam was sand; under the sand
a layer of fresh-water shells; under these were sand,
gravel, and London clay. At the north-east corner
of the dome Wren was vexed by coming upon a pit
dug by the Roman potters in search of clay. He,
however, began from the solid earth a strong pier
of masonry, and above turned a short arch to the
former foundation. He also slanted the new
building more to the north-east than its predecessor,
in order to widen the street south of St. Paul's.
Well begun is half done. The Cathedral grew
fast, and in two-and-twenty years from the laying
of the first stone the choir was opened for Divine
service. The master mason who helped to lay the
first stone assisted in fixing the last in the lantern.
A great day was chosen for the opening of St.
Paul's. December 2nd, 1697, was the thanksgiving
day for the Peace of Ryswick—the treaty which
humbled France, and seated William firmly and
permanently on the English throne. The king,
much against his will, was persuaded to stay at
home by his courtiers, who dreaded armed Jacobites
among the 300,000 people who would throng the
streets. Worthy Bishop Compton, who, dressed as
a trooper, had guarded the Princess Anne in her
flight from her father, preached that inspiring day
on the text, "I was glad when they said unto me,
Let us go into the house of the Lord." From
then till now the daily voice of prayer and praise
has never ceased in St. Paul's.
Queen Anne, during her eventful reign, went
seven times to St. Paul's in solemn procession, to
commemorate victories over France or Spain. The
first of these (1702) was a jubilee for Marlborough's
triumph in the Low Countries, and Rooke's destruction of the Spanish fleet at Vigo. The Queen
sat on a raised and canopied throne; the Duke
of Marlborough, as Groom of the Stole, on a
stool behind her. The Lords and Commons, who
had arrived in procession, were arranged in the
choir. The brave old Whig Bishop of Exeter, Sir
Jonathan Trelawney ("and shall Trelawney die?"),
preached the sermon. Guns at the Tower, on the
river, and in St. James's Park, fired off the Te
Deum, and when the Queen started and returned.
In 1704, the victory of Blenheim was celebrated;
in 1705, the forcing of the French lines at Tirlemont; in 1706, the battle of Ramillies and Lord
Peterborough's successes in Spain; in 1707, more
triumphs; in 1708, the battle of Oudenarde; and
last of all, in 1713, the Peace of Utrecht, when the
Queen was unable to attend. On this last day
the charity children of London (4,000 in number)
first attended outside the church.
St. Paul's was already, to all intents and purposes, completed. The dome was ringed with its
golden gallery, and crowned with its glittering cross.
In 1710, Wren's son and the body of Freemasons
had laid the highest stone of the lantern of the
cupola, and now commenced the bitterest mortifications of Wren's life. The commissioners had
dwindled down to Dean Godolphin and six or
seven civilians from Doctors' Commons. Wren's
old friends were dead. His foes compelled him
to pile the organ on the screen, though he had intended it to be under the north-east arch of the
choir, where it now is. Wren wished to use
mosaic for internal decoration; they pronounced
it too costly, and they took the painting of the
cupola out of Wren's hands and gave it to
Hogarth's father-in-law, Sir James Thornhill. They
complained of wilful delay in the work, and
accused Wren or his assistant of corruption; they
also withheld part of his salary till the work was
completed. Wren covered the cupola with lead,
at a cost of £2,500; the committee were for
copper, at £3,050. About the iron railing for the
churchyard there was also wrangling. Wren wished
a low fence, to leave the vestibule and the steps
free and open. The commissioners thought Wren's
design mean and weak, and chose the present heavy
and cumbrous iron-work, which breaks up the view
of the west front.
The new organ, by Father Bernard Smith, which
cost £2,000, was shorn of its full size by Wren,
perhaps in vexation at its misplacement. The
paltry statue of Queen Anne, in the churchyard,
was by Bird, and cost £1,130, exclusive of the
marble, which the Queen provided. The carvings in
the choir, by Grinling Gibbons, cost £1,337 7s. 5d.
On some of the exterior sculpture Cibber worked.
In 1718 a violent pamphlet appeared, written,
it was supposed, by one of the commissioners. It
accused Wren's head workmen of pilfering timber
and cracking the bells. Wren proved the charges
to be malicious and untrue. The commissioners
now insisted on adding a stone balustrade all
round St. Paul's, in spite of Wren's protests. He
condemned the addition as "contrary to the principles of architecture, and as breaking into the
harmony of the whole design;" but, he said,
"ladies think nothing well without an edging."
The next year, the commissioners went a step
further. Wren, then eighty-six years old, and in
the forty-ninth year of office, was dismissed without
apology from his post of Surveyor of Public
Works. The German Court, hostile to all who
had served the Stuarts, appointed in his place a
poor pretender, named Benson. This charlatan—now only remembered by a line in the "Dunciad,"
which ridicules the singular vanity of a man who
erected a monument to Milton, in Westminster
Abbey, and crowded the marble with his own titles—was afterwards dismissed from his surveyorship
with ignominy, but had yet influence enough at
Court to escape prosecution and obtain several
valuable sinecures. Wren retired to his house at
Hampton Court, and there sought consolation in
philosophical and religious studies. Once a year,
says Horace Walpole, the good old man was
carried to St. Paul's, to contemplate the glorious
chef-d'æuvre of his genius, Steele, in the Tatler,
refers to Wren s vexations, and attributes them to
his modesty and bashfulness.
The total sum expended on the building of St.
Paul's Cathedral, according to Dean Milman, was
£736, 752 2s. 3¼d.; a small residue from the coal
duty was all that was left for future repairs. To
this Dean Clark added about £500, part of the
profits arising from an Essex estate (the gift of
an old Saxon king), leased from the Dean and
Chapter. The charge of the fabric was vested not
in the Dean and Chapter, but in the Archbishop of
Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and the Lord
Mayor for the time being. These trustees elect the
surveyor and audit the accounts.
On the accession of George I. (1715), the new
king, princes, and princesses went in state to St.
Paul's. Seventy years elapsed before an English
king again entered Wren's cathedral. In April,
1789, George III. came to thank God for his temporary recovery from insanity. Queen Charlotte,
the Prince of Wales, and the Duke of York were
present, and both Houses of Parliament. Bishop
Porteous preached the sermon, and 6,000 charity
children joined in the service. In 1797, King
George came again to attend a thanksgiving for
Lord Duncan's and Lord Howe's naval victories;
French, Spanish, and Dutch flags waved above
the procession, and Sir Horatio Nelson was there
among other heroes.
The first grave sunk in St. Paul's was fittingly
that of Wren, its builder. He lies in the place of
honour, the extreme east of the crypt. The black
marble slab is railed in, and the light from a small
window-grating falls upon the venerated name.
Sir Christopher died in 1723, aged ninety-one.
The fine inscription, "Si monumentum requiris,
circumspice," written probably by his son, or Mylne,
the builder of Blackfriars Bridge, was formerly in
front of the organ-gallery, but is now placed over
the north-western entrance.
The clergy of St. Paul's were for a long time
jealous of allowing any monument in the cathedral.
Dean Newton wished for a tomb, but it was afterwards erected in St. Mary-le-Bow. A better man
than the vain, place-hunting dean was the first
honoured. The earliest statue admitted was that of
the benevolent Howard, who had mitigated suffering
and sorrow in all the prisons of Europe; he stands
at the corner of the dome facing that half-stripped
athlete, Dr. Johnson, and the two are generally
taken by country visitors for St. Peter and St. Paul.
He who with Goldsmith had wandered through the
Abbey, wondering if one day their names might
not be recorded there, found a grave in Westminster, and, thanks to Reynolds, the first place of
honour. Sir Joshua himself, as one of our greatest
painters, took the third place, that Hogarth should
have occupied; and the fourth was awarded to that
great Oriental scholar, Sir William Jones. The
clerical opposition was now broken through, for the
world felt that the Abbey was full enough, and that
St. Paul's required adorning.
Henceforward St. Paul's was chiefly set apart for
naval and military heroes whom the city could
best appreciate, while the poets, great writers, and
statesmen were honoured in the Abbey, and laid
among the old historic dead. From the beginning
our sculptors resorted to pagan emblems and
pagan allégorical figures; the result is that St.
Paul's resembles a Pantheon of the Lower Empire,
and is a hospital of third-rate art. The first naval
conqueror so honoured was Rodney; Rossi received £6,000 for his cold and clumsy design:
Lord Howe's statue followed; and next that
of Lord Duncan, the hero of Camperdown. It is
a simple statue by Westmacott, with a seaman and
his wife and child on the pedestal. For Earl St.
Vincent, Bailey produced a colossal statue and the
usual scribbling, History and a trumpeting Victory.
Then came Nelson's brothers in arms—men of
lesser mark; but the nation was grateful, and the
Government was anxious to justify its wars by its
victories. St. Paul's was growing less particular, and
now opened its arms to the best men it could get.
Many of Nelson's captains preceded him on the
red road to death—Westcott, who fell at Aboukir;
Mosse and Riou, who fell before Copenhagen (a
far from stainless victory). Riou was the brave man
whom Campbell immortalised in his fiery "Battle
of the Baltic." Riou lies
"Full many a fathom deep,
By thy wild and stormy steep,
Then at last, in 1806, came a hero worthy, indeed,
of such a cathedral—Nelson himself. At what a
moment had Nelson expired! At the close of a
victory that had annihilated the fleets of France
and Spain, and secured to Britain the empire of
the seas. The whole nation that day shed tears of
"pride and of sorrow." The Prince of Wales and
all his brothers led the procession of nearly 8,000
soldiers, and the chief mourner was Admiral
Parker (the Mutiny of the Nore Parker). Nelson's
coffin was formed out of a mast of the L'Orient—a vessel blown up at the battle of the Nile, and
presented to Nelson by his friend, the captain
of the Swiftsure. The sarcophagus, singularly
enough, had been designed by Michael Angelo's
contemporary, Torreguiano, for Wolsey, in the
days of his most insatiable pride, and had remained ever since in Wolsey's chapel at Windsor;
Nelson's flag was to have been placed over the
coffin, but as it was about to be lowered, the
sailors who had borne it, as if by an irresistible
impulse, stepped forward and tore it in pieces,
for relics. Dean Milman, who, as a youth, was
present, says, "I heard, or fancied I heard, the
low wail of the sailors who encircled the remains of
their admiral." Nelson's trusty companion, Lord
Collingwood, who led the vanguard at Trafalgar,
sleeps near his old captain, and Lord Northesk,
who led the rear-guard, is buried opposite. A brass
plate on the pavement under the dome marks
the spot of Nelson's tomb. The monument to
Nelson, inconveniently placed at the opening of
the choir, is by one of our greatest sculptors—Flaxman. It is hardly worthy of the occasion,
and the figures on the pedestal are puerile. Lord
Lyons is the last admiral whose monument has
been erected in St. Paul's.
The military heroes have been contributed by
various wars, just and unjust, successful and the
reverse. There is that tough old veteran, Lord
Heathfield, who drove off two angry nations from the
scorched rock of Gibraltar; Sir Isaac Brock, who fell
near Niagara; Sir Ralph Abercromby, who perished
in Egypt; and Sir John Moore, who played so
well a losing game at Corunna. Cohorts of Wellington's soldiers too lie in St. Paul's—brave men, who
sacrificed their lives at Talavera, Vimiera, Ciudad
Rodrigo, Salamanca, Vittoria, and Bayonne. Nor
has our proud and just nation disdained to honour
even equally gallant men who were defeated. There
are monuments in St. Paul's to the vanquished at
Bergen-op-Zoom, New Orleans, and Baltimore.
THE REBUILDING OF ST. PAUL'S. FROM AN ORIGINAL DRAWING IN THE POSSESSION OF J. G. CRACE, ESQ.
That climax of victory, Waterloo, brought Ponsonby and Picton to St. Paul's. Picton lies in the
vestibule of the Wellington chapel. Thirty-seven
years after Waterloo, in the fulness of his years,
Wellington was deservedly honoured by a tomb in
St. Paul's. It was impossible to lay him beside
Nelson, so the eastern chapel of the crypt was
appropriated for his sarcophagus. From 12,000 to
15,000 persons were present. The impressive
funeral procession, with the representatives of the
various regiments, and the solemn bursts of the
"Dead March of Saul" at measured intervals, can
never be forgotten by those who were present.
The pall was borne by the general officers who had
fought by the side of Wellington, and the cathedral
was illuminated for the occasion. The service was
read by Dean Milman, who had been, as we have
before mentioned, a spectator of Nelson's funeral.
So perfectly adapted for sound is St. Paul's, that
though the walls were muffled with black cloth, the
Dean's voice could be heard distinctly, even up in
the western gallery. The sarcophagus which holds
Wellington's ashes is of massive and imperishable
Cornish porphyry, grand from its perfect simplicity,
and worthy of the man who, without gasconade or
theatrical display, trod stedfastly the path of duty.
After Nelson and Wellington, the lesser names
seem to dwindle down. Yet among the great,
pure, and good, we may mention, there are some
Crimean memorials. There also is the monument
of Cornwallis, that good Governor-General of India;
those of the two Napiers, the historian and the
conqueror of Scinde, true knights both; that
of Elphinstone, who twice refused the dignity of
Governor-General of India; and that of the saviour
of our Indian empire, Sir Henry Lawrence. Nor
should we forget the monuments of two Indian
bishops—the scholarly Middleton, and the excellent
and lovable Heber. There is an unsatisfactory
statue of Turner, by Bailey; and monuments to
Dr. Babington, a London physician, and Sir Astley
Cooper, the great surgeon. The ambitious monument to Viscount Melbourne, the Queen's first
prime minister, by Baron Marochetti, stands in one
of the alcoves of the nave; great gates of black
marble represent the entrance to a tomb, guarded
by two angels of white marble at the portals. More
worthy than the gay Melbourne of the honour of a
monument in such a place, is the historian Hallam,
a calm, sometimes cold, but always impartial writer.
THE CHOIR OF ST. PAUL'S BEFORE THE REMOVAL OF THE SCREEN, from an engraving published in 1754.
In the crypt near Wren lie many of our most
celebrated English artists. Sir Joshua Reynolds
died in 1792. His pall was borne by peers, and
upwards of a hundred carriages followed his hearse.
Near him lies his successor as president, West, the
Quaker painter; courtly Lawrence; Barry, whom
Reynolds detested; rough, clever Opie; Dance;
and eccentric Fuseli. In this goodly company, also,
sleeps a greater than all of these—Joseph Mallord
William Turner, the first landscape painter of the
world. He had requested, when dying, to be buried
as near to his old master, Reynolds, as possible. It
is said that Turner, soured with the world, had
threatened to make his shroud out of his grand
picture of "The Building of Carthage." In this
consecrated spot also rests Robert Mylne, the
builder of Blackfriars Bridge, and Mr. Charles
Robert Cockerell, the eminent architect.
Only one robbery has occurred in modern times
in St. Paul's. In December, 1810, the plate repository of the cathedral was broken open by thieves,
with the connivance of, as is supposed, some official,
and 1,761 ounces of plate, valued at above £2,000,
were stolen. The thieves broke open nine doors
to get at the treasure, which was never afterwards
heard of. The spoil included the chased silver-gilt
covers of the large (1640) Bible, chalices, plates,
tankards, and candlesticks.
The cathedral, left colourless and blank by
Wren, has never yet been finished. The Protestant
choir remains in one corner, like a dry, shrivelled
nut in a large shell. Like the proud snail in the
fable, that took possession of the lobster-shell and
starved there, we remained for more than a century
complacently content with our unfurnished house.
At length our tardy zeal awoke. In 1858 the
Bishop of London wrote to the Dean and Chapter,
urging a series of Sunday evening services, for the
benefit of the floating masses of Londoners. Dean
Milman replied, at once warming to the proposal,
and suggested the decoration and completion of
St. Paul's. The earnest appeal for "the noblest
church, in its style, of Christian Europe, the masterpiece of Wren, the glory and pride of London,"
was at once responded to. A committee of the
leading merchants and bankers was formed, including those great authorities, Sir Charles Barry,
Mr. Cockerell, Mr. Tite, and Mr. Penrose. They
at once resolved to gladden the eye with colour,
without disturbing the solemn and harmonious
simplicity. Paintings, mosaics, marble and gilding
were requisite; the dome was to be relieved of
Thornhill's lifeless grisailles; and above all, stainedglass windows were pronounced indispensable.
The dome had originally been filled by Thornhill with eight scenes from the life of St. Paul. He
received for them the not very munificent but quite
adequate sum of 40s. per square yard. They soon
began to show symptoms of decay, and Mr. Parris,
the painter, invented an apparatus by which they
could easily be repaired, but no funds could then be
found; yet when the paintings fell off in flakes, much
money and labour was expended on the restoration,
which has now proved useless. Mr. Penrose has
shown that so ignorant was Sir James of perspective, that his painted architecture has actually
the effect of making Wren's thirty-two pilasters
seem to lean forward.
Much has already been done in St. Paul's. Two
out of the eight large spandrel pictures round the
dome are already executed. There are eventually
to be four evangelists and four major prophets.
Above the gilt rails of the whispering gallery
an inscription on a mosaic and gold ground has
been placed. A marble memorial pulpit has been
put up. The screen has been removed, and the
organ, greatly enlarged and improved, has been
divided into two parts, which have been placed on
either side of the choir, above the stalls; the dome
is lighted with gas; the golden gallery, ball, and
cross have been re-gilt. The great baldachino is still
wanting, but nine stained-glass windows have been
erected, and among the donors have been the
Drapers' and Goldsmiths' Companies; there are also
memorial windows to the late Bishop Blomfield and
W. Cotton, Esq. The Grocers', Merchant Taylors',
Goldsmiths', Mercers, and Fishmongers' Companies have generously gilt the vaults of the choir
and the arches adjoining the dome. Some fifty
or more windows still require stained glass. The
wall panels are to be in various places adorned with
inlaid marbles. It is not intended that St. Paul's
should try to rival St. Peter's at Rome in exuberance of ornament, but it still requires a good deal
of clothing. The great army of sable martyrs in
marble have been at last washed white, and the
fire-engines might now advantageously be used
upon the exterior.
A few figures about the dimensions of St. Paul's
will not be uninteresting. The cathedral is 2,292
feet in circumference, and the height from the nave
pavement to the top of the cross is 365 feet. The
height of St. Peter's at Rome being 432 feet, St.
Paul's could stand inside St. Peter's. The western
towers are 220 feet high. From east to west,
St. Paul's is 500 feet long, while St. Peter's is 669
feet. The cupola is considered by many as more
graceful than that of St. Peter's, "though in its
connection with the church by an order higher
than that below it there is a violation of the laws
of the art." The external appearance of St. Paul's
rivals, if not excels, that of St. Peter's, but the
inside is much inferior. The double portico of
St. Paul's has been greatly censured. The commissioners insisted on twelve columns, as emblematical
of the twelve apostles, and Wren could not obtain
stones of sufficient size; but (as Mr. Gwilt observes) it would have been better to have had
joined pillars rather than a Composite heaped on a
Corinthian portico. In the tympanum is the Conversion of St. Paul, sculptured in high relief by
Bird; on the apex is a colossal figure of St. Paul,
and on the right and left are St. Peter and St.
James. Over the southern portico is sculptured
the Phœnix; over the north are the royal arms
and regalia, while on each side stand on guard five
statues of the apostles. The ascent to the whispering gallery is by 260 steps, to the outer and highest
golden gallery 560 steps, and to the ball 616 steps.
The outer golden gallery is at the summit of the
dome. The inner golden gallery is at the base of
the lantern. Through this the ascent is by ladders
to the small dome, immediately below the inverted
consoles which support the ball and cross. Ascending through the cross iron-work in the centre, you
look into the dark ball, which is said to weigh
5,600 pounds; thence to the cross, which weighs
3,360 pounds, and is 30 feet high. In 1821–2 Mr.
Cockerell removed for a time the ball and cross.
From the haunches of the dome, says Mr. Gwilt,
200 feet above the pavement of the church,
another cone of brickwork commences, 85 feet
high and 94 feet diameter at the bottom. This
cone is pierced with apertures, as well for the
purpose of diminishing its weight as for distributing
the light between it and the outer dome. At the
top it is gathered into a dome in the form of a
hyperboloid, pierced near the vertex with an aperture 12 feet in diameter. The top of this cone is
285 feet from the pavement, and carries a lantern
55 feet high, terminating in a dome whereon a ball
and (Aveline) cross is raised. The last-named
cone is provided with corbels, sufficient in number
to receive the hammer-beams of the external dome,
which is of oak, and its base 220 feet from the
pavement, its summit being level with the top of
the cone. In form it is nearly hemispherical, and
generated by radii 57 feet in length, whose centres
are in a horizontal diameter passing through its
base. The cone and the interior dome are restrained in their lateral thrust on the supports by
four tiers of strong iron chains (weighing 95 cwt.
3 qrs. 23 lbs.), placed in grooves prepared for their
reception, and run with lead. The lowest of these
is inserted in masonry round their common base,
and the other three at different heights on the
exterior of the cone. Over the intersection of the
nave and transepts for the external work, and for
a height of 25 feet above the roof of the church,
a cylindrical wall rises, whose diameter is 146 feet.
Between it and the lower conical wall is a space,
but at intervals they are connected by cross-walls.
This cylinder is quite plain, but perforated by two
courses of rectangular apertures. On it stands a
peristyle of thirty columns of the Corinthian order,
40 feet high, including bases and capitals, with a
plain entablature crowned by a balustrade. In this
peristyle every fourth intercolumniation is filled up
solid, with a niche, and connection is provided
between it and the wall of the lower cone. Vertically over the base of that cone, above the peristyle, rises another cylindrical wall, appearing above
the balustrade. It is ornamented with pilasters,
between which are two tiers of rectangular windows.
From this wall the external dome springs. The
lantern receives no support from it. It is merely
ornamental, differing entirely, in that respect, from
the dome of St. Peter's.
In 1822 Mr. Horner passed the summer in the
lantern, sketching the metropolis; he afterwards
erected an observatory several feet higher than
the cross, and made sketches for a panorama on a
surface of 1,680 feet of drawing paper. From these
sheets was painted a panorama of London and
the environs, first exhibited at the Colosseum, in
Regent's Park, in 1829. The view from St. Paul's
extends for twenty miles round. On the south
the horizon is bounded by Leith Hill. In high
winds the scaffold used to creak and whistle like a
ship labouring in a storm, and once the observatory
was torn from its lashings and turned partly over on
the edge of the platform. The sight and sounds
of awaking London are said to have much impressed
On entering the cathedral, says Mr. Horner, at
three in the morning, the stillness which then prevailed in the streets of this populous city, contrasted with their midday bustle, was only surpassed
by the more solemn and sepulchral stillness of the
cathedral itself. But not less impressive was the
development at that early hour of the immense
scene from its lofty summit, whence was frequently
beheld "the forest of London," without any indication of animated existence. It was interesting to
mark the gradual symptoms of returning life, until
the rising sun vivified the whole into activity,
bustle, and business. On one occasion the night
was passed in the observatory, for the purpose of
meeting the first glimpse of day; but the cold was
so intense as to preclude any wish to repeat the
Mr. Horner, in his narrative, mentions a narrow
escape of Mr. Gwyn, while engaged in measuring
the top of the dome for a sectional drawing he
was making of the cathedral. While absorbed in
his work Mr. Gwyn slipped down the globular
surface of the dome till his foot stopped on a
projecting lump of lead. In this awful situation,
like a man hanging to the moon, he remained till
one of his assistants providentially saw and rescued
The following was, if possible, an even narrower
escape:—When Sir James Thornhill was painting
the cupola of St. Paul's Cathedral, a gentleman of
his acquaintance was one day with him on the
scaffolding, which, though wide, was not railed; he
had just finished the head of one of the apostles,
and running back, as is usual with painters, to
observe the effect, had almost reached the extremity; the gentleman, seeing his danger, and not
having time for words, snatched up a large brush
and smeared the face. Sir James ran hastily forward, crying out, "Bless my soul, what have you
done?" "I have only saved your life!" responded
Sir James Thornhill was the son of a reduced
Dorsetshire gentleman. His uncle, the well-known
physician, Dr. Sydenham, helped to educate him.
He travelled to see the old masters, and on his
return Queen Anne appointed him to paint the
dome of St. Paul's. He was considered to have
executed the work, in the eight panels, "in a noble
manner." "He afterwards," says Pilkington, "executed several public works—painting, at Hampton
Court, the Queen and Prince George of Denmark,
allegorically; and in the chapel of All Souls, Oxford,
the portrait of the founder, over the altar the ceiling,
and figures between the windows. His masterpiece
is the refectory and saloon at Greenwich Hospital.
He was knighted by George II. He died May 4,
1734, leaving a son, John, who became serjeant
painter to the king, and a daughter, who married
Hogarth. He was a well-made and pleasant man,
and sat in Parliament for some years."
The cathedral was artificially secured from
lightning, according to the suggestion of the Royal
Society, in 1769. The seven iron scrolls supporting the ball and cross are connected with other
rods (used merely as conductors), which unite them
with several large bars descending obliquely to the
stone-work of the lantern, and connected by an
iron ring with four other iron bars to the lead
covering of the great cupola, a distance of fortyeight feet; thence the communication is continued
by the rain-water pipes, which pass into the earth,
thus completing the entire communication from
the cross to the ground, partly through iron and
partly through lead. On the clock-tower a bar of
iron connects the pine-apple on the top with the
iron staircase, and thence with the lead on the
roof of the church. The bell-tower is similarly
protected. By these means the metal used in the
building is made available as conductors, the metal
employed merely for that purpose being exceedingly
small in quantity.
In 1841 the exterior of the dome was repaired
by workmen resting upon a shifting iron frame.
In 1848 a scaffold and observatory, as shown on
page 258, were raised round the cross, and in three
months some four thousand observations were made
for a new trigonometrical survey of London.
Harting, in his "Birds of Middlesex," mentions
the peregrine falcons of St. Paul's. "A pair of
these birds," he says, "for many years frequented
the top of St. Paul's, where it was supposed they
had a nest; and a gentleman with whom I am
acquainted has assured me that a friend of his
once saw a peregrine strike down a pigeon in
London, his attention having been first attracted
by seeing a crowd of persons gazing upwards at
the hawk as it sailed in circles over the houses."
A pair frequenting the buildings at Westminster
is referred to in "Annals of an Eventful Life,"
by G. W. Dasent, D.C.L.
A few nooks and corners of the cathedral have
still escaped us. The library in the gallery over
the southern aisle was formed by Bishop Compton,
and consists of some 7,000 volumes, including
some manuscripts from old St. Paul's. The room
contains some loosely hung flowers, exquisitely
carved in wood by Grinling Gibbons, and the
floor is composed of 2,300 pieces of oak, inlaid
without nails or pegs. At the end of the gallery
is a geometrical staircase of 110 steps, which was
constructed by Wren to furnish a private access
to the library. In crossing thence to the northern
gallery, there is a fine view of the entire vista of
the cathedral. The model-room used to contain
Wren's first design, and some tattered flags once
hung beneath the dome. Wren's noble model,
we regret to learn, is "a ruin, after one hundred
and forty years of neglect," the funds being
insufficient for its repair. A staircase from the
southern gallery leads to the south-western campanile tower, in which is the clock-room. The
clock, which cost £300, was made by Langley
Bradley in 1708. The minute-hands are 9 feet
8 inches long, and weigh 75 pounds each. The
pendulum is 16 feet long, and the bob weighs 180
pounds, and yet is suspended by a spring no thicker
than a shilling. The clock goes eight days, and
strikes the hours on the great bell, the clapper of
which weighs 180 pounds. Below the great bell
are two smaller bells, on which the clock strikes the
quarters. In the northern tower is the bell that
tolls for prayers. Mr. E. B. Denison pronounced
the St. Paul's bell, although the smallest, as by
far the best of the four large bells of England—York, Lincoln, and Oxford being the other three.
The great bell of St. Paul's (about five tons) has
a diameter of nine feet, and weighs 11,474 pounds.
It was cast from the metal of Great Tom (Ton),
a bell that once hung in a clock tower opposite
Westminster Hall. It was given away in 1698
by William III., and bought for St. Paul's for
£385 17s. 6d. It was re-cast in 1716. The keynote (tonic) of sound of this bell is A flat—perhaps
A natural—of the old pitch. It is never tolled
but at the death or funeral of any of the Royal
Family, the Bishop of London, the Dean, or the
Lord Mayor, should he die during his mayoralty.
It was not this bell, but the Westminster Great
Tom, which the sentinel on duty during the reign
of William III. declared he heard strike thirteen
instead of twelve at midnight; and the truth of
the fact was deposed to by several persons, and
the life of the poor soldier, sentenced to death for
having fallen asleep upon his post, was thus saved.
The man's name was Hatfield. He died in 1770
in Aldersgate, aged 102 years.
Before the time of the present St. Paul's, and as
long ago as the reign of Henry VII., there is on
record a well-attested story of a young girl who,
going to confess, was importuned by the monk
then on his turn there for the purpose of confession in the building; and quickly escaping from
him up the stairs of the great clock tower, raised
the clapper or hammer of the bell of the clock, just
as it had finished striking twelve, and, by means of
the roof, eluded her assailant and got away. On
accusing him, as soon as she reached her friends
and home, she called attention to the fact of the
clock having struck thirteen that time; and on
those in the immediate neighbourhood of the
cathedral being asked if so unusual a thing had
been heard, they said it was so. This proved the
story, and the monk was degraded.
And here we must insert a curious story of a
monomaniac whose madness was associated with
St. Paul's. Dr. Pritchard, in an essay on "Somnambulism and Animal Magnetism," in the "Cyclopædia of Medicine," gives the following remarkable
case of ecstasis:—
A gentleman about thirty-five years of age, of
active habits and good constitution, living in the
neighbourhood of London, had complained for
about five weeks of a slight headache. He was
feverish, inattentive to his occupation, and negligent of his family. He had been cupped, and
taken some purgative medicine, when he was visited
by Dr. Arnould, of Camberwell. By that gentleman's advice, he was sent to a private asylum, where
he remained about two years. His delusions very
gradually subsided, and he was afterwards restored
to his family. The account which he gave of himself was, almost verbatim, as follows:—One afternoon in the month of May, feeling himself a
little unsettled, and not inclined to business, he
thought he would take a walk into the City to
amuse his mind; and having strolled into St.
Paul's Churchyard, he stopped at the shop-window
of Carrington and Bowles, and looked at the
pictures, among which was one of the cathedral.
He had not been long there before a short, gravelooking, elderly gentleman, dressed in dark brown
clothes, came up and began to examine the prints,
and, occasionally casting a glance at him, very
soon entered into conversation with him; and,
praising the view of St. Paul's which was exhibited
at the window, told him many anecdotes of Sir
Christopher Wren, the architect, and asked him at
the same time if he had ever ascended to the top
of the dome. He replied in the negative. The
stranger then inquired if he had dined, and proposed that they should go to an eating-house in
the neighbourhood, and said that after dinner he
would accompany him up St. Paul's. "It was a
glorious afternoon for a view, and he was so
familiar with the place that he could point out
every object worthy of attention." The kindness
of the old gentleman's manner induced him to
comply with the invitation, and they went to a
tavern in some dark alley, the name of which he
did not know. They dined, and very soon left the
table and ascended to the ball, just below the
cross, which they entered alone. They had not
been there many minutes when, while he was
gazing on the extensive prospect, and delighted
with the splendid scene below him, the grave
gentleman pulled out from an inside coat-pocket
something resembling a compass, having round
the edges some curious figures. Then, having
muttered some unintelligible words, he placed it
in the centre of the ball. He felt a great trembling
and a sort of horror come over him, which was
increased by his companion asking him if he
should like to see any friend at a distance, and to
know what he was at that moment doing, for if so
the latter could show him any such person. It
happened that his father had been for a long
time in bad health, and for some weeks past he
had not visited him. A sudden thought came
into his mind, so powerful that it overcame his
terror, that he should like to see his father. He
had no sooner expressed the wish than the exact
person of his father was immediately presented
to his sight in the mirror, reclining in his armchair and taking his afternoon sleep. Not having
fully believed in the power of the stranger to
make good his offer, he became overwhelmed
with terror at the clearness and truth of the vision
presented to him, and he entreated his mysterious
companion that they might immediately descend,
as he felt very ill. The request was complied
with, and on parting under the portico of the
northern entrance the stranger said to him, "Remember, you are the slave of the Man of the
Mirror!" He returned in the evening to his
home, he does not know exactly at what hour;
felt himself unquiet, depressed, gloomy, apprehensive, and haunted with thoughts of the stranger.
For the last three months he has been conscious
of the power of the latter over him. Dr. Arnould
adds:—"I inquired in what way his power was
exercised. He cast on me a look of suspicion,
mingled with confidence, took my arm, and after
leading me through two or three rooms, and then
into the garden, exclaimed, 'It is of no use;
there is no concealment from him, for all places
are alike open to him; he sees us and he hears
us now.' I asked him where this being was who
saw and heard us. He replied, in a voice of deep
agitation, 'Have I not told you that he lives in the
ball below the cross on the top of St. Paul's, and
that he only comes down to take a walk in the
churchyard and get his dinner at the house in the
dark alley? Since that fatal interview with the
necromancer,' he continued, 'for such I believe
him to be, he is continually dragging me before
him on his mirror, and he not only sees me every
moment of the day, but he reads all my thoughts,
and I have a dreadful consciousness that no action
of my life is free from his inspection, and no place
can afford me security from his power.' On my
replying that the darkness of the night would
afford him protection from these machinations; he
said, 'I know what you mean, but you are quite
mistaken. I have only told you of the mirror;
but in some part of the building which we passed
in coming away, he showed me what he called a
great bell, and I heard sounds which came from
it, and which went to it—sounds of laughter, and
of anger, and of pain. There was a dreadful confusion of sounds, and as I listened, with wonder
and affright, he said, 'This is my organ of hearing;
this great bell is in communication with all other
bells within the circle of hieroglyphics, by which
every word spoken by those under my command is
made audible to me.' Seeing me look surprised
at him, he said, 'I have not yet told you all, for he
practises his spells by hieroglyphics on walls and
houses, and wields his power, like a detestable
tyrant, as he is, over the minds of those whom he
has enchanted, and who are the objects of his constant spite, within the circle of the hieroglyphics.'
I asked him what these hieroglyphics were, and
how he perceived them. He replied, 'Signs and
symbols which you, in your ignorance of their true
meaning, have taken for letters and words, and
read, as you have thought, "Day and Martin's and
Warren's blacking."' 'Oh! that is all nonsense!'
'They are only the mysterious characters which he
traces to mark the boundary of his dominion, and
by which he prevents all escape from his tremendous
power. How have I toiled and laboured to get
beyond the limit of his influence! Once I walked
for three days and three nights, till I fell down
under a wall, exhausted by fatigue, and dropped
asleep; but on awakening I saw the dreadful signs
before mine eyes, and I felt myself as completely
under his infernal spells at the end as at the beginning of my journey.'"
THE SCAFFOLDING AND OBSERVATORY ON ST. PAUL'S IN 1848 (see page 256).
ST. PAUL'S AND THE NEIGHBOURHOOD IN 1540. From a Copy, in the possession of J. G. Crace, Esq., of the earliest known view of London, taken by Van der Wyngarde for Philip II. of Spain.
It is probable that this gentleman had actually
ascended to the top of St. Paul's, and that impressions there received, being afterwards renewed in
his mind when in a state of vivid excitement, in a
dream of ecstatic reverie, became so blended with
the creations of fancy as to form one mysterious
vision, in which the true and the imaginary were
afterwards inseparable. Such, at least, is the best
explanation of the phenomena which occurs to us.
In 1855 the fees for seeing St. Paul's completely
were 4s. 4d. each person. In 1847 the mere twopences paid to see the forty monuments produced
the four vergers the sum of £430 3s. 8d. These
exorbitant fees originated in the "stairs-foot money"
started by Jennings, the carpenter, in 1707, as a fund
for the injured during the building of the cathedral.
The staff of the cathedral consists of the dean,
the precentor, the chancellor, the treasurer, the five
archdeacons of London, Middlesex, Essex, Colchester, and St. Albans, thirty major canons or
prebendaries (four of whom are resident), twelve
minor canons, and six vicars-choral, besides the
choristers. One of the vicars-choral officiates as
organist, and three of the minor canons hold the
appointments of sub-dean, librarian, and succentor,
Three of the most celebrated men connected
with St. Paul's in the last century have been Milman, Sydney Smith, and Barham (the author of
"Ingoldsby Legends"). Smith and Barham both
died in 1845.
Of Sydney Smith's connection with St. Paul's
we have many interesting records. One of the
first things Lord Grey said on entering Downing
Street, to a relation who was with him, was, "Now
I shall be able to do something for Sydney Smith,"
and shortly after he was appointed by the Premier
to a prebendal stall at St. Paul's, in exchange for
the one he held at Bristol.
Mr. Cockerell, the architect, and superintendent
of St. Paul's Cathedral, in a letter printed in Lady
Holland's "Memoir," describes the gesta of the
canon residentiary; how his early communications
with himself (Mr. C.) and all the officers of the
chapter were extremely unpleasant; but when the
canon had investigated the matter, and there had
been "a little collision," nothing could be more
candid and kind than his subsequent treatment.
He examined the prices of all the materials used
in the repairs of the cathedral—as Portland stone,
putty, and white lead; every item was taxed, payments were examined, and nothing new could be
undertaken without his survey and personal superintendence. He surveyed the pinnacles and
heights of the sacred edifice; and once, when it
was feared he might stick fast in a narrow opening
of the western towers, he declared that "if there
were six inches of space there would be room
enough for him." The insurance of the magnificent cathedral, Mr. Cockerell tells us, engaged
his early attention; St. Paul's was speedily and
effectually insured in some of the most substantial
offices in London. Not satisfied with this security,
he advised the introduction of the mains of the
New River into the lower parts of the fabric, and
cisterns and movable engines in the roof; and
quite justifiable was his joke, that "he would reproduce the Deluge in our cathedral."
He had also the library heated by a stove, so as
to be more comfortable to the studious; and the
bindings of the books were repaired. Lastly, Mr.
Smith materially assisted the progress of a suit in
Chancery, by the successful result of which a considerable addition was made to the fabric fund.
It is very gratifying to read these circumstantial
records of the practical qualities of Mr. Sydney
Smith, as applied to the preservation of our magnificent metropolitan cathedral.
Before we leave Mr. Smith we may record an
odd story of Lady B. calling the vergers "virgins."
She asked Mr. Smith, one day, if it was true that he
walked down St. Paul's with three virgins holding
silver pokers before him. He shook his head and
looked very grave, and bade her come and see.
"Some enemy of the Church," he said, "some
Dissenter, had clearly been misleading her."
Let us recapitulate a few of the English poets
who have made special allusions to St. Paul's in
their writings. Denham says of the restoration of
St. Paul's, began by Charles I.:—
"First salutes the place,
Crowned with that sacred pile, so vast, so high,
That whether 'tis a part of earth or sky
Uncertain seems, and may be thought a proud
Aspiring mountain or descending cloud.
Paul's, the late theme of such a muse, whose flight
Has bravely reached and soared above thy height,
Now shalt thou stand, though sword, or time, or fire,
Or zeal more fierce than they, thy fall conspire;
Secure, while thee the best of poets sings,
Preserved from ruin by the best of kings."
Byron, in the Tenth Canto of "Don Juan," treats
St. Paul's contemptuously—sneering, as was his
affectation, at everything, human or divine:—
"A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping,
Dirty and dusky, but as wide as eye
Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping
In sight, then lost amidst the forestry
Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping
On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy;
A huge, dim cupola, like a foolscap crown
On a fool's head—and there is London Town!"
Among other English poets who have sung of
St. Paul's, we must not forget Tom Hood, with his
delightfully absurd ode, written on the cross, and
full of most wise folly:—
"The man that pays his pence and goes
Up to thy lofty cross, St. Paul's,
Looks over London's naked nose,
Women and men;
The world is all beneath his ken;
He sits above the ball,
He seems on Mount Olympus' top,
Among the gods, by Jupiter! and lets drop
His eyes from the empyreal clouds
On mortal crowds.
"Seen from these skies,
How small those emmets in our eyes!
Some carry little sticks, and one
His eggs, to warm them in the sun;
Dear, what a hustle
And bustle !
And there's my aunt! I know her by her waist,
So long and thin,
And so pinch'd in,
Just in the pismire taste.
"Oh, what are men ! Beings so small
That, should I fall,
Upon their little heads, I must
Crush them by hundreds into dust.
"And what is life and all its ages!
There's seven stages!
Turnham Green! Chelsea! Putney! Fulham!
Brentford and Kew!
And Tooting, too!
And, oh, what very little nags to pull 'em!
Yet each would seem a horse indeed,
If here at Paul's tip-top we'd got 'em!
Although, like Cinderella's breed,
They're mice at bottom.
Then let me not despise a horse,
Though he looks small from Paul's high cross;
Since he would be, as near the sky,
Fourteen hands high.
"What is this world with London in its lap?
The Thames that ebbs and flows in its broad channel?
A tidy kennel !
The bridges stretching from its banks ?
Oh, me ! Hence could I read an admonition
To mad Ambition!
But that he would not listen to my call,
Though I should stand upon the cross, and ball!"
We can hardly close our account of St. Paul's
without referring to that most beautiful and touching of all London sights, the anniversary of the
charity schools on the first Thursday in June.
About 8,000 children are generally present, ranged
in a vast amphitheatre under the dome. Blake,
the true but unrecognised predecessor of Wordsworth, has written an exquisite little poem on the
scene, and well it deserves it. Such nosegays of
little rosy faces can be seen on no other day.
Very grand and overwhelming are the beadles of St.
Mary Axe and St. Margaret Moses on this tremendous morning, and no young ensign ever bore his
colours prouder than do these good-natured dignitaries their maces, staves, and ponderous badges.
In endless ranks pour in the children, clothed
in all sorts of quaint dresses. Boys in the kneebreeches of Hogarth's school-days, bearing glittering pewter badges on their coats; girls in blue
and orange, with quaint little mob-caps white as
snow, and long white gloves covering all their little
arms. See, at a given signal of an extraordinary
fugleman, how they all rise; at another signal how
they hustle down. Then at last, when the "Old
Hundredth" begins, all the little voices unite as
the blending of many waters. Such fresh, happy
voices, singing with such innocent, heedful tenderness as would bring tears to the eyes of even stonyhearted old Malthus, bring to the most irreligious
thoughts of Him who bade little children come to
Him, and would not have them repulsed.
Blake's poem begins—
"'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
Came children walking two and two, in red and blue and
Grey-headed beadles walked before, with wands as white as
Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames' waters
"Oh, what a multitude they seemed, those flowers of
Seated in companies they were, with radiance all their own;
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
Thousands of little boys and girls, raising their innocent hands.
"Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among;
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door."
The anniversary Festival of the Sons of the Clergy,
in the middle of May, when the choirs of Westminster and the Chapel Royal sing selections from
Handel and other great masters, is also a day not
easily to be forgotten, for St. Paul's is excellent for
sound, and the fine music rises like incense to the
dome, and lingers there as "loth to die," arousing
thoughts that, as Wordsworth beautifully says, are in
themselves proofs of our immortality. It is on such
occasions we feel how great a genius reared St.
Paul's, and cry out with the poet—
"He thought not of a perishable home
Who thus could build."