"Burlington's fair palace still remains:
Beauty within—without, proportion reigns;
There Handel strikes the strings, the melting strain
Transports the soul, and thrills through every vein;
There oft I enter, but with cleaner shoes,
For Burlington's beloved by every muse."—Gay's "Trivia."
The Earl of Burlington's Taste for Classical Architecture—Walpole's First Visit to Burlington House—A Critical Reviewer's Opinion of the Old
Entrance and Colonnade—Pope lampooned by Hogarth—Anecdotes of Pope and Dean Swift—Burlington House under the Regency—Visit of the Allied Sovereigns—The Elgin Marbles—The Mansion purchased by Government—Various Plans drawn up for rebuilding it—Description of the New Buildings—The Royal Society—Charles II. and his Piscatorial Query—Scientific Experiments under the Auspices
of the Royal Society—How Sir Isaac Newton became a Member—Remarkable Events connected with the Royal Society—Principal
Presidents, Secretaries, and Fellows of the Society—Society of Antiquaries of London—The Linnæan Society—The Geological Society—The Royal Astronomical Society—The Chemical Society—The Royal Academy—Burlington Arcade.
This splendid mansion, now the home of the
Royal Academy, the Royal Society, and other
learned and scientific associations, dates its existence from the time of Charles II., having been
erected by Richard Boyle, third Earl of Burlington,
on the site of a house built by Sir John Denham,
the poet, whose wife was the mistress of James II.
when Duke of York, and is said to have been
poisoned. Lord Burlington was a man actuated
by a fine public spirit. He was at the expense
of repairing St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden, the
work of Inigo Jones; and by his publication of
the "Designs" of that great architect, and of the
"Antiquities of Rome" by Palladio, he contributed
to form a taste for classical architecture in England.
To this Pope alludes in his fourth Epistle, at the
same time expressing his fear that the public will be
slow to profit by such works:—
"You show us Rome was glorious, not profuse,
And pompous buildings once were things of use:
Yet shall, my lord, your just and noble rules
Fill half the land with imitating fools,
Who random drawings from your sheets shall take,
And of one beauty many blunders make."
Lord Burlington also deserves to be held in
honour for having helped that pure and simpleminded philosopher, Dr. Berkeley, by his powerful
recommendation, to attain the dignity of an Irish
It is to this Lord Burlington that the author of
the "New Critical Review of the Public Buildings,
&c., in and about London and Westminster, in
1736," most appropriately dedicated his work, as
one of those few persons who "have the talent of
laying out their own fortunes with propriety, and
of making their own private judgment contribute to
the public ornament." We have already mentioned
one instance of this public spirit in the part which
he took towards the rebuilding of the great dormitory at Westminster School. (fn. 1)
At the time when Pope dedicated his "Epistle
on Taste" to Lord Burlington, his lordship was in
his thirty-sixth year. He was then engaged in
ornamenting his gardens, and building his villa at
Chiswick. The celebrated front and colonnade at
Burlington House had been erected some years
before, in 1718. There is reason to believe that, in
this splendid improvement, his lordship, then very
young, had the assistance of a practical architect,
Colin Campbell, though Walpole considers that the
design is too good for the latter. The same lively
and picturesque writer thus describes the effect
which the Burlington colonnade had upon him
when he first beheld it:—"Soon after my return
from Italy, I was invited to a ball at Burlington
House. As I passed under the gate by night it
could not strike me. At daybreak, looking out of
the window to see the sun rise, I was surprised with
the vision of the colonnade that fronted me. It
seemed one of those edifices in fairy tales that
are raised by genii in a night-time."
The author of the "Critical Review," above mentioned, observes that 'in this street we are entertained with a sight of the most expensive wall in
England, namely, that before Burlington House."
This he criticises, and, on the whole, favourably.
"The grand entrance," he says, "is august and
beautiful, and by covering the house entirely from
the eye, gives pleasure and surprise at the opening
of the whole front, with the area before it, at once."
He complains, however, of the columns of the gate,
as "merely ornamental, and supporting nothing."
The colonnade remained till the last, but the dead
wall in front concealed from the public all view of
the fine architecture within.
During the life of Lord Burlington, the town
mansion which bore his name was the haunt of all
the wits, poets, and learned men of his day. Pope
was a frequent visitor; and it was in allusion to
his noble host's talents as an architect that he
"Who plants like Bathurst, or who builds like Boyle?"
In satire of Pope's adulation of Lord Burlington,
and his fierce onslaught on the "princely" Duke
of Chandos, under the character of "Timon,"
Hogarth made a humorous design, in which the
poet was represented as standing on a builder's
stage or platform, engaged in whitewashing the gate
of Burlington House, and at the same time bespattering the coach of the duke as it passed by along
Dr. King, in his "Anecdotes of his Own Times,"
tells a story about Pope, which shows that, at all
events, he was not a tea-totaler, and had no idea
of sinking down into one of those water-drinkers
whose poems, according to Horace, have no chance
of immortality. He writes: "Pope and I, with
my Lord Orrery, and Sir Harry Bedingfield, dined
with the late Earl of Burlington. After the first
course Pope grew sick, and went out of the room.
When dinner was ended, and the cloth was removed, my Lord Burlington said he would go
out, and see what was become of Pope. And
soon after they returned together. But Pope,
who had been casting up his dinner, looked very
pale, and complained much. My lord asked
him if he would have some mulled wine, or a
glass of old sack, which Pope refused. I told my
Lord Burlington that he wanted a dram. Upon
which the little man expressed some resentment
against me, and said he would not taste any spirits,
and that he abhorred drams as much as I did.
However, I persisted, and assured my Lord Burlington that he could not oblige our friend more at
that instant than by ordering a large glass of cherrybrandy to be set before him. This was done, and
in less than half an hour, while my lord was acquainting us with an affair which engaged our attention, Pope had sipped up all the brandy. Pope's
frame of body did not promise long life; but he
certainly hastened his death by feeding much on
highly-seasoned dishes, and drinking spirits."
Sir John Hawkins tells us, in his "History of
Music," that Handel lived for three years an
honoured guest here.
Swift also was a frequent guest here, and he did
not always carry to the table of its hospitable owner
the manners of a gentleman. For instance, in
Scott's "Life of Swift" an anecdote is related, to
the effect, that on the last occasion of the Dean
being in London, he went to dine with the Earl of
Burlington, then recently married. The earl, it is
supposed, being willing to have a little diversion,
did not introduce him to his lady, nor mention his
name. After dinner, said the Dean, "Lady Burlington, I hear you can sing; sing me a song."
The lady looked on this unceremonious manner of
asking a favour with distaste, and positively refused.
He said "she should sing, or he would make her.
Why, madam, I suppose you take me for one of
your poor English hedge-parsons; sing when I bid
you." As the earl did nothing but laugh at this
freedom, the lady was so vexed that she burst into
tears, and retired. His first compliment to her
when he saw her again was, "Pray, madam, are you
as proud and ill-natured now as when I saw you
last?" To which she answered, with great goodhumour, "No, Mr. Dean, I'll sing for you if you
please." From which time he conceived a great
esteem for her ladyship.
Lord Burlington died in the year 1753, and with
his demise a title honoured and ennobled through
three generations by genius, virtue, and public
spirit, became extinct. It was afterwards revived
in the person of a member of the ducal house of
Cavendish, who had inherited part of his fortune.
Nightingale says that the mansion was left to
the Cavendishes on the express condition that it
should not be pulled down, but the statement is
BURLINGTON HOUSE, ABOUT 1700.
Pennant says, that long after the year 1700, Burlington House was the last house westwards in
Piccadilly; but the statement may be questioned.
It will be remembered that the nobleman who had
built the mansion in the seventeenth century, had
placed it there, "because he was certain that no
one would build beyond him." This aim, however,
if it was ever true in fact, was speedily frustrated,
for shortly afterwards we read that to the west of
Burlington House rose Clarges House, named after
Sir Thomas Clarges, and two others, inhabited,
according to Strype, by "Lord Sherbourne and the
Countess of Denby" (sic).
BURLINGTON HOUSE, 1875.
Burlington House, in 1811, was tenanted by the
Earl of Harrington, who gave there a grand ball.
Under the Regency and in the reign of George IV.,
the mansion became occasionally the rallying-point
of the Liberal party. In 1817, as Lord Russell
tells us in his "Recollections," there was held here
a meeting, at which Lord Grey, as the leader of the
party, sketched out the policy of Lord Liverpool's
ministry, and his own plan of opposition tactics.
The Honourable Miss Amelia Murray tells us in
her "Recollections," that about the year 1812
there was an intention of pulling down Burlington
House, and of building a crescent of houses on
its site. "I do not know," she writes, "why the
plan fell to the ground; but in 1814, the great
fêtes in honour of the Allied Sovereigns were given
in these gardens, which were enclosed for the
purpose; and now," she adds, "in 1868, the site
is likely to be applied to still better purposes"—alluding, probably, to the University of London.
"The whole garden of Burlington House was
enclosed by tents and temporary rooms. I did
not think the Emperor of Russia a handsome
man; he looked red, and stiff, and square: but
Nicholas, the future Emperor, was a magnificent
young prince. Among the numerous followers of
the Emperor of Russia, there were the 'Hetman'
Platoff, and twelve of his Cossacks, who were lodged
by Lord James Murray, in Cumberland Place."
At Burlington House were exhibited the Elgin
marbles, on their first arrival from the East, till
they could find a permanent home at the British
Museum. Cyrus Redding, in his "Fifty Years'
Recollections," records his first visit to them here,
in company with Haydon the painter.
In 1854, the mansion was purchased by the
Government, and some five years later Lord John
Manners (then First Commissioner of Works) instructed Messrs. Banks and Barry to prepare a
plan for buildings covering the entire site, which
were then intended to comprise "a new Royal
Academy, the University of London, and a Patent
Office much enlarged, and to be connected with
an extensive museum of patented invention for
public reference, and also accommodation for at
least six of the principal learned and scientific
societies, who, it was considered, by past usage
had acquired claims to be lodged at the public
expense." The design consisted of two spacious
quadrangles, each communicating with the other,
and having arched gateways in the centre of the
façades to Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens,
thus connecting all together internally, and giving
a thoroughfare through the building from the one
part to the other. By this arrangement the Royal
Academy would have had allotted to it nearly the
whole of the Piccadilly facade, and the whole side
of the first quadrangle on the west. This appropriation of the site, however, involved the removal
of Old Burlington House, and, as the Builder remarks, "the sentimental ideas of its architectural
importance and beauty were allowed to set aside
It was subsequently proposed by the Government to remove the national collection of pictures
from Trafalgar Square, giving up the whole building there to the Royal Academy only, and to construct a National Gallery on the Burlington House
lands. Accordingly, in 1863, fresh plans were prepared to meet this arrangement, by which the old
mansion was to remain, the screen-wall in Piccadilly
was to be replaced by a handsome open railing,
the colonnades being retained, and, with the old
building, being made to furnish the access to the
new galleries. Again their plans met with the
approval of the trustees of the National Gallery,
after most careful deliberation, and also of the
Government; but the vote for carrying this scheme
into effect was refused by Parliament, partly on
the same grounds as before—namely, the muchfeared interference with the architectural glories of
Old Burlington House.
"At last," says the Builder, "in the year 1866,
it was proposed to reverse the above scheme, and
that the National Gallery should remain in Trafalgar Square, and the Royal Academy should
have a lease for 999 years, at a nominal rent, of
the centre portion of Old Burlington House, with
about half the garden in the rear, on which latter
area they should erect new galleries and schools
at their own cost, and under the direction of one
of their members, Mr. Sydney Smirke; the access
to the same being through the old building, which
was to accommodate the administration."
The grounds in the rear, extending to Burlington Gardens, were to be given as a site for the
University of London, and their new edifice has
been erected accordingly, under the direction of
Sir James (then Mr.) Pennethorne. The wingbuildings, the colonnades, and the wall to Piccadilly were to be removed, and Messrs. Banks and
Barry were again called upon to prepare designs
for the erection of the new buildings, which were
to accommodate six of the learned and scientific
societies, namely, the Royal Society, the Linnæan
Society, and the Chemical Society, who had
hitherto occupied Old Burlington House, and the
Society of Antiquaries, the Geological Society, and
the Astronomical Society, who at that time were
occupying parts of Somerset House. Arrangements having once more been made with the
governing bodies of each society, as to the accommodation which they considered would be necessary
for them respectively, and the plans having been
finally approved by the then Government and by
Parliament, and obtaining the Royal assent, the
foundations for the present buildings were commenced in November, 1868.
The space now occupied by Burlington House
extends from Piccadilly northwards into Burlington
Gardens, having a frontage to each of about 200
feet, and a depth between them of nearly 600 feet.
The old mansion, which still remains, stands at a
distance of about 225 feet back from Piccadilly.
The site of the south wall and the colonnades
and wings is now covered with lofty and spacious
buildings, forming three sides of a quadrangle, which,
in the shape of an oblong square, has replaced
the old court-yard. In the new façade towards
Piccadilly, the most peculiar feature is the grand
central archway leading into the court-yard; it is
probably the largest archway of the sort in London,
being 20 feet clear in width and about 32 feet in
height. The façade of Burlington House (now
the Royal Academy of Arts) is fully seen from
Piccadilly through this archway; but it has had an
additional storey added to it, in order to assimilate
it to the height of the new buildings.
The style of architecture adopted by Messrs.
Banks and Barry is pure Italian; and, as the authority above quoted observes, "taking as the keynote the general features and proportions of the
facade of Old Burlington House, which was to
form one side of the quadrangle, the architects
have endeavoured to blend it with their new composition, with sufficient similarity of design to
effect this, but with more finished details."
On the completion of the new building intended
for the learned societies, those which at that time
occupied the old mansion vacated their apartments, and that building was wholly made over
to the Royal Academy, with the proviso that the
Academy should, at their own expense, heighten
their building by the addition of an upper storey.
The portions of the buildings occupied by the
members of the several societies are arranged on
two floors, on the upper of which are situated the
libraries—with the exception of that of the Geological Society, which is on the ground floor—each fitted with galleries, and lighted from the roof
as well as at the sides. The Geological Society
has its museum on the first floor, and this is fitted
with two tiers of galleries.
The Royal Society has on the first floor a noble
suite of reception-rooms, available for the annual
soirées of the president, and a library which it is
computed will give room for nearly 35,000 volumes,
enabling it to continue what it now is, one of the
most perfect scientific libraries in the world. The
libraries of the Linnæan and Antiquarian Societies
are very spacious, and all of them two storeys in
height, with internal galleries.
The resident officers of the various societies
located here have their apartments on the first and
second floors of the building, in positions convenient to the scene of their daily labours. Dispersed throughout the rooms occupied by the Royal
Society are the portraits of the presidents, distinguished Fellows, and other great luminaries of
science, painted by Van Somer, Sir Peter Lely, Sir
Godfrey Kneller, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir Thomas
Lawrence, and other great artists.
It will not be out of place to introduce in this
place a brief mention of some of our chief learned
societies which have the advantage of free quarters
First and foremost, of course, stands the Royal
Society. This is the oldest scientific society, with
a consecutive history, in Europe, and stands with
the French Institute at the head of the science of
the world. As stated already (Vol. I., page 104),
it dates its existence from the year 1645, and its
early meetings were held sometimes at the lodgings
of Dr. Goddard (one of its originators) in Wood
Street, sometimes in Cheapside, and on other
occasions in Gresham College. In 1648 and the
following year, some of the supporters of these
meetings became connected with the University of
Oxford, and instituted a similar society in that city.
Ten years later, several of the members of this
philosophical society came to London, and held
their meetings at Gresham College, where they were
joined by Lord Brouncher, John Evelyn, and
others; but owing to the political troubles of the
times, their meetings were not long continued. In
1660, it was agreed to constitute a society for the
study of science, when, in accordance with this
resolve, a president, secretary, and registrar were
elected; the president was Sir Robert Moray.
During the two centuries of the society's life it
has occupied several dwellings. First at Gresham
College; then at Arundel House, which was lent
by Henry Howard, afterwards Duke of Norfolk;
and again at Gresham College, where the society
remained until 1710, when it removed to Crane
Court. It continued here, in its own house, until
1780, when apartments in Somerset House were
provided for it; and in these it remained till its
removal to Burlington House, but its annual dinners
were held at the "Thatched House Tavern" until
the latter was taken down.
In 1859, the dinner party of the Royal Society
would appear to have been remarkably cosmopolitan; the Electric Telegraph having been represented by Professor Wheatstone, the Railway
System by Mr. Robert Stephenson, the Penny
Post by Rowland Hill, and Astronomy by Sir
Thomas Maclear, now Astronomer Royal at the
Cape of Good Hope.
Charles II. presented the society with a silvergilt mace, which is still placed on the table whenever the council or society meets, and without
which no meeting can be legally held. This mace
was for long supposed to be the "bauble" that
Cromwell so unceremoniously ordered to be taken
away from the table of the House of Commons,
but Mr. Weld unluckily proved that it was made
expressly for the society by command of the king.
Another benefactor was Henry Howard, who presented the Arundel Library, which is still in the
possession of the society; but the collection of
antiquities and curiosities was presented to the
British Museum when the apartments at Somerset
House were found to be too contracted for its
reception. The society still possesses several
relics of Newton; as the sun-dial which he cut in
the wall of his father's house when he was a boy;
the first reflecting telescope, made, in 1671, with his
own hands; and the original mask of his face,
taken by Roubiliac.
The meetings of the society take place once a
week, from the third Thursday in November to the
third Thursday in June. A record of these meetings is published in the octavo "Proceedings," and a
selection of the best papers is printed in the quarto
"Transactions." These last were first printed in
1665, under the title of "Philosophical Transactions, giving some Account of the present Undertakings, Studies, and Labours of the Ingenious in
many considerable Parts of the World;" and the
series now extends to upwards of 160 volumes.
The society has at its disposal four medals, in
the distribution of which it is able to mark its
appreciation of scientific investigations and distinguished discoveries. The first award of the
Copley medal was made in 1731, and of the Rumford medal in 1800 to the founder himself (Benjamin, Count Rumford) for his various discoveries
respecting light and heat. In the year 1825,
George IV. communicated through Sir Robert
Peel his intention "to found two gold medals of
the value of fifty guineas each, to be awarded
as honorary premiums under the direction of the
president and council of the Royal Society in such
manner as shall by the excitement of competition
among men of science seem best calculated to
promote the objects for which the Royal Society
was instituted." These medals were first awarded,
in the year 1826, to John Dalton and James Ivory.
William IV. and Queen Victoria have continued
the gift of these royal medals, and they are, therefore, annually awarded. Besides these, the society
undertakes the distribution of the annual grant of
£1,000, which is voted by Parliament to be employed in aiding the promotion of science in the
United Kingdom; and it also performs the office of
scientific adviser to the Government on the difficult
questions that arise in the various public departments. Through a committee of its Fellows, the
Royal Society has made itself gratuitously useful
to Her Majesty's Government for many years by
directing the business of the Meteorological Department, which was formerly part of the duty of the
Board of Trade.
In 1874, an attempt was made, though unsuccessfully, to limit the number of fellows to be
elected in each year to fifteen. The proposal was
carefully considered by a committee, to whom it
was referred; but after a long discussion, a resolution was passed by the Council not to make any
change in the existing rules.
Many particulars about the society and its convivial meetings, &c., may be learnt from a privately
printed history of the club by the late Admiral
Smyth, one of its most active and zealous members.
The following story of the merry monarch and
of the learned society, though often told before, will
bear being told again in the present chapter:—When King Charles II. dined with the members
on the occasion of constituting them a Royal
Society, towards the close of the evening he expressed his satisfaction at being the first English
monarch who had laid a foundation for a society
which proposed that their whole studies should be
directed to the investigation of the arcana of
nature, and added, with that peculiar gravity of
countenance he usually wore on such occasions,
that among such learned men he now hoped for a
solution to a question which had long puzzled him.
The case he thus stated:—Suppose two pails of
water were fixed in two different scales that were
equally poised, and which weighed equally alike,
and two live bream, or small fish, were put into
either of the pails; he wanted to know the reason
why that pail, with such addition, should not weigh
more than the other pail which was against it.
Every one was ready to set at quiet the royal
curiosity; but it appeared that every one was
giving a different opinion. One at length offered
so ridiculous a solution, that another of the members could not refrain from a loud laugh; when
the king, turning to him, insisted that he should
give his sentiments as well as the rest. This he did
without hesitation; and told his Majesty, in plain
terms, that he denied the fact; on which the king,
in high mirth, exclaimed: "Odds fish, brother,
you are in the right!" The jest was not ill
designed, and the story is often useful to cool the
enthusiasm of the scientific visionary, who is apt to
account for what never existed.
All sorts of scientific experiments have been
made from time to time under the auspices of the
Royal Society. The following may be taken as a
specimen:—In 1667, the Royal Society successfully
performed the experiment of transfusing the blood
of a sheep into a man in perfect health. The
subject of the experiment was Arthur Coga, who, as
Pepys says, was a kind of minister, and, being in
want of money, hired himself for a guinea. Drs.
Lower and King performed the experiment, injecting twelve ounces of sheep's blood, without producing any inconvenience. The patient drank a
glass or two of Canary, took a pipe of tobacco,
and went home with a stronger and fuller pulse
than before. The experiment was in a day or two
afterwards repeated on Coga, when fourteen ounces
of sheep's blood was substituted for eight ounces
of his own. Pepys went to see him, and tells us
that he heard him give an account in Latin of the
operation and its effects.
The following is Sir David Brewster's account,
in the North British Review, of the circumstances
under which the great Sir Isaac Newton became a
member of the society:—"Mr. Isaac Newton,
Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, was proposed as a Fellow by Dr. Seth Ward, Bishop of
Sarum. Newton, then in his thirtieth year, had
made several of his greatest discoveries. He had
discovered the different refrangibility of light; he
had invented the reflecting telescope; he had
deduced the law of gravity from Kepler's theorem;
and he had discovered the method of fluxions.
When he heard of his being proposed as a Fellow,
he expressed to Oldenburg, the secretary, his hope
that he would be elected, and added, that he
would endeavour to testify his gratitude by communicating what his poor and solitary endeavours
could effect towards the promoting their philosophical design. The communications which
Newton made to the society excited the deepest
interest in every part of Europe. His little reflecting telescope, the germ of the colossal instruments
of Herschel and Lord Rosse, was deemed one of
the wonders of the age."
The most remarkable events connected with the
society during the last century were the bequest of
£100 by Sir George Copley in 1709, which resulted in the institution of the Copley medal; the
measures taken for observing the transit of Venus,
which, according to Halley, was to occur in 1761
and 1769, and the grand discovery of the composition of water in 1784, by some attributed to Cavendish, by others to Watt. In the early part of the
present century Sir Humphry Davy commenced his
well-known scientific career, and after having had
all the honours of the Royal Society showered
upon him, in 1820 took his seat as president in
the chair previously occupied by Wren, Sir Isaac
Newton, Sloane, and Banks.
The first list of Fellows includes such names as
Sir Kenelm Digby, Sir William Petty (of whom we
have spoken in the preceding chapter (fn. 2) ), Matthew
Wren, Robert Boyle, John Dryden, and Isaac
Barrow. The signatures of all the Fellows, from
the time of Charles II., when the society received
the royal charter, down to the latest elected, are preserved in a vellum charter-book, which is a treasure
of the highest interest. The number of presidents
of the society, from Lord Brouncker—the first
after its incorporation—down to Dr. Hooker, who
was chosen in 1874—is thirty-two, among whom
have been Sir Christopher Wren, Sir Hans Sloane,
Sir Isaac Newton, Samuel Pepys, Lord Chancellor
Somers, Sir John Pringle, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir
Humphry Davy, Sir Benjamin Brodie, the Duke
of Sussex, and the Earl of Rosse. The list of
secretaries is specially rich in great names, such
as John Evelyn, Dr. Halley, Sir John Herschel,
Bishop Wilkins, Robert Hooke, Sir Humphry
Davy, and many others.
The Society of Antiquaries of London, already
mentioned in our account of Somerset House, (fn. 3)
was founded by Archbishop Parker, in 1572. The
members assembled at the house of Sir Robert
Cotton, near Westminster Abbey, for twenty years.
They applied to Elizabeth for a charter and a
public building; but their hopes were frustrated
by the queen's death. James I. took umbrage at
some of the society's proceedings, and dissolved it.
It would appear, however, to have existed privately
during the seventeenth century, for in Ashmole's
"Diary" we read of the "Antiquaries' feast on
July 2, 1659," probably their annual dinner, which
has now fallen into desuetude.
In 1707, we hear of their resuming their meetings
in a more public form, and under the presidency
of Le Neve. With him were associated Dr. William
Stukeley, Humphrey Wanley, Roger Gale, Vertue,
Browne Willis, and many others well known to fame.
The minutes of the society commence in 1717, and
in the same year they resolved to issue the first of
that great series of prints which grew up into the
work known as the "Vetusta Monumenta." We
may here mention that the society has recently
(1875) issued some fasciculi of great interest in
completion of the sixth volume of this valuable
In 1751, a royal charter of incorporation was
granted to the society. In 1776, the king gave
orders, when Somerset House was rebuilt, that the
society should be accommodated with apartments
in the new building. The whole of the fittings
were put up at the expense of the Government,
and in 1781 the society was formally inducted into
possession of their new apartments.
The Society of Antiquaries was no favourite,
strange to say, in spite of his antiquarian tastes,
with Horace Walpole, who writes: "I dropped my
attendance there four or five years ago, being sick
of their ignorance and stupidity, and have not been
three times amongst them since."
When the Royal Society removed to Burlington
House, some changes were effected as to the
rooms occupied by this society. In 1866, a scheme
was submitted to the society by Her Majesty's
Government for accommodating the society in
Burlington House. To this scheme the society
acceded, not without some reluctance, and only on
the understanding that adequate accommodation
should be provided, and that the expense of the
fittings should be borne by the Government.
The services which the society has rendered are
patent to the world. Its "Transactions" can only
be compared with the "Memoirs" of the Académie
des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres for range and
depth. Among the more recent and public services
rendered by the society may be mentioned the
restoration of the Chapter House at Westminster,
which was undertaken mainly at the instance and
through the zeal of its council. The late Lord
Stanhope, better known by his former title of Lord
Mahon, held the presidential chair of the Society
of Antiquaries from 1846 down to his death at the
close of 1875.
CLARENDON HOUSE, IN 1666.
The Linnæan Society, so called after the great
naturalist, Linnæus, was founded, as stated in our
account of Soho Square, (fn. 4) in 1788, for the study of
natural history, more especially that of the British
Islands, and was incorporated by royal charter in
1802. It was the earliest offset of the Royal
Society, the separation taking place with the ready
assent and concurrence of the parent body, it
being felt that natural history was a science of
sufficient extent and importance to demand the
entire attention of a distinct society. The infant
society was warmly aided by the then president of
the Royal Society, Sir Joseph Banks, to whom it
was indebted for pecuniary assistance, and for large
additions to its library and collections.
From an early period of its existence, the Linnæan
Society took a high station in the world of science,
and it stands now, as it always has done, at the
head of the natural history societies of the United
Kingdom, and on a level with the most distinguished
of similar societies abroad.
Its "Transactions" now include about thirty
copiously-illustrated quarto volumes, and form, unquestionably, the most important series of memoirs
on natural history which this country has produced.
In addition, it has now for many years published
an octavo journal in two sections, Zoology and
Botany, where those papers appear which have less
need of illustration.
The library and collections of the society are
very extensive, including those of Linnæus (invaluable in themselves, and in illustration of the
works of the great Swedish naturalist), which,
together with the additions made by its founder,
Sir J. E. Smith, were purchased by the society, in
1829, for £3,000, and the extensive herbarium
of Indian plants, munificently presented by the
Court of Directors of the East India Company
The funds of the society, with the exception of
a very small return, in proportion to the outlay,
from the sale of its publications, are wholly derived
from the contributions of its Fellows, to whom
the "Transactions" and "Journal" are distributed
without further payment.
By the cost of printing and illustrating these
publications, and in other necessary expenses, the
society was, for a long period, seriously cramped
in its operations. When, therefore, in 1856, the
Government offered to put the Royal Society in
possession of the main building of Burlington
House, on the understanding that suitable accommodation therein should be assigned to the Linnæan
and Chemical Societies, the Linnæan, although it
had recently renewed, for a long term, its lease of
the house in Soho Square, availed itself of the
proposal, which, in the first place, promised to
place its library and collections out of danger from
fire, and would relieve the funds of the society from
the outlay for rent.
CLARGES HOUSE, PICCADILLY. (From Mr. Crace's Collection.)
The Geological Society was established in 1807,
and incorporated by royal charter in 1826. In
1828, the late Sir Robert Peel, then Secretary of
the Treasury, assigned to it the apartments in
Somerset House which it continued to occupy till
its removal to Burlington House in 1874. Previously it had occupied a house in Bedford Street,
Strand. The charter says: "Whereas the Reverend
William Buckland, B.D., Arthur Aikin, esquire,
John Bostock, M.D., George Bellas Greenough,
esquire, Henry Warburton, esquire, and several
others of our loving subjects, being desirous of
forming a society for investigating the mineral
structure of the earth, and having for promoting
such investigation expended considerable sums of
money in the collection and purchase of books,
maps, specimens, and other objects, and in the
publication of various works, the said William
Buckland, Arthur Aikin, John Bostock, George
Bellas Greenough, and Henry Warburton have
humbly besought us to grant unto them and unto
such other persons as shall be appointed and
elected Fellows of the Society, as hereinafter is
mentioned, our Royal Charter of Incorporation,
for the better carrying on the purposes aforesaid."
A charter was accordingly granted, Dr. Buckland
being appointed first president. The early publications of the society consisted of "Proceedings"
in octavo, and "Transactions" in quarto: of the
former, four volumes were published; and of the
latter, twelve volumes in two series (of five and
seven). The "Transactions" ceased in 1856, but
in 1845 a quarterly journal was started, and has
been carried on ever since in their place. The
society also publishes Mr. Greenough's Geological
Map of England. The society possesses an extensive library, and a museum consisting of fossils,
minerals, &c.; the collection of foreign fossils
being particularly interesting.
The Royal Astronomical Society was founded in
the year 1820 by the exertions of the Rev. Dr.
Pearson, Mr. Francis Baily, and other gentlemen
at that time eminent in the science of astronomy,
its objects being "the encouragement and promotion of astronomy." We need scarcely add that it
has been eminently successful in carrying out these
objects, having published thirty-eight volumes of
"Memoirs," and thirty volumes of "Monthly
Notices," which are held in much estimation both
by English and foreign astronomers.
The only remaining learned body located here
is the Chemical Society. This was founded in
1841, and incorporated under royal charter in 1848.
Its objects are defined to be "the promotion of
chemistry and of those branches of science immediately connected with it, by the reading, discussion, and subsequent publication of original
communications." The society holds fortnightly
meetings during eight months of the year, and publishes a journal in monthly numbers. Its management is vested in a president and a council, chosen,
for the most part, annually by ballot.
Of the rise and progress of the Royal Academy
we have already spoken in our notice of the
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square. (fn. 4) It only remains to add that, since the removal hither, the
exhibitions of the Royal Academy have gone on
steadily increasing in popularity, and that during
"the season" not only are the spacious apartments
here crowded with the élite of society, but the exhibitions have become sufficiently attractive to
induce artisans and others belonging more to the
working classes to flock thither, and in such numbers
as to warrant the council in allowing the works
of art annually brought together to be exhibited
during the evening by gas-light. Apropos of the
good work achieved by the Royal Academy, it
may be stated that the choice of Angelica Kauffmann and Mrs. Montague among its first members
gave an impetus to female education, and helped
to keep alive till a more enlightened period the
claims of women to take their place side by side
with men in the battle of life, and in following the
professions. As a proof that their example was
not without effect, we may add that, in the year
1778, the publisher of "The Ladies' Pocket-book"
gave, as a frontispiece, a group of nine ladies celebrated in art or in literature, namely, Miss Carter,
Mrs. Barbauld, Angelica Kauffmann, Mrs. Sheridan,
Mrs. Lennox, Mrs. Montague, Miss Moore, Mrs.
Macaulay, and Miss Griffith, each lady in the
fanciful character of one of the nine Muses.
On the west side of Burlington House is the
Burlington Arcade, which was built as a bazaar by
Lord George Cavendish, afterwards Earl of Burlington, in 1819. This arcade, upwards of 200
yards in length, forms a covered pathway between
Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens; it has shops
on each side for the sale of millinery, jewellery,
and, in fact, almost every article of fashionable
demand. It is closed at night by gates at each
end under the charge of a beadle in livery. It is
stated by Mr. Peter Cunningham that the rents of
the shops in this arcade amount to upwards of
£8,000 a year, only about half of which finds its
way into the pockets of its owners, the Cavendishes.
We have given on page 264 a view of the original
Burlington House, with its gardens in the rear,
laid out on the square formal French fashion. It
shows the little temporary church or chapel in
Conduit Street, standing quite isolated from every
other building. There is also a view, by Kip, of
the first Burlington House, built by Sir John
Denham, the author of the poem called "Cooper's
Hill," and also Surveyor of Buildings under the
With reference to the old court-yard and colonnade, of which we have already spoken, we may
add that it is represented in the first of the abovementioned views, and that to it Sir William
Chambers thus alludes:—"In London, many of
our noblemen's palaces towards the street look
like convents. Nothing appears but a high wall,
with one or two large gates, in which there is a
hole for those who are privileged to go in and out.
If a coach arrives, the whole gate is indeed opened;
but this is an operation that requires time, and the
porter is very careful to shut it up again immediately, for reasons to him very weighty. Few in
this vast city, I suspect, believe that behind an old
brick wall in Piccadilly there is one of the finest
pieces of architecture in Europe."