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ST. JAMES'S PALACE.
SITE OF ST. JAMES'S PALACE. ERECTED BY HENRY THE EIGHTH.
THE RESIDENCE OF QUEEN MARY, HENRY PRINCE OF WALES, CHARLES THE FIRST, MARY DE MEDICIS, CHARLES THE SECOND, JAMES THE SECOND, WILLIAM THE THIRD, GEORGE THE FIRST, GEORGE SECOND, AND DAUGHTER.
St. James's PALACE stands on the site of an hospital, founded before the Norman Conquest, for the reception of “fourteen sisters, maidens, that were leprous, living chastely and honestly,” to whom five brethren were afterwards added, for the purpose of performing divine service. In 1532, Henry the Eighth, having taken a fancy to the site, from its vicinity to the Palace of Whitehall, gave, in exchange for the “hospital and fields,” Chattisham and other lands in Suffolk; and at the same time settled pensions on the sisterhood, whom he sent forth into the world to seek an asylum elsewhere. “I find,” writes Lord Herbert of Cherbury, “ that our King, having got York House, now Whitehall, upon the Cardinal's conviction in a præmunire, did newly enlarge and beautify it, buying also the hospital and fields of St. James, and building the palace there. For which purpose, he compounded with the sisters of the house for a pension during their lives.”* In the words
* Lord Herbert's “Life and Reign of King Henry VIII."
of Stow, it was a “goodly manor;
goodly manor;” and Holinshed informs us that the King converted it into a “ fair mansion and park.” Henry commenced building the palace in the same year in which he married Anne Boleyn, and it seems not improbable that he intended it to be the residence of his beautiful consort. On each side of the principal entrance to the palace, facing St. James's Street, may still be seen a small arched door-way, each of which is ornamented by the “love-knot” of Henry the Eighth and the ill-fated Anne Boleyn.
In 1559, Queen Mary,--familiar to us from our childhood as “Bloody Mary,"_breathed her last in the palace erected by her father. “ 'Tis said," writes Bishop Godwin, in his life of Queen Mary, " that in the beginning of her sickness, her friends, supposing King Philip's absence afflicted her, endeavoured by all means to divert her melancholy. But all proved in vain; and the Queen abandoning herself to despair, told them, she should die, though they were yet strangers to the cause of her death; but if they would know it hereafter, they must dissect her, and they would find Calais at her heart ;' intimating that the loss of that place was her death's wound. The death of her father-in-law, Charles the Fifth of Spain, was likewise thought to have considerably augmented her sorrow; so that these things probably hastened her end, and threw her by degrees into a dropsy, which the physicians at first mistook, believing her with child.”
The circumstance, which,far more than the ab
sence of her husband, or the death of Charles the Fifth,-appears to bave affected the mind of the dying Queen, was one to which Bishop Godwin obscurely alludes ; — namely, the disappointment of finding herself affected with a dropsical disorder, when she had fondly hoped that the alteration in her personal appearance gave a promise of her producing an heir to the throne. There are extant, in the State Paper Office, copies of a very curious circular letter, in which the words “son," or “ daughter,” are left blank, which were intended to be filled up and transmitted to the different European courts, immediately after the queen’s accouchement. From St. James's, the body of the deceased Queen was carried in great state to Westniinster Abbey. “Her funeral,” says Bishop Kennett, was celebrated on the 13th and 14th of December, with a pomp suitable to her quality. Her body was brought from St. James's, where she died, in a splendid chariot, with attendants and ceremony usual on such occasions; and so by Charing Cross to Westminster Abbey. It was met at the church door with four bishops, and the Lord Abbot mitred. Her body being brought into the church lay all night under the hearse with watch. On the next day, December 14th, was the queen's mass, and White, Bishop of Winchester, made her funeral sermon."
We have no record of either Queen Elizabeth, or James the First having kept their court at St. James's. During the reign of the latter sovereign,
it was set apart as the residence of the gifted, the witty, the virtuous, and precocious Henry, Prince of Wales,—the Marcellus of his age,—who kept his court here with considerable magnificence during the life-time of his father. It was a court comprised of beauty, and chivalry, and genius; where the young were the most welcome, but where literary acquirements were still more distinguished than personal gallantry, and where virtue was of far more consideration than beauty. The daily path of the author has been for many years through the silent courts of St. James's palace, and seldom has he wandered through them without peopling them in imagination with the splendid but soberly retainers of the chivalrous young prince, and imagining that in such or such a part of the palace he passed the night in study and contemplation, or that in such a chamber he breathed his last. Here he constantly entertained the young, the gallant, and the beautiful of both sexes; retaining about his person a number of young gentlemen, whose spirit of chivalry and literary tastes assimilated with his
We are informed by his faithful follower, Sir Charles Cornwallis, that though the most beautiful women of the court and city were invited to his entertainments, yet that he could never discover the slightest inclination on the Prince's part to any particular beauty. A great proof of the Prince's popularity is the manner in which his court at St. James's was attended ; the attendance at his levees being much more numerous than at that of the
King himself. So jealous was James at this circumstance, that he once made use of the remarkable words,—“ Will he bury me alive?” Though pleasure was not excluded, his establishment was governed with discretion, modesty, and sobriety, and with an especial reverence for religious duties.
It may here be observed that in 1610 his household amounted to no less than four hundred and twentysix persons, of whom two hundred and ninety-seven were in the receipt of regular salaries.* The death of this promising and accomplished young prince took place in St. James's Palace on the 6th of November, 1612, after a long illness which he bore with exemplary piety and resignation. “On Sunday, the 25th of October,” we are told, “he heard a sermon, the text in Job, Man that is born of woman, is of short continuance, and is full of trouble.' After that he presently went to Whitehall, and heard another sermon before the King, and after dinner, being ill, craved leave to retire to his own court, where instantly he fell into sudden sickness, faintings, and after that a shaking, with great heat and headache, that left him not whilst he had life.” The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Rochester remained by his bed-side, and prayed with him during his illness. Cornwallis says, “ he bore his sickness with patience, and as often recognition of his faith, his hopes, and his
* See “ Wilson's Life of James the First," Detection.
Birch and Coke's