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ST. JAMES'S PARK.
ORIGINAL ENCLOSURE. - CHARLES GOING TO EXECUTION-CROMWELL.
-SKATING. -GAME OF PALL MALL.- CHARLES THE SECOND.QUEEN ANNE. MARLBOROUGH HOUSE.—THE MALL, SPRING GARDENS. — BUCKINGHAM HOUSE.
St. James's PARK was originally enclosed by Henry the Eighth, shortly after he purchased the hospital of St. James, and the fields attached to it. The wall, or rather paling, of the Park, formerly ran where the houses on the south side of Pall Mall now stand. Charles the Second removed it to its present boundary, and, under the direction of the celebrated French gardener, Le Notre, planted the avenues and disposed the trees as we now see them. The Bird-cage Walk was the favourite aviary of that monarch, and derives its name from the cages which were hung in the trees. Charles also formed the canal, and, in his reign, Duck Island took its name from being the breeding-place of the numerous waterfowl with which the park was stocked. The government of Duck Island was once enjoyed, with a small salary, by the celebrated St. Evremond. Pennant speaks of
“the first and last government,” but he is mistaken in the fact; it having previously been
conferred by Charles the Second on Sir John Flock, a person of good family, and a companion of the King during his exile. Horace Walpole writes to Sir Horace Mann, on the 9th of February, 1751, —“My Lord Pomfret is made ranger of the Parks, and, by consequence, my lady is queen of the Duck Island." This little island, which stood at the west end of the canal, was destroyed when some alterations were made in the Park in 1770.
Another interesting feature of St. James's Park which disappeared at the same time, was Rosamond’s Pond, situated opposite to James Street, Westminster, at the south-west corner of the Park. Its romantic appearance, the irregularity of the ground, the trees which overshadowed it, and the view of the venerable abbey, rendered it, we are told, a favourite resort of the contemplative; while its secluded and melancholy situation is said to have tempted a greater number of persons to commit suicide, especially unfortunate females, than any other place in London.
St. James's Park is replete with historical associations, and not the least interesting is its having been the scene where Charles the First passed on foot, on the morning of his execution, from his bedchamber in St. James's Palace to the scaffold at Whitehall. Colonel Hacker having knocked at his door, and informed him that it was time to depart, Charles took Bishop Juxon by the hand, and bidding his faithful attendant Herbert bring with him his silver clock, intimated to Hacker,
with a cheerful countenance, that he was ready to accompany him. As he passed through the palace garden into the Park, he inquired of Herbert the hour of the day, and afterwards bade him keep the clock for his sake. The procession was a remarkable one.
On each side of the King was arranged a line of soldiers, and before him and behind him were a guard of halberdiers, their drums beating, and colours flying. On his right hand was Bishop Juxon, and on his left hand Colonel Tomlinson, both bare-headed. There is a tradition that, during his walk, he pointed out a tree, not far from the entrance to Spring Gardens, (close to the spot which is now a well-known station for cows,) which he said had been planted by his brother Henry. He was subjected to more than one annoyance during his progress. One ruffianly fanatic officer, in particular, inquired of him, with insulting brutality, whether it were true that he had been cognizant of his father's murder. Another fanatic, a “mean citizen,” as he is styled by Fuller, was perceived to walk close by his side, and keep his eyes constantly fixed on the King, with an expression of particular malignity. Charles merely turned away his face; and eventually the man was pushed away by the more feeling among the King's persecutors. The guards marching at a slow pace, the King desired them to proceed faster. “ I go,” he said, “ to strive for a heavenly crown, with less solicitude than I have formerly encouraged my soldiers to fight for an earthly one.” However, the noise of
the drums rendered conversation extremely difficult. On reaching the spot where the Horse Guards now stands, Charles ascended a staircase which then opened into the Park, and passing along the famous gallery which at that time ran across the street, was conducted to his usual bedchamber at Whitehall, where he continued till summoned by Hacker to the scaffold.
With reference to the passage of Charles the First through St. James's Park on the morning of his execution, we are enabled to lay before the reader the following interesting extract from a letter preserved in the British Museum, which has not bitherto appeared in print: “ This day his Majesty died upon a scaffold at Whitehall. His children were with him last night: to the Duke of Gloucester he gave his George; to the lady (the Princess Elizabeth], his ring off his finger: he told them his subjects had many things to give their children, but that was all he had to give them. This day, about one o'clock, he came from St. James's in a long black cloak and grey stockings. The Palsgrave came through the Park with him. He was faint, and was forced to sit down and rest him in the Park. He went into Whitehall the usual way out of the Park; and so came out of the Banqueting House upon planks, made purposely, to the scaffold. He was not long there, and what he spoke was to the two Bishops, Dr. Juxon and Dr. Morton. To Dr. Juxon he gave his hat and cloak. He prayed with them; walked twice or
thrice about the scaffold; and held out his hands to the people. His last words, as I am informed, were,—“To your power I must submit, but your authority I deny. He pulled his doublet off himself, and kneeled down to the block himself. When some officer offered to help him to unbutton him, or some such like thing, he thrust him from him. Two men, in vizards and false hair, were appointed to be his executioners. Who they were is not known: some say he that did it was the common hangman; others, that it was one Captain Foxley, and that the hanginan refused. The Bishop of London hath been constantly with him since sentence was given. Since he died, they have made proclamation that no man, upon pain of I know not what, shall presume to proclaim his son Prince Charles, King; and this is all I have yet heard of this sad day's work.”
It is not a little curious to find, on more than one occasion, “the Lord Protector taking the air in St. James's Park in a sedan.” It was here, too, -the day before it was agreed upon that the Parliament should make him the splendid offer of the crown of the Plantagenets,—that Cromwell led those bigoted and uncompromising Republicans, Fleetwood and Desborough, and, taking them into one of the retired walks of the Park, endeavoured by every argument to induce them to connive at his ambitious views. “ He drolled with them,” we are told, “ about monarchy; said that it was but a feather in a man's cap; and wondered