« ПредишнаНапред »
Among the Stars, in April: by Captain Drayson, R.A.
POEMs (continued) :-
Vary Williams; a Pastoral Story
Sir William Woodvill: by Mary Howitt
Puir Grizel ; A Tale o' Scotland
47, 209, 337
Something of what Florence Nightingale Has Done and Is Doing 29
IV. The Little Stray Lamb: by Mary Howitt
JAMES's has been a word of power as long as any living man can remember,
and much longer in the memory of OU
history. Versailles has not been more famous for its comedies of the antechamber and back-stairs, nor the Vatican for its political and social significance, than St. James's for both. The Court of St. James's, any time these hundred and fifty years, has wielded an influence, more or less direct, over the domestic life of Palaces, and the deliberations of Cabinets. The authority, “ Given at our Court of St. James's" —is acknowledged in remoter corners of the globe, and over a wider sur
face, and by infinitely larger masses of subjects, than that of any sovereignty that has ever existed. We who live under the shadow of the old Palace that has housed so many of our Kings and Queens, and where most of our State ceremonials are still enacted, ought to know something about the local traditions. But who does ? Who knows when the Palace was built, or who built it? or, looking back into the hazy ages when King Lud kept the western gate of the city, and not a solitary roof rose upon the intervening space between that point and the distant hermitage and chapel of St. Katherine at Charing—who can tell us to at uses the site of the Palace, and the area of the Park, were then dedicated ? We fear that, of the multitudes who pass and re-pass the old clock-tower and gateway every hour in the day, few can resolve any of these questions. Things that lie close at hand are the last looked into. We can investigate them at any moment, and therefore never investigate them at all. The whole anecdotehistory of Fontainblean or St. Cloud is much more likely to be familiar to the club-lounger in St. James's Street, than the slenderest item of gossip connected with the locality in which he spends half his life. Yet every step he takes in this neighbourhood is upon “storied ground.” It is not, however, with the traditions of the surrounding district that we intend to occupy ourselves at present, whatever we may do hereafter. Of all the structures that now exist in or near the locality, the palace is first in age and interest, and commands precedence of everything else.
Long ago, in the wastes of unrecorded time, when this now populous and fashionable quarter was a barren flat, very low and swampy, some worthy citizens of London bethought them of setting apart a portion of it for a benevolent purpose, and starting it with a sufficient endowment to begin upon. The objects of their charity were the most helpless and friendless persons to be found in or about the town—a case that cried aloud for succour and mercy. Amongst the sanitary arrangements most strictly enforced in the narrow streets of old London, none were so severe as the regulations against lepers, swine, and dogs. These three were regarded as equally dangerous to the cleanliness and health of the city, and the poor human lepers were condemned in the same ordinances with the wallowing pigs and prowling curs that infested the kennels, and rendered them at once dangerous and impassable. But the edicts against the dogs admitted of exceptions. Dogs of quality-or, as they are expressly called in the municipal orders, "genteel dogs"-were exempt froin penalty, and allowed to appear in public. No exceptions, however, were made in the other cases. There were no lepers or pigs of quality, and every man's hand was against them.
We are referring to a time, many centuries back in our annals, when medical practice was purely empirical, and opened the door to a thousand superstitions. Under that dispensation of imperfect knowledge and unbounded credulity, the leper was regarded with horror, and treated with cruelty ; and many maladies, somewhat similar in type, although different in character, were confounded in the same category, and subjected to the same penalties. Lepers were forbidden the city, and the wardens of the ports, gates, and posterns were sworn not to admit them. Any such found begging, or loitering in the streets, or caught within the walls, day or night, under any circumstances, were driven out and punished. Yet there was one drop of pity and tenderness in these stringent laws. Although the afflicted were themselves prohibited from entering the city, they were allowed to be represented by an attorney or proctor, who was privileged to go into the parish churches on Sundays to collect alms for his unfortunate clients. The funds thus obtained were humanely expended upon hospitals expressly provided for the sick in distant quarters, where they were separated from “ the haunt or company of sound people.” And such was the purpose to which the good citizens of whom we have spoken devoted, at their own cost, that space of ground upon which the palace now stands.
At what time the hospital was built is unknown. All that can be affirmed with confidence is, that it could not have been before the Conquest, while there is good reason to conclude that it must have been soon afterwards. It was erected for the reception of fourteen unmarried women, and was dedicated to St. James. The saints were supposed to possess particular influence over particular ailments; and as St. Vitus took madness and poison under his protection, St. James, to whom, in the old symbolical representations of the church, the top-joint of the fore-finger was dedicated, may be presumed to have extended his care to infectious diseases. The charitable founders endowed the hospital with land sufficient for its support ; and its resources were subsequently enriched by a gift of £55 rent annually, eight brethren being added to minister divine service; so that it came at last to partake somewhat of a conventual character. Considerable grants of land were afterwards bestowed upon it in Westminster, Hampstead, and other places; and Edward I., who was most rigorous against lepers within the bounds of the city, showed his consideration for them outside the walls by confirming all these grants, and by further conferring upon the institution the privilege of holding an annual fair of seven days, beginning on the eve of the patron saint.
The situation was discreetly chosen. It was as dreary and lonely as could be desired for the isolation of its inmates, who looked out upon one of the most desolate landscapes within the girdle of fair Middlesex. The distant height of Harrow-on-the-Hill came into view as far off as the eye could reach; snatches of stunted hedgerows, or a few trees dropped here and there, marked the rude tracks that led northward and westward into the country; and a remote mill, or the lofty cross of some solitary spital, might be discerned on the horizon to the north of Cripplegate, and stretching away eastward towards Moregate and the ancient suburb of Soers ditch. Whether the maiden sisters of St. James's asked alms of wayfarers from their doors and lattices with a cup and clapper, as was the custom, may, we think, be doubted, because wayfarers were rare in that out-of-the-way neighbourhood; but, however that may be, the prosperity of the house continued to augment until the reign of Henry VIII., when a tempestuous change came over the tranquil dreams of its inmates.