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Nothing could exceed the impression produced by the approach of the champion and his loyal array. Every fair bosom felt an indescribable sensation of mingled surprise, pleasure, and apprehension. It seemed as if they were impressed with a conviction that the defiance might not prove an empty ceremony; that a trial as severe as that of Ivanhoe, in the presence of his future sovereign at Ashby, might await the challenger; and that the n.o.bly-equipped champion before them might, nevertheless, be as little elated by his success, or as faint and feeble when he fell at the feet of sympathising beauty to claim the hard-earned meed of glory. For a moment the fast fading spirit of chivalry re-a.s.serted itself within those walls, over minds which the place and occasion had rendered vividly susceptible of impressions connected with the records of our earlier history.
At the entrance into the Hall the trumpets sounded thrice, and the pa.s.sage to the king's table being cleared by the knight marshal, the herald, with a loud voice, proclaimed the champion's challenge in the words following:--
If any person, of what degree soever, high or low, shall deny or gainsay our Sovereign Lord GEORGE the Fourth of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Son and next Heir to our Sovereign Lord King GEORGE the Third, the last King, deceased, to be right Heir to the Imperial Crown of this United Kingdom, or that he ought not to enjoy the same, here is his Champion, who saith that he lieth, and is a false traitor; being ready in person to combat with him, and in this quarrel will adventure his life against him on what day soever he shall be appointed.
The champion then threw down his iron glove or gauntlet; which, having lain for a short time upon the ground, the herald took up, and delivered again to the champion.
They then advanced to the middle of the Hall, where the ceremony was again performed in the same manner.
Lastly, they advanced to the steps of the throne, where the herald (and those who preceded him) ascending to the middle of the steps, proclaimed the challenge in the like manner; when the champion, having thrown down the gauntlet, and received it again from the herald, made a low obeisance to the King, The peers had repeated, as if with one voice, "G.o.d bless the King! G.o.d save the King!" which was accompanied by acclamations so loud through all parts of the Hall, that it startled the horses of the champion and his n.o.ble companions. Then the cupbearer, having received from the officer of the Jewel-house a gold cup and cover filled with wine, presented the same to the King, and his Majesty drank to the champion, and sent to him by the cupbearer the said cup, which the champion (having put on his gauntlet) received, and having made a low obeisance to the King, drank off the wine; and in a loud articulate voice, exclaimed, turning himself round, "Long life to his Majesty King GEORGE the Fourth!" This was followed by a peal of applause resembling thunder; after which, making another low obeisance to his Majesty, and being accompanied as before, he departed out of the Hall, taking with him the said cup and cover as his fee, retiring with his face to his Majesty, and backing his horse out of the Hall.
PROCLAMATION OF THE STYLES.
Immediately afterwards, Garter, attended by Clarenceux, Norroy, Lyon, Ulster, and the rest of the kings and officers of arms, proclaimed his Majesty's styles in Latin, French, and English, three several times, first upon the uppermost step of the elevated platform, next in the middle of the Hall; and, lastly, at the bottom of the Hall, the officers of arms before each proclamation crying, "Largesse." After each proclamation, the company shouted "G.o.d save the King!" and the ladies waved their handkerchiefs and fans.
The second course was then served up with the same ceremony as the first.
SERVICES IN PURSUANCE OF CLAIMS.
Then the lord of the manor of Nether Bilsington presented his Majesty with three maple cups.
The office of chief butler of England was executed by the Duke of Norfolk, as Earl of Arundel and lord of the manor of Keninghall, who received a gold basin and ewer as his fee.
Dinner being concluded, the lord mayor and twelve princ.i.p.al citizens of London, as a.s.sistants to the chief butler of England, accompanied by the King's cupbearer and a.s.sistant, presented to his Majesty wine in a gold cup; and the King having drunk thereof, returned the gold cup to the lord mayor as his fee.
The mayor of Oxford, with the eight other burgesses of that city, as a.s.sistants to the lord mayor and citizens of London, as a.s.sistant to the chief butler of England in the office of butler, was conducted to his Majesty, preceded by the King's cupbearer, and having presented to the King a bowl of wine, received the three maple cups for his fee.
The lord of the manor of Lyston, pursuant to his claim, then brought up a charger of wafers to his Majesty's table.
The Duke of Athol, as lord of the Isle of Man, presented his Majesty with two falcons. Considerable curiosity was excited by the presentment of these beautiful birds, which sat perfectly tame on the arm of his grace, completely hooded, and furnished with bells.
The Duke of Montrose, as master of the horse to the King, performed the office of serjeant of the silver scullery.
The lord of the barony of Bedford performed the office of almoner; and the office of chief larderer was performed by the deputy of the Earl of Abergavenny.
After the dessert was served up, the King's health was announced by the peers, and drank by them and the whole of the persons in the Hall standing, with three times three. The lord chancellor, overpowered by his feelings on this propitious occasion, rose, and said it was usual to drink the health of a subject with three times three, and he thought that his subjects ought to drink the Sovereign's health with nine times nine. The choir and additional singers had now been brought forward in front of the knights commanders, and the national anthem of "G.o.d save the King" was sung with incomparable effect.
The Duke of Norfolk then said, "The King thanks his peers for drinking his health: he does them the honour to drink their health and that of his good people." His Majesty rose, and bowing three times to various parts of the immense concourse--
----"The abstract of his kingdom,"
he drank the health of all present. It was succeeded by long and continued shouts from all present, during which the King resumed his seat on his throne.
The King quitted the Hall at a quarter before eight o'clock; afterwards the company was indiscriminately admitted to partake of such refreshments as remained on the tables of the peers.
During Tuesday and Wednesday night, in order that no unnecessary interruption might be experienced in the public thoroughfares during the daytime, the workmen under the direction of the Board of Works were busily engaged in raising barriers at different points that commanded the streets and pa.s.ses leading to Westminster Hall and Abbey. From Charing Cross, a stout barrier was placed (about fifteen feet from the pavement) to Parliament Street, so that the fullest possible room, about twenty feet in width, should be secured for persons having tickets of admission to the Hall, the Abbey, or the Coronation Galleries. And a still stronger barrier was raised along the centre of Parliament Street, one side only being appropriated to carriages going towards the scene of universal attraction. Across Bridge Street, as well as in King Street, and the neighbouring thoroughfares, all the carriage entrances were wholly blockaded; thus securing the most commodious means to persons proceeding on foot to the different places for which they possessed admission tickets. At all these points were stationed constables, supported by parties of military; and at the several pa.s.ses were placed experienced individuals who had been instructed in their various duties during several days by Mr. Jackson and others, in the long chambers of the House of Lords, &c. They examined the tickets and the pretensions of the several persons applying to pa.s.s on to the Abbey, Hall, houses, or galleries.--Still more effectually to qualify them for this duty, they were previously made acquainted with the mode in which the various tickets of the lord great chamberlain (Lord Gwydyr) for the Hall, and the earl marshal of England (Lord Howard, of Effingham, acting deputy), were prepared, signed, and superscribed.--They were also provided with good general means of judging of the authenticity of cards for the different galleries; and even to be guarded against imposture, there was further authority to keep all the several parties in motion, till they arrived at their respective destinations. Thus, every arrangement was made to accomplish the great advantage of clear roads and facilities of approach; and the regulations adopted at those points, pa.s.ses, and barriers already noticed, were provided at the other stations.
All the arrangements were finally made on Wednesday night. The high bailiff of Westminster (A. Morris, Esq.), the high constable (Mr. Lee), and the several magistrates of the different Police Offices, Sir Robert Baker, Mr. Birnie, Mr. Mainwaring, Mr. Raynsford, Mr. Markland, &c.
under the advice, and with the approbation of Lord Sidmouth, agreed upon and adopted at the office of the home secretary of state, a plan of general and particular operations. Each magistrate had his different station allotted to him, with a specified number of the police officers to attend his commands, and enforce his instructions.
Besides the precautions taken in the several streets, and at the various thoroughfares, as already described, arrangements of a similar character were adopted at the several approaches from the river Thames.
In the course of the night, the stairs, landing-places, roads from wharfs, &c., along the Westminster side of the banks of the Thames, were closed, with parties to command them, from the Hungerford to the Horseferry stairs. Some exceptions were made regarding the stairs at Whitehall, by Lord Liverpool's house, and a temporary landing-place formed in the course of Wednesday, at the lower end of the speaker's garden, for the accommodation of the treasury and ordnance barges, conveying certain great officers of state, some parties of peeresses, &c., as well as the barges of the lord mayor, aldermen, sheriffs, and twelve citizens of London, accompanied as they were (by the special favour of the corporation of London) by the mayor of Oxford, its recorder, two aldermen, two a.s.sistants, &c. And at this entrance proper precautions were taken by stationing a civil force in the speaker's gardens; while in the river, such regulations were strengthened by the parties on board the Thames police-boat, and a gun-brig moored off this point in the course of Wednesday.
The temporary boarding placed up on each side of the platform, some weeks ago, to prevent damage, by indiscriminate visitors travelling over it day and night, was completely removed in the early part of the morning. On the removal of such boarding, the platform presented a lively and finished appearance. The railing on each side of it was covered with purple cloth, and the flooring covered to the extent of sixteen feet, leaving about a yard on each side uncovered, with the same sort of blue cloth.
The awnings were drawn, but at short distances red lines were placed, by the pulling of which command was had of them, to close or spread them as circ.u.mstances might require. To each line and pulley was allotted one man, with a particular dress, so that the most rapid change of the awnings could be effected, should the weather require any change in their position, while the addition of a staff enabled such man likewise to act as a constable. There were also placed, on each side of the platform, along the whole range of it, men provided with pincers, hammers, &c., to repair any damage that might happen to the platform, or whatever was calculated to impede the progress of the procession, and its attendant ceremonies. These men were also supplied with a like livery, with staves of office; and they were sworn as constables.
The flooring of the platform was raised several feet (in some instances as much as four and five feet) from the roads; and the side platform was nearly two feet below the surface of the main platform. Thus the view of what excited the greatest curiosity, was not intercepted by the means so judiciously arranged to preserve that regularity and order which so essentially contribute to the effect of all ceremonies.
The immense range of galleries in the fronts of houses in New Palace Yard, along the Exchequer Offices and Chambers, over the champion's stables, in Parliament Street and Square, in George Street, in St.
Margaret's Churchyard, in the large s.p.a.ces, on gardens and squares, between the Parliament House and Sessions House, it would be impossible to particularise. The magnitude of these accommodations, their uniformity and convenience, excited the wonder of the inhabitants of this great metropolis, and of thousands from all parts of the country, who repaired to town solely with the view of witnessing the preparations. All these galleries underwent the strictest investigation by surveyors appointed for the purpose; so that all possible precautions to prevent accidents were adopted.
The preparations within the Hall have on former occasions been fully described, and a tolerably correct notion may be formed by many of the main outlines of the arrangements there, to give effect to the ceremonies preceding, and the banquet following, his Majesty's coronation. The _coup d'oeil_ was of the most pleasing and imposing character; the galleries along each side of the Hall, the tower and turrets over the grand entrance, and the royal platform and table, were finished in the highest order. The new windows in the roof, and the recently-completed lantern upwards of forty feet high on the centre of the ridge of the roof, with glazed windows all round, greatly improved the effect.
From each side of the angles formed by the ends of the hammer-beams in the roof was suspended by a gilt chain a large splendid cut-gla.s.s l.u.s.tre, with broad ornamented gilt irons and frames, containing three circles of wax candles, being between forty and fifty in each l.u.s.tre.
The first and second galleries had the mattings and scarlet coverings completed only on Wednesday. The royal box on the right, and the foreigners' box on the left side of the royal table were entirely lined with scarlet cloth, festooned in front, and ornamented with gold fringe.
The throne, seat, and the royal table, attracted general admiration.
With the exception of the large fluted columns, the royal seat and canopy were in the style of the throne in the House of Lords. The back of crimson velvet, with the royal arms embroidered on it, and the limits decorated with gold and ornaments. The canopy was square, with a raised and variegated gold cornice round. The centre displayed a splendid crown, underneath which were G. R. IV. Underneath the cornice was a crimson velvet vallance, separated into divisions, the lower portion of each division being rounded with gold, while its centre was decorated with gold, embroidered, and raised ornaments ill.u.s.trative of the military orders, and of the emblems of the United Kingdom, the Rose, the Thistle, the Harp, &c. The chair was equally splendid; the arms and legs consisting of rich carved work gilt, with crimson velvet back, also ornamented. The only objection in point of taste that can be made to this is, that the glitter did not harmonize with the sober grandeur of the Hall.
About nine o'clock on Wednesday night the King left Carlton Palace for the house of the speaker of the House of Commons in Palace Yard, where his Majesty slept on Wednesday night. His Majesty's coach was escorted by a strong detachment of the Oxford Blues, accoutred as cuira.s.siers.
They made a most beautiful appearance. The carriage drove at a rapid rate across the Parade in St. James's Park, through Storey's Gate and Great George Street. His Majesty was recognised by the crowd on his pa.s.sage, and saluted with every expression of loyalty and attachment.
Prior to the departure of his Majesty from Carlton Palace the crowd between Storey's Gate and Westminster Hall had been cleared by the Scots Greys, so as to make a convenient pa.s.sage for the carriage, and his Majesty did not set out until after an officer had arrived at the Palace gate to announce that all was ready. His Majesty was guarded through the night by the lord great chamberlain and the usher of the black rod.
There were no preparations of importance. His Majesty's sofa bed was brought from Carlton House. On Thursday morning the lord great chamberlain, at seven o'clock, carried to his Majesty his shirt and apparel, and with the lord chamberlain of the household dressed his Majesty. His Majesty then breakfasted, and afterwards proceeded to his chamber, near the south entrance into Westminster Hall.
We entered the Hall at twenty minutes past five o'clock, and a crowd of ladies admitted by peers' orders, and peeresses, were then struggling for admittance.
The first thing we observed on having entered the Hall, was the canopy which was to be borne over the King by the barons of the Cinque Ports.
The canopy was yellow;--of silk and gold embroidery, with short curtains of muslin spangled with gold. Eight bearers having fixed the poles by which the canopy was supported, which were of steel (apparently), with silver k.n.o.bs, bore it up and down the Hall, to practise the mode of carrying it in procession. It was then deposited at the upper end of the side table of the Hall, to the left of the throne. The canopy was not very elegant in form, and did not seem very well calculated to add to the effect of the procession. But even at this early hour the appearance of the Hall, studded with groups of gentlemen pensioners, and various other attendants, in their fantastic and antique costumes, with the officers of the guards, and others, in military uniform, and, above all, the elegantly dressed women who began to fill the galleries, was altogether superb. At this time there were several hundreds of spectators in the Hall.
The sides of the upper end of the Hall, including the boxes for the foreign ministers and royal family, were hung with scarlet cloth, edged with gold.
The throne was splendid with gold and crimson; the canopy over the throne was of crimson and gold, with the royal arms in embroidery. The large square table before the throne, intended for the display of the regalia, was of purple, having a rim of gold, and an interior square moulding of the same description, about two feet from the edge. The platform on which the throne was placed, and the three steps immediately descending from it, were covered with brown carpeting; the two other descending flights of steps, and the double chairs, placed by the side of the tables for the peers (with the names of their future occupiers), and the coverings of the railings in front of the seats, were of morone cloth. From the bottom of the steps, descending from the throne to the north gate, the middle of the floor of the Hall was covered with blue cloth, in the same manner as the platform without. The rest of the floor and the seats were matted. The side tables were covered with green cloth; and as on each side, the galleries reached nearly to the top of the windows in the wall, only the upper arches of those windows, and the n.o.ble roof of the old fabric appeared, except at each end, the upper one especially, where the grave visages of the Saxon kings, newly decorated, made their appearance. The light, which was only admitted from the roof windows, and from those in each end, though sober, was, on the whole, good. At the lower end the attendants of the earl marshal attracted some notice by their dark dresses, with white sashes, stockings, shoes with large rosettes, and Queen Elizabeth ruffs, with gilt staves tipped with black. At a quarter after seven o'clock an attendant, habited in the dress of _Henri Quatre_ laid on the table, near the canopy, eight maces, to be borne in the course of the procession.