Mr. Barton of the Royal Mint was quite a "crony" of Maudslay's. He called upon him often with respect to the improvements for stamping the current coin of the realm. Bryan Donkin was also associated with Maudslay and Barton on the subject of the national standard of the yard measure. But perhaps Mr. Chantrey was the most attractive visitor at the private workshop. He had many a long interview with Maudslay with respect to the planning and arranging of a small foundry at his studio, by means of which he might cast his bronze statues under his own superintendence. Mr. Maudslay entered con amore into the subject, and placed his skill and experience entirely at Chantrey's service. He constructed the requisite furnaces, cranes, and other apparatus, at Chantrey's studio; and it may be enough to state that, when brought into operation, they yielded the most satisfactory results.
Among my most intelligent private friends in London were George Cundell and his two brothers. They resided near my lodgings, and I often visited them on Saturday evenings. They were most kind, gentle, and genial. The eldest brother was in Sir William Forbes's bank. George was agent for Mr. Patrick Maxwell Stuart in connection with his West India estates, and the third brother was his assistant. The elder brother was an admirable performer on the violoncello, and he treated us during these Saturday evenings with noble music from Beethoven and Mozart. My special friend George was known amongst us as "the worthy master." He was thoroughly versed in general science, and was moreover a keen politician. He had the most happy faculty of treating complex subjects, both in science and politics, in a thoroughly common-sense manner. His two brothers had a fine feeling for art, and, indeed, possessed no small skill as practical artists. With companions such as these, gifted with a variety of tastes, I spent many of my Saturday evenings most pleasantly and profitably. They were generally concluded with a glass of beer of "the worthy master's" own brewing.
When the season of the year and the state of the weather were suitable I often joined this happy fraternity in long and delightful Sunday walks to various interesting places round London. Our walks included Waltham Abbey, Waltham Cross, Eltham Palace, Hampton Court, Epping Forest, and many other interesting places of resort. When the weather was unfavourable my principal resort was Westminster Abbey, where, besides the beautifully-conducted service and the noble anthems, I could admire the glory of the architecture, and the venerable tombs, under which lay the best and bravest. I used generally to sit at a point from which I could see the grand tomb of Aylmer de Vallance with its magnificent surroundings of quaint and glorious architecture. It was solemn, and serious also, to think of the many generations who had filled the abbey, and of the numbers of the dead who lay beneath our feet.
I was so great an admirer of Norman and Gothic architecture that there was scarcely a specimen of it in London which I did not frequently visit. One of the most interesting examples I found in the Norman portion of St. Saviours Church, near London Bridge, through some of it has since been destroyed by the so-called "restoration" in 1831. The new work has been executed in the worst taste and feeling. I also greatly admired the Norman chapel of the Tower, and some Norman portions of the Church of St. Bartholomew the Less, near Smithfield.
No style of architecture that I have ever seen has so impressed me with its intrinsic gravity, and I may say solemnity, as that of the Norman. There is a serious earnestness in its grave simplicity that has a peculiar influence upon the mind; and I have little doubt that this was felt, and understood by those true architects who designed and built the noble cathedrals at Durham and elsewhere. But there, as elsewhere, some of our modern so-called "Architects" have made sad havoc with the earliest and most impressive portions of those grand and truly interesting remains, by their "Restorations", as they term it--but which I call Defamations.
CHAPTER 9. Holiday in the Manufacturing Districts.
In the autumn of 1830 Mr. Maudslay went to Berlin for the purpose of superintending the erection of machinery at the Royal Mint there. He intended to be absent from London for about a month; and he kindly permitted me to take my holiday during that period.
I had been greatly interested by the descriptions in the newspapers of the locomotive competition at Rainhill, near Liverpool. I was, therefore, exceedingly anxious to see Stephenson's "Rocket," the engine that had won the prize. Taking with me letters of introduction from Mr. Maudslay to persons of influence at Liverpool, I left London for the north on the afternoon of Saturday the 9th of September 1830. I took my place on the outside of the Liverpool coach, which set out from "The Swan with Two Necks," in Lad Lane, City, one of the most celebrated coach-offices in those days