The Tower of London: A Historical Romance
Author: William Harrison Ainsworth
Publisher: Library of Alexandria
Book Summary: It has been, for years, the cherished wish of the writer of the following pages, to make the Tower of LondonÑthe proudest monument of antiquity, considered with reference to its historical associations, which this country or any other possesses,Ñthe groundwork of a Romance; and it was no slight satisfaction to him, that circumstances, at length, enabled him to carry into effect his favourite project, in conjunction with the inimitable Artist, whose designs accompany the work. Desirous of exhibiting the Tower in its triple light of a palace, a prison, and a fortress, the Author has shaped his story with reference to that end; and he has also endeavoured to contrive such a series of incidents as should naturally introduce every relic of the old pile,Ñits towers, chapels, halls, chambers, gateways, arches, and drawbridgesÑso that no part of it should remain un-illustrated. How far this design has been accomplishedÑwhat interest has been given to particular buildingsÑand what mouldering walls have been informed with lifeÑis now to be determined:Ñunless, indeed, it may be considered determined by the numbers who have visited the different buildings, as they have been successively depicted by pen and pencil, during the periodical appearance of the work. One important object the Author would fain hope his labours may achieve. This is the introduction of the public to some parts of the fortress at present closed to them. There seems no reason why admission should not be given, under certain restrictions, to that unequalled specimen of Norman architecture, Saint John's Chapel in the White Tower,Ñto the arched galleries above it,Ñto the noble council-chamber, teeming with historical recollections,Ñto the vaulted passagesÑand to the winding staircases within the turretsÑso perfect, and so interesting to the antiquary. Nor is there stronger reason why the prison-chamber in the Beauchamp Tower, now used as a mess-room, the walls of which, like a mystic scroll, are covered with inscriptionsÑeach a tragic story in itself, and furnishing matter for abundant reflectionÑshould not likewise be thrown open. Most of the old fortifications upon the inner ballium-wall being converted into private dwellings,Ñthough in many cases the chambers are extremely curious, and rich in inscriptions,Ñare, of course, inaccessible. But this does not apply to the first-mentioned places. They are the property of the nation, and should be open to national inspection.