The domestic habits of Englishmen were getting more established. We have seen how religious persecution during preceding reigns, at the time of the Reformation, had encouraged private domestic life of families, in the smaller rooms and apart from the gossiping retainer, who might at any time bring destruction upon the household by giving information about items of conversation he had overheard. There is a passage in one of Sir Henry Wootton’s letters, written in 1600, which shews that this home life was now becoming a settled characteristic of his countrymen.
“Every man’s proper mansion house and home, being the theatre of his hospitality, the seate of his selfe fruition, the comfortable part of his own life, the noblest of his son’s inheritance, a kind of private princedom, nay the possession thereof an epitome of the whole world, may well deserve by these attributes, according to the degree of the master, to be delightfully adorned.”
[Illustration: Oak Chimney Piece in Sir Walter Raleigh’s House, Youghal, Ireland. Said to be the work of a Flemish Artist who was brought over for the purpose of executing this and other carved work at Youghal.]
Sir Henry Wootton was ambassador in Venice in 1604, and is said to have been the author of the well-known definition of an ambassador’s calling, namely, “an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country’s good.” This offended the piety of James I., and caused him for some time to be in disgrace. He also published some 20 years later “Elements of Architecture,” and being an antiquarian and man of taste, sent home many specimens of the famous Italian wood carving.
It was during the reign of James I. and that of his successor that Inigo Jones, our English Vitruvius, was making his great reputation; he had returned from Italy full of enthusiasm for the Renaissance of Palladio and his school, and of knowledge and taste gained by a diligent study of the ancient classic buildings of Rome; his influence would be speedily felt in the design of woodwork fittings, for the interiors of his edifices. There is a note in his own copy of Palladio, which is now in the library of Worcester College, Oxford, which is worth quoting:—
“In the name of God:
Amen. The 2 of January, 1614, I being in Rome
compared these desines following, with the Ruines themselves.—INIGO
[Illustration: Chimney Piece in Byfleet House. Early Jacobean.]
In the following year he returned from Italy on his appointment as King’s surveyor of works, and until his death in 1652 was full of work, though unfortunately for us, much that he designed was never carried out, and much that he carried out has been destroyed by fire. The Banqueting Hall of Whitehall, now Whitehall Chapel; St. Paul’s, Covent Garden; the old water gate originally intended as the entrance to the first Duke of Buckingham’s Palace, close to Charing Cross; Nos. 55 and 56, on the south side of Great