Page images
PDF
EPUB

on account of the hatred borne to the Bourbons, than for any other affection for the pri. soner of St. Helena, than arises out of sympathy for his sufferings. It is to be regretted by the friends of the Bourbons, that the two princes who, in the order of succession, stand next the throne, are much more unpopular than he who occupies it. They are despised, especially the duke of Angouleme, even more, if possible, than they are disliked!

The last twenty-five years have covered, with their funeral crape and blood, with their folly and splendour, the space of centuries in the memory of man; they have dug a horrid chasm between the times which preceded, and the eventful period which followed; and, forming a new æra in history, future generations

“ before or after the French Revolution” -as before or after the fall of the Roman empire, before or after the dark ages. That dreadful eruption in the moral and political world, has given other nations a terrible lesson, by which the Spaniards have admirably profited in their late glorious Revolution. Liberty shows herself in that country, in the benignant smiles of mercy and benevolence. The kings of the earth have not interfered with their tyrannous alliances and dark conspiracies; and the principles of freedom, left to their natural growth and progress, have diffused themselves accordingly, without massacre, blood

All that the people ought to wish seems likely to be accomplished, without

VOL. II.

will say

and carnage.

I

stripping the majesty of executive power of any thing it ought to retain. The throne is secured by the consolidation of liberty; and oligarchy abolished, and aristocracy restrained within proper limits, the real interests of the king and of the nation are becoming one. Is there a heart can wish for more? Ought there to be a heart that wishes less? Every real friend of liberty hails, as the returning day-star, the omen of Spanish Renovation; and hopes to see, in the future progress of this once great and glorious nation, a demonstration of the inspiring axiom, that, to the restoration of the greatness and glory of an energetic people, nothing is necessary but the dominion of equal rights and equal laws; or, in other words, the restoration of unsophisticated liberty!

LETTER XLII.

These vacant courts dull the suspended soul,
Till expectation wears the cast of fear;
And fear half-ready to become devotion,
Mumbles a kind of mental orison,
It knows not wherefore.— The Mysterious Mother.

Here's room for meditation ev'n to madness,
Till the mind burst with thinking. Fair Penitent.

That we are disinclined to attend to objects observable by any vagrant idler, or during any leisure hour, is a remark not less familiar than accurate. Strangers generally know the coun

try which they visit, better than its inhabitants, who say that the curiosities are always at hand, and that they can visit them at any time, but never do it at all! I have met with several Londoners who had not made a pilgrimage to the Tower, or ascended to the summit of their cathedral; and few Parisians have seen the catacombs or the cemetery of La Chaise. Do not imagine, from this preamble, that I intend forcing upon you a description of what are vul. garly called “the lions” of London. I will merely present you with a few reflections which were suggested during a late visit to Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's, and the Tower.

Admiration is always the effect of beholding the aspiring form, the light pinnacles, and the

long-drawn aisles” of Gothic structures. As we tread the floors of the venerable buildings, which shroud the remains of those whose

are enshrined in every heart that can feel the beauty of moral excellence, we seem to step back into the regions of antiquity, when an enthusiastic people deemed no expense too great, and no edifices too magnificent for the solemnity of religious duty-we turn over the volume of ages which had been thrown aside, and we peruse the record of human greatness, in that pleasing distance when time has drawn its screen over the errors of mortality, and its great qualities are sanctified by the hand of death.

On entering the immense aisles of Westminster Abbey, every feeling is absorbed in the

names

throb of admiration, which is excited by the sudden display of all that is lovely and magnificent in the Gothic architecture: you are struck with the rich tracery of the arches, the profusion of ornament with which the roof is adorned, the clustered columns of carved and florid lightness, and the funereal emblems on all sides. The rays of the sun come mellowed through the brilliant colours of the painted windows, and the soft twilight in which every object is wrapped, is more favourable to de votion than the glare of open day. In walking through the aisles, the impression of grace and airiness which is first excited, gradually yields to an awful feeling of religious emotion, a sentiment of human immortality which befits a temple consecrated to spiritual faith. Around, on every side, lie in undisturbed repose, the ashes of those who were once pregnant

with celestial fire,” under that splendid roof which covers the tombs of kings, and witnessed the infant dawn of the English people. Under foot, the stones on which you tread are covered with dim traces of warlike forms, chieftains with their hands piously pressed together in supplication upon the breast, and their virtues sculptured above their resting places. You feel that you are but a visiter amidst this gloomy congregation, and you step with caution over the marble pavement, which answers with a prophetic echo to the living tread, and whispers your intrusion along the walls, and through the awful caves of death. In examining the

renown.

sepulchres, figures carved in relief, and the emblems of " vaulting ambition" which crowd the passages, you learn to distinguish lasting greatness from the painted foppery of false

The mob of kings and princes, lost in the oblivious shades of ages, leaves naked and exposed to the pure and splendid rays of immortality, the busts of men who were their subjects. Death opens the gate of fame (says Sterne,) and shuts the gate of envy after itit unlooses the chain of the captive, and puts the bondsman's task into another man's hands.

The interior of Henry VII.'s chapel, is a composition which soars so far above human excellence, that it appears to have been “knitted together by the fingers of angels, pursuant to the direction of Omnipotence.

The lofty ceiling is wrought in figures with such exquisite fineness; the rich tracery of its clustered roof, and the leafy beauty of its foliage, are sculptured in such a masterly style, that the whole looks as if adorned with a profusion of embroidery. Stone seems, by the cunning labour of the chisel, (says Irving,) to have been robbed of its weight and density, suspended aloft, as if by magic, and the fretted roof achieved with the wonderful minuteness and airy security of a cob-web. In this chapel are the stalls of the Knights of the Bath, richly carved in oak, and their banners emblazoned with armorial bearings. There are 52 of these trophies; the space for that of Lord Cochrane, who was degraded from his rank of knight, is

« PreviousContinue »