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upon the Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain; found, publishers to engage with him in it upon his own views,-and in the course of nine years produced the most beautiful work of its kind that had ever till then appeared. That work led to his Chronological and Historical Illustrations of the Ancient Ecclesiastical Architecture of Great Britain, and to his series of Cathedral Histories, eight of which have now been published, and which is still in progress.
When Browne Willis published his Survey of the Cathedrals, the arts of design and engraving were in a low state in this country; France and Holland at that time greatly excelling us in both. In his days it would have been thought impossible that the graver should be able to represent the picturesque forms and effects of such edifices, so as to convey no inadequate representation of the place, and something even of the feeling which the church itself would impress. Even in a later generation, when the task of delineating the ruined castles and religious houses in this kingdom was undertaken by Grose, mere fidelity was all that was attempted in his delineations. The surprizing improvement which has been made in both these arts could not be more strikingly exemplified than by a comparison of those works with the corresponding ones of Mr. Britton, in which the designs are as much more faithful as they are more beautiful, (so far have the artists been from sacrificing exactitude to picturesqueness,) and the engravers have shown that the utmost strength and richness of effect are compatible with the utmost precision and minutest accuracy. This is not said for the purpose of depreciating men whose meritorious labours have well entitled them to our gratitude; and one of whom has preserved for us the forms of very many interesting objects, which, in the short lapse of less than half a century, time has in some instances sådly injured, and in others totally destroyed. In many cases their destruction has been accelerated by that brutal temper which chooses to exercise the right of property in defiance and contempt of public feeling. Within the memory of man part of the most venerable pile of ruins in this island has been pulled down for the worthy object of employing the materials in mending the turnpike road! In another place it was thought cheaper to erect some new buildings with the spoils of a ruined castle, than to purchase stones for them from the quarry. One of the walls of the castle was therefore thrown down, and there it lies at this day, the cement having been found so firm as effectually to disappoint the perpetrators of this mischief.
Mr. Britton, in the Preface to the Cathedrals, compares the feelings of an author upon commencing and concluding a great
work, such as the one which he has undertaken, with those of an architect upon laying the foundation of a great edifice, and upon seeing it completed. Should it be a mournful or a consolatory thought that the book may easily outlast the building ? He has seen a notable exemplification of this in his own account of Fonthill Abbey; before it had been published three years down fell Vathek's Tower. But we were thinking of structures which cannot so well be spared. Since the commencement of the present century Westminster Abbey has been endangered by fire, and the cathedral at Rouen seriously injured by the same cause. The most remarkable church in Portugal, as connected with the history and antiquities of that kingdom, has been burnt by the French, under special orders from their commander Massena, when he was determined to inflict every evil in his power upon a people whom he was unable to subdue. Many other churches and convents were destroyed by the same spirit of ferocious barbarity in Spain, and among others the monastery of S. Juan de la Pena, which was the burial-place of the kings of Navarre. In our own country, where, by God's blessing, we have been so long preserved from all the immediate calamities and devastations of war, time is making itself felt by these venerable monuments of former
ages, and what time has spared has in some cases been destroyed by presumptuous alterations. It cannot but be regretted,' Mr. Britton says, that these national objects are fast mouldering
, * away, or so much changed by modern innovations, that in many instances their original features can scarcely be ascertained.'
Few poetical conceits have made their fortune so well as Joachim de Bellay's upon the Tiber and the ruins of Rome:
Rome de Rome est le seul monument,
Et Rome Rome a veincu seulement.
Le Tybre seul, qui vers la mer s'enfuit,
Ce qui est ferme, est par le temps destruit,
Et ce qui fuit, au temps fait resistance.' It has been better expressed by Spenser* in English, and by Quevedot in Spanish, than it is in the original. A greater poet than Bellay might have been proud of two such translators. The conceit would hardly have been thus popular, unless it had sprung from a feeling so natural that all must recognize it in themselves. Man himself is not more short-lived when compared with some * Rome now of Rome is the only funerall
, † Solo el Tybre quedò, cuya corriente, And only Rome of Rome hath victory; Si Ciudad la regò, ya sepulturu Ne ought save Tyber, hastening to his fall, La llora con funesto son doliente. Remains of all. O world's inconstancy ! O Roma en tu grandeza, en tu hermosura, That which is firm doth Ait and fall away, Huiò lo que eru firme, y solamente And that is Aitting doth abide and stay. Lo fugitivo permanece, y dura.'
of his own material works, than the most durable of those works are in comparison with the great features of nature - which, perishable as they themselves are, assume nevertheless a character of duration and even permanency, when measured by the short span of our mortal existence, or by the oldest and proudest monuments of human power. To how many casualties are those monuments liable! The lightning shatters, and the earthquake overthrows them. Lightning sets a cathedral in flames: or the same catastrophe is produced by a plumber's kettle, or a heap of shavings, the carelessness of a base workman, or the villainy of an incendiary when actuated by mere malignity, or seeking an opportunity of plunder. In the wars of former ages such edifices, even when not held sacred, were safe from any other injury than might be inflicted in forcing their doors; but bombs and rockets are not discriminative; and in the employment of these dreadful means, injury is done which the very besiegers regret after their success, and even at the time would gladly not have committed, had it been in their power to choose.
But a worse danger than that of foreign war, or of all other injuries whether arising from natural or accidental causes, is from the madness of the people. When the idolatry of the Romish church, and the impudent impostures of the Romish clergy provoked the reformation, the reformers, on the first eruption of their zeal, contented themselves with demolishing the images and shrines which were the objects of superstitious veneration. The impulse which hurried them to this storm-beeldery, as the Flemings, among whom it began at Ypres, call this iconoclasm of the sixteenth century, was purely zealous, and the demolition proceeded no farther. Other passions soon mingled themselves with zealother purposes were covered under its semblance, and thus, with
pretext of doing the Lord's work, that havoc was committed which did so much serious injury to the Protestant cause, and entailed upon it the undeserved reproach of having produced excesses and crimes, for which it only afforded the occasion. Fearful proof has been given in our own days how easily that disposition for destruction and sacrilegious plunder may be excited among the multitude, even in countries which are apparently the least prepared for it. It is but to cross the Channel, and we may see ruins at St. Omers which shall induce more melancholy thoughts than the sight of Melrose or Malmsbury, for this devastation was the work of yesterday; and however the spirit which produced it may seem to be allayed in France, it is strong in other parts, where its operations may affect us more nearly. Throughout that country, and throughout the Catholic Netherlands, where certainly the Romish religion has the strongest hold upon the
people, that spirit found nothing to impede its free course during the first years of the French Revolution. The traveller may now look in vain for the Chapel of the Sangreal at Bruges, for the Cathedral Church of St. Lambert at Liege, and for those religious houses in the Low Countries, whose names occur so frequently in the history of the middle ages. The monasteries which formerly adorned the banks of the Rhine, now, with the unsightliness of violent, recent, and naked ruins, deform the scene which they once embellished. Sculptured fragments from demolished churches and convents are in many places to be seen by the wayside; in others, elaborate tombstones have been laid down as pavement in the streets, or converted into tables in public pleasuregardens! If Mabillon and his followers had delayed their searches half a century, the invaluable records which they collected would have perished with the buildings wherein they were preserved. It is now too late to wish that artists as well as antiquaries had been employed in those most useful missions, and that edifices of such importance in the history of civilization and of the general church, had been preserved in such delineations as those which are now lying before us of the English cathedrals.
In a survey of our cathedrals the arrangement must needs be arbitrary, for there would be as little advantage in chronological as in alphabetical order. It was, therefore, reason enough for beginning with Salisbury that Mr. Britton was a Wiltshire man. The history of any one will show how many interesting and important circumstances have occurred in relation with these venerable structures, and as Salisbury comes first in this beautiful series, we will take Salisbury for our example. As in the first ages of Christianity among the Anglo-Saxons,
. the limits of a parish were those of the estate in which the church was founded and endowed, so the dioceses were of the same extent as the respective kingdoms of the Heptarchy: and in the frequent changes to which those petty and turbulent states were liable, the title and privileges of royalty seem to have been assumed by any chieftain who had a cathedral in his dominions. Winchester was the original see among the West Saxons : this was divided and subdivided, and Wiltshire is believed to have been included in the diocese of Sherbourne for some two centuries, when, in pursuance of Alfred's intentions for restoring order in ecclesiastical affairs, a synod was held under Edward the Elder; and the two bishoprics of Dorchester (in Oxfordshire) and Sherbourne were divided into five. One of these was for Wiltshire: the seat of the bishop was unsettled, and is said to have been alternately at Wilton, Sunning, and Ramsbury, near Marlborough. The savage Odo, who bears so conspicuous a part in the
tragedy of Edwy and Elgiva, held the see while it was in this state, before he was promoted to Canterbury. Herman de Lotharingia would have removed the episcopal seat from Wilton to Malmsbury. Edward the Confessor consented to this, which indeed appears to have been a fitting measure; the monks of Malmsbury, however, were not disposed to be under any episcopal govern
Earl Godwin, for weighty reasons it may be suspected, exerted his all-commanding influence in their behalf, and Herman retired in disgust to St. Bertin's monastery at St. Omers, which was during many ages the general asylum for all disgraced or turbulent English prelates. Here, whether from pious or politic motives, he took the habit himself, and being thus connected with the powerful body against which he had found how difficult it was to contend, he returned to England, and was instrumental in two great changes; one was the union of his diocese with that of Sherbourne, the other was the removal of the combined sees to Sarum.
This was done in pursuance of a canon made with Lanfranc's authority in the ninth year of the Conqueror's reign. And at Sarum, Herman began a cathedral, which was completed by his successor Osmond, for the salvation of the souls of King William and his queen Matilda; of his son William, king of the English, and also (he says in the charter) for the salvation of his own soul.? Osmond, who was Count of Seez in Normandy, had accompanied William the Conqueror in his invasion, and partaking largely of the spoils of England, had been made Earl of Dorset, and held the high office of chancellor. Normandy, also, it is said, was at one time chietly governed by his authority and advice. Romish writers represent him as flying naked out of Egypt, carrying with him nothing of its desires or spirit into the sanctuary, choosing to become poor in the house of the Lord ; and as being forced from his beloved obscurity and solitude to take the bishopric of Saruin. Naked, however, he had not retired, for he retained his ample possessions; and it is probable that his being appointed to the see was in accordance with his own wishes and intentions, that he might be in a situation to dispose of them with the best effect according to his heart's desire, and exercise his talents with the advantage of authority in the church as he had heretofore employed them in the service of the state. He completed the church which his predecessor had begun, and endowed the see with those ample estates which had fallen to his share in the conquest. He collected thither men of learning from all parts, and retained as well as invited them by his liberality. He formed a library, such as libraries then were, and enriched it literally with the works of his own hands, transcribing books for it, and binding them himself.