« AnteriorContinuar »
The accuracy of the ear gives to blind persons a very great advantage in music; they depend entirely upon it; and hence they harmonize so well together, and keep such perfect accord in time, that Paganini, after listening to some pieces performed by pupils of the Institution for the Blind in Paris, declared that he never before had an adequate notion of what harmony was.
The touch is capable of being equally perfected, and many remarkable instances are given of this. Saunderson *, the blind Professor of Mathematics in the University of Cambridge, became such a connoisseur of ancient coins, that he could detect the modern counterfeits, even when good eyes were puzzled about them. There lived a few years ago a blind man in Austria, who executed very good busts by feeling the faces of persons, and imitating them; and there is now a bust of the late Emperor, executed by this blind man, and preserved in the Museum in Vienna, which is considered a very good likeness. Persons who have witnessed exhibitions at the Institutions for the blind, have been surprised at the ease with which they can read books printed in raised letters, by passing the fingers rapidly over them: this, however, is by no means so extraordinary as many other instances which are notorious, though not well understood. A blind man, for instance, when walking in a perfect calm, can ascertain the proximity of objects by the feeling of the atmosphere upon his face; it would seem at first that the echo given back, were it only from his breathing, might be sensible to his ear; but we have ascertained by experiment, that a blind man with his ears stopped, could tell when any large object was close to his face, even when it was approached so slowly as not to cause any sensible current of air.
It is a common supposition that the blind can distinguish colours, but after much research we are convinced that this is impossible; all the blind, whom we have consulted on the subject, have replied that they had no such power, and they did not believe that any blind person ever had it. Indeed, what tangible quality can there be in a substance so ethereal, that it passes unobstructed through dense glass? There was an instance of a girl in England, who was generally believed to have this power; and the trials and tests which she successfully underwent somewhat puzzled us, until an explanation of the difficulty offered itself in the chemical properties of the different coloured rays of light. She could ascertain the colours of different pieces of cloth by applying them to her lips in succession; and she must have learned that some colours radiate heat more rapidly than others, so that she could tell white from black by the different degree of warmth which it imparted to her lips. This is, perhaps, one of the most extraordinary instances of nicety of touch which can be quoted. The same girl used to astonish incredulous visiters by reading the large letters of the maker's name, written in their hats, while they held them behind her back.
[North American Review.1
• Nicholas Saunderson was born in 1682, and died in 1739. He lost his sight by the small-pox when only a year old. Having shown considerable talent as a boy, he was sent to Cambridge, where he pursued his studies with such advantage, that he became a lecturer, and was afterwards chosen Professor of Mathematics in that University.
Life consists not of a series of illustrious actions, the greater part of our time passes in compliance with necessities, in the performance of daily duties, in the removal of small inconveniences, in the procurement of petty pleasures, and we are well or ill at ease, as the main stream oflife glides on smoothly, or is ruffled by small, or frequent interruptions.—Johnson.
LINES ADDRESSED TO A FRIEND ON HIS BIRTH-DAY.
[from An Arabian Poet.]
The beautiful thought, contained in this poem, has been well ex-
With smiles their joy contest:
And thou in smiles be drest.
Sir William Jones's.
The modest deportment of really wise men, when con trasted with the assuming air of the young and ignorant, may be compared to the different appearance of wheat, which, while its ear is empty, holds up its head proudly, but as soon as it is filled with grain, bends modestly down, and withdraws from observation.
Whoso him bethought,
Inwardly and oft,
How sore it were, to flit
From life into the pit,
From pit into pain
Which ne'er shall cease again,
He would not do one sin,
All the world to win. Old Epitaph.
Op all sights which can soften and humanize the heart of man, there is none that ought so surely to reach it as that of innocent children, enjoying the happiness which is their proper and natural portion. Southky.
To live holily is the way to die safely, happily. If death bo terrible, yet innocence is bold, and will neither fear itself nor let us fear; where, contrariwise, wickedness is cowardly, and cannot abide any glimpse of light, or show of danger.—Bishop Hall.
Uninterrupted happiness is not, nor never will he, the lot of man. It is only to be found in another, and a better world, and therefore it is that pain, mental as well as bodily, is, if not constantly, at least very generally, the companion of our journey through this life. Pain is often, in fact, the medium through which we become purified, and prepared for an infinitely higher state of being, of whose faculties, and powers of enjoyment, we can form now but a very in adequate idea.
Can any man be faithful in much, that is faithless in a little ?—Jeremy Taylor.
Where there is the most love of God, there will be there the truest and most enlarged philanthropy. Southey.
Let us not so much solicit God for any temporal advantage, as for a heart that may fit us for it, and that He would be the chooser as well as the giver of our portion in this world, for he is alone able to suit and sanctify our condition to us, and us to our condition.—South.
Who is the honest man? He that doth still and strongly good pursue, To God, his neighbour, and himself most true;
Whom neither force nor fawning can
Whom none can work nor woo,
His words and works and fashion too,
THE CYrERCS FAPYBUI.
The Papyrus Plant, the Cyperus Papyrus, according to Champollion, has ceased to grow in Egypt; [but in this he is evidently mistaken.] The ancient Arabs called it herd; it grew principally in marshy places, and its culture was a source of riches for the inhabitants of the borders of the ancient lakes of Bourlos, and of Menzaleh, or Termis. The Baroness Minutoli says that it is to be met with in the environs of Damietta, and on the banks of the lake Menzaleh. It is, however, exceedingly scarce. M. Savary states, that it is only to be met with about Damietta and the lake Menzaleh, and observes that all travellers who have not visited this part of Egypt, make no mention of the plant. This author quotes from Strabo, who calls it biblos, and says that it is indigenous to Lower Egypt; he describes it very clearly, and alludes to a restriction of its growth to particular places. It grows abundantly in Syracuse, and Captain Smyth has figured it, and described it with great precision. It floats as it grows; the principal root runs horizontally near the surface of the water, and throws out long filaments, which descend perpendicularly downwards, whilst numerous triangular green stems shoot upwards, eight or ten feet, and bear, on the crown, a fibrous tuft of fine filaments, which, near their extremities, are again subdivided into others, leaving small seedy flowerets. This plant is supposed to have been sent from Egypt by Ptolemy Philadelphus, as a present to Hiero.
Paper is supposed to have been made of the yellow pellicle that surrounds the stem near the root; but Captain Smyth was more successful, by following the directions of Pliny, with the cellular substance of the whole stem cut thin, and the slices laid over each other transversely at right angles, and well pressed.
The ancients extracted sugar from this plant, and made cordage and canvass of its fibres. It served as a medicine for the sick, as an article of food, and also for fuel. The monopoly of this useful plant by the government of Egypt, alluded to by Strabo, probably occasioned its scarcity. M. de Sacy, quoting from an Arabic writer, whose MS. is in the Imperial Library, states that the Egyptians wrote on the paper of Egypt, and that it was made from a reed called berdi. Joseph is said to have been the first fabricator of this paper. The Greeks wrote upon silk, parchment, and other substances, and also on the paper of Egypt. Pliny gives a very full description of the mode of preparing the paper from the Papyrus plant. He says, the stem of the plant is divided with a kind of needle into thin plates, or slender pellicles, each of them as large as the plant will admit. These form the elements of which the sheets of paper are composed. The pellicles in the centre are the best, and they diminish in value as they depart from it. As they were separated from the reed, they were extended on a table, and laid across each other at right angles. In this state they were moistened by the water of the Nile, and while wet were put under a press, and afterwards exposed to the rays of the sun. The water of the Nile was said to have a gummy quality, sufficient to make the layers of the plant adhere to each other; but Mr. Bruce has shown, that the plant itself is adequate to this, from the quantity of saccharine matter it contains, and that the water of the Nile does not, in any degree, possess this property. Sometimes, however, perhaps when the plant did not contain a sufficient portion of sugar, a kind of paste made of wheatflour was used for this purpose. The size of the paper seldom exceeded two feet, and it was frequently much less. Mr. Bruce made paper of the plant, which he saw growing in Egypt and Abyssinia. The plant must formerly have -been very abundant, for Cassiodorus speaks of it as forming a forest on the banks of the Nile. "There," says he, "rises to the view this forest without branches, this thicket without leaves, this harvest of the waters, this ornament of the marshes." Prosper Alpinus and Guilandin, both saw it about two centuries since, and the latter remarks, that the inferior and succulent part of it was eaten by the common people.
The Egyptian paper was manufactured principally at Alexandria, but also at Memphis and other Egyptian cities. At the close of the third century, the traffic in paper was very flourishing, and it continued until the fifth century, for St. Jerome says it was much in use during his time, although a very high impost was put upon it. This impost was abolished by Theodoric, King of Italy, in the sixth century, upon which Cassiodorus wrote a letter, in which he congratulates the whole world on the removal of the impost from an article of traffic so essential to the convenience and improvement of mankind, and to the cultivation and prosperity of the arts, science, and commerce.
[PETTiGnEw's History of Mtimmiei]
If men have been termed pilgrims, and life a journey, then we may add, that the Christian pilgrimage far sur passes all others, in the following important particulars in the goodness of the road, in the beauty of the prospects, in the excellence of the company, and in the vast supe riority of the accommodation provided for the Christian traveller, when he has finished his course. C.
PUBLIIUED lHWciKLY NUMBER*, P1UCE Okb I'fNKY, AND I.N M uNTHI.Y 1'ABTt,
ruici Sixpxirci, And
UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION, APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
HISTORY OF THE ABBEY. To none of our national monuments belongs a higher degree of interest and veneration than to Westminster Abbey. Wonderful for the splendour of its architectural beauties, it makes a far stronger appeal to our feelings, as the mausoleum of many of England's noblest sons, and as the sacred repository of those memorials of former ages, on which the mind rests with the deepest and most lasting delight.
The origin of this magnificent edifice is traced to a very remote period. According to several learned antiquaries, and the general voice of tradition, it was founded by Sebert, king of the East Saxons: but this opinion has been controverted, and the middle of the eighth century is assigned as the more probable date of its origin. Under the celeUatod Dunstan, however, the originally humble monastery, whenever founded, rose into importance, and received from the crow ;i many and valuable grants, both of money and land. Edward the Confessor afforded it a still more splendid patronage; which he was induced to exercise at the instigation of the Roman Pontiff, and in orderto free himself from the perilous vow he had taken to perform a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. But the monkish historians, add, that he was induced to fix on the Abbey as the object of his bounty, at the express command of Saint Peter, who, it is said, appeared to him in person, and declaring that he had anciently consecrated it by miracles, directed it to be now so richly adorned and endowed, that its appellation might properly be the House of God, and the Gate of Heaven.
It was in the reign of Edward that ecclesiastical architecture in this country made its first great advance towards improvement. The churches o. this period are described as built sometimes in the form of a cross, at others in that of a circle; and as having a high altar, so constructed, as to represeut the four quarters of the world, and fitted with an aperture, afterwards carefully closed up, through which were deposited the relics of some famous martyr or confessor. On this altar was placed the Pix, or box containing the Host; and projecting over it was a rich canopy of carved work, which jutted out from the screen behind, and usually exhibited the best efforts of cotemporary art. At the entrance of the chancel, or stretching across the nave, were galleries called woodlofts, which were set apart for the use of the minstrels, and displayed in their construction a profusion of paintings, gilded ornaments, and images. The choir was furnished with sparkling chandeliers, and candelabra in the shape of trees: while on the occasion of any solemn festival, the walls were decorated with beautifully embroidered tapestry, and whatever else could add to the magnificence and effect of the ceremony. As the wealth thus gathered together in these highly-adorned buildings was often immense, it was deemed necessary to appoint persons to keep watch against the attempts of violence and dishonesty, which even in those days of devotion did not always fear to commit the crime of sacrilege. The men appointed to this office were called searchers, and were allowed an apartment in the church, and meat and drink, which tney received in a chamber named the wooden-room, whither they retired for their evening meal, after the tolling of the great bell, and just before they commenced the search for the night. Already, also, had the practice become common of adding several little chapels to the main building, which, though dedicated to different saints, had all of them the general name of Lady Chapels. They were not without their use. If any one found himself too late for the service of the day, they were open to him, and he might there join in the general devotions, without having ventured to disturb the decorum of the congregation. There also the sick might take their part in the service without fatigue; and the stranger who arrived from afar, and wished hot to appear before his brethren in the worn and dusty garment of the traveller.
Edward nobly fulfilled the conditions of the compromise, Dy which he escaped the danger of leaving his kingdom, to take a long journey into the remote countries of the East. A tenth part of his wealth was employed in the building of the new edifke, and its grandeur and extent are described as proportionable to the sum expended in its erection, it continued to Increase in magnificence through several succeeding reigns j and in 1162, the Abbot
Laurentius assumed the mitre, the special sign of power and rank granted to the heads of the large and wealthy monasteries, which were so rapidly multiplied in all parts of Christendom. Henry the Third, in 1220, laid the foundations of extensive additions to the church; and soon after it was decided, that the monastery was not to be regarded as under Episcopal jurisdiction. The repair, or rather the rebuilding of the edifice, was carried on for several years, and Henry continued to make new grants in favour of the monks, till the citizens of London, finding their own privileges invaded thereby, began formally to resist his designs. But in October, 1269, the new buildings were opened for public worship, and the remains of Edward the Confessor were removed with the most splendid cere monies from the side of the choir where they had been deposited, to the magnificent shrine prepared for them at the back of the high altar.
At this period, the Abbey was regarded as a safe sanctuary from the violence of the powerful, and to injure any one who had fled to its altars for security, was to bring upon the offender's head the heaviest anathemas of the church, and the worst punishment that the law could inflict. It was hither that the unfortunate queen of Edward the Fourth fled, when Richard the Third, then Duke of Gloucester, was making preparations for seizing on the crown of his youthful nephew. The agonized mother entered the sanctuary with her five daughters, and the young Duke of York; her other son, the king, being already in the hands of Richard and his party. In the course of the uight she was visited by the Archbishop of York and the Chancellor; but her fears were not to be calmed by the false hopes of safety which they vainly endeavoured to create. "The queen," says Sir Thomas More, in his history of these events, "sate low on the rushes, all desolate and dismayed, whom the Archbishop comforted in the best manner he could, showing her that he trusted the matter was nothing so sore as she took it for, and that he was in good hope, and out of fear, by a message sent him by the Lord Chamberlain Hastings. 'Ah woe worth him,' quoth she, 'for he is one of them that laboureth to destroy me and my blood.' 'Madam,' quoth he, ' he ye of good cheer, for I assure you, if they crown any other king than your son, whom they now have with them, we shall on the morrow crown his brother, whom you have here with you. And here is the great seal, which, in likewise as that noble prince your husband delivered it unto me, so here I deliver it unto you, to the use and behoof of your son.' And therewith he betook her the great seal, and departed home again, yet in the dawning of the day: by which time, he might in his chamber window see all the Thames full of boats, of the Duke of Gloucester's servants, watching that no man should go to sanctuary."
The profound reverence which was entertained for the Abbey as a sanctuary, is strikingly shown by what Sir Thomas More records of the debates which took place respecting the removal of the young Duke of York. "It would be a thing that would turn to the great grudge of all men," said the dignified ecclesiastics present in the Council Chamber, "and to the high displeasure of God, if the privilege of that holy place should now be broken, which had so many years been kept; which both kings and popes had granted, so many had confirmed, and which holy ground was, more than five hundred years ago, so specially hallowed and dedicated to God, that from that time hitherward, was there never so undevout a king that durst that sacred place violate, or so holy a bishop that durst it presume to consecrate. And therefore, quoth, the archbishop, God forbid, that any man should, for any thing earthly, enterprise to break the immunity and liberty of the sacred sanctuary, that hath been the safeguard of so many a good man's life."
In the month of January, 1502, Henry the Seventh laid the first stone of the superb chapel, called after his name; and the Abbey received from the same monarch grants of numerous estates in different parts of the country, which increased its wealth in proportion to the increase of its magnificence. But a very important change was on the point of taking place in the state and constitution of this superb monastic establishment. Henry the Eighth, after having shaken off the last remnant of Papal domination came to the resolution of dissolving the numerous convents, and other religious institutions of that kind which existed in all parts of the kingdom, and were the great fortresses of Roman superstition. On the 16th of January, 1539, this determination was carried into effect with respect to Westminster Abbey, and the Abbot, William Boston, with twenty-four of the monks, signed an instrument, by which they formally resigned it, with all its rights, revenues, and possessions, into the hands of the monarch. It had then existed for more than nine hundred years, and in a state of greater independence than most other religious establishments. Its revenues, which, at the time of its dissolution, amounted to near four thousand pounds per annum, had been the gift of the most pious and renowned men of the kingdom; and many of the most ardent advocates for Protestant reform were, doubtlessly, little inclined to see so noble a sanctuary stripped of its rightful possessions by the rude hand of power. King Henry felt that this must be the case; and the Abbey of Westminster was converted into an Episcopal See, governed by a bishop, a dean, and twelve prebendaries. The new diocese thus formed, consisted of the whole county of Middlesex, with the exception of the parish of Fulham. The Abbey church was called a cathedral, and the abbot's house became a palace for the bishop. But this arrangement was of brief duration.
In March, 1550, the See was dissolved by order of the crown, and the diocese again became part of that of London. The Abbey, however, was allowed to retain the rank of a cathedral, and the dean and chapter were left in peaceable possession of the privileges and revenues which belonged to them as a body independent of the dissolved diocese.
Queen Mary restored it to its ancient condition, and the Abbot of Westminster sat in the first Parliament of Elizabeth; but that princess once more dissolved the monastery, and established the church under a rule similar to that instituted by Henry the Eighth. Soon after this an attempt was made to deprive it of the privileges which it possessed as a sanctuary; the attempt, however, did not succeed, and it continued for some time longer to retain this last vestige of its original grandeur.
In the year 1620, when Dr. Williams was promoted to the Deanery, the church is said to have been in such a state of decay, 'that all that passed by, and loved the honour of God's house, shook their heads at the stones that dropped down from the pinnacles.' Bishop Hacket, who thus speaks of the dilapidated condition of the structure, further adds, in the figurative language of his age and profession;—" Therefore, that the ruins of it might be no more a reproach, this godly Jehoiada took care for the temple of the Lord to repair it, to set it in state, and to strengthen it. He began at the south-east part, which looked the more deformed with decay, because it was coupled with a later building, the chapel of King Henry the Seventh, which was light and fresh. The north-west part, also, which looks to the great sanctuary, was far gone in dilapidations; the great buttresses, which were almost crumbled to dust with the injuries of the weather, he re-edified with durable materials, and beautified with elegant statues, so that £4500 were expended in a trice upon the workmanship. All this was at his own cost; neither would he unpatromze his name to the credit of that work which should be raised up by other men's liberality."
By the munificence of this venerable patron, the Abbey was not only repaired, but was provided with everv thing necessary to give efficacy to the services performed under its roof. "That God might be praised with a cheerful noise in this sanctuary, he procured," says Bishop Hacket, "the sweetest music, both for the organ and for the voices of all parts that ever was heard in an English quire. In those days, that Abbey and Jerusalem Chamber, where he gave entertainment to his friends, were the votaries of the choicest singers that the land had bred. The greatest masters of that delightful faculty frequented him above all others, and were never nice to serve him; and some of the most famous yet living will confess, he was never nice to reward them: a lover could not court his mistress with more prodigal effusion of gifts." A still more valuable mark of the Dean's liberality was shown in the formation of a library, which, says his biographer, " he modelled into decent shape, furnished it with desks and chairs, accoutred it with all utensils, and stored it with a vast number of learned volumes." He also added to the number of scholars in the school, which owed its foundation to Queen Elizabeth, and ordered that his should wear violettoloured gowns, to distinguish them from the rest.
On the triumph gained by the Puritans over the unfor tunate Charles the First, the usual services of the Church were discontinued, and seven preachers were nppointed, who were allowed a certain stipend out of the revenues of the Abbey, and the houses of the Prebends for their resi dence. But, at the Restoration, means were immediately taken to put the establishment on its original footing, and it has since suffered no reverses of fortune from political causes.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, a grant for its repair was made by the House of Commons, and Sir Christopher Wren received the charge of conducting the meditated improvements. They were extensive an^ important; but, in 1803, the whole structure was endangered by the breaking out of a fire, which originating in the roof of the lantern, through the carelessness of the plumbers who were repairing the leads, threatened every instant to seize upon the timbers which form the four great roof's of the building; but the conflagration was happily got under before so fatal an injury could take place. The Dean and Chapter immediately supplied the sum (£3500) necessary for the complete restoration of the edifice to its former beauty. Soon after the repairs of the main body of the building were completed. Parliament made a grant for the repair of Henry the Seventh's Chapel; and to the skill and laborious attention employed in these works, England may ascribe the still existing splendour of this ancient and magnificent structure.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ABBEY.
A Latin Cross, the favourite form in early times, marks the general outline of this wonderful structure; hut the Cloisters, and numerous Chapels added to the main building, take greatly from the original simplicity of the plan. The west front is formed of the entrance-porch, stretching far inward, and vaulted, and two square towers, 225 feet high. Shields, and other sculptural ornaments, a magnificent central window, and the windows of the towers, throw an air of splendour over this front; but architects discover in it faults which can be defended by no rule of their art; and Sir Christopher Wren, to whom the charge of conducting its repair was intrusted by the Government, is accused of having greatly erred, by attempting to blend with the Gothic the dissimilar style of Grecian architecture.
The north side of the church presents a long line of turretted buttresses, noble pointed arched windows, ornamented with all the minute elegance of early art, and some statues, which are said to be those of the venerable Abbot Islip, of James the First, Edward tie Confessor, and Henry the Third. Of the north transept, the historians of the Abbey speak with sentiments of the highest interest. It was, armrdine to general opinion, for several hundred years, the chief entrance, ana oeneath its solemn shadows, therefore, passed the most magnificent displays of ecclesiastical pomp. An anonymous writer, whose work appeared about 120 years back, thus describes the appearance of the front elevation of this transept in his time.
"On the north side," says he, •■ this noble and lofty fabric is much delormed and defaced, partly by the many close adjacent buildings, but much more by the north winds, which, driving the corroding and piercing smoke of the seacoals from the city that way, have so impaired and changed her former beauties, that the remnants thereof are scarce sufficient to convince you of her excellency in former ages; were it not that that admirable Portico, which is on this side, did give you some undeniable idea of her ancient greatness. This portico has a most noble dooi, or portal, which leads you into the cross of the church, with two lesser porches on each side, one of which serves ter the conveniencv of entering therein. Its remnaLts, or ru.na, sufficiently speak what a curious piece ttis portico has been in former times; for lie,'' were the statues of the twelve apostles at full length, with a vast number of other saints and martyrs, intermixed with intaglios, devices, and abundance of fret-work, to add to the beauty thereof, but all much defaced and worn out by time, and the corroding vapours of the sea-coals; and it is, doubtless, owing to its excellency, that some, in former ages, have bestowed upon it the title of Solomon's Porch; judging that a piece of work, far surpassing any thing of that kind in those days, might very well challenge an uncommon name. The very remnants which are obvious to our sight, even to this day, may soon convince us of its ancient beauty and magnificence; fox this portico still retains entire, below, two of