صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

THOUGHT'S ON VISITING THE ABBEY.

89

and the virtuous—a place of which we have read and thought from childhood, and around which so many bright recollections cluster — what marvel if hours on hours steal away, ere we wake from the strong illusion.*

[ocr errors][merged small]

Olv structure! Round thy solid form Oh ! how the pageants rise, and swim, Have heaved the crowd, and swept the And vanish round my vision dim ! storm,

I see the solemn funeral train, And centuries roll'd their tide; That bears a monarch to his tomb; Yet still thou standest firmly there, The tall plumes waving thro' the gloom, Thy gray old turrets stern and bare, The mournful requiem train. The grave of human pride.

The priest's low chant, the mutter'd Erect, immovable, sublime,

prayer, As when thou soared'st in thy prime, The tread of warriors, all are there; On the bold Saxon's sight;

And high above, the toll Thou holdest England's proudest dead, Of the deep bell, whose heavy knell From him who there first laid his head, Blends with the organ's mighty swell, “The royal anchorite,"

O'er the departed soul.

To her long call’d the Virgin Queen, 'Tis gone! and thro' the portals wide (And oh! what heroes passed between) Comes rolling in a living tide ; Who, with a might her own,

And bark! far echoed out, The kingdom's sceptre sway’d, and threw Whence comes that high and deafenA glory, and a shadow too,

ing peal, Around her fearful throne.

Till e'en these steadfast turrets reel?

It is a nation's shout. Mysterious form, thy old gray

wall Has seen successive kingdoms fall, Oh ! how the gorgeous, proud array And felt the mighty beat

Is pressing through the crowded way, Of time's deep flood, as thrones, and kings, With drum and trumpet tone ! And crowns, and all earth’s proudest But who now halts within the door ? things,

A monarch's foot is on the floor, It scatter'd at thy feet.

His eye upon a throne.

And now, as 'neath this arch I stand,
I seem upon the earth's wide strand,

And round about me cast,
Upon the dark and silent shore,
The richest freights it ever bore,

The glory of the past.

His lip is wreathing in a smile,
As, passing down the foot-worn aisle,

The banners droop around him;
But oh! his thoughts are not on those
Who hail him as he proudly goes

To where the lordly crown him.

90

NIGHT COMING OVER THE ABBEY.

XXXIII.

The day had passed away as a night of rich dreams goes by,

and around the walls, until the evening light began to stream in more and more feebly through the lofty stained windows, and a deeper gloom settled upon every part of the Abbey. And when increasing darkness had spread through all the cloisters, chapels, and passages a more solemn and mysterious gloom, I could not but ask, what is night, deep, dark night-without moon, star or taper-around these silent poets, barons, priests, sages, heroes and kings !

Is never a sigh heard to come forth from these damp tombs ?

His heart in this exciting hour,

One arch gives ample room Doth dream exultingly of power For whom an empire was too small,

The given crown shall bring; Proud rival hearts ! and is this all ? And triumph sits within that eye, A narrow, silent tomb ! As, thundering round him, wild and high,

Here, too, are slumbering side by side, Resounds, “God save the king ” Like brother-warriors true and tried,

Two stern and haughty foes: 'Tis vanish'd !“ like a morning cloud”— Their stormy hearts are still—the The throne, the king, the shouting tongue, crowd,

On which enraptured thousands hung, And here I stand alone;

Is hush'd in long repose.
And like the ocean's solemn roar
Upon some distant, desert shore, I see the poet's broken lyre,
A low, perpetual moan,

O’er which were utter'd words of fire;

The hero's sbiver'd sword; I seem to hear the steady beat The sage's tomes ; the wreath of fame Of century-waves, around

All drifting to the dark inane, As generations vast

And no returning word. Are borne unto the dim-seen strand Of that untrodden, silent land, Old Abbey ! on my thoughtful heart, That covers all the past.

A lesson that shall ne'er depart,

Thy silent walls have left; I'm with the dead; and at my feet And now, more wise than I have been, The graves of two proud queens do I step into the living stream meet

Again, and onward drift.

my feet,

VOICES FROM THE GRAVES.

91

a shout from some sleeping warrior ? or an “ Ave Maria" from some crusader monk ? If we should stay here until midnight -the hour when spirits haunt these halls of the dead, if they ever haunt them-might we not hear the sound of revelry where the ashes of Harry of Monmouth are laid ; and a hollow voice calling out through the stillness of night,“ Sweet Hal ?” Around the tomb of “ Queen Bess,” should we not hear the flattery of gallant courtiers, and the preparations of the stage; the voices of Raleigh, and Burleigh, and Essex, and Leicester, and the notes of the sweet bard of Avon, sounding melodiously over all; or the plaintive sorrow of poor Mary Stuart? Might we not hear from some part of the Abbey, a faint voice, as if it came from the spirit land ?”

Yes !—do these dead ever waken or walk? The battle-axe has fallen from the strong hand of the Saxon and the Norman, and they rest in stillness together. Genius, which lived in sorrow and died in want, here sleeps as proudly as royalty. All is silence; but here “silence is greater than speech.”

This is the great treasure-house of England. If every record on earth besides were blotted out, and the memory of the living should fade away, the stranger could still in Westminster Abbey write the history of the past; for England's records are here ; from the rude and bloody escutcheons of the ancient Briton, to the ensigns of Norman chivalry; and from these to admiralty stars, and civic honors. The changes which civilization has made in its progress through the world, have left their impressions upon these stones and marbles. On the monument where each great man rests, his age has uttered its language; and among such numbers of the dead, there is the language of many ages. England speaks from its barbarity in the far-off time, before the day-spring of embellishing Art-its revolutions, with their earnest struggles to leave the past and reach the future-while the later shrines breathe the spirit of England's newest civilization.

92

WESTMINSTER ABBEY TO THE SCHOLAR.

XXXIV.

[ocr errors]

ACH generation has laid some of its illustrious ones here;

and it is no wonder that there is not a spot to which an Englishman turns his eye with so much pride, as to Westminster Abbey ; nor a spot the traveler so well loves to visit.

One cannot but feel both gratitude and indignation here : gratitude for every noble effort in behalf of humanity, civilization, liberty and truth, made by these sleepers ; indignation at every base deed, every effort to quench the light of science or destroy freedom of thought; every outrage inflicted upon man ; and every blow aimed against liberty by the oppressors of the race.

There is not a great author here who did not write for us ; not a man of science who did not investigate truth for us ; we have received advantage from every hour of toil that ever made these good and great men weary. A wanderer from the most distant and barbarous nation on earth, cannot come here without finding the graves of his benefactors. Those who love science and truth, and long for the day when perfect freedom of thought and action shall be the common heritage of man, will feel grateful, as they stand under these arches, for all the struggles, and all the trials to enlighten and emancipate the world, which the great, who here rest from their labors, have so nobly endured.

And, above all, the scholar, who has passed his best years in study, will here find the graves of his Teachers. He has long worshipped their genius; he has gathered inspiration and truth from their writings ; they have made his solitary hours, which to other men are a dreary waste, like the magical gardens of Armida," whose enchantments arose amid solitude, and whose solitude was everywhere among those enchantments." The scholar may wish to shed his tears alone, but he cannot stand by the graves of his masters in Westminster Abbey without weeping : they are tears of love and gratitude.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

BOOK III.

IRELAND-HER WOES AND STRUGGLES

UNDER ENGLISH OPPRESSION.

« السابقةمتابعة »