« السابقةمتابعة »
DESCRIPTION OF CHESTER.
tions; for we were approaching the gates of a walled town, which had been the camp of the 20th legion of the Roman army for 400 years. When the City of David was falling under the cruel arm of Rome, those mailed warriors were here erecting their fortifications, and extending the bounds of an empire which embraced nearly the whole known world.
Chester stands on the bank of the River Dee, and is surrounded by a massive wall two miles in circuit, entered by four gates, one on either side of the city. It has been the crowded abode of successive generations for seventeen hundred years. In some places the walls have mouldered to the ground, while on the north side they still lift their time-blackened ramparts one hundred feet high, as if bidding defiance to the storms and shocks of time, which long since laid the great empire which reared them, in the dust.
The finest tower still standing is on the northeast part of the city; and it was from this that the unfortunate Charles I., in 1645, saw his noble army routed on the neighbouring fields of Rowton Moor. The Castle still lifts its proud front, and overhangs the waters of the Dee. This castle has been the scene of many a bloody tragedy in former ages. It was the prison of Richard II. before he resigned his crown to Henry of Lancaster; and while he was here locked up, Chaucer was writing his poems, and Wickliffe making the first English translation of the Bible. There is, also, a massive round tower yet
standing, built by the Romans, and still bearing the name of Cæsar. It inspires one with a strange awe, to wander over these monuments of that great empire, which for ages made the world tremble at her name.
Where now are those mailed columns which once moved through these streets? gone! Where those brave knights who met on yonder tournament ground in days of chivalry, to contend for the love of the fair and the applause of the brave? Where the conquerors who have, one after another, for a brief hour, hung out their flag of victory from these old towers ? gone—all gone. It is among such ruins, if ever, that we feel “what shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue."
As we passed down from the walls, we entered the solemn Cathedral. It is a spacious, irregular pile of red stone. Some parts of it were built by the Saxons 1200 years ago; some are in the style of the Norman conquest; and the rest in the rich Gothic of the fifteenth century. This great temple of God stands on the ground once occupied by a temple to Apollo.
We were most interested in that part designated as the monastery, and which was dedicated to St. Werburgh, a beautiful and pious daughter of the King of Mercia. It subsequently became the abbey church of a monastery of Benedictines. In passing through the cloister and chapter house, we seemed to hear voices from the old walls, telling their mel
TOMB OF HUGH LUPUS,
ancholy story of dark deeds and cruel self-tortures, committed by monks whose religion consisted chiefly in the belief that they could best win the love of the Deity by lacerating his image ; of noble hearts whose fountains of sympathy and social love were here frozen up; of the wreck of sixty generations.
Here we were shown a stone coffin of Hugh Lupus, a nephew of William the Conqueror, and first Earl of Chester, which was discovered a hundred years ago; the body wrapped in an ox-hide for a winding-sheet : it lies in the midst of Gothic
grandeur and monkish relics. The Marquis of Westminster, who resides at Eaton Hall, four miles from Chester, is the lineal descendant of Hugh Lupus; and probably there are few men in the world besides him, who can tell the exact place where rests the dust of an ancestor who died seven hundred years ago.
We drove out of the city on the south side, over a magnificent bridge of light freestone, which spans the Dee in a single lofty and graceful arch of two hundred feet. The Dee winds beautifully through a range of luxuriant fields, and is overshadowed by stately elms. Two miles from the bridge we entered Eaton Park through a pinnacled and richly-ornamented octagon lodge, over a smooth road of gravel, where not a spear of grass is permitted to grow. This sweeps gracefully, for the first mile, through thickly-set plantations of every diversity of growth, imbosoming at this time of the year, amid their va
ried tints of green, the bud and the blossom of
every flowering shrub and tree known to the climate.
We then passed for half a mile over open ground which commands distant views of the country, and, through a vista behind, a beautiful perspective of Chester and her antique towers. This part of the park is finely ornamented with groves, clumps, and solitary trees, under whose shade several hundred deer were reposing. We soon came to an embattled gateway of stone, flanked by towers, sculptured with the armorial bearings of the Grosvenors, and passed into the pleasure-grounds which surround the Hall. In a few moments we saw the turrets of the Hall peering through the dense wood which guards it on the north; and in coming into an inner lawn the whole western front of this splendid pile burst upon the view. It is built of light freestone, in the richest Gothic style, and is four hundred and fifty feet long, exclusive of an extensive range of offices, coach-houses, &c., of the same elegant architecture. The whole is adorned with sculptured heraldic devices, and surmounted by pinnacles, turrets, and embattled towers.
The grand entrance is through a Gothic portico of clustered pillars. A complete harmony of design reigns through this entire mass of architecture. The freestone, marble, oak, and mahogany, down to the most minute fixture, are all wrought in the same ornamental Gothic style. The entrance-hall is very noble and lofty. The floor is a tesselated pavement
of fine marble, and cost ten thousand dollars. A magnificent chandelier is supported by a pendant in the centre. The chimney-pieces are of the finest Italian marble, flanked on either side by niches, in which stands the ancient armour of four knights; and you would be astonished that a human being could move with such an immense weight of metal about him.
In passing a gallery at the farther end, you find yourself in the midst of one of the most extensive and beautiful open corridors on the globe; extending the entire length of the edifice, the perspective either way terminating at a distance of more than two hundred feet, where a stream of glowing and brilliant light is pouring in through stained windows. The suites of rooms on the east and west fronts communicate directly with this corridor, and the bedrooms in the same manner with a corresponding corridor above. We were first led into the Chapel, which is a chaste and beautiful room, receiving its light from a large, finely-painted window, where the scholar reads the name of Jehovah in Hebrew. Here the whole household assemble for prayers every day, and worship on the Sabbath.
I learned a fact of much interest in regard to the chaplain. In walking through his gardens a few years ago, the marquis inquired of one of his gardeners, who was a serious man, where he attended church. He replied that he went to hear Mr. —, because he liked his preaching better than any he ever heard ;