صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

of a dragon, apparently compounded of iron and leather, concerning which he told me a long story; – how it was carried in procession; how two men in armour walked beside it, and with spears caused its wings to flap; how all the bakers and confectioners in the town, by whose shops it passed, were obliged to throw a loaf or a cake down its throat; how the boys afterwards beat it, to make it disgorge what it had swallowed; and how (notwithstanding the obvious discrepancy of the narrative), owing to the said boys and their mamas being so terrified, the ceremony had been, for some years, discontinued, by order of the civic authorities. Beiween twenty and thirty years ago, I saw at the town-hall of Norwich a more modern dragon, constructed probably of tin-foil and pasteboard; which, I understood, was carried in procession on the day of electing a mayor for that city.

The painted windows of this cathedral were particularly fine — the figures on a large scale, and the colours of the utmost brilliancy. The window, at the west end, was so like that which is similarly situated at Exeter cathedral (and is unquestionably of a more recent date), that, on first seeing it, I could almost have asserted it to be the model of the latter. On ascending to the leads, rather the stone roof, our conductor opened one of the windows, and thus gave us a nearer view of the rest; by which we found that, much as we had admired the paintings from below, we were not fully aware of their excellence. They were finished with the utmost accuracy of drawing, and, though so opaque as not to render objects behind them visible, were as brilliant as if they were altogether transparent. The guide, though apparently fully sensible of its value, knocked his key against the painted glass with greater confidence than I could have ventured to do; which convinced me that it was not only thicker but tougher than the glass of the present day. It was like what I might venture, perhaps, to call unpolished crystal. A friend had lately shown me a similar fragment containing the outlines of the human foot, which he had picked up in the church at Malvern. I did not then anticipate




that I should see such an accumulation of what
had then so excited my surprise.

The pinnacles and Aying buttresses produced
a very picturesque effect, and formed a very
beautiful foreground for the various views
of the city and country beyond them. The
pinnacles were so elegant in their form and
workmanship, that they might serve as mo-
dels for towers, not only in England, but
even on the Continent. With us our modern
towers are too much like temples piled upon
temples; and sometimes like certain utensils
that shall be nameless, with an extinguisher at
the top, surmounted by a pair of snuffers by
way of vane; and, indeed, on the Continent,
where they generally are in better taste, they
not unfrequently are either too much ornamented
or too plain. The tracery of the windows and
the cornices around various parts of the building
were all different, and all of the most exquisite

[ocr errors]


The guide wished us to ascend higher, that we might have a more extensive view;

but he prevailed only on our companion, whilst we con

tinued to walk up and down below, though still at so great a height. They ascended a spiral staircase in one of the pinnacles, and spoke to us from a loop-hole: our attention was so much engaged with the objects around us, that we watched not their proceedings; and, at length, being conscious that a considerable interval must have elapsed, wondered what had become of them. At length we heard a voice from the top of one of the flying buttresses, and saw them, not without some feelings of alarm, descend, like Iris, from this bow above our heads, which, if not celestial, might well be said to be in the clouds. The pathway was solid masonry, with the accompaniment of steps and a handrail, far less dangerous than the ropes and pasteboard which, to the amusement of the gods in the gallery, enable their brother divinities to descend amid flashes of resinous lightning and the rolling of thunder-balls; but still it was with sensations approaching to alarm that we first looked up to them, and then to the regions below. The scene reminded my wife of the description of the hunchback throwing the archdeacon from the battlements of Notre Dame; and the same idea had, no doubt, occurred to another who had scratched on one of the stones of the wall “ Victor Hugo.Too many are fond of thus recording their own names — few (but I will not say too few) of thus recording those of others.

There was pointed out to us a stone chair (certainly of great antiquity), as that of the first bishop of the church, and possibly coeval with it. These chairs were, probably, a sine quá non in the primitive ages; as thence the bishop was said to give his charge ex cathedrá, from whence is derived our word cathedral. For this chair we have substituted the word throne, but still retain a reference to it in our word - see” — sedes, or " seat.”

The glass of this cathedral had been partially injured during the French Revolution; and, therefore, some of the windows were plain. This, added to the partial introduction also of the style of Louis XIV., greatly detracted from the effect of it as a whole; but, in some degree, amends were made by the doors of the VOL. I.


« السابقةمتابعة »