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Of the more intelligent and inquiring amongst our Protestant fellow-countrymen, several have occasionally manifested a desire to see a manual which not only contained the prayers, but explained the ceremonies, and elucidated the doctrine, of the Mass. The purport of these pages is to fill up such a deficiency in the number of those wellcomposed and highly useful expositions of Catholic doctrine, which we already possess.
The work is divided into two parts; the first of which embraces the Ordinary of the Mass, in Latin and in English, to which are appended notes explanatory of the ceremonies and the ritual of the Liturgy. The second part contains dissertations on the doctrine of the Eucharist, as a sacrifice, and a sacrament; on the Invocation of Saints; on Purgatory; on Images; on Ceremonies; on the Vestments, and the history of their origin and gradual change to their present form; and on the several points of ritual and disciplinary observance.
The Roman Catacombs are precious and highly interesting to every true believer in the Gospel, from their having been the burial-place of the holy martyrs and primitive Christians,—from their still exhibiting the very subterraneous chambers in which the earliest followers of Christ at Rome were accustomed to assemble on the Lord's day, in order to assist at, and partake of, the Eucharistic sacrifice,—and from furnishing a residence and refuge to the popes, the clergy, and the faithful in general, during more than twelve fiery persecutions. The Basilicae erected by Constantine in the old capital of the Roman empire, and by his immediate successors and pious individuals, in the same city and in other parts of the Italian peninsula, are also highly valuable. United together, the catacombs and ancient churches of Rome and of Italy in general, constitute a wide and fertile field of monuments, both curiously interesting and serviceable alike to the theologian, the ecclesiastical antiquary and the artist. Over any part of this diversified region, the British reader has seldom, perhaps never, been conducted, while making those enquiries, and prosecuting those investigations, on litigated articles of doctrine and discipline, which in every other quarter have been directed in the most masterly and able manner, and display the fruits of long and toilsome research over a widely extended field of erudition. The author has broken up this new and prolific ground, and has not unfrequently alleged an inscription from a martyr's tomb, to fortify his argument in vindication of some tenet of the ancient faith; and produced a fresco-painting, or a piece of sculpture, from the subterranean chambers of the catacombs, and a mosaic from some ancient church, to explain the origin of our present sacerdotal vestments, or in illustration of the rites and ceremonies still practised at the celebration of our holy Liturgy. A repeated inspection of many of those venerable monuments, during a college-residence of almost seven delightful years, in the centre of Christianity, convinced the author of their inestimable value and importance, at the same time that it awakened a desire to study and investigate them. Such impressions were more deeply imprinted on his mind, at a second visit to Rome, in which he was indulged for the improvement of his health, during the winter of 1828-29, by the liberality of his kind and noble patron the Earl of Shrewsbury, who procured and placed at his disposal, during the composition of the present volumes, works not only highly interesting, but necessary, yet so expensive, as to be entirely beyond the author's means of purchase.
Knowing, from self-experience, that the oculus Jidelis,—the faithful eye—can collect much more information by a single glance at the drawing of a pictorial or sculptured monument of antiquity, than from perusing whole chapters taken up with the most minute and elaborate descriptions of it, he was determined to enrich his labours with copies of those monuments referred to in the text, or accompanying notes. The reader will, therefore, find these pages embellished with several copper-plate and wood engravings, executed by Mr. Moses, and other artists of the first order in the respective branches of their profession, and whom the author must congratulate on the able manner in which they have acquitted themselves of the task confided to their care.
The reader will, no doubt, detect the absence of true perspective,—remark several obvious faults in the drawing of the human figure,—and notice other seeming deficiencies in some at least of the engravings which are scattered through these volumes. He should, however, bear in mind, that of these graphic illustrations of the text, many were selected from monuments executed at a period when painting and sculpture, together with the sister-arts and sciences, were sinking into, or emerging from, that night of ignorance which darkened Europe during the- middle ages.* As these
* No admirer of the Fine Arts should be without the talented and elaborate works of D'Agincourt and Cicognara. The learned Frenchman employed thirty years in the compilation of his ' Histoire de I'Art par let Monumens, depuis sa Decadence au Acme