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Westminster Abbey.

Founded by Edward the Confessor when released from his vow to make a pilgrimage to the grave of St. Peter at Rome. It was built on the site of an older church, and was the first cruciform church erected in England. In it the sovereigns of Great Britain were crowned from the time of Edward the Confessor to the present, and many of them are buried there. [316]

The present church is mainly the work of Henry III. (1220-69) and Henry VII., who laid the corner-stone of the chapel which bears his name, Jan. 24, 1502. The western towers were rebuilt by George I. and George II.

Westminster Abbey.

The share of America in Westminster Abbey.

The following article was written by the Venerable F. W. Farrar, D. D., Archdeacon of Westminster (now Dean of Canterbury):

Westminster Abbey is most frequently entered by the great northern door, usually known as Solomon's Porch. I will, however, ask the courteous American visitor to walk through St. Margaret's church-yard, and round the western [317] facade of the Abbey, and to enter by the door under Sir Christopher Wren's towers. Pass through the western door, and pause for a moment

Where bubbles burst, and folly's dancing foam
Melts if it cross the threshold.

Of all the glory of this symbolic architecture, of the awe-inspiring grandeur and beauty of this great minster, which makes us feel at once that

They dreamt not of a perishable home
Who thus could build,

how much may be claimed in part by America?

In one sense all of it which belongs to the epoch which elapsed between the age of Edward the Confessor and the disastrous days of Charles I. and Archbishop Laud. An English writer who lives in America has said that “in signing away his own empire George III. did not sign away the empire of English liberty, of English law, of English literature, of English blood, of English religion, or of the English tongue.” Americans enjoy, no less than we, the benefit of the great charter, the petition of right, the habeas corpus act. They need not go back for their history to Indian annals or Icelandic sagas. Theirs are the palaces of the Plantagenets, the cathedrals which enshrine our old religion, the illustrious hall in which the long line of our great judges reared by their decisions the fabric of our law, the gray colleges in which our intellect and science found their earliest home, the graves where our heroes and sages and poets sleep. Indeed, I have understated their share in the abbey. It reaches down not only to the days of the Pilgrim Fathers, but to the War of Independence. Chatham and Burke and Barre as well as Patrick Henry advocated the American cause, which engaged the sympathy of the great mass of Englishmen, if not that of Grenville and North.

We shall not have far to walk before we find those memorials of the abbey which belong to America in some special and distinctive way, and it is to those that I shall closely confine myself. On entering the western door you will see immediately to your right the huge monument reared by the nation to the memory of Captain Cornewell, who perished nobly in the sea-fight off Toulon in 1742. A passage recently cut through the Sicilian marble pediment of this block of sculpture admits you into the baptistery, which stands under the southwest tower. There you will see the seat in which the judges sat when the baptistery was used as a consistory court, the tomb of Craggs, with its poor epitaph by Pope, and the beautiful memorials of Wordsworth, Keble, Maurice, and Kingsley. An American may well look with peculiar interest on the fine bust of Kingsley, for his lecture on the abbey was delivered to many thousands of Americans in their great cities. But there are two other memorials which combine with these to give to this spot in the abbey the name of “Little poets' corner.” They are the stainedglass windows in memory of George Herbert and William Cowper. They belong entirely to America, for they are the gift of an American citizen, my honored friend, Mr. George W. Childs, of Philadelphia. In the stained glass are the effigies of the two poets. Both of them were Westminster boys, and the most beautiful representatives of all that is holy in two very opposite schools of religious thought. It was a happy inspiration which suggested the erection of this window. George Herbert and William Cowper were well deserving of memorials in the abbey, apart from the fact that they had so often played in its cloisters and worshipped in its choir. The combination of the two suggests the higher unity which reconciles all minor points of ecclesiastical difference.

Leaving the baptistery, and walking to the third pillar of the nave on the north side, the visitor will see opposite to the pillar a slab in the floor which covers an empty grave. In this respect the slab is unique. It marks the spot where lay, for a few days only, the mortal remains of the generous American citizen, George Peabody. The name of Mr. Peabody will be remembered for centuries to come in England, because it is perpetuated by the buildings for the residence of the poor which are due to his great bequest. It will be brought into yet more constant remembrance by this his temporary grave. [318] “His first American ancestor,” says Colonel Chester, “emigrated from Hertfordshire as a husbandman in 1635.” With singular felicity Dean Stanley chose from Mr. Peabody's own diary a sentence to carve upon his tomb. It is, “I have prayed my Heavenly Father day by day that I might be enabled before I died to show my gratitude for the blessings which He has bestowed upon me by doing some great good to my fellow-men.”

Sentences like these have something more than a biographic interest. They are as morally instructive as those carved for the benefit of citizens on the Athenian Hermai. They are scarcely to be found on any tombs before the late dean's time, and they form a brilliant contrast to the dull, vain, and exuberant verbosity which makes so many of the epitaphs absolutely unreadable.

Now cress with me to the fourth pillar on the south side, and you will see on the wall above you a cenotaph of pathetic interest. It is the only one raised by one of the United States of America, and it was placed here in honor of an English officer. It is the memorial erected by an order of “the Great and General Court of the Province of Massachusetts Bay,” Feb. 1, 1759, “To Lord Viscount Howe, Brigadier-General of his Majesty's forces in North America, who was slain July 6, 1758, on the march of Ticonderoga, in the thirty-fourth year of his age; in testimony of the sense they had of his services and military virtues, and of the affection their officers and soldiers bore to his command.” The figure which mourns over the hero's trophies and armorial bearings represents the genius of Massachusetts Bay. The sum voted by the province for the monument was £ 250. Howe was the idol of his soldiers, in all of whose hardships he shared. Among other anecdotes of him we are told that he cut his hair short like his men. He is buried at Albany, and many years after his interment, when his coffin was opened—alas! there are few of the great dead whose remains have escaped this desecration—it was found that after death his locks had grown to beautiful luxuriance.

Advance to the third pillar beyond this, and on the wall you will again see a tomb which bears the ill-fated name of Ticonderoga. It is the tomb of Col. Roger Townshend, killed by a cannon-ball while reconnoitring the French lines on July 25, 1759. He was only twenty-eight, and is represented on the bas-relief surrounded by his officers as he lay in the agonies of death. Americans will look with interest on the fine figures of the two red Indians who support the sarcophagus. These are the only Indians represented in the abbey, although there are tomahawks and Indian ornaments on the tomb of Wolfe.

Of the War of Independence there are but three memorials, all full of pathos.

In the north cloister in a nameless grave lies Gen. Sir John Burgoyne, who died on Aug. 4, 1793, at the age of seventy, sixteen years after he had surrendered and resigned his sword to General Gates at Saratoga in 1777. It is strange that there should be no monument, not even an inscription, to mark the spot where lie the remains of a man whose defeat sent such a thrill through the heart of England and America as has never been equalled in modern times.

Passing by for one moment the tomb of Andre, to which we shall return, notice on the wall of the choir, south aisle, the little, unpretending tablet to William Wragg. He was a lawyer of South Carolina, who, when the American colonies revolted from Great Britain, “inflexibly maintained his loyalty to the person and government of his sovereign,” and was therefore compelled to leave his distressed family and ample fortune, and to fly from the States in the very year of Burgoyne's surrender. His ship was lost on the coast of Holland. The bas-relief represents the shipwreck in which he perished, and the escape of his son, who, with the faithful aid of a black slave, clung to a floating package, and was cast alive upon the shore.

The most interesting memorial of the war is undoubtedly the famous tomb of Maj. John Andre. The circumstances which brought about the death of that brave, bright, and unfortunate young officer are narrated with such ample detail in all American histories, and the whole story of the treason of Benedict Arnold and the arrest of Andre is so familiar that I need not dwell upon them. His one [319]

Monument to Major Andre, Westminster Abbey.

desire was that he should not be regarded as a spy, and that he should be shot as a soldier, not hung as a felon. But Provost-Marshal Cunningham had hung Capt. Nathan Hale, and hence Andre pleaded in vain in his letter to Washington that he had agreed to meet “a person” (Arnold or his agent) “who was to give him intelligence upon ground not within the posts of either army.” “Against my stipulation,” he said, “my intention, and without my knowledge, I was conducted within one of your posts.” “Surely,” he said to Major Tallmadge, “you do not consider Hale's case and mine alike.” “Yes,” replied the American major, “ [320] precisely similar, and similar will be your fate.” How much he won the sympathy and affection of his captors by his frankness and courage; how Washington thought him “more unfortunate than guilty,” and with his own hands closed the shutters of his room from which the gibbet at Tappan was visible; how until the last fatal moment he was kept in merciful ignorance that he was not to die a soldier's death; how bravely he met his miserable fate; how he was buried under the gallows, and a peach-tree planted on the spot; how, forty years later, at the request of the Duke of York, his remains were disinterred and sent to England; how it was found that the peach-tree had twined its roots among his hair; how the funeral service was read over his remains on Nov. 28, 1821, in the abbey, by Dean Ireland, and this monument erected to his memory by George III.—are facts known to all. The Americans have treated his memory with generosity. They wept at his death; they sent home his remains with every circumstance of honor. Mr. Cyrus Field has erected a handsome monument which will mark for future generations the historic spot where he was executed.

On the top of the sarcophagus sits Britannia, mourning, beside her lion. The bas-relief represents Washington in his tent, surrounded by his officers, one of whom sits on the ground weeping. An officer bearing a letter in his hand is approaching with a flag of truce. On the right is the fine figure of Andre, with a platoon of soldiers drawn up in front of him under their officer. At one side is the tree which formed his gibbet.

It is usually said that the letter in the hand of the officer is meant to be the letter which Andre wrote to Washington entreating that he might not die a felon's death. The touching original—which has been paraphrased in verse by N. P. Willis —is at Charlottesville, Virginia. No flag of truce, however, could have been needed for the conveyance of this letter, which Andre simply sent from the cottage in which he was a prisoner. The flag of truce was only used by General Robertson, whom Sir Henry Clinton sent with two others to lay before. Washington the proofs of Andre's innocence. The interview was not with Washington at all, but with General Greene, whom Washington deputed to act in his behalf. We can only suppose that the designer, Adam, and the sculptor, Van Geldert, were either imperfectly acquainted with the real facts, or have allowed themselves the poetic license of their art.

The heads of Washington and Andre have several times been knocked off and carried away by nefarious relic-seekers. It is hard to conceive the feelings which could permit such a vulgar mixture of sacrilege and theft. It has been sometimes supposed that this was done in old days by mischievous Westminster boys, with no loftier object than to find something conveniently round with which to play hockey in the cloisters. Charles Lamb, writing to Southey, said that “perhaps it was the mischief of some school-boy fired with some raw notions of transatlantic freedom. The mischief was done about the time that you were a scholar there. Do you know anything about the unfortunate relic?” The passage was a mere jest, but Southey so much disliked any allusion to the “Pantisocracy” dreams of his earlier days that he remained seriously offended with Lamb for years. I do not believe myself that Westminster boys could ever have been such Philistines as to deface the beautiful works of art which are consecrated by the memories of the dead. The beauty and historic interest of the heads must have tempted the senseless and unscrupulous greed of mere relic-mongers.

Over Andreas tomb, fastened to the wall, is a wreath of autumn leaves brought by Dean Stanley from Tappan, and by him placed here. He also hung on the monument a little silver medal commemorative of Andreas fate, which was given him by Mr. Field; but that was stolen.

Leaving the tomb of the ill-fated officer, our American friend must not omit to notice on the same wall, a little farther on, a modest tablet to an American citizen, Col. J. L. Chester, who, with rare munificence and rare devotion of labor, has edited in a handsome volume The marriage, baptismal, and burial register of the Abbey. The work could only have been accomplished by an archaeologist fired with intense devotion to his art. In this work, which cost him years of effort, [321] and hundreds of pounds of expense, which he could never hope to see repaid, Colonel Chester has stored a mass of the most curious and unattainable information. The only way in which the dean and chapter could recognize the great and unselfish services of an American to their cathedral was by giving his memorial tablet a place among those of so many of the great and good with whose genealogies he had long been occupied. Happily, there is no reward which he would have valued more highly.

A little farther on, also on the wall of the south choir aisle, is the exquisite cenotaph erected by the tolerant catholicity of Dean Stanley in honor of John and Charles Wesley. I need hardly tell

The poets' corner, Westminster Abbey.

[322] an American that both of them belong, by the evangelistic labor of their lives, to America as well as to England. It is true that they went there young and untried, and that neither the work of Charles at Frederica nor of John at Savannah was marked by the wisdom and meekness of their later lives. Still, it counts for something in the history of America that the founders of the greatest religious movement of the last century preached also in the New World, and that Whitefield, who succeeded John at Savannah, made many voyages to Georgia, and now lies in his peaceful grave at Newburyport.

A few steps farther will take you into the south transept, and there, in Poets' Corner, among the many busts, tombs, and statues of great authors, there are some in which Americans may claim an immediate interest. Dickens and Thackeray, whose memorials are not far from the statue of Addison, were known to thousands in the United States by their readings and lectures. The bust of Coleridge—who has hitherto been uncommemorated in the abbey, and for some memorial of whose greatness Queen Emma of Hawaii asked in vain when she visited Westminster—is the work of an American artist and the gift of an American citizen; and the American poet and minister, Mr. J. R. Lowell, pronounced the oration when the bust was unveiled. Here, too, is the statue of Campbell, who found the subject of one of his longest poems

“On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming,” and immortalized—though with many errors—the historic massacre. The white bust of Longfellow belongs to America alone. He did not attain—he would have been the last to claim for himself—the highest rank in the band of poets. He placed himself, and rightly, below the grand old masters, the bards sublime

Whose distant footsteps echo
Down the corridors of time,

but no poet has ever been more universally beloved for his lyric sweetness and his white purity of soul.

Between the monuments of Philips and Drayton there is one which will have a melancholy interest for the visitor from across the Atlantic. It is that of Barton Booth, the actor, who died in 1733. His passion for acting was first stimulated by the applause which he won at the annual play of Terence, performed by the Westminster boys. He was at Westminster under the plagosus Orbilius of the school, the celebrated Dr. Busby, and he escaped to Ireland to go on the stage. Among his lineal descendants are Mr. Edwin Booth, distinguished like his ancestor for his Shakespearian representations, and Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Lincoln in Ford's Theatre, Washington, on Good Friday, 1865. How many destinies, how many generations, were influenced by the applause given to a dashing Westminster boy about the year 1695!

While we are in Poets' Corner we may as well save time by stepping into the ancient chapter-house, in which were held not only the capitular meetings of the abbot and monks, but also, for three centuries, the sessions of the English Parliament. The stained-glass windows, originally designed by the “picturesque sensibility” of Dean Stanley, now form his worthy memorial. The first of the series was bequeathed by the dean himself; the second was given by Queen Victoria; the next is a token of the love and honor felt for him by his American friends. It is commemorative of events in the fourteenth century. The upper circle is occupied by Chaucer; the royal personages are Edward III., Queen Philippa, the Black Prince, and Richard II.; the scenes represented are, the abbot and monks in their chapter-house, the House of Commons with their speaker, the Black Prince carried into Parliament, and Richard II. meeting Wat Tyler. The Rev. Dr. Phillips Brooks, one of Dean Stanley's dearest friends, was invited by the Prince of Wales to be present as a representative of America at a meeting of the executive committee to carry out the Stanley memorial.

Coming back into the abbey from the chapter-house, give a glance at the long series of statesmen so many of whom were intimately concerned with the fortunes of America. There are Palmerston, who sent the troops to Canada after the Slidell and Mason affair; and Disraeli; and Canning, who used the proud sen- [323]

The Earl of Chatham's monument, Westminster Abbey.

tence, “I called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old” ; and Chatham, his eagle face kindling with the passion with which he pleaded the rights of the colonists. There, too, lies Wilberforce, whose benevolent principles were practically the great question at stake in the American Civil War, and from whom the American abolitionists W. Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips [324] drew no small part of their inspiration.

Among the statesmen in the north transept, next to the statue of Lord Beaconsfield, is the monument of the Irish admiral, Sir Peter Warren, who helped to take Louisburg from the French in 1745. He commanded on the American Station for years, and owned the tract of land in New York City once known as Greenwich Village. His house was still shown in 1863. Warren Street and Warren Place— which run through part of his original property—are named from him. Roubiliac in his bust has been so faithful as to indicate even the marks of the small-pox on Sir Peter's face.

Then, passing along the north ambulatory, take a long look at the monument of the “little, sickly, red-haired” hero and enthusiast whose courage and genius stormed the Heights of Abraham, and secured for Great Britain the possession of Canada. The figure of Wolfe is ridiculously represented undraped, only that the sculptor, Joseph Wilton, might conveniently display his knowledge of anatomy.

Just beyond the tomb is the chapel of Abbot Islip, over which you will see, in the Effigy Chamber, which can only be visited by a special order, the large chest in which the remains of Andre were sent home from America.

Passing into Henry VII.'s Chapel, Americans will certainly look with some sense of participation on Boehm's exquisite effigy of Dean Stanley. For America he always felt an enthusiastic affection, and his visit to America was the one event which conspicuously brightened his sad closing years. Nothing more delighted him than the enthusiastic interest of Americans in the abbey which he so dearly loved. He was always ready to show its wonders to the many transatlantic visitors who found in the deanery a cordial welcome. His sermons and addresses delivered in America have a permanent value, and will long endear him to the hearts of our kin beyond sea.

To the left of this little chapel is the one which forms the extreme east of Henry VII.'s Chapel, and of which the windows are still full of the significant emblems placed there by the royal builder. Here lay for a time the body of one of the most remarkable men and righteous rulers whom England has ever produced—the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell. In the chapel also lay his venerable mother, Elizabeth Cromwell, his sister, Mrs. Desborough, and others of his family. Here, too, or in other parts of the abbey, once lay the mortal bodies of Admiral Blake, one of the greatest of England's seamen; of Sir Thomas May, the translator of Lucan, and historian of the Long Parliament; of Pym and Strode and Bradshaw and Ireton. It is a shameful and too familiar fact that the bodies of Cromwell, Bradshaw, and Ireton were exhumed and hung on the gallows at Tyburn, and that their heads— “but not until they had quite done with them,” as Carlyle says— were stuck on pikes at the top of Westminster Hall. Others of the commonwealth personages, to the number of twenty-one, were exhumed by an act of poor and base revenge, under an order dated at the Court of Whitehall, Sept. 9, 1661, and were flung promiscuously into a nameless pit at the northwest of the abbey, where their remains lie without a memorial to this day. Deep, indeed, would have been the interest of Americans in the graves of some of these. But the vault in which Cromwell lay was reserved in part to bury the illegitimate children of Charles II. Could there be a more striking proof that the Revolution had failed for the time than the fact that these scions of profligate amours were thought sufficiently royal for graves which the mortal remains of a Cromwell and a Blake had been supposed to desecrate?

With all the greater relief, then, will you walk back with me to Poets' Corner, and look on the memorial of John Milton. He died in 1674, and it required a century to elapse before England ventured on a public recognition of his supreme greatness. When Dr. Smalridge wrote for the statue of John Philips the ridiculous eulogy that he was “Uni Miltono Secundus, primoque poene par,” the line was erased by the narrow prejudice of Bishop Sprat, who would not have the walls of the abbey “polluted” by the name of the author of Paradise lost, because that poet had written the Defensio Populi Anglicani, and been a friend of Cromwell, [325] Harrington, and Vane. In 1737 the monument to Milton was erected by Auditor Benson. The admission of this monument here, a century and a half ago, is one more sign that the Revolution did not wholly fail even in England, and that there were

Monument to Sir Peter WarrenWestminster Abbey.

those who even then revered the names of Cromwell and Milton. But the principles of that Revolution, never wholly forgotten by Englishmen, were completely triumphant in America. The colonists carried to America, as Mr. Gladstone has said, “all that was democratic in the policy of England, and all that was Protestant in her religion.” The yoke of absolutism which in the seventeenth century we had not strength to throw off in the mothercountry you escaped in the colony, and there, beyond the reach of the Restoration, Milton's vision proved true, and a free community was founded, though in a humble and unsuspected form, which depended on the life of no single chief, and lived on when Cromwell died. Milton, when the night of the Restoration closed on the brief and stormy day of his party, [326] bated no jot of hope. He was strong in that strength of conviction which assures spirits like his of the future, however dark the present may appear. But could he have beheld it, the morning, moving westward in the track of the Puritan emigrants, had passed from his hemisphere only to shine in yours, with no fitful ray, but with a steady brightness which will in due time reillumine the feudal darkness of the Old World.

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