From the Warwick Shield

London, June 29, 1888.–The poet Emerson’s injunction, “Set not thy
foot on graves,” is wise and right; and being in merry England in the
month of June it certainly is your own fault if you do not fulfil the
rest of the philosophical commandment and “Hear what wine and roses
say.” Yet the history of England is largely written in her ancient
churches and crumbling ruins, and the pilgrim to historic and literary
shrines in this country will find it difficult to avoid setting his
foot on graves. It is possible here, as elsewhere, to live entirely
in the present; but to certain temperaments and in certain moods the
temptation is irresistible to live mostly in the past. I write these
words in a house which, according to local tradition, was once occupied
by Nell Gwynn, and as I glance into the garden I see a venerable acacia
that was planted by her fair hands, in the far-off time of the Merry
Monarch. Within a few days I have stood in the dungeon of Guy Fawkes,
in the Tower, and sat at luncheon in a manor-house of Warwickshire
wherein were once convened the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. The
newspapers of this morning announce that a monument will be dedicated
on July 19 to commemorate the defeat of the Spanish Armada, three
hundred years ago. It is not unnatural that the wanderer should live in
the past, and often should find himself musing over its legacies.

[Illustration: _Stoke-Pogis Churchyard._]

One of the most sacred spots in England is the churchyard of
Stoke-Pogis. I revisited that place on June 13 and once again
rambled and meditated in that hallowed haunt. Not many months ago it
seemed likely that Stoke Park would pass into the possession of a
sporting club, and be turned into a race-course and kennel. A track
had already been laid there. Fate was kind, however, and averted the
final disaster. Only a few changes are to be noted in that part of the
park which to the reverent pilgrim must always be dear. The churchyard
has been extended in front, and a solid wall of flint, pierced with a
lych-gate, richly carved, has replaced the plain fence, with its simple
turnstile, that formerly enclosed that rural cemetery. The additional
land was given by the new proprietor of Stoke Park, who wished that
his tomb might be made in it; and this has been built, beneath a large
tree not far from the entrance. The avenue from the gate to the church
has been widened, and it is now fringed with thin lines of twisted
stone; and where once stood only two or three rose-trees there are now
sixty-two,–set in lines on either side of the path. But the older part
of the graveyard remains unchanged. The yew-trees cast their dense
shade, as of old. The quaint porch of the sacred building has not
suffered under the hand of restoration. The ancient wooden memorials of
the dead continue to moulder above their ashes. And still the abundant
ivy gleams and trembles in the sunshine and in the summer wind that
plays so sweetly over the spired tower and dusky walls of this lovely
temple–

“All green and wildly fresh without,
but worn and gray beneath.”

[Illustration: _Gray’s Monument._]

[Illustration: _Thomas Gray._]

It would still be a lovely church, even if it were not associated with
the immortal Elegy. I stood for a long time beside the tomb of the
noble and tender poet and looked with deep emotion on the surrounding
scene of pensive, dream-like beauty,–the great elms, so dense of
foliage, so stately and graceful; the fields of deep, waving grass,
golden with buttercups and white with daisies; the many unmarked
mounds; the many mouldering tombstones; the rooks sailing and cawing
around the tree-tops; and over all the blue sky flecked with floating
fleece. Within the church nothing has been changed. The memorial window
to Gray, for which contributions have been taken during several years,
has not yet been placed. As I cast a farewell look at Gray’s tomb,
on turning to leave the churchyard, it rejoiced my heart to see that
two American girls, who had then just come in, were placing fresh
flowers over the poet’s dust. He has been buried more than a hundred
years,–but his memory is as bright and green as the ivy on the tower
within whose shadow he sleeps, and as fragrant as the roses that
bloom at its base. Many Americans visit Stoke-Pogis churchyard, and
no visitor to the old world, who knows how to value what is best in
its treasures, will omit that act of reverence. The journey is easy. A
brief run by railway from Paddington takes you to Slough, which is near
to Windsor, and thence it is a charming drive, or a still more charming
walk, mostly through green, embowered lanes, to the “ivy-mantled
tower,” the “yew-trees’ shade,” and the simple tomb of Gray. What a gap
there would be in the poetry of our language if the _Elegy in a Country
Churchyard_ were absent from it! By that sublime and tender reverie
upon the most important of all subjects that can engage the attention
of the human mind Thomas Gray became one of the chief benefactors of
his race. Those lines have been murmured by the lips of sorrowing
affection beside many a shrine of buried love and hope, in many a
churchyard, all round the world. The sick have remembered them with
comfort. The great soldier, going into battle, has said them for his
solace and cheer. The dying statesman, closing his weary eyes upon
this empty world, has spoken them with his last faltering accents,
and fallen asleep with their heavenly music in his heart. Well may we
pause and ponder at the grave of that divine poet! Every noble mind is
made nobler, every good heart is made better, for the experience of
such a pilgrimage. In such places as these pride is rebuked, vanity is
dispelled, and the revolt of the passionate human heart is humbled into
meekness and submission.

[Illustration: _All Saints’ Church, Laleham._]

There is a place kindred with Stoke-Pogis churchyard, a place destined
to become, after a few years, as famous and as dear to the heart of the
reverent pilgrim in the footsteps of genius and pure renown. On Sunday
afternoon, June 17, I sat for a long time beside the grave of Matthew
Arnold. It is in a little churchyard at Laleham, in Surrey, where he
was born. The day was chill, sombre, and, except for an occasional low
twitter of birds and the melancholy cawing of distant rooks, soundless
and sadly calm. So dark a sky might mean November rather than June;
but it fitted well with the scene and with the pensive thoughts and
feelings of the hour. Laleham is a village on the south bank of the
Thames, about thirty miles from London and nearly midway between
Staines and Chertsey. It consists of a few devious lanes and a cluster
of houses, shaded with large trees and everywhere made beautiful with
flowers, and it is one of those fortunate and happy places to which
access cannot be obtained by railway. There is a manor-house in
the centre of it, secluded in a walled garden, fronting the square
immediately opposite to the village church. The rest of the houses
are mostly cottages, made of red brick and roofed with red tiles. Ivy
flourishes, and many of the cottages are overrun with climbing roses.
Roman relics are found in the neighbourhood,–a camp near the ford,
and other indications of the military activity of Cæsar. The church,
All Saints’, is of great antiquity. It has been in part restored, but
its venerable aspect is not impaired. The large low tower is of brick,
and this and the church walls are thickly covered with glistening ivy.
A double-peaked roof of red tiles, sunken here and there, contributes
to the picturesque beauty of this building, and its charm is further
heightened by the contiguity of trees, in which the old church seems
to nestle. Within there are low, massive pillars and plain, symmetrical
arches,–the remains of Norman architecture. Great rafters of dark oak
augment, in this quaint structure, the air of solidity and of an age at
once venerable and romantic, while a bold, spirited, beautiful painting
of Christ and Peter upon the sea imparts to it an additional sentiment
of sanctity and solemn pomp. That remarkable work is by George Henry
Harlow, and it is placed back of the altar, where once there would have
been, in the Gothic days, a stained window. The explorer does not often
come upon such a gem of a church, even in England,–so rich in remains
of the old Catholic zeal and devotion; remains now mostly converted to
the use of Protestant worship.

[Illustration: ARNOLD’S GRAVE]

The churchyard of All Saints’ is worthy of the church,–a little
enclosure, irregular in shape, surface, shrubbery, and tombstones,
bordered on two sides by the village square and on one by a farmyard,
and shaded by many trees, some of them yews, and some of great size
and age. Almost every house that is visible near by is bowered with
trees and adorned with flowers. No person was anywhere to be seen,
and it was only after inquiry at various dwellings that the sexton’s
abode could be discovered and access to the church obtained. The poet’s
grave is not within the church, but in a secluded spot at the side of
it, a little removed from the highway, and screened from immediate
view by an ancient, dusky yew-tree. I readily found it, perceiving a
large wreath of roses and a bunch of white flowers that were lying
upon it,–recent offerings of tender remembrance and sorrowing love,
but already beginning to wither. A small square of turf, bordered
with white marble, covers the vaulted tomb of the poet and of three
of his children.[2] At the head are three crosses of white marble,
alike in shape and equal in size, except that the first is set upon a
pedestal a little lower than those of the others. On the first cross is
written: “Basil Francis Arnold, youngest child of Matthew and Frances
Lucy Arnold. Born August 19, 1866. Died January 4, 1868. Suffer little
children to come unto me.” On the second: “Thomas Arnold, eldest child
of Matthew and Frances Lucy Arnold. Born July 6, 1852. Died November
23, 1868. Awake, thou, Lute and Harp! I will awake right early.” On the
third: “Trevenen William Arnold, second child of Matthew and Frances
Lucy Arnold. Born October 15, 1853. Died February 16, 1872. In the
morning it is green and groweth up.” Near by are other tombstones,
bearing the name of Arnold,–the dates inscribed on them referring to
about the beginning of this century. These mark the resting-place of
some of the poet’s kindred. His father, the famous Dr. Arnold of Rugby,
rests in Rugby chapel,–that noble father, that true friend and servant
of humanity, of whom the son wrote those words of imperishable nobility
and meaning, “Thou, my father, wouldst not be saved alone.” Matthew
Arnold is buried in the same grave with his eldest son and side by side
with his little children. He who was himself as a little child, in his
innocence, goodness, and truth,–where else and how else could he so
fitly rest? “Awake, thou, Lute and Harp! I will awake right early.”

[Illustration: _Matthew Arnold._]

Every man will have his own thoughts in such a place as this; will
reflect upon his own afflictions, and from knowledge of the manner
and spirit in which kindred griefs have been borne by the great heart
of intellect and genius will seek to gather strength and patience to
endure them well. Matthew Arnold taught many lessons of great value to
those who are able to think. He did not believe that happiness is the
destiny of the human race on earth, or that there is a visible ground
for assuming that happiness in this mortal condition is one of the
inherent rights of humanity. He did not think that this world is made
an abode of delight by the mere jocular affirmation that everything
in it is well and lovely. He knew better than that. But his message,
delivered in poetic strains that will endure as long as our language
exists, is the message, not of gloom and despair, but of spiritual
purity and sweet and gentle patience. The man who heeds Matthew
Arnold’s teaching will put no trust in creeds and superstitions, will
place no reliance upon the transient structures of theology, will take
no guidance from the animal and unthinking multitude; but he will “keep
the whiteness of his soul”; he will be simple, unselfish, and sweet; he
will live for the spirit; and in that spirit, pure, tender, fearless,
strong to bear and patient to suffer, he will find composure to meet
the inevitable disasters of life and the awful mystery of death. Such
was the burden of my thought, sitting there, in the gloaming, beside
the lifeless dust of him whose hand had once, with kindly greeting,
been clasped in mine. And such will be the thought of many and many a
pilgrim who will stand in that sacred place, on many a summer evening
of the long future–

“While the stars come out and the night wind
Brings, up the stream,
Murmurs and scents of the infinite sea.”

Warwick, July 6, 1888.–One night, many years ago[3] a brutal murder
was done, at a lonely place on the highroad between Charlecote Park
and Stratford-upon-Avon. The next morning the murdered man was found
lying by the roadside, his mangled head resting in a small hole. The
assassins were shortly afterward discovered, and they were hanged at
Warwick. From that day to this the hole wherein the dead man’s head
reposed remains unchanged. No matter how often it may be filled,
whether by the wash of heavy rains or by stones and leaves that
wayfarers may happen to cast into it as they pass, it is soon found to
be again empty. No one takes care of it. No one knows whether or by
whom it is guarded. Fill it at nightfall and you will find it empty
in the morning. That is the local belief and affirmation. This spot is
two miles and a half north of Stratford and three-quarters of a mile
from the gates of Charlecote Park. I looked at this hole one bright day
in June and saw that it was empty. Nature, it is thought by the poets,
abhors complicity with the concealment of crime, and brands with her
curse the places that are linked with the shedding of blood. Hence the
strong lines in Hood’s poem of _Eugene Aram_:

“And a mighty wind had swept the leaves,
And still the corse was bare.”

[Illustration: _Hampton Lucy._]

There are many haunted spots in Warwickshire. The benighted peasant
never lingers on Ganerslie Heath,–for there, at midnight, dismal bells
have been heard to toll, from Blacklow Hill, the place where Sir Piers
Gaveston, the corrupt, handsome, foreign favourite of King Edward the
Second, was beheaded, by order of the grim barons whom he had insulted
and opposed. The Earl of Warwick led them, whom Gaveston had called the
Black Dog of Arden. This was long ago. Everybody knows the historic
incident, but no one can so completely realise it as when standing on
the place. The scene of the execution is marked by a cross, erected
by Mr. Bertie Greathead, bearing this inscription: “In the hollow
of this rock was beheaded, on the first day of July 1312, by Barons
lawless as himself, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall. In life and death
a memorable instance of misrule.” [Hollinshed says that the execution
occurred on Tuesday, June 20.] No doubt the birds were singing and the
green branches of the trees were waving in the summer wind, on that
fatal day, just as they are at this moment. Gaveston was a man of much
personal beauty and some talent, and only twenty-nine years old. It was
a melancholy sacrifice and horrible in the circumstances that attended
it. No wonder that doleful thoughts and blood-curdling sounds should
come to such as walk on Ganerslie Heath in the lonely hours of the
night.

Another haunted place is Clopton–haunted certainly with memories if
not with ghosts. In the reign of Henry the Seventh this was the manor
of Sir Hugh Clopton, Lord Mayor of London, in 1492, he who built the
bridge over the Avon,–across which, many a time, William Shakespeare
must have ridden, on his way to Oxford and the capital. The dust of Sir
Hugh rests in Stratford church and his mansion has passed through many
hands. In our time, it is the residence of Sir Arthur Hodgson,[4] by
whom it was purchased in July, 1873. It was my privilege to see Clopton
under the guidance of its lord, and a charming and impressive old house
it is,–full of quaint objects and fraught with singular associations.
They show to you there, among many interesting paintings, the portrait
of a lady, with thin figure, delicate features, long light hair, and
sensitive countenance, said to be that of Lady Margaret Clopton, who,
in the Stuart time, drowned herself, in a dismal well, behind the
mansion,–being crazed with grief at the death of her lover, killed
in the Civil War. And they show to you the portrait of still another
Clopton girl, Lady Charlotte, who is thought to have been accidentally
buried alive,–because when it chanced that the family tomb was opened,
a few days after her interment, the corse was found to be turned over
in its coffin and to present indications that the wretched victim of
premature burial had, in her agonized frenzy, gnawed her flesh. Her
death was attributed to the plague, and it occurred on the eve of her
prospective marriage.

[Illustration: _Old Porch of Clopton._]

It is the blood-stained corridor of Clopton, however, that most
impresses imagination. This is at the top of the house, and access
to it is gained by a winding stair of oak boards, uncarpeted, solid,
simple, and consonant with the times and manners that it represents.
Many years ago a squire of Clopton murdered his butler, in a little
bedroom near the top of that staircase, and dragged the body along
the corridor, to secrete it. A thin dark stain, seemingly a streak of
blood, runs from the door of that bedroom, in the direction of the
stairhead, and this is so deeply imprinted in the wood that it cannot
be removed. Opening from this corridor, opposite to the room of the
murder, is an angular apartment, which in the remote days of Catholic
occupancy was used as an oratory.[5] In the early part of the reign of
Henry the Sixth, John Carpenter obtained from the Bishop of Worcester
permission to establish a chapel at Clopton. In 1885 the walls of that
attic chamber were committed to the tender mercies of a paper-hanger,
who presently discovered on them several inscriptions, in black
letter, but who fortunately mentioned his discoveries before they were
obliterated. Richard Savage, the antiquary, was called to examine them,
and by him they were restored. The effect of those little patches of
letters,–isles of significance in a barren sea of wall-paper,–is
that of extreme singularity. Most of them are sentences from the
Bible. All of them are devout. One imparts the solemn injunction:
“Whether you rise yearlye or goe to bed late, Remember Christ Jesus
who died for your sake.” [This may be found in John Weever’s _Funeral
Monuments: 1631_.] Clopton has a long and various history. One of the
most significant facts in its record is that, for about three months,
in the year 1605, it was occupied by Ambrose Rokewood, of Coldham Hall,
Suffolk, a breeder of race-horses, whom Robert Catesby brought into
the ghastly Gunpowder Plot, which so startled the reign of James the
First. Hither came Sir Everard Digby, and Thomas and Robert Winter, and
the specious Jesuit, Father Garnet, chief hatcher of the conspiracy,
with his vile train of sentimental fanatics, on that pilgrimage of
sanctification with which he formally prepared for an act of such
hideous treachery and wholesale murder as only a religious zealot
could ever have conceived. That may have been a time when the little
oratory of Clopton was in active use. Things belonging to Rokewood,
who was captured at Hewel Grange, and was executed on January 31,
1606, were found in that room, and were seized by the government. Mr.
Fisher Tomes, resident proprietor of Clopton from 1825 to 1830, well
remembered the inscriptions in the oratory, which in his time were
still uncovered. Not many years since it was a bedroom; but one of Sir
Arthur Hodgson’s guests, who undertook to sleep in it, was, it is said,
afterward heard to declare that he wished not ever again to experience
the hospitality of that chamber, because the sounds that he had heard,
all around the place, throughout that night, were of a most startling
description. A house containing many rooms and staircases, a house
full of long corridors and winding ways, a house so large that you may
get lost in it,–such is Clopton; and it stands in its own large park,
removed from other buildings and bowered in trees. To sit in the great
hall of that mansion, on a winter midnight, when the snow-laden wind is
howling around it, and then to think of the bleak, sinister oratory,
and the stealthy, gliding shapes upstairs, invisible to mortal eye, but
felt, with a shuddering sense of some unseen presence watching in the
dark,–this would be to have quite a sufficient experience of a haunted
house. Sir Arthur Hodgson talked of the legends of Clopton with that
merry twinkle of the eye which suits well with kindly incredulity. All
the same, I thought of Milton’s lines–

“Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.”

The manor of Clopton was granted to John de Clopton by Peter de
Montfort, in 1236, while Henry the Third was king, and the family of
Clopton dwelt there for more than five hundred years. The Cloptons of
Warwickshire and those of Suffolk are of the same family, and at Long
Melford, in Suffolk, may be found many memorials of it. The famous Sir
Hugh,–who built New Place in 1490, restored the Guild chapel, glazed
the chancel of Stratford church, reared much of Clopton House, where he
was visited by Henry the Seventh, and placed the bridge across the Avon
at Stratford, where it still stands,–died in London, in 1496, and was
buried at St. Margaret’s, Lothbury. Joyce, or Jocasa, Clopton, born
in 1558, became a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, and afterwards
to Queen Anne, wife of James the First, and ultimately married George
Carew, created Earl of Totnes and Baron of Clopton. Carew, born in
1557, was the son of a Dean of Exeter, and he became the English
commander-in-chief in Ireland, in the time of Elizabeth. King James
ennobled him, with the title of Baron Clopton, in 1605, and Charles
the First made him Earl of Totnes, in 1625. The Earl and his Countess
are buried in Stratford church, where their marble effigies, recumbent
in the Clopton pew, are among the finest monuments of that hallowed
place. The Countess died in 1636, leaving no children, and the Earl
thereupon caused all the estates that he had acquired by marriage with
her to be restored to the Clopton family. Sir John Clopton, born in
1638, married the daughter and co-heiress of Sir Edward Walker, owner
of Clopton in the time of Charles the Second, and it is interesting
to remember that by him was built the well-known house at Stratford,
formerly called the Shoulder of Mutton,[6] but more recently designated
the Swan’s Nest. Mention is made of a Sir John Clopton by whom the well
in which Lady Margaret drowned herself was enclosed; it is still called
Lady Margaret’s Well; a stone, at the back of it, is inscribed “S. J.
C. 1686.” Sir John died in 1692, leaving a son, Sir Hugh, who died in
1751, aged eighty. The last Clopton in the direct line was Frances,
born in 1718, who married Mr. Parthenwicke, and died in 1792.

[Illustration: CLOPTON HOUSE]

Clopton House is of much antiquity, but it has undergone many changes.
The north and west sides of the present edifice were built in the time
of Henry the Seventh. The building was originally surrounded with a
moat.[7] A part of the original structure remains at the back,–a
porchway entrance, once accessible across the moat, and an oriel window
at the right of that entrance. Over the front window are displayed
the arms of Clopton,–an eagle, perched upon a tun, bearing a shield;
and in the gable appear the arms of Walker, with the motto, Loyauté
mon honneur. Sir Edward Walker was Lord of Clopton soon after the
Restoration, and by him the entrance to the house, which used to be
where the dining-room now is, was transferred to its present position.
It was Walker who carried to Charles the Second, in Holland, in 1649,
the news of the execution of his father. A portrait of the knight, by
Dobson, hangs on the staircase wall at Clopton, where he died in 1677,
aged sixty-five. He was Garter-king-at-arms. His remains are buried in
Stratford church, with an epitaph over them by Dugdale. Mr. Ward owned
the estate about 1840, and under his direction many changes were made
in the old building,–sixty workmen having been employed upon it for
six months. The present drawing-room and conservatory were built by
Mr. Ward, and by him the whole structure was “modernised.” There
are wild stories that autographs and other relics of Shakespeare once
existed at Clopton, and were consumed there, in a bon-fire. A stone
in the grounds marks the grave of a silver eagle, that was starved to
death, through the negligence of a gamekeeper, November 25, 1795. There
are twenty-six notable portraits in the main hall of Clopton, one of
them being that of Oliver Cromwell’s mother, and another probably that
of the unfortunate and unhappy Arabella Stuart,–only child of the
fifth Earl of Lennox,–who died, at the Tower of London, in 1615.

Warwickshire swarmed with conspirators while the Gunpowder Plot was in
progress. The Lion Inn at Dunchurch was the chief tryst of the captains
who were to lead their forces and capture the Princess Elizabeth and
seize the throne and the country, after the expected explosion,–which
never came. And when the game was up and Fawkes in captivity, it was
through Warwickshire that the “racing and chasing” were fleetest and
wildest, till the desperate scramble for life and safety went down in
blood at Hewel Grange. Various houses associated with that plot are
still extant in this neighbourhood, and when the scene shifts to London
and to Garnet’s Tyburn gallows, it is easily possible for the patient
antiquarian to tread in almost every footprint of that great conspiracy.

[Illustration: _Warwick Castle, from the Mound._]

Since Irish ruffians began to toss dynamite about in public buildings
it has been deemed essential to take especial precaution against
the danger of explosion in such places as the Houses of Parliament,
Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London. Much more damage than the
newspapers recorded was done by the explosions that occurred some time
ago in the Tower and the Palace. At present you cannot enter even into
Palace Yard unless connected with the public business or authorised
by an order; and if you visit the Tower without a special permit you
will be restricted to a few sights and places. I was fortunately the
bearer of the card of the Lord Chamberlain, on a recent prowl through
the Tower, and therefore was favoured by the beef-eaters who pervade
that structure. Those damp and gloomy dungeons were displayed wherein
so many Jews perished miserably in the reign of Edward the First; and
Little Ease was shown,–the cell in which for several months Guy Fawkes
was incarcerated, during Cecil’s wily investigation of the Gunpowder
Plot. A part of the rear wall has been removed, affording access to the
adjacent dungeon; but originally the cell did not give room for a man
to lie down in it, and scarce gave room for him to stand upright. The
massive door, of ribbed and iron-bound oak, still solid, though worn,
would make an impressive picture. A poor, stealthy cat was crawling
about in those subterranean dens of darkness and horror, and was left
locked in there when we emerged. In St. Peter’s, on the green,–that
little cemetery so eloquently described by Macaulay,–they came, some
time ago, upon the coffins of Lovat, Kilmarnock, and Balmerino, the
Scotch lords who perished upon the block for their complicity with the
rising for the Pretender, in 1745-47. The coffins were much decayed.
The plates were removed, and these may now be viewed, in a glass case
on the church wall, over against the spot where those unfortunate
gentlemen were buried.[8] One is of lead and is in the form of a
large open scroll. The other two are oval in shape, large, and made
of pewter. Much royal and noble dust is heaped together beneath the
stones of the chancel,–Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey,
Margaret, Duchess of Salisbury, the Duke of Monmouth, the Earl of
Northumberland, Essex, Overbury, Thomas Cromwell, and many more. The
body of the infamous and execrable Jeffreys was once buried there, but
it has been removed.

[Illustration: _Warwick Castle, from the River._]

St. Mary’s church at Warwick has been restored since 1885, and now it
is made a show place. The pilgrim may see the Beauchamp chapel, in
which are entombed Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, the founder of
the church; Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in whose Latin epitaph
it is stated that “his sorrowful wife, Lætitia, daughter of Francis
Knolles, through a sense of conjugal love and fidelity, hath put up
this monument to the best and dearest of husbands”;[9] Ambrose Dudley,
elder brother to Elizabeth’s favourite, and known as the Good Earl
[he relinquished his title and possessions to Robert]; and that Fulke
Greville, Lord Brooke, who lives in fame as “the friend of Sir Philip
Sidney.” There are other notable sleepers in that chapel, but these
perhaps are the most famous and considerable. One odd epitaph records
of William Viner, steward to Lord Brooke, that “he was a man entirely
of ancient manners, and to whom you will scarcely find an equal,
particularly in point of liberality…. He was added to the number of
the heavenly inhabitants maturely for himself, but prematurely for his
friends, in his 70th year, on the 28th of April, A.D. 1639.” Another,
placed for himself by Thomas Hewett during his lifetime, modestly
describes him as “a most miserable sinner.” Sin is always miserable
when it knows itself. Still another, and this in good verse, by Gervas
Clifton, gives a tender tribute to Lætitia, “the excellent and pious
Lady Lettice,” Countess of Leicester, who died on Christmas morning,
1634:

“She that in her younger years
Matched with two great English peers;
She that did supply the wars
With thunder, and the Court with stars;
She that in her youth had been
Darling to the maiden Queene,
Till she was content to quit
Her favour for her favourite….
While she lived she livéd thus,
Till that God, displeased with us,
Suffered her at last to fall,
Not from Him but from us all.”

[Illustration: _Leicester’s Hospital._]

A noble bust of that fine thinker and exquisite poet Walter Savage
Landor has been placed on the west wall of St. Mary’s church. He was
a native of Warwick and he is fitly commemorated in that place. The
bust is of alabaster and is set in an alabaster arch with carved
environment, and with the family arms displayed above. The head of
Landor shows great intellectual power, rugged yet gentle. Coming
suddenly upon the bust, in this church, the pilgrim is forcibly and
pleasantly reminded of the attribute of sweet and gentle reverence
in the English character, which so invariably expresses itself, all
over this land, in honourable memorials to the honourable dead. No
rambler in Warwick omits to explore Leicester’s hospital, or to see as
much as he can of the Castle. That glorious old place has long been
kept closed, for fear of the dynamite fiend; but now it is once more
accessible. I walked again beneath the stately cedars[10] and along the
bloom-bordered avenues where once Joseph Addison used to wander and
meditate, and traversed again those opulent state apartments wherein
so many royal, noble, and beautiful faces look forth from the radiant
canvas of Holbein and Vandyke. There is a wonderful picture, in one
of those rooms, of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, when a young
man,–a face prophetic of stormy life, baleful struggles, and a hard
and miserable fate. You may see the helmet that was worn by Oliver
Cromwell, and also a striking death-mask of his face; and some of the
finest portraits of Charles the First that exist in this kingdom are
shown at Warwick Castle.

York, August 12, 1888.–All summer long the sorrowful skies have been
weeping over England, and my first prospect of this ancient city was
a prospect through drizzle and mist. Yet even so it was impressive.
York is one of the quaintest cities in the kingdom. Many of the
streets are narrow and crooked. Most of the buildings are of low
stature, built of brick, and roofed with red tiles. Here and there you
find a house of Queen Elizabeth’s time, picturesque with overhanging
timber-crossed fronts and peaked gables. One such house, in Stonegate,
is conspicuously marked with its date, 1574. Another, in College
street, enclosing a quadrangular court and lovely with old timber and
carved gateway, was built by the Neville family in 1460. There is a
wide area in the centre of the town called Parliament street, where
the market is opened, by torchlight, on certain evenings of every
week. It was market-time last evening, and, wandering through the
motley and merry crowd that filled the square, about nine o’clock, I
bought, at a flower-stall, the white rose of York and the red rose of
Lancaster,–twining them together as an emblem of the settled peace
that here broods so sweetly over the venerable relics of a wild and
stormy past.

[Illustration: _Bootham Bar._]

Four sections of the old wall of York are still extant and the
observer is amused to perceive the ingenuity with which those gray and
mouldering remnants of the feudal age are blended into the structures
of the democratic present. From Bootham to Monk Gate,–so named in
honour of General Monk, at the Restoration,–a distance of about half
a mile, the wall is absorbed by the adjacent buildings. But you may
walk upon it from Monk Gate to Jewbury, about a quarter of a mile, and
afterward, crossing the Foss, you may find it again on the southeast
of the city, and walk upon it from Red Tower to old Fishergate,
descending near York Castle. There are houses both within the walls and
without. The walk is about eight feet wide, protected on one hand by a
fretted battlement and on the other by an occasional bit of iron fence.
The base of the wall, for a considerable part of its extent, is fringed
with market gardens or with grassy banks. In one of its towers there is
a gate-house, still occupied as a dwelling; and a comfortable dwelling
no doubt it is. In another, of which nothing now remains but the walls,
four large trees are rooted; and, as they are already tall enough to
wave their leafy tops above the battlement, they must have been growing
there for at least twenty years. At one point the Great Northern
Railway enters through an arch in the ancient wall, and as you look
down from the battlements your gaze rests upon long lines of rail and
a spacious station, together with its adjacent hotel,–objects which
consort but strangely with what your fancy knows of York; a city of
donjons and barbicans, the moat, the draw-bridge, the portcullis, the
citadel, the man-at-arms, and the knight in armour, with the banners of
William the Norman flowing over all.

The river Ouse divides the city of York, which lies mostly upon its
east bank, and in order to reach the longest and most attractive
portion of the wall that is now available to the pedestrian you must
cross the Ouse, either at Skeldergate or Lendal, paying a half-penny
as toll, both when you go and when you return. The walk here is
three-quarters of a mile long, and from an angle of this wall, just
above the railway arch, may be obtained the best view of the mighty
cathedral,–one of the most stupendous and sublime works that ever
were erected by the inspired brain and loving labour of man. While I
walked there last night, and mused upon the story of the Wars of the
Roses, and strove to conjure up the pageants and the horrors that
must have been presented, all about this region, in that remote and
turbulent past, the glorious bells of the minster were chiming from its
towers, while the fresh evening breeze, sweet with the fragrance of wet
flowers and foliage, seemed to flood this ancient, venerable city with
the golden music of a celestial benediction.

[Illustration: _York Cathedral–West Front._]

The pilgrim to York stands in the centre of the largest shire
in England and is surrounded with castles and monasteries, now
mostly in ruins but teeming with those associations of history and
literature that are the glory of this delightful land. From the
summit of the great central tower of the cathedral, which is reached
by two hundred and thirty-seven steps, I gazed out over the vale of
York and beheld one of the loveliest spectacles that ever blessed
the eyes of man. The wind was fierce, the sun brilliant, and the
vanquished storm-clouds were streaming away before the northern
blast. Far beneath lay the red-roofed city, its devious lanes and
its many gray churches,–crumbling relics of ancient ecclesiastical
power,–distinctly visible. Through the plain, and far away toward the
south and east, ran the silver thread of the Ouse, while all around,
as far as the eye could reach, stretched forth a smiling landscape of
emerald meadow and cultivated field; here a patch of woodland, and
there a silver gleam of wave; here a manor-house nestled amid stately
trees, and there an ivy-covered fragment of ruined masonry; and
everywhere the green lines of the flowering hedge. The prospect is even
finer here than it is from the splendid summit of Strasburg cathedral;
and indeed, when all is said that can be said about natural scenery
and architectural sublimities, it seems amazing that any lover of the
beautiful should deem it necessary to quit the infinite variety of the
British islands. Earth cannot show you anything more softly fair than
the lakes and mountains of Cumberland and Westmoreland. No city can
excel Edinburgh in stately solidity of character, or tranquil grandeur,
or magnificence of position. The most exquisitely beautiful of churches
is Roslin chapel. And though you search the wide world through you will
never find such cathedrals,–so fraught with majesty, sublimity, the
loveliness of human art, and the ecstatic sense of a divine element in
human destiny,–as those of York, Canterbury, Gloucester, and Lincoln.
While thus I lingered in wondering meditation upon the crag-like summit
of York minster, the muffled thunder of its vast, sonorous organ rose,
rolling and throbbing, from the mysterious depth below, and seemed
to shake the great tower as with a mighty blast of jubilation and
worship. At such moments, if ever, when the tones of human adoration
are floating up to heaven, a man is lifted out of himself and made to
forget his puny mortal existence and all the petty nothings that weary
his spirit, darken his vision, and weigh him down to the level of the
sordid, trivial world. Well did they know this,–those old monks who
built the abbeys of Britain, laying their foundations not alone deeply
in the earth but deeply in the human soul!

All the ground that you survey from the top of York minster is classic
ground,–at least to those persons whose imaginations are kindled
by associations with the stately and storied past. In the city that
lies at your feet once stood the potent Constantine, to be proclaimed
emperor [A.D. 306] and to be vested with the imperial purple of Rome.
In the original York minster,–for the present is the fourth church
that has been erected upon this site,–was buried that valiant soldier
“old Siward,” whom “gracious England” lent to the Scottish cause,
under Malcolm and Macduff, when time at length was ripe for the ruin
of Glamis and Cawdor. Close by is the field of Stamford, where Harold
defeated the Norwegians, with terrible slaughter, only nine days before
he was himself defeated and slain at Hastings. Southward, following
the line of the Ouse, you look down upon the ruins of Clifford’s Tower,
built by William the Conqueror, in 1068, and destroyed by the explosion
of its powder magazine in 1684. Not far away is the battlefield of
Towton, where the great Warwick slew his horse, that he might fight on
foot and possess no advantage over the common soldiers of his force.
Henry the Sixth and Margaret were waiting in York for news of the event
of that fatal battle,–which, in its effect, made them exiles and bore
to an assured supremacy the rightful standard of the White Rose. In
this church Edward the Fourth was crowned [1464], and Richard the Third
was proclaimed king and had his second coronation. Southward you may
see the open space called the Pavement, connecting with Parliament
street, and the red brick church of St. Crux. In the Pavement the Earl
of Northumberland was beheaded, for treason against Queen Elizabeth, in
1572, and in St. Crux [one of Wren’s churches] his remains lie buried,
beneath a dark blue slab, still shown to visitors. A few miles away,
but easily within reach of your vision, is the field of Marston Moor,
where the impetuous Prince Rupert imperilled and well-nigh lost the
cause of Charles the First, in 1644; and as you look toward that fatal
spot you can almost hear, in the chamber of your fancy, the pæans of
thanksgiving for the victory that were uttered in the church beneath.
Cromwell, then a subordinate officer in the Parliamentary army, was one
of the worshippers. Charles also has knelt at this altar. Indeed, of
the fifteen kings, from William of Normandy to Henry of Windsor, whose
sculptured effigies appear upon the chancel screen in York minster,
there is scarcely one who has not worshipped in this cathedral.

[Illustration: _York Cathedral–South Side._]

York minster has often been described, but no description can convey
an adequate impression of its grandeur. Canterbury is the lovelier
cathedral of the two, though not the grander, and Canterbury possesses
the inestimable advantage of a spacious close. It must be said also,
for the city of Canterbury, that the presence and influence of a great
church are more distinctly and delightfully felt in that place than
they are in York. There is a more spiritual tone at Canterbury, a tone
of superior delicacy and refinement, a certain aristocratic coldness
and repose. In York you perceive the coarse spirit of a democratic era.
The walls, that ought to be cherished with scrupulous care, are found
in many places to be ill-used. At intervals along the walks upon the
banks of the Ouse you behold placards requesting the co-operation of
the public in protecting from harm the swans that navigate the river.
Even in the cathedral itself there is displayed a printed notice that
the Dean and Chapter are amazed at disturbances which occur in the
nave while divine service is proceeding in the choir. These things
imply a rough element in the population, and in such a place as York
such an element is exceptionally offensive and deplorable.

It was said by the wise Lord Beaconsfield that progress in the
nineteenth century is found to consist chiefly in a return to ancient
ideas. There may be places to which the characteristic spirit of the
present day contributes an element of beauty; but if so I have not seen
them. Wherever there is beauty there is the living force of tradition
to account for it. The most that a conservative force in society can
accomplish, for the preservation of an instinct in favour of whatever
is beautiful and impressive, is to protect what remains from the
past. Modern Edinburgh, for example, has contributed no building that
is comparable with its glorious old castle, or with Roslin, or with
what we know to have been Melrose or Dryburgh; but its castle and its
chapels are protected and preserved. York, in the present day, erects a
commodious railway-station and a sumptuous hotel, and spans its ample
river with two splendid bridges; but its modern architecture is puerile
beside that of its ancient minster; and so its best work, after all, is
the preservation of its cathedral. The observer finds it difficult to
understand how anybody, however lowly born or poorly endowed or meanly
nurtured, can live within the presence of that heavenly building, and
not be purified and exalted by the contemplation of so much majesty,
and by its constantly irradiative force of religious sentiment and
power. But the spirit which in the past created objects of beauty
and adorned common life with visible manifestations of the celestial
aspiration in human nature had constantly to struggle against
insensibility or violence; and just so the few who have inherited that
spirit in the present day are compelled steadily to combat the hard
materialism and gross animal proclivities of the new age.

[Illustration: _York Cathedral–East Front._]

What a comfort their souls must find in such an edifice as York
minster! What a solace and what an inspiration! There it stands, dark
and lonely to-night, but symbolising, as no other object upon earth
can ever do, except one of its own great kindred, God’s promise of
immortal life to man, and man’s unquenchable faith in the promise
of God. Dark and lonely now, but during many hours of its daily and
nightly life sentient, eloquent, vital, participating in all the
thought, conduct, and experience of those who dwell around it. The
beautiful peal of its bells that I heard last night was for Canon
Baillie, one of the oldest and most beloved and venerated of its
clergy. This morning, sitting in its choir, I heard the tender,
thoughtful eulogy so simply and sweetly spoken by the aged Dean, and
once again learned the essential lesson that an old age of grace,
patience, and benignity means a pure heart, an unselfish spirit, and a
good life passed in the service of others. This afternoon I had a place
among the worshippers that thronged the nave to hear the special anthem
chanted for the deceased Canon; and, as the organ pealed forth its
mellow thunder, and the rich tones of the choristers swelled and rose
and broke in golden waves of melody upon the groined arches and vaulted
roof, my soul seemed borne away to a peace and rest that are not of
this world. To-night the rising moon as she gleams through drifting
clouds, will pour her silver rays upon that great east window,–at once
the largest and the most beautiful in existence,–and all the Bible
stories told there in such exquisite hues and forms will glow with
heavenly lustre on the dark vista of chancel and nave. And when the
morning comes the first beams of the rising sun will stream through
the great casement and illumine the figures of saints and archbishops,
and gild the old tattered battle-flags in the chancel aisle, and touch
with blessing the marble effigies of the dead; and we who walk there,
refreshed and comforted, shall feel that the vast cathedral is indeed
the gateway to heaven.

York minster is the loftiest of all the English cathedrals, and the
third in length,[11]–both St. Albans and Winchester being longer.
The present structure is six hundred years old, and more than two
hundred years were occupied in the building of it. They show you, in
the crypt, some fine remains of the Norman church that preceded it
upon the same site, together with traces of the still older Saxon
church that preceded the Norman. The first one was of wood and was
totally destroyed. The Saxon remains are a fragment of stone staircase
and a piece of wall built in the ancient herring-bone fashion. The
Norman remains are four clustered columns, embellished in the zigzag
style. There is not much of commemorative statuary at York minster,
and what there is of it was placed chiefly in the chancel. Archbishop
Richard Scrope, who figures in Shakespeare’s historical play of _Henry
the Fourth_, and who was beheaded for treason in 1405, was buried in
the lady chapel. Laurence Sterne’s grandfather, who was chaplain to
Laud, is represented there, in his ecclesiastical dress, reclining
upon a couch and supporting his mitred head upon his hand,–a squat
figure uncomfortably posed, but sculptured with delicate skill. Many
historic names occur in the inscriptions,–Wentworth, Finch, Fenwick,
Carlisle, and Heneage,–and in the north aisle of the chancel is the
tomb of William of Hatfield, second son of Edward the Third, who died
in 1343-44, in the eighth year of his age. An alabaster statue of
the royal boy reclines upon his tomb. In the cathedral library, which
contains eight thousand volumes and is kept at the Deanery, is the
Princess Elizabeth’s prayer-book, containing her autograph. In one of
the chapels is the original throne-chair of Edward the Third.

In St. Leonard’s Place still stands the York theatre, erected by
Tate Wilkinson in 1765. In York Castle Eugene Aram was imprisoned
and suffered death. The poet and bishop Beilby Porteus, the sculptor
Flaxman, the grammarian Lindley Murray, and the fanatic Guy Fawkes
were natives of York, and have often walked its streets. Standing on
Skeldergate bridge, few readers of English fiction could fail to recall
that exquisite description of the place, in the novel of _No Name_. In
his artistic use of weather, atmosphere, and colour Wilkie Collins is
always remarkable equally for his fidelity to nature and fact, and for
the felicity and beauty of his language. His portrayal of York seems
more than ever a gem of literary art, when you have seen the veritable
spot of poor Magdalen’s meeting with Captain Wragge. The name of Wragge
is on one of the signboards in the city. The river, on which I did not
omit to take a boat, was picturesque, with its many quaint barges,
bearing masts and sails and embellished with touches of green and
crimson and blue. There is no end to the associations and suggestions
of the storied city. But lest my readers weary of them, let me respect
the admonition of the midnight bell, and seek repose beneath the
hospitable wing of the old Black Swan in Coney street, whence I send
this humble memorial of ancient York.

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