« AnteriorContinuar »
dour that we admire it, but because it is a fragment which only represents or shadows forth a matchless whole which has been, and whose merits weare, from this shattered specimen, completely disposed to allow.
Melrose Abbey was first built by David I. in the year 1136, dedicated to St Mary, and devoted to the use of a body of Cistercian monks. The church, which alone remains, measures 287 feet in length, and 157 at the greatest breadth. It is built in the most ornate style of the Gothic architecture, and therefore decorated with an infinite variety of sculptures, most of which are exquisitely fine. While the western extremity of the building is entirely ruined and removed, the eastern and more important parts are fortunately in a state of tolerable preservation: in particular, the oriel window, and that which surmounts the south door, both alike admirable, are almost entire. It is also matter of great thankfulness, that a good many of the shapely pillars for the support of the roof are still extant. It is to these objects that the attention of travellers is chiefly directed.
It is not to the zeal of reformers alone that the desecration of our best old religious buildings is to be attributed. The enthusiasm of individuals in more recent times has sometimes done that which the reformers left undone; as is testified by a notorious circumstance told by the person who shows Melrose. On the eastern window of the church, there were formerly thirteen effigies, supposed to represent our Saviour and his apostles.* These, harmless and beautiful as they were, happened to provoke the wrath of a praying weaver in Gattonside, who, in a moment of inspired zeal, went up one night by means of a ladder, and with a hammer and chisel, knocked off the heads and limbs of the figures. Next morning he made no scruple to publish the transaction, observing with a great deal of exultation, to every person whom he met, that he had "fairly stumpet thae vile paipist dirt nou I" The people sometimes catch up a remarkable word when uttered on a remarkable occasion by one of their number, and turn the utterer into ridicule, by attaching it to him as a nickname; and it is some consolation to think that this monster was therefore treated with the sobriquet of " Stumpie," and of course carried it about with him to his grave.
It would require a distinct volume to do justice to the infinite details of Melrose Abbey; for the whole is built in a style of such elaborate ornament, that almost every foot-breadth has its beauty, and every beauty is worthy of notice. I shall content myself with merely
* Id the drawing of Melrose Abbey in Slezer's Theatrnm Scetiie, the niches are all filled with statues. Slezer took his drawings early in the reign of kins' William.
IV. 2 B
adding the description which Sir Walter Scott has given of it in his Lay of the Last Minstrel.
If thou wonldst view fair Melrose aright,
By a steel-clench' d postern door,
They enter'd now the chancel tall;
On pillars, lofty, light, and small;
The moon on the east oriel shone,
By foliaged tracery combined;
In many a freakish knot had twined;
At the time of the Reformation the inmates of this abbey shared in the general reproach of sensuality and irregularity thrown upon the Komish churchmen, as is testified by a ballad then popular, which contained the following verse:
The monks of Melrose made gude kail
On Fridays, when they fasted;
As lang as their neighbours' lasted.
'Cm balls, tfw ;i'ojcclions from which Ihe ar«her ipring, usually cut in a fantastic laoe, or maki.
Whatever might be the sensuality of the monks of Melrose, it is certain that some of their power was sometimes matter of real inconvenience to the public. The abbot had such an extensive jurisdiction, and the privileges of girth and sanctuary interfered so much with the execution of justice, that James V. is said to have once acted as baron baillie, in order to punish those malefactors in the character of the abbot's deputy, whom his own sovereign power, and that of the laws were unable to reach otherwise. But, whatever may be thought of this, there can be no doubt that the protection extended to criminals by the religious was a true blessing in the main, at a time when the law could neither inflict punishment, nor protect a criminal from the rash and unmeasured retribution of those whom he had offended.
After the Reformation, a brother of the earl of Morton became commendator of the abbey, and out of the ruins built himself a house, which may still be seen about fifty yards to the north-east of the church. The regality soon after passed into the hands of lord Binning, an eminent lawyer, ancestor to the earl of Haddington: and about a century ago, the whole became the property of the Buccleuch family.
MIDNIGHT REVIEW OF NAPOLEON'S SHADE*
At midnight, from his grave,
The drummer woke and rose,
Forth on his round he goes.
Stirr'd by his fleshless arms,
The drumsticks patly fall;
Reveille, and roll-calL
So strangely rrjtfS'that drum,
So deep it echoes round,
Start to life at the sound;
Both they in farthest north,
Stiff in the ice that lay,
Beneath Italian clay,
Bi'low the inud of Nile,
* Various versions have been given of this striking piece, in different languages. Tie original ia probably French. The present English version is the best which we have seen, inrf first appeared in the Foreign Quarterly Review.
Their burial place they quit,
And at midnight, from his grave
The trumpeter arose: And, mounted on his horse,
A loud shrill blast he blows
On aery coursers then
The cavalry are seen,
Gory and gash'd, I ween.
Beneath the casque their blanched skulls
As in their bony hands
And at midnight, from his tomb
Tub Cuibf awoke and rose;
A little hat he wears, A coat quite plain has he,
O'er the vast plain the moon
A paly lustre threw;
The troops goes to review.
The ranks present their arms,
Recovering then, the troops
Captains and generals round
In circle form'd appear; The Chief to the first a word
Then whispers in his ear.
The word goes round the ranks, Resounds along the Seine;
.Tis there, at midnight hour The grand review, they suy,
A TALC OF AYRSHIRE.*
In my early manhood I am led to note the most remarkable passages of my life. My age little exceeds twenty-three years, yet already have I a strong sense of the flight and the ravages of dark-handed time. The revolutions wrought in my own estateand condition, even within the lapse of these few late years, are marvellous to myself. I am not what I was. Not less altered is the current of my every-day conduct and manners from that of my early youth, than are the lineaments of my countenance, or the contour of my frame.—But to my story:—
My father died when I was five years old and therefore of him I can have little to tell from my own recollections. One particular transaction descriptive of his behaviour to me, that greatly endears his memory in my heart, is, however, freshly and minutely remembered; nor shall it ever depart but with my reason or my life. A few days before his last illness, which was short, he took me into the garden after a heavy shower of snow, and there, in the strength of his love, playfully tempted me to a mimic fight with snow-balls. Oh! soft were those he threw; most careful and gentle the blows. Then the loud laugh he set up, to see me waxing hot in the encounter, was a hearty delightful utterance of over-flowing joy. At length he allowed me to become victor; but as I closed upon him, still in battle, he took me up into his arms, and almost smothered me with caresses, his eyes filling with parental tears, which in his exultation he could not stem.
On my father's death, Learigg, one of the richest farms in my native parish, descended to me. But my mother, who long survived him, was a far more valuable residue and inheritance. It would be tiresome to a stranger, were I to tell all that I feel is due to her excellencies. Suffice it to say, that to a judgment originally firm, and affections intensely tender, she possessed the best habits assiduously studied and cherished. The character of her mind was forcibly indicated by the style of her sway over her dependants, which was gained entirely by the dignity of kindliness. I often observed that it was by striving to deserve her approbation that they earned their own. But it was towards me, her fatherless boy, that the power of her nature and character had full display. Mho could compute the amount of her parental love—that inextinguishable triumphant love? It was deep and pure and sacred as that of a seraph. Endless were the expedients, infinite the modes, by which it wrought. She cares. * Abridged from "The Metropolitan."