Imágenes de páginas

sion," commenced the building of an Abbey here, which was completed by his son Ordulph, and richly endowed. It had not, however, existed more than 30 years, when it was totally destroyed by the Danes, but was shortly afterwards rebuilt, and its endowments greatly augmented*. Henry I bestowed on it the whole Hundred of Tavistock, with the privilege of holding a weekly Market, and an annual Fair; and Richard Barham, the 35th Abbot, obtained from Henry VIII, in 1513, the privilege of a seat in Parliament for himself and his successors: this new dignity was not of long continuance, the Abbey being dissolved in 1539, when its yearly income was estimated at £902. 5s. 74d. The whole of its valuable possessions was immediately bestowed on John Russel, one of the needy sycophants who surrounded the King, and who urged on the "goodly work" of Reformation with a zeal proportioned to the benefits they derived from it: this person was the ancestor of the ducal family of Bedford, and his descendants now enjoy this and numerous other estates, derived from the same source†.

* The following traditional story serves to shew that the good Monks omitted no opportunity of augmenting their possessions; a person named Childe, who was proprietor of the manor of Plympton, had bequeathed his lands to that Church in which he should be buried, and the Monks of Tavistock learning that he had died in a neighbouring forest, proceeded thither, and were carrying his body for interment to their Abbey, when the people of Plympton, equally anxious to secure so good a prize, repaired to the ford at which they expected their rivals to cross, with the intention of depriving them by force of this valuable remnant of mortality. The Monks, however, by erecting a temporary bridge over another part of the stream, passed in safety, and afterwards built the handsome stone Bridge, still called Guile Bridge, with the reward of their ingenious device.

+ Let it not be supposed that we condemn the Reformation; the corruptions of the Romish clergy required correction, and that with no gentle hand; nor can it be questioned that many of the Reformers were actuated by the best motives, and were men of unsullied purity of life: but it is equally certain that such persons as John Russel, Thomas Wriothesley, Sir Edward Seymour, and many others of the same stamp, who enriched themselves enormously by the plunder of the monastic foundations, would, with as mach readiness, have lent themselves to the propagation of Mahometanism as of Protestantism, if its success could have been equally instru mental to their own advantage: and yet these men were the founders of the most "noble" of England's nobility, and their descendants are permitted, in a season of unexampled distress, to retain the ill-gotten wealth of their ancestors! Surely there would be no injustice in a Parliamentary enactment, resuming the property thus lavished away by a profligate despot, and applying it to its original destination of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and instructing the ignorant. By this measure the burthens now so universally oppressive, would be incalculably lessened, and the "noble” families would have little cause for complaint, after having enjoyed the plunder during three centuries.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Various portions of the monastic buildings still exist; of these the most perfect is

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

a handsome structure, apparently erected about the commencement of the fifteenth century. The arch is large and well-proportioned, and four lofty turrets, surmounted by ornamented pinnacles, give a graceful and noble appearance to the edifice. Several buildings, of the same style of architecture, yet remain, but in an imperfect state, and forming part of the houses and warehouses which now occupy the site of the Abbey. The Church, Cloisters, and Chapter House are mentioned by Leland as being extensive and magnificent, but all are now demolished.

Tavistock appears to have owed its origin as a town to the foundation of the Abbey; it derived considerable advantages from the patronage of the Abbots, and returned two Members to Parliament as early as the year 1295, but does not seem to have been incorporated. It is at present governed by a Portreeve, elected annually at the Court of the Lord of the Manor; the Parliamentary Representatives

are elected by about 100 burgage-holders, many of whom are qualified in the same manner as those of Berealston, already noticed at page 521.

The Church, dedicated to St. Eustachius, is a spacious and ancient edifice, with a tower, supported on arches, at the west end. It contains numerous monuments; and some bones of a gigantic size, found in a stone coffin, among the ruins of the Abbey, and traditionally said to be those of Ordulph, the son of Orgar, are preserved here. In this town are some places of worship for Dissenters, and Schools for gratuitous education. An institution for the study of the Saxon language and literature existed here previously to the Reformation; it fell, with its patrons the monks, at that period of worse than Gothic desolation. A printing press was also established here, very shortly after the introduction of the art into England, by the liberality of the Abbot, and some of its productions are yet extant, which are highly prized by bibliomaniacs, and are dated towards the close of the fifteenth century.

Many eminent persons owe their birth to Tavistock: Sir Francis Drake, the earliest English_circumnavigator, was born here in 1545, and was related to Sir John Hawkins, under whom he went to sea at a very early age. Receiving some indignities from the Spaniards in the West Indies, he was prompted in 1570, by the hope of revenge and the prospect of plunder, to fit out an expedition against their possessions in the Gulf of Mexico; this undertaking, and another in the following year, were rather unsuccessful; but a third, in 1572, amply repaid the toils and the expense of all. He next equipped, at his own cost, three frigates, and sailed to Ireland, where, under the command of Walter, Earl of Essex, he acquired great renown, and on his return was introduced to the Queen. In 1577 he set sail on his memorable expedition round the globe, with five small vessels, and 164 men; this vast project he accomplished, with means apparently so inadequate, and returned to England in 1580, having been absent little more than two years and ten months. He brought home a large amount of treasure, taken from the Spaniards, and the Queen testified her approbation of his exploits by dining on board his

ship at Deptford, and conferring on him the honour of knighthood. He made several subsequent voyages to the West Indies and South America, and in 1587 boldly entered the port of Cadiz, and burnt a great number of vessels intended to form part of the Armada; he was also highly instrumental, as Vice Admiral of the English fleet, in the defeat and destruction of that boasted armament. He was next engaged in the unsuccessful attempt to place Don Antonio on the throne of Portugal; and being also disappointed in the result of an expedition against the Spanish settlements in the West Indies, undertaken in conjunction with his old commander Hawkins, the mortification threw him into a fit of sickness, which occasioned his death, at sea, in January, 1596. Drake is one of the most celebrated of our naval heroes, and his liberality was equal to his bravery; the benefits conferred by him on the town of Plymouth, which he represented in Parliament, have already been mentioned; and he is stated to have been "humane and courteous to those whom the fortune of war threw into his power, and just and honourable in his private dealings."

William Browne, a poet of eminence, was born here in 1590, and received his education at Oxford. Removing to the Inner Temple, London, he appears to have devoted his attention to poetry rather than law, and in 1613, published the first part of " Britannia's Pastorals," of which the second part appeared three years afterwards, and "The Shepherd's Pipe,” a collection of Eclogues, in 1614; other pieces are also ascribed to him. In 1624 he returned to Oxford, and became tutor to the Earl of Carnarvon, who was killed at the battle of Newbury. Browne afterwards resided with the Earl of Pembroke: the year of his death is uncertain, but is believed to be 1645. For the age in which he wrote, his versification is remarkably smooth and flowing; in his earliest production he has introduced some beautiful descriptions of the scenery of his native county; and in its construction he has evidently taken Ovid for his

* This vessel was ordered by the Queen to be preserved, and remained at Deptford during a long period; it at length became so decayed as to be incapable of longer preservation, and was accordingly broken up: a chair, made of a portion of the wood, was presented to the University of Oxford, and is still shewn there.

model, and shows an intimate acquaintance with the poets of antiquity.

About three miles from Tavistock is Morwell House, once a hunting seat of the Abbot of Tavistock; and at a short distance from hence are the vast cliffs known as the Morwell Rocks, at the foot of which the Tamar pursues its course; the view from the summit of the Rocks presents a scene of beauty and sublimity to which no description can do justice; indeed the whole course of the Tamar is marked by an unrivalled combination of wild magnificence, with the most enchanting sylvan prospects.

Two miles north-west of Tavistock is the village of Lamerton, and about three miles from thence the vast craggy rock, called

[merged small][graphic][merged small]

rises suddenly from the road leading to Lydford, and from its great height forms a conspicuous sea-mark from the Channel, although at 20 miles distance; its summit, which is 1800 feet above the level of the sea, is often enveloped in clouds, but commands, in clear weather, a most extensive prospect, the ships in Plymouth Sound being distinctly visible. Near the top is a Church, dedicated to St. Michael, which is said to owe its origin to the devotion of a mer

« AnteriorContinuar »