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DUKE HUMPHREY'S SHRINE-TOMB.
during centuries to perpetual friction and pressure. Such an effect is by no means improbable. Whoever has witnessed the fervour with which that ancient bronze, the statue of St. Peter at Rome, is saluted by a continual stream of pilgrims, will not be surprised to find that the same spirit of devotion has left a deep impression on the hard pavement of St. Albans. We do not “speak irreverently;" where so many tears have undoubtedly been shed, so many sins confessed, it is pleasing to indulge the belief that the sincerity, if not the form, was accepted; that many a heavy heart, many an oppressed conscience, has here found relief, and formed lasting resolutions of amendment.
“ Prostrate on this cold stone, what tears and sighs
Have pour'd from breaking hearts the sacrifice !" The clerk, who is well informed, and a professed collector of curiosities, showed us several skulls and bones which had been found in the adjoining fields*—some of which, from their gigantic proportions, are worth inspection. One or more sepulchral brasses are also deserving of notice, one in particular—that of an Abbot, richly carved, of large dimensions, and affording a fine specimen of the state of the art in his day. How it escaped the soldiers of Cromwell—the greatest " collectors” of theirage—is a mystery The guide has taken some very good impressions of this and other objects by a very simple process, for the accommodation of intending purchasers. But the grand object of attraction is the Shrine-Tomb of the good Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, whose unhappy destiny is familiar to every reader of English history. This tomb was erected during the abbacy of Whethamstead, who, for his taste and knowledge of architecture, has been justly styled the “Wykeham’ of his time. The description, which may be seen in the printed history, and equally applicable at all times, is here omitted; for, where the engraving of
• In the “ Philo ical Transact.” No. 333, p. size of human bones 426, the reader will find a paper on the extraordinary communicated by the celebrated Mr. Cheselden.
up in this
the subject is presented to the reader, the necessity of description is much obviated, and the writer is thus permitted to dwell at greater length on the interesting portion of history with which the subject is connected.—A detailed account of this shrine is given in Blore's “ Sepulchral Antiquities,” Part the third.
The character of this unfortunate Prince has been represented under different aspects by the writers of his day; but by far the majority bear willing testimony to his virtues, to his personal accomplishments, to his liberal encouragement of science and literature, in which he himself had acquired some merited distinction.
At that epoch, however, the sword was too indispensable, peace and tranquillity were too little felt and enjoyed, to allow much scope for the more humanizing studies and pursuits. The dawn of science was still but an indistinct speck in the horizon; and the few who had already tasted the sweets of literature were continually roused from their intellectual feast by the clang of arms, and the shouts of fresh combatants.
It was under such unpropitious circumstances that Humphrey the Good gave his heart to letters; but with armed hand sought those means for its prosecution which were never to be realized. The history of his life and death may be comprised in a few sentences, and in doing so we give a ready preference to the authority of old Grafton, with only slight alterations in the orthography :-“ Divers articles,” says he,“ both heynous and odious, were laid to hys, the Duke's, charge in open counsayle, and in especial one, that he had caused men, adjudged to die, to be put to other execution than the law of the land had ordered or assigned: for surely the Duke, being very well learned in the law civil, detesting malefactors, and punishing their offences, gat great malice and hatred of such as feared to have condign reward for their ungracious actes and mischievous doings. Although the Duke, not without great laud and praise, sufficiently answered to all things to him objected; yet, because his death was determined, his wisdom little helped nor his truth smally availed; but of this unquietness of mind he delivered himself, because he thought neither of death, nor of condemnation to die, such affiance had he in his strong truth, and such confidence had he in indifferent justice. But his capital enemies and mortal foes, fearing that some tumult or commotion might arise, if a prince so well beloved of the people should be openly executed and put to death, determined to trap and undo him ere he thereof should have knowledge or warning. So, for the furtherance of their purpose, a parliament was summoned to be kept at Bury, whither resorted all the Peers of the realm, and amongst them the Duke of Gloucester, which, on the second day of the session, was by the Lord Beaumont, then High Constable of England, accompanied by the Duke of Buckingham and others, arrested, apprehended, and put in ward, and all his servants seques
DEATH OF DUKE HUMPHREY: HIS TOMB.
tered from him, and thirty-two of the chief of his retinue sent to divers prisons, to the great admiration and surprise of the common people. The night after his imprisonment the Duke was found dead in his bed, being the twenty-fourth day of February, and his body showed to the Lords and Commons, as though he had died of a palsey or impostume. But all indifferent persons well knew," continues the Chronicle, “ that he died of no natural death, but of some violent force; some judged him to be strangled, others write that he was stifled or smoldered between two feather-beds."
“The dead corpse of this Duke was caryed to Saint Albans, and there honourably buryed. Thus this noble prince, son, brother, and uncle to kings, which had valiantly and politiquely, by the space of twenty-five years, governed this realm, and for his merits was called “The good Duke of Gloucester, was, by a bone cast by his enemies, choked and brought to his fatal fine and last ende.” This Duke Humphrey was “not only valyant and noble in all his acts and doings, but sage, politique, and notably well learned in the civil law."* In proof of this, the reader may refer to an amusing anecdote of him in Sir Thomas More’s “Dialogue concerning Heresies,” &c., chap. xiv.; also, to Shakspeare's Henry VI., Act II., Scene I. The good Duke is also said to have “ builded the Divinitie Schole at Oxford, which is a rare pece
of worke.” The Fault in which the “good Duke's” remains had been deposited, was only discovered by accident early in the last century. When “first opened, the body was found in
• “As protector of the realm,” says Hollinshed, "he was highlie esteemed of learned men, himselfe also not meanlie furnished with knowledge, hauing rare skill in astrologie, whereof beside manie other things he compiled a singular treatise, obteining the name of Tabula directionum." Whethamstead, the abbot above-named, concludes a copy of Latin verses on the death of the Good Duke in the following complimentary terms :
Fidior in regno regi duce non fuit isto,
a leaden coffin, in perfect preservation, and floating in a strong pickle, which, however, on being exposed, soon evaporated and left the body to decay. At the foot of the coffin was painted on the wall a picture of the crucifixion, with a chalice at each hand, a second at the side, and a third at the feet, to receive the blood trickling from the Saviour's wounds, with a hand extending from the dust with this scroll—“Blessed Lorde haue mercye on mee.” This painting is still visible on the stone of the vault, which was remarkably dry in January last, and of a temperature considerably higher than that of the chancel above. The skull, which shows the intellectual characteristics of the phrenologists, and a great portion of the skeleton, are still left; but no care having been taken of it for many years after its discovery, various portions were appropriated by relic-hunters, and other conveyancers of anatomy.
In the summer of 1765—as related in the Topographical Library, article Hertfordshire—David Garrick and Quin, who was remarkably fond of good living, made a trip to St. Albans; where, on visiting the Abbey church, and being shown the bones of Duke Humphrey, Quin jocosely lamented that so many aromatics and such a quantity of spirits should have been wasted in preserving a dead body. After their return to dinner, and whilst the wine was circulating, Garrick took out his pencil and composed the following verses, which he termed
Rich wines and spices waste !
Which I can never taste?
Let me embalm this filesh of mine
And spoil th’Egyptian trade!
A Mummy ready made !
The Chapel of Our Lady, which is now. converted into a public school, presents in its architecture the same style and embellishments which distinguish the most highly-finished ecclesiastical structures of its time. The entrance from the south in the "olden time," as here represented in the engraving, is one of the most effective points of view. To describe minutely, would be only to load our pages with unnecessary repetition; for nothing in the form of words can adequately convey the great elegance and beauty which predominate throughout the whole edifice. To be rightly understood and appreciated, it must be seen; and of this the admirers of antiquity seem fully
CHAPEL OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN.
aware, for the numbers who continually resort to the Abbey church for the study and improvement of architectural science, bear ample testimony to the exquisite materials which it offers for that purpose. The erection of new churches, and the restoration of others in a dilapidated state, are greatly facilitated by the numerous models, in every department, which are here thrown' open for imitation. Artists are seen taking casts; others measuring the proportions, comparing the drawings, selecting the beauties, and copying the example of whatever is chaste in design or exquisite in workmanship. In short, the Abbey of St. Albans may be considered as a vast museum, or school of arts, where the student may improve and perfect his designs upon the best models ; and which, were every other lost, might still supply the elements for constructing a masterpiece of ecclesiastical Architecture.
All the subjects in this superb Abbey, to which we have thus briefly adverted, are more or less striking in their kind; yet the effect is peculiarly enhanced or diminished according to the season and hour selected for the visit. The glare of noon, and the sober light of evening, produce effects which are scarcely credible to those who are not familiarized to such contrasts; but in no instance have we seen this venerable and majestic pile to such advantage as during our recent visit, when we resolved to take a view after the twilight had passed away, and the still deep shadows of night had thrown their mantle over the scene. One of our party, who is an excellent judge and an enthusiastic admirer of “Gothic grandeur,” strongly advised us to make a survey by torch-light; but to this certain objections were started, which it became necessary to respect. Reluctantly abandoning the torch, we sallied forth into the sacred precincts under the dim light of a