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SCROLL-HEAD, illustrative of Arundel Castle-West Gateway—“Owl and
THE Baron's Hall-Minstrelsy in the Olden Time-SYR Bevis..................
ANCIENT ARMOUR OF ELTHAM HALL_"THE DUKE'S STUDY”....................... ARCHER.
DISCOVERY OF HAROLD's Body, after the Battle of Hastings, by his Mistress,
“Edith with the Swan's neck"......
HEAD OF KING CHARLES I. as Prisoner in Carisbrooke Castle..................... Law.
MILITARY TROPHIES OF KENILWORTH, with the Arms of Robert Earl of Lei. cester.
TVE Castles and Abbeys of England may be justly regarded as the great fixed landmarks in her history. They stand like monumental pillars in the stream of time, inscribed with the names of her native chivalry and early hierarchy, whose patriotic deeds and works of piety they were raised to witness and perpetuate.
Viewed in this connexion, they are subjects of enduring interest and curiosity; especially to those whose minds have been strongly imbued with a love of the arts, a veneration for the great minds and the wise measures of which they are the splendid memorials. We linger in the feudal court, and muse in the deserted sanctuary, with emotions which we can hardly define: in the one our patriotism gathers strength and decision; in the other, that piety of which it is the outward evidence, sheds a warmer influence on the heart. We traverse the apartments that once contained the noble founders of our national Freedom; the venerable and intrepid champions of our Faith; the revered fathers of our Literature ; with a feeling which amounts to almost devotion. We turn aside to the mouldering gates of our ancestors as a pilgrim turns to some favourite shrine; to those ruins which were the cradles of liberty, the residence of men illustrious for their deeds, the stronghold and sanctuary of their domestic virtues and affections. The mutilated VOL 1.
altars of our religion, the crumbling sepulchres of our forefathers, are pregnant with an interest which no other source can afford. In these venerable remains, the visible stamp of sanctity still clings to the threshold; we tread the ground with a soft silent step, overawed by the solemnity of the scene; we feel that-although the sacred fire is extinguished on the altar, the hallelujahs hushed in the quire, and priest and penitent gone for everwe feel that the presence of a divinity still hallows the spot; that the wings of the presiding cherubim are still extended over its altar.
But turning from the cloistered abbey, to the castellated fortress of artiquity, a new train of associations springs up. The vaulted gateway. the rudely sculptured shield, the heavy portcullis, and massive towers—all contrast forcibly with the scene we have just left, but present to the mind's eye a no less faithful picture of feudal times. It was from these towers that the flower of English chivalry went forth under the banner of the Cross-carried the terror of their arms to the gates of Jerusalem, and earned those glorious badges' which are now the proud distinction of their respective houses.
In a survey of these primitive strongholds, these rude citadels of our national faith and honour, every feature is invested with traditionary interest. They are intimatelv associated with our native Literature, civil and sacred ; with History, Poetry, Painting, and the Drama; with local tradition, legendary and antiquarian lore.
To the early founders of our castles and abbeys, we are mainly indebted for the blessings we still enjoy as a free and independent nation. It was the unflinching fortitude and uncompromising faith of our baronial ancestors which extorted from the bands of Despotism the grand charters of English freedom; and, if the meli who achieved such things ought to live in the grateful remembrance of their country, surely the local habitations with which their names are identified, must ever be viewed as classic scenes with which the grandeur and glory of England are inseparably connected.
It is there that the very Genius of chivalry still presents himself with that stern and majestic countenance which views with disdain the luxurious and degenerate posterity' which has robbed him of his honours. It is there that the scenes of other days recur to the imagination in all their native pomp and
FROM THE NATIONAL RECORDS, ANCIENT CHRONICLES, ETC. 3 solemnity. These were the ancient schools where the manly exercises of knighthood, the generous virtues of patriotism, fortitude, honour, courtesy and wisdom, were habitually taught and practised.
The love and reverence of antiquity are imbibed with our earliest classic discipline ; but when we turn to the history of our own country, and contemplate in her castles abbeys, and cathedrals, the monuments of her former greatness, we become animated with a different emotion; we feel the strong bond of relationship which unites us with their founders. We dwell with romantic interest on their valour, munificence, hospitality; a hospitality which was open to all; to knight, pilgrim, and minstrel ; to him whose honoured office“ wedded to immortal verse” the fortunes, achievements, and festivities of the noble owner; and by exciting the first efforts of wit and fancy, secured an introduction to every species of polite learning—to all the softer influences by which the stern manners of the age were gradually softened and refined.
With respect to our ecclesiastical foundations, our abbeys, priories, and cathedrals; how great is the proportion that was built and endowed by our ancient nobility! Next to the glory of bearing arms in the Holy Land, was the desire of founding churches at home; for to honour God with their substance, to brave every danger in defence of their religion, were maxims that regulated the chief actions of their lives, and extended their view beyond the boundaries of time. To them and their long line of descendants, we are indebted for feats of arms, for examples of Christian fortitude, which have preserved our throne and constitution inviolate, and raised the British character to its zenith of national glory. By the practical lessons which they afford, they inspire us with admiration of their lofty virtues. Their patriotism at home, their perilous adventures abroad, their indomitable courage and inflexible faith, their triumphs at the scaffold and the stake,—all evinced a constancy in virtue, a confidence in God, which nothing could shake or overthrow.
In the history of feudal times, when turbulence and faction were constantly troubling the serene atmosphere of public and private life, we observe the spiritua, and temporal power mutually aiding and restraining each other: both uniting to regulate the balance of the state, to enforce obedience to the laws, to resist those unconstitutional and oppressive measures which