Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

ABBEY.)

MONUMENTAL BRASSES, ETC.

113

represented in the engraving. But the brasses have long since disappeared, and left only the empty grooves to which they had been so elaborately adjusted by the skilful artists of that day. Brasses, or Latten, are considered to be good illustrations of the architecture of their period, owing to the designs of canopies, crosiers, &c. delineated upon them. They are seldom to be met with in any reign prior to that of Edward the Second; nor did they become general till towards the close of the fourteenth century, when the effigies are commonly surmounted by arched canopies, ogee-shaped and crocketed, of the same kind of inlaid work elaborately engraven. These subsequently vary, according to the style of the age, and in general rather preceding than following it. Of the brasses, which—owing to the rank and character of its founder and benefactors, as well as its abbots and others—must have formed no inconsiderable feature in the decorations of Tinterne Abbey, not a fragment remains.

Where Latten marked the abbots' grave,

And sculpture spread her trophies round it;
Rank weeds in wild luxuriance wave,

And mock the gaudy shrine that crowned it.
Here, they who for the Cross had died,

And they who led the way to glory-
Here mitred pomp, and martial pride,

Have not a stone to tell their story.

VI.- Doorway leading into the Sacristy.—This is a double doorway—a specimen of the Early English-divided by a moulded shaft, with a circular opening, or quatrefoil, over it. The outer arch is deeply "recessed,' consisting of five or six successive shafts, or mouldings, on either side, without capitals, and meeting above at the centre of the arch. The inner arches are foliated, and the cusps richly fluted. Clasping this elegant and massive structure, the ivy has so incorporated itself with the masonry, that-massive as it is—art must gradually yield to that natural process which seems to make every root of ivy, if once insinuated between the jointed stones, act like a fulcrum for their dislodgment

“ Ha, ha !” laughs the Ivy, “ let men uprear

Their Castles and Abbeys,' far and near;
Pile upon pile, let their fabrics rise,
Darkening the earth, and mocking the skies;
Lifting their turrets so haughtily-
Boasting their grandeur—but what care I?
Buttress and bastion, cloister and hall-

I conquer them all-I conquer them all!VII.—The Refectory. *-Of this building enough remains to show, that, in their palmy days, the Abbots of Tinterne had a truly noble hall for their pri

* Sce page 52, passim.

VOL. II.

vate and state entertainments. Of refectories in general, some account has been already given at page 51 of this volume. Of the style of architecture employed in this dining-hall, the numerous windows, with their mullioned partitions, tall shafts, and foliated arches, face-shafts, and corbel heads along the walls, from which sprang the lofty groined vault that covered and connected the whole, present a tolerably distinct picture.

Along the roof a maze of mouldings slim,
Like veins that o'er the hand of lady wind,
Embraced in closing arms the key-stone trim,
With hieroglyphs and cyphers quaint combined,
The riddling art that charmed the Gothic mind."

With regard to the minor details, we may notice the dole, a small double aperture, near the archway on the left; and on the opposite side, is another door through which the dishes were handed in from the kitehen. Near the dole is a low-arched doorway in the eastern wall, showing the passage by which communication was kept up with the adjoining offices, the hospitium, the locutorium, and the dormitories. The situation of the reading-desk, or lectern, will be seen by referring to the new plan of the abbey here introduced; and this closes our notice of the engraved illustrations,

“On the whole,” says Grose, summing up his observations on Tinterne, “ though this monastery is undoubtedly light and elegant, it wants that gloomy solemnity so essential to religious ruins; it wants those yawning vaults and dreary recesses, which strike the beholder with religious awe-make him almost shudder at entering them, and call into his mind all the tales of the nursery. Here, at one cast of the eye, the whole is comprehended, nothing is left for the spectator to guess or explore; and this defect is increased by the ill-placed neatness of the poor people who show the building, and by whose absurd labour the ground is covered over by a turf, as even and trim as that of a bowling-green, which gives the building more the air of an artificial ruin in a garden, than that of an ancient decayed abbey." “ How unlike,” he adds," the beautiful description of the poet !

'Ilalf-buried there lies many a broken bust,

And obelisk and urn, o'erthrown by time,
And many a cherub here descends in dust,

From the rent roof and portico sublime;
Where reverend shrines in Gothic grandeur stood,

The nettle or the noxious nightshade spreads;
And ashlings, wafted from the neighbouring wood,

Through the worn turrets wave their trembling heads.'”

ABBEY.]

POETICAL TRIBUTES.

115

These objections have been repeated by other writers of unquestionable taste; but we may venture to predict, that among the numerous strangers who annually resort to these deserted shrines, few will return home without expressions of unqualified admiration of “ Tinterne, as it is.” The care employed by its noble owner in arresting the progress of decay, is creditable to his taste and reverence for antiquity. Had these ruins been consigned, as some would have had them, to the wasting hand of time, their vaulted wonders would long ere now have fallen piecemeal into the area beneath; but wherever a stone is observed to be losing its hold, the hand of art is immediately applied to restore it to its original place : and thus, what might have passed away in a few inclement seasons, has been propped up and secured for the delight of many generations to come.

And lo, these mouldering fragments to sustain,

Her graceful network nature's hand hath hung;
Bound every arch with a supporting chain,

And round each wall her living verdure flung;
And o'er the floor that sepulchres the dead-

The saints and heroes of departed years;
The flower of memory lifts its modest head,

Aud morning sheds her tributary tears.:—W.B.

Poetical Votaries. Having quoted so largely from chroniclers and other prose writers in the preceding pages, we must not quit the subject of Tinterne Abbey, without selecting a few stanzas from those minstrels who have sought and found inspiration on the spot. Wordsworth, from whose poem on the Wye we have already quoted, addresses the following

Lines to a Cistercian Monastery.

• Here man more purely lives, less oft doth fall,
More promptly rises, walks with nicer heed,
More safely rests, dies happier; is freed
Earlier from cleansing fires, and gains withal
A brighter crown.' On yon Cistercían wall
That confident assurance may be read;
And, to like shelter, from the world have fled
Increasing multitudes. The potent call
Doubtless shall cheat full oft the heart's desire;
Yet, while the rugged age on pliant knee
Vows to rapt Fancy humble fealty,
A gentler life spreads round the holy spires;
Where'er they rise the sylvan waste retires,
And airy harvests crown the fertile lca.

Tinterne Abbey on the WIye.

Sudden the change; at once to tread
The grass-grown mansions of the dead.
Awful to feeling, where, immense,
Rose ruin'd grey magnificence;
The fair wrought shaft all ivy-bound,
The tow'ring arch with foliage crowned,
That trembles on its brow sublime,
Triumphant o'er the spoils of time.
There, grasping all the eye beheld,
Thought into mingling anguish swellid,
And checked the wild excursive wing,
O'er dust or bones of priest or king;
Or rais'd some Strongbow warrior's ghost,
To shout before his banner'd host.
But all was still. The chequered floor
Shall echo to the step no more;
No airy roof the strain prolong,
Of vesper chant or choral song
Tinterne! thy name shall hence sustain
A thousand raptures in my brain;
Joys, full of soul, all strength, all eye,
That cannot fade, that cannot die.— Bloomfield

Evening at Tinterne Abbey.

A pilgrím, at the vesper hour,
I stood by Tinterne's hallowed tower;
While o'er the walls, in golden hue,
The setting sun its farewell threw;
Then, paling slowly, flushed and fled,
Like a smile from the cheek of the recent dead.

'Tis night-on the ivy-mantled walls
The shadows deepen, and darkness falls;
And forth from his roost, in the fretted aisle,
The solemn owl wheels round the pile;
But no lighted shrine, no vesper-song,
Is seen, or heard, these aisles among;
For hymnless now the day returns,
And voiceless sets on their nameless urns ;
Nor laud, nor chant, nor matin chime,
Retard the fleeting steps of time.

The Shrine, from which the anthem rushed, When evening glowed, or morning blushed,

[blocks in formation]

Forgive me, abbey of the watered vale
Forgive that, when I feel my spirit swell
With an unwonted energy, I fail
To hymn thy desolated glories well !
Not yet the chrysalis has burst its shell —
Not yet expanded its immortal wings;
The restless rudiments of vast powers tell

The soul a deathless thing; from earth she springs,
But fast and feebly falls, the while of thee she sings.

J. C. Earle, St. Edmund's Hall, Oxford.

« AnteriorContinua »