« AnteriorContinua »
Cistercian “abbots and cellarers have ready money, eat large fish, drink good wine, and send to the refectory, for those who do the work, the very worst. I have seen these monks,” he affirms, “put pig-sties in churchyards, and stables for asses in chapels. They seize the cottages of the poor, and reduce them to beggary.”—With this brief account of the Order, we return to the subjects selected for illustration.
In a historical sketch, by the late Archdeacon Coxe, the ruins of Tinterne Abbey are thus described, and his description is at once accurate and graphic :
“We stopped to examine the rich architecture of the west front; but the door being suddenly opened, the inside perspective of the church called forth an instantaneous burst of admiration, and filled us with delight, such as I scarcely ever before experienced on a similar occasion. The eye passes rapidly along a range of elegant Gothic pillars, and, glancing under the sublime arches which once supported the tower, fixes itself on the splendid relics of the eastern window—the grand termination of the choir.
“From the length of the nave, the height of the walls, the aspiring form of the pointed arches, and the size of the east window, which closes the perspective, the first impressions are those of grandeur and sublimity. But as these emotions subside, and we descend from the contemplation of the whole to the examination of the parts, we are no less struck with the regularity of the plan, the lightness of the architecture, and the delicacy of the ornaments. We feel that elegance, no less than grandeur, is its characteristic, and that the whole is a combination of the beautiful and the sublime. The church, constructed in the shape of a cathedral, is an excellent specimen of Gothic architecture in its purity. The roof has long since fallen in, and the whole ruin is thus thrown open to the sky; but the shell is entire : all the pillars are standing, except those which divided the nave from the northern aisle, and their situation is marked by the remains of their bases. The four lofty arches which supported the tower, spring high in the air, reduced to narrow rims of stone, yet still preserving their original form. The arches and pillars of the transepts are complete: the shapes of all the windows may yet be discriminated; the frame of the west window is in perfect preservation, the design of the tracery is extremely elegant, and, when decorated with painted glass, must have produced a gorgeous effect. The general form of the east window is also entire, but its frame is much dilapidated. It occupies the whole breadth of the choir, and is divided into two large and equal compartments by a slender shaft, not less than fifty feet in height, with an appearance of singular lightness, which, in particular points of view, seems as if suspended in the air. To these decorations of art, nature has added her own ornaments. Some of the windows are wholly obscured, others partially shaded, with tufts of ivy, or elged with lighter foli