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" Whose Norman tower lifts its pinnacled spiro:
Where the long Abbey-aisle extends,
That sheltered the Saint in canopicd stall.” There is no single object, however, after the Abbey, half so attractive as the old church of St. Michael's, the sacred repository of the great
Lord Bacon. It is built within the precincts of the ancient city, and, crowning a gentle undulation of the surface, forms a beautiful feature in the landscape. The interior still preserves its simple antique appearance, and is rich in sepulchral objects. It was founded about
the middle of the tenth century, by Abbot Ulsinus ; and its massive piers and plain semicircular arches still show unquestionable evidence of the original Saxon architecture. It is kept remarkably neat, and has, what we have rarely observed in other churches, small fire-places in several of the family pêws.
But the tomb and statue of Bacon soon arrest the eye, and claim, for time, the stranger's undivided attention. The statue we need not describe; it speaks for itself in the beauty of the sculpture, and in the classic elegance of the inscription. But how appropriate are these lines :
• Unfit to stand the civil storm of state,
Lord Bacon, “the illustrious subject of the following inscription, was the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord-keeper of the great seal under Elizabeth, who
LORD BACON-HIS TOMB IN ST. MICHAEL'S.
was married to Anne, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, a lady of the most profound erudition and brilliant talents. Francis, the illustrious son of such distinguished parents, was born in the year 1560, and even in his infancy gave indications of the most uncommon abilities, united with the greatest and most unwearied assiduity in the pursuit of knowledge and investigation of truth; his cleverness gained him, even in his earliest youth, the admiration of Elizabeth. At Cambridge, where he completed his education, his talents obtained universal applause. While prosecuting his studies at the university, he detected the fallacies of the then customary mode of philosophizing, which at a more mature age he published to the world, and laid down those laws which opened the way
to all the brilliant and surprising discoveries of modern days. His university education being completed, he commenced his travels, from which the unexpected death of his father suddenly recalled him; upon which he applied himself to the study of the common law, at Gray's Inn, and soon elevated himself to the highest dignities of his profession. But his character was not without a blemish humanum est errare ;' and even the illustrious Bacon fell from the giddying height he had so proudly attained. After his disgrace, he applied himself wholly to literary and philosophical pursuits, enriching the world with his discoveries, and enlightening it by his reasonings. His love for philosophy was the immediate cause of his death, of which the following narrative is given by Aubrey, in his MSS., which are now deposited in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford :
“The cause of his lordship’s death was trying an experiment as he was taking the aire in the coach with Dr. Witherborne, a Scotchman, physitian to
FRANCIS. Bacon. BARO DE VERULAM. S. ALBANS VICMES. SEU
NOTIORIBUS TITULIS. SCIENTIARUM LUMEN. FACUNDIÆ LEX. SIO
Sir Thomas Meautys, who erected the monument, faithful services to him through all his troubles, and at was Lord Bacon's private secretary. He continued his his death inherited as next heir the family possessions. VOL. I.
the king, towards Highgate : snow lay upon the ground, and it came into my lord's thoughts, why flesh might not be preserved in snow, as in salt. They were resolved they would try the experiment presently. They alighted out of the coach, and went into a poor woman's house at the bottome of Highgatehill, and bought a hen, and made the woman exenterate it, and then stuffed the body with snow; and my lord did help to do it himself. The snow so chilled him he immediately fell so ill, that he could not return to his lodgings (I suppose then at Gray's Inn), but went to the Earl of Arundell's house at Highgate, where they put him into a good bed, warmed with a panne; but it was a damp bed, that had not been lain in for about a yeare before, which gave him such a cold, that in two or three days, as I remember he told me, he died of suffocation.”—Topographical Library, page 113-5.
Sopwell Nunnery is thus described in the History of the Abbey. founded by “Abbot Geoffry about 1140, on his observing two poor women dwelling there in a wretched hut of their own constructing, and living a most austere life on bread and water, and in regular devotion to God. Their piety induced him to build a house for their comfortable living; and to bestow on them some possessions. He appointed also a chapel and a church-yard; ordaining that none should be buried there except the nuns; none to be admitted into that house but maidens; and the number not to exceed thirteen.
“ Henry de Albini or Albeney, of the house of Todenei, gave to this house two hides of land, with his wife's consent, in their manor of Cotes, in Beaulieu. His son Robert, and his mother Cicely, gave a rood more, in the same manor. Richard de Tany, or Todenei, gave them the land called Black hides in Ridge parish.
Abbot Michael, about 1338, ordained certain rules for the regulation of this house, and enjoined a better order and observance than they had before practised. They are as follows: 1. That the commemoration of St. Alban should be kept as usual. 2. That no more than three nuns should sit in the chapter. 3. That silence be observed, as by the rựle of St. Benedict, in the church or chapel, in the cloister, in the refectory, and the dormitory. 4. That a little bell do ring in the morning, as notice to rise and appear; and that none leave the dormitory before the bell rings. 5. That the garden door be not opened (for walking) before the hour of prime, or first hour of devotion ; and in summer, that the garden and the parlour doors be not opened until the hour of none (nine) in the morning; and to be always shut when the corfue rings. 6. That no sister hold conversation in the parlour without her cowl on, and her face covered with her veil. 7. That tailors, or other artists, be persons of good character, but to work in some place assigned them without the monastery; and never to be admitted into chambers or other private places.
8. That if any sister be under a sentence of penance, this shall not exclude her from the duties of the church. 9. The sick to be kept in the infirmary. 10. No nun to lodge out of the house; and no guest within it. 11. All the sisters to be present at the mass of our Lady.”—History of St. Albans,
Returning from the ruins of Sopwell, we take a parting view of the great west entrance to the Abbey Church, the principal features of which we have already noticed, page 94. The ground in front of the porch is entirely occupied as a public cemetry; but none of its sepulchral antiquities are of a character to demand particular notice as works of art.
The ceremony represented in the woodcut is the “distribution of alms, which usually took place at the church door, on particular festivals, when “giveale” and the “ dole” drew together the neighbouring poor. The “ give-ale," so called, was distributed on anniversaries, often with bread and other dole, to the poor, for which purpose land had been left to the church by the person whose birth-day, saint's-day, or burial-day, was to be commemorated. Anniversaries were sometimes kept on the birth-day of a donor, during his life-time, or on the saint's-day of the church where it was appointed. The doles of money and bread were distributed at some altar in the church, or at the tomb of a deceased benefactor. The “give-ale," being chiefly allotted to great festivals, was usually distributed in the church-porch, where the people assembled, and where they sometimes remained wassailing in the church-yard till it became a scene of merriment and tumult. Some of these anniversaries, as it is well
known, gave rise to Fairs, which were once most improperly held in churchfarls.--Gaston de Blondeville, vol. iv. p. 68.
In the preceding notice of St. Albans, the narrow limits assigned to this work has made it necessary to confine our sketches and observations to the more striking features of the Abbey and its vicinity. Where the materials are so abundant and inviting, and where only a few characteristic portions can be admitted, their selection must be always attended with more or less difficulty ; but in the present instance, it is hoped, the order of subjects has been so arranged as to present the reader with a faithful picture of the Abbey as it now is, and such as, with the vast improvements in contemplation, it may continue to be for ages to come. For the lives and acts of its “forty abbots and one,” we must refer our readers to the chronicles of the Abbey, and the other sources of information hereunto annexed.
“Now closes the scene; and here,” in the words of the historian, “ may we behold fallen and set for ever the glory and splendour of this and all other of those religious corporations, which, with most pious intentions in the founders, with general good conduct in the rulers, with most grateful acceptance in the sober and virtuous of all ranks, had provided for the wants and necessities of men; and the revenues, which had cheered the hearts of the naked and hungry, now turned out of the channel of hospitality and benefi