« AnteriorContinuar »
“ His praise at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.” Thus might I proceed till I had exhausted your patience, and still leave untold many things that afford me satisfaction. Whatever may be our several tastes and feelings, if our hearts are under a right influence, we shall try to profit by all things, as the bee gathers honey from every flower.
flower. A fit season it is, after we have mused on the varied objects of pleasure which God's providence has scattered in our path way, to ponder on his goodness and grace as made known in his holy word. Well will it be for us all to accustom ourselves to associate in our inmost thoughts, life with death, time with eternity, and earth with heaven.
THE TOWER OF LONDON.
THOUGH I have tramped three or four miles without halting—a tolerable breathing bout for an old manyet do I feel as fresh as when I first started. Surely if any human being beneath the stars has reason to sing of mercy it is Old Humphrey.
I am standing for a moment at the entrance of the Tower, before I pass over the bridge, looking at the broad moat that surrounds the place, and regarding the huge superannuated pile that never smiled, and that now frowns as darkly as ever. Famous as a fortress, a palace, and a prison, it cannot be regarded without interest. Time has been when such a scene would have called
up all the romance and chivalrous feelings of my youthful days. The pageantry of olden times, with armed knights and courtly dames, the joust, the tournament, the banquet, the midnight revel, and the festive dance, would have flitted before me: but years that bleach the hair sober the heart; my pulse is tranquil
Had this place always been the stronghold of lawful authority; had power never exercised oppression within its walls ; and had none but the guilty been fettered in its gloomy dungeons, I should gaze around me with more pleasure than I now feel; but the records of time have handed down to us much that cannot be justified. I love loyalty and lawful authority, but I abhor oppression.
As the goodly apparel, the towering plume, the prancing war-horse, the flaunting banner, and the blast of the trumpet, close the eye and the ear to the horrors and iniquities of war, so proud palaces and embattled towers often hide from us, in a double sense, the evil deeds that have been done within them. As I stand, thus noting down my passing thoughts, shadowy reflections are stealing over my mind. The White Tower there, had it a tongue, could tell me a fearful tale! How often has Bell Tower rung out its alarms, in seasons of turbulence and strife. Beauchamp's Tower is associated with deeds of oppression and cruelty; and Devilin's Tower, near the corner, is not unstained with blood. There is a taint in the moral atmosphere of the place. On the hill yonder stood the scaffold, whence many a head, severed by the hand of the executioner, rolled to the ground; but more of these things by-andby. Were human crimes made visible, and did they occupy a space equal to their enormity, I much fear
that a mountainous mass of depravity and sin would overwhelm the shadowy pile that now stands before me. The young, the beautiful, the patriotic, the learned, and the pious, have been immured within its dreary walls, and a rigorous captivity has been followed by a cruel death.
When we think on the multiplied transgressions of mankind, well may we exclaim, “ Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and the
that thou visitest him?" Psa. viii. 4.
The Tower, we read, was founded by William the Conqueror; carried on by his son Rufus ; repaired by Thomas à Becket; enlarged by Longchamp, bishop of Ely; and finished by Henry II. Richard 111., and Henry VIII.; made some additions and repairs. The first governor of this fortress, in the time of William the Conqueror, was Geoffry de Mandeville, who laid out much money on the building, and the present governor is Arthur, duke of Wellington,
There is a misshapen irregularity, a strange mingling of ancient and modernetimes; an anomalous jumbling together of things wont to be kept separate, about the Tower, that takes away the impression which a castle or fortress usually makes on the mind. It is a confused heap, made up of towers of stone, brick, and cement, of houses, bastions, batteries, and turrets, of walls, sentinels, chimney-pots, and vanes :--but I will enter the place. The Tower was not always so easy
access ; for power is jealous, and oppression and cruelty, which have at times resided there, are watchful, if not fearful. Four gates have I passed, and the warders and armed sentinels have let me proceed without a challenge ; but in olden times the drawbridge to the Tower was always raised, and the huge, unwieldy gates were always closed.
Traitors' Gate looks gloomy; but if so to me, how much more so must it have appeared to the many
who have passed under that low-browed arch, with almost the certainty that they would never again return! There is a loneliness, a disconsolateness in the dash of the wa. ter, as the tide rolls in, that makes one melancholy. A sluice beneath the Traitors' Gate supplies the broad, deep moat with water from the river.
And this is Wakefield Tower, or the Bloody Tower! Whether Richard m., called Crookback, really did cause to be murdered in this tower the children, Edward v. and the duke of York, will perhaps only be revealed, when the secrets of all hearts will be made known. Either he has been sadly maligned, or a sore catalogue of evil deeds has been truly laid to his charge.
What a noble gateway is here! The groined arches that vault the portal, the grotesque heads, and finely carved tracery that springs from them, are exquisitely beautiful. Here is a portcullis, too, with its spikes of iron, and the massy gates have enormous hinges; one of them is broken. There have evidently been two hinges at the bottom of the gates, but they are gone, though the pins on which they turned are remaining still.
The platform and the row of lofty trees to the left, offer some attractions to those who have time to promenade. I have mounted the stone steps, gazed on the shipping in the river, walked in part round the Tower, passed by the Devil's Battery, the Stone Battery, and the Wooden Battery, and am now returned to the White
Tower, so called because Henry III. ordered it to be whitened. It is the original and principal tower in the fortress.
Where now stands the Ordnance Office, once stood the old palace, the dwelling place of kings, with its spacious halls and extended galleries, its noble courts, and goodly gardens. Not a vestige of these remains ; but the antiquarian visitor draws upon his memory, and revels in the knowledge he has acquired from the dusty records of departed days.
What glorious gifts are memory and imagination ! By these I once more build up the princely pile, long since dissolved, and people it with the Edwards, and Henries, and Richards of old. There is the painted hall, and in it are assembled a goodly throng of joyous guests. The royal captive, John, is feasting with the third Edward, and all his court. But this pageant has melted into air; and Henry of Lancaster occupies its place, having received a kingly diadem from the second Richard. Thus are the puppets of power moved backwards and forwards.
Thus Time, advancing with a smile or frown,
One raises up, and pulls another down. A further change, and now the painted hall is thronged with other characters: Catherine of Arragon, “beautiful and goodly to behold,” Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr, in quick succession, hold their interviews with the eighth Henry, before their espousals to him. What a lesson for ambition to ponder! Two of Henry's wives were divorced, and two brought to the scaffold by the royal sensualist. Sunshine and pomp and smiles began the dream of joy of the latter ; but Tower Hill and the