Reading Abbey. By Jamieson B. Hurry, M.A., M D. (Elliot
Stock. 15s. net.)—The Monastery of Reading was founded by Henry for monks of the Cluniac Order. The public history of the foundation was eventful. It was the scene of some great functions,—it was here that Henry II. received the Patriarch of Jerusalem, who came to offer him the kingdom of that city. And it waged what was a typical war with the town of Reading. This place, which was an insignificant cluster of houses at the Conquest, grew in importance, but had to wrest every privilege by repeated efforts from its ecclesiastical lords. These lords did not grasp at more than their due, but this due was inconsistent with a proper development of commercial and social liberty. The story helps to explain how the Revolution of 1532-36 was brought about with so little trouble. These gieitt foundations were an incubus on the life of the country. Of the interior history little is known ; no record of any visitation appears to exist. The Abbey was wealthy, ranking fifth in revenue. The gross income at the Dissolution was £25,000 (in modern value). It appears, however, to have been often in debt. One can hardly wonder at this when the Abbot had forty servants. The remains of the buildings have suffered much. Some were destroyed when the County Jail was enlarged ; others when the Roman Catholic chapel that occupies part of the site was built,—a strange circum- stance, seeing that it must have been count enaneed by Pugin. The town has now provided for their proper custody. The library fared somewhat better. Twenty-six MSS. once belonging to it are in the British Museum, twenty-seven in the Bodleian, sight elsewhere at Oxford, and a few at Cambridge. One of the most curious of the Bodleian possessions is a book of hymns and miscellaneous writings, among them being the words with musical score of the old song, "Sumer is icemen in, Llud sing cuccu."