7 DECEMBER 1895, Page 10



ME Dean of Westminster explains in his preface how his daughter's book differs from Dean Stanley's great work. It is peculiarly the story of the Abbey itself, of its fabric, its services, its government ; often, of course, touching the ground occupied by the earlier volume, but with such a difference of treatment and matter as amply justifies its existence. Within its range of subject it is eminently systematic and complete.

Speaking first of the fabric, we have a very instructive chapter on "The Abbey Buildings," from the pen of Mr. J. T. Micklethwaite, in which the notices that appear from time to time in the main narrative are connected and supplemented by the professional knowledge of the writer. This account is illustrated by what may be called historical plans, and by a ground-plan of the Abbey as it now stands, with the various epochs of architecture marked by differences of shading. Of the black, indicating the Norman work of the Confessor and of the builders of the first half-century of the Abbey's existence (1055-1100), there is but little left, only the walls of the Refectory, Treasury, and Common House. The Con- fessor's Church, which itself replaced an older building, gave way by slow degrees to the building which we now have. Henry III., who showed in this undertaking a tenacity of purpose which he displayed on no other occasion, began the work in 1245; but part of the Norman nave was still standing in the beginning of the sixteenth century. The work of re- placement seems to have grown as those who carried it on. In other great churches, we see large portions of the old incorporated with the new, and there was some- times an idea of doing this at Westminster. In the end, however, the policy of "Thorough" prevailed, whether to the loss or gain of posterity it is not easy to say. About the later restorations, if the term may be allowed, carried on under the superintendence of Sir Christopher Wren, there can be no doubt. Yet this did not do as much harm as it might have done. Much repair was wanted, though we may probably take cum grano the descriptions of the ruinous and dilapidated condition of the Abbey at the close of the seven- teenth century. A thoroughly conscientious and well-in- formed architect of the newest school can preserve much that his predecessors would have unhesitatingly condemned. Wren's towers—they were not really Wren's—are the worst things that were done, because they are the most obtrusive. We are not surprised to be told that the masonry of this period is much inferior to the older work. Worse injuries were done to the interior of the building in the eighteenth century. It was blocked up by huge and tasteless monuments, which occupy space now sorely needed.

Between King Lucius, who is said to have built a Christian church on the site, in the year 178, of a heathen temple, and the Jubilee of Queen Victoria, is a period of more than seven- teen centuries. Unhappily, the first six, some would say the first eight, have to be retrenched. That there was a monas- tery and a church on a Thames island called Thorney, many years before the Conquest, we may be allowed to believe, but no definite history exists before the year 1049, when Abbot Edwyn succeeded Wulnoth in the rule of St. Peter's Monas- tery, and was associated by the Confessor in his grand scheme of building the West Minster.

Of the eight centuries of authentic history, it is difficult to say which period is the most interesting. Perhaps the most eventful is the seventeenth century, which occupies accord- ingly more than a quarter of Mrs. Murray-Smith's volume. It began with the reign of a new Dean (Lancelot Andrewes, June, 1601,—the "last year of the century" was 1600, not, as our author thinks, 1599), perhaps the most distinguished of all that have occupied that dignity. Then came the Great Queen's funeral, a scene of such loud mourning as no man living had wit- nessed. Richard Neile came after Andrewes, the Neile who was the object of his predecessor's wit. "Cannot I take my subjects' money without this formality in Parliament?" said King James as he sat at dinner.—" God forbid, Sir, but you should," replied Neile, "you are the breath of our nostrils." —" Well, my lord, what think you?" said James, turning to Andrewes.—" I think it lawful for you to take my brother • Anna.; of Westmtnster Abbey. By E. T. Bradley (Mrs. Murray-Smith) Loudon: Cases:di and Co. 1995.

Neile's money, for he offers it," was the answer. In the time of Neile's successor, the body of Mary of Scotland was trans- ferred to the new tomb in the Abbey, and two months after- wards Prince Henry was buried amidst sorrow as genuine as ever followed a royal funeral. It is ill judging of heir- apparents, but many believed that Prince Henry had more sense than the rest of his house. In 1618 Raleigh was brought to the Gate-house of Westminster. We get the story of his last hours from Tounson, who was then Dean. A medley troop of other prisoners followed him,—Elliot, Lilly (as- trologer), Lovelace (poet), Geoffrey Hudson (dwarf). The last event of Tounson's deanery was the burial of Queen Anne of Denmark. The reign of his successor, Williams, the last clerical keeper of the Seals, was full of troubles, significant of the other trouble that were soon to over- whelm Church and State. Williams held his own with ex- traordinary pertinacity. At one time imprisoned, and even deprived, he contrived to obtain reinstatement. In the end, however, his own friends turned against him. The most time-serving Bishop could not keep in with the Parliament. The popular dislike of the order culminated in a riot, and in May, 1641, Williams finally left Westminster.

Now began the reign of Presbyterianism, soon to be suc- ceeded by the still more hostile Independency, The delibera- tions of five years and a half, held first in the Chapel of Henry VII., and then in the Jerusalem Chamber, produced, among other things, the Longer and Shorter Catechisms. While these were proceeding, the daily services were abolished to make room for a "morning exercise" of preaching. The Chapter, with the exception of one Canon, who had been suspended for Puritan opinions, disappeared. In fact, everything was changed, except the school, which still flourished under the immortal Busby. Busby, holding it to be his supreme duty to train a generation of Loyalists for future service, swallowed the Declaration and Covenant. In one respect the splendour of the Abbey services was not diminished. The funerals in the days of the Commonwealth were most magnificent. Essex, Bradshaw, Blake, among others, were buried with great pomp. Cromwell spared nothing to do honour to the servants of the Republic. His own obsequies were on a splendid scale, costing £60,000—far more than had been spent at the funeral of James I.—a foolish extravagance, perhaps, but venial indeed compared with the indescribable meanness with which the restored Royalists wreaked their vengeance on the dead.

We will not follow Mrs. Murray-Smith's narrative any farther. It is enough to say that its literary merits are altogether worthy of the subject. We cannot say that we are equally satisfied with the illustrations,—that is, with the fancy drawings which constitute the larger part. We do not desire to undervalue their artistic merit. But they seem to be suited to a class of readers quite different from that for which the text is written. Any one who can take an intel- ligent interest in the story told here, will be able to supply for himself what the artists have attempted to give. Real objects connected with the Abbey, genuine portraits of his- torical personages whose names occur in its history, these and the like would always be welcome. But we must own that it does not interest us to see a fancy picture of the Abbot signing the Deed of Surrender, or one of Andrewes teaching Westminster boys at his lodgings. These things may help the imaginations of the uninstructed, but then it is not to the uninstructed that this book appeals. For the real, as opposed to the fancy illustrations, the fine etehing of the Abbey, for instance, which forms the frontispiece, we have nothing but praise.