30 DECEMBER 1882, Page 19


WE,should have thought that a very interesting book, after the, model of the memorials of Westminster Abbey or of Canter- bury Cathedral, might have been written about Winchester, its cathedral, its school, and its castle. The authors of Historic Winchester do not profess to tell us anything new about the old capital of England, but merely to bring into one focus, and to arrange in strictly historical order, the information which is fairly within the reach of all. This work of compilation has been carefully done, and we are thankful for the list of author- ities at the beginning and for the index at the end ; and should have been still more thankful for a plan of' the old town as it was in its palmy days when Edward and his wife Eleanor went in great procession to the cathedral, and when the mayor and burgesses were continually at work keeping the walls and tha gates in good order.

Historic Winchester is something between a chronicle and a

* Historic Winchester, England's First Capital. By A. It. Bramaton and A. 0. Terry. London ; Longman, Green, and Longman. 1892. guide-book, and as such will be as useful to the visitors of the old city as Mr. Hare's Walks in Rome and in London have been to those seeking knowledge about these famous centres of ancient and modern life. But after a careful perusal, we fail to discover any passages of literary merit, such as may be -found in the condensed, but brilliant, sentences of Bright or Stanley. None of the great characters with which Winchester is connected lEthelwald, De 131ois, Wakelyn, Waynflete, Wykeham, or Wolsey—stand out before the mind's eye. We are told what they built up, and what they pulled down ; but we look in vain for a dramatic scene, such as the death of Bede, or the murder of Becket.

The best descriptions in the book are those of the victory of the Parliamentary forces in 1642, of the Plague in 1665, and of the trial of Dame Alice Lisle, widow of John Lisle, the regicide, who was condemned to be burnt by Judge Jeffreys in the Bloody Assize, for sheltering John Hickes and Richard Nelthorpe after the battle of Sedgemoor. We may include, also, the account of Thomas Bembridge, the martyr, who was burnt as a Protestant in the Cathedral close. One cannot but 'feel thankful for the times in which we live, as we picture the poor man, when the flame touched his legs, " subscribing his recantation with much pain and grief upon a man's back," and yet a fevi days afterwards repenting bitterly of his weakness, and " expressing his conscience," for which ho was again taken to the stake and burnt to death. To these we may add a story quoted from Mr. Perry's life of St. Hugh of Lincoln, telling how Henry III., wishing to enrich his own monastery at Witham, sent a royal request for a beautiful manuscript at St. Swithan's monastery at Winchester. When the prior had given the book to the King, and the King had handed it over to St. Hugh, a monk from Winchester happened to pay a visit to Witham, and told St. Hugh how the King had begged it from the prior, and how glad the monks of St. Swithan would be to have it back again. To St. Hugh's credit be it said that he returned the book at once, though by so doing he ran the risk of incurring the King's anger, by exposing his false liberality. We doubt whether the bibliophilists of the present day would part as willingly with so great a literary treasure.

We close historic Winchestor with a feeling of deep regret that a city which dates from the time of the Romans should have suffered so much at the hands of its friends as well as its enemies. Of the old churches, walls, castles, palaces, and goodly houses of the citizens scarce a vestige seems to remain. Even the Cathedral itself was in danger from the Rump Parliament, which sat in 1653 in order to determine how many Cathedral churches should remain, and which should be taken down ; and as late as 1781 (page 355), the north and south gates were removed, "because a tun of hay or a load of straw cannot be brought in or out of the city through the said gates without a .great diminution thereof." Such vandalism is not unknown in our own day, and points to the need not merely of a Society for the preservation of historical monuments, but of an officer of State, without whose leave no destruction, or so.called restora- tion should be permitted.