Puslapio vaizdai

remark, and how could we doubt the circumstance of Mr. Pickwick's individuality and his former presence here, when our worthy host had actually in his possession, treasured as a precious relic, the very ivory-mounted' knife and fork that he had used? Surely a greater compliment than this no writer of fiction could desire or expect!

Our host told us that he came from Newmarket, and that he had formerly kept an inn there; he well remembered the old coaching days, and related to us many anecdotes connected therewith. I hear as how you are driving across country,' he remarked, 'so I sent over to a friend and borrowed an old road book as I thought might interest you;' and he handed to us a curious work of ancient date. I merely mention this fact to show what interest the landlords of these old-time inns take in their guests. We were no mere number here, left to the tender mercies of a waiter, who generally appears most anxious as to your welfare when you are about to depart and the time for the inevitable tip approaches.

Then our host said, 'You must have a look in the morning at the curious vaulted cellars under the hotel. There are not many people who have seen them; they used to be the cellars belonging to the monks, and a secret passage led under the road from the abbey to them. You must not go away without seeing them.' And we made a mental note that we would not. Presently, one by one several tradesmen of the place came in, and the conversation became general. One of these brought with



him a sample of home-grown British tobacco, dark in colour and strong in flavour. The sample was tried, and universally condemned. Feeling that the character of the home production was at stake, I came to the rescue, venturing to remark that I had grown tobacco in a garden at Eastbourne which was light in colour and mild in flavour.

There are few inns in pleasant England so charmingly situated as the Angel at Bury St. Edmunds. Our sunny room looked right down upon the gardens and picturesque remains of the once far-famed abbey, 'whose mould'ring ruins mark her fallen state.' The ancient time-toned abbey gateway and the hoary grey and weathered walls contrast most charmingly with the fresh green of the sward and trees around. Only one other hotel in England do I know that has such a romantic outlook, and that is the little rural inn at Tintern, which is perhaps the most pleasantly situated hostelry in all the land.


Early in the morning we started out to view the ruins at our leisure and inspect the old historic We found that the landlord had not forgotten. 'A friend of mine,' he said, 'will be very pleased to go round about and show you what is most interesting in the place, if you would care to have some one with you.' We could not well refuse such a kindly meant offer, and though we would rather have wandered about alone, we submitted, 'on this occasion only,' to be personally conducted. Placing ourselves therefore under the tender mercies of our guide, we were first taken to the abbey grounds.

These we entered by a grand old gateway—a unique structure in decorated Gothic, a clever and curious combination of a gracefully ornamented tower and a strong fortress. The early abbots, it would appear, were highly esteemed by the local people, but as the monastery grew powerful and prosperous, the monks, to whom was granted supreme authority over the town, became tyrannical, so that the love of them was turned into bitter hatred and fear, till at last in the early part of the fourteenth century the discontent of the population at their harsh rule showed itself in an open revolt. The inhabitants around, rising in a body, attacked the abbey and wrought great destruction to it, ill-treating the monks, and destroying the gateway. The new gateway was thereupon planned as a fortress tower; the images standing in the niches concealed slits for the archers behind, and the gates, we learn, were of iron, massive and strong for defence, and covered with brass for ornament.

The former grandeur of this once renowned abbey is attested by the vast extent of ground that it and the buildings connected therewith occupied, the whole being encircled and protected by high walls, which in greater part still remain, with many entrance gateways, like unto a miniature mediaval Leland, who saw the abbey when in the full glory of its prime, just before the Dissolution, thus describes it: One might even think the monastery alone a city; so many gates has it, some whereof are brass, so many towers; and a church than which nothing can be more magnificent.' Truly the





abbey church, dedicated to Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Holy Martyr St. Edmund, must have been a splendid structure. Indeed, it was compared by contemporary writers to Solomon's Temple for its grandeur and surpassing beauty; the high altar, we are told, was constructed of solid silver and porphyry, a presentation from Pope Alexander II., at which 'mass might be celebrated, even were the whole kingdom under ban of major excommunication.' According to a paper read before the Royal Archæological Society by the Bishop of Bath and Wells, This great abbey drew round itself wealth and power, and brought the most proud and haughty monarchs to tremble at its shrine-drew a considerable town around it-attracted kings and queens and parliaments to its precincts-expelled all other spiritual and secular jurisdiction that it might reign supreme-filled the place with some of the finest architectural triumphs of succeeding ages, Norman, Decorated, and Perpendicular-made it an object of ambition to the greatest nobles to belong to the fraternity and to be buried within its hallowed walls -and all this on account of its possessing the body of an obscure and petty king of East Anglia, who had been slain by the Danes.'

It will be remembered (though in honesty I am obliged to confess that, until our guide related the tradition for our special benefit, we were scandalously ignorant, respecting it) that St. Edmund was the last King of East Anglia, and was murdered, or martyred as the monks had it, by the Danes in 870, or thereabouts. After a terrible battle at

Thetford, which lasted the whole of the day, from the rising to the setting of the sun, the Saxons were utterly routed, and King Edmund, their leader, fled into a wood, but was pursued and captured by the victorious invaders, who, enraged at their heavy losses in the struggle, tied the vanquished king to a tree, and shot him to death with their arrows, till his body was covered with darts, like a porcupine with quills,' then they cut off the unfortunate king's head, and threw it away in another and distant part of the wood. After the Danes had left the locality, some of the king's friends went in search of the body to give it Christian burial, and were horrified to discover it headless, but continued their quest in the hope of finding the missing part.

Wandering about the woods their attention was arrested by a voice crying out 'Here, here!' Being thus attracted to the spot whence the voice came, to their astonishment they discovered the king's head in a thicket of thorns, jealously guarded by a wolf. The head was laid temporarily by the side of the body and in a miraculous manner became reunited to it, a line of red only marking the place of juncture. The remains of the king were thereupon buried with Christian rites at Hoxne. After a time many miracles were reported as having been performed there, and the body was translated to a large wooden church at Bury, that had been prepared to receive it, and from this ancient wooden fane sprang the majestic and glorious abbey, renowned for its wealth and magnificence all over the Christian world. Where now is the relic of the

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