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saint and king? Its virtues do not seem to have protected it, nor to have saved the abbey in its hour of need.
It may be interesting here to note some of the precious relics that were discovered by the Commissioners at the time of the Dissolution. Here then is a short list of sundry of these. Some of the coles that St. Lawrence was toasted withal: the paryings of St. Edmund's nails, his shirt, banner, sworde, one of his sinews, and some of his hair: St. Thomas à Becket's penne-knyff and his bootes: divers sculls for the cures of varous diseases: peces of the holie crosse enough to make a whole crosse: and many other reliques for superticious usages.' A pretty list, in truth! It is curious to observe how well the monks of Bury were supplied with 'peces of the holie crosse,' and the question arises whence came the numerous other true pieces of the Holy Cross that were exhibited to the faithful in the multitude of churches scattered over Christendom. One mediæval writer and traveller states that he had beheld sufficient pieces of the genuine cross to more than load a big ship. Well might the honest Charles Kingsley become indignant when speaking of the sham relics with which the people were humbugged.'
Of your spectral puppet play
I have traced the cunning wires;
Error fears its lightest tones;
But to do the monks justice, if in the hour of their prosperity they became luxurious, tyrannical, indulgent, and scandalously imposed upon the credulity of a simple people, they were not always SO. Once they boldly, fearlessly stood up for the weak against the strong, for the people's rights and liberties against a proud and powerful oppressor, and this great act of theirs will live and be recorded to their honour as long as English history lasts. This abbey was the scene of one of the most important events in our 'rough island's story.' On the 20th of November, in the year 1214, the ecclesiastics and barons assembled here, convened by that highsouled priest' Cardinal Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, and standing uncovered before the high altar, swore a solemn oath that they would extract from King John the ancient liberties of the people, which oath resulted in their compelling that reluctant monarch to sign the Magna Charta at Runnymede. Then,
The church's curse.
Let him live and die accursed.
On one of the crumbling, ruined walls of the once stately abbey, near to where the gorgeous high altar stood, is a tablet recording the fact of the gathering of the barons there, and giving their names and titles, most of which are now extinct. Another tablet relates the discovery by workmen. digging on the spot, and the reinterment, of the embalmed body of Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, second son of Old John of Gaunt, timehonoured Lancaster.' According to this, though three hundred and fifty years had passed away since the body was buried, upon its discovery in 1772 it was found in the most perfect state of preservation. At that time one of the hands was obtained and is now deposited in the Royal College of Surgeons, London.'
One of the most picturesque bits of the ruin is the ancient Abbot's Bridge, of three small arches, which supports the old boundary wall where it crosses the little river Lark, which receives the waters of the lesser Linnet. Curious that these two streams should bear the names of birds! The arches of the bridge are groined and are very low; they appear to have supported a foot-bridge as well as the wall. The structure is exceedingly picturesque,
a quaint specimen of olden architecture; the monkish builders, whenever they had the opportunity, delighted in the quaint and grotesque. Some of the better preserved portions of the ruined monastery have been reroofed and converted into private residences, but the modern plate-glass sash windows set in the ancient time-toned flint walls give a strangely incongruous aspect to the dwellings. This juxtaposition of the new and the old is more curious han pleasing.
From the ruined abbey we were conducted to the museum, and there I must acknowledge that our guide was of service in that he was able to give us something of the history of the chief objects of interest, and particulars as to where and when they were discovered, and as he had benefited by the remarks of sundry learned antiquaries that he had conducted over the building from time to time, his observations were of more value than the statements of guides generally are.
The majority of the contents of the museum are much the same as one finds in similar local institutions; there are the usual collection of Roman urns, coins, tear-bottles, bits of tiles and pavement, dug up in the neighbourhood. Besides these, one of the chief objects of interest in the collection is a lock of light flaxen hair enclosed in a glass locket, and which our guide assured us once belonged to Mary Tudor, and we could not say otherwise. We were next shown some stays made of iron, which were worn by ladies in the reign of Henry VIII., and more uncomfortable-looking articles of dress could
A GHASTLY VOLUME.
hardly be devised. Indeed at first sight we actually thought that they were some instrument of torture; and perhaps they were, for what will not ladies suffer to be fashionable?
We saw also an interesting collection of leaden crosses, with various inscriptions thereon; these were found in the cemetery allotted to the monks, who were interred without coffins, but each of whom had one of these crosses placed on his body when buried. Then our guide said in a low confidential voice that led us to expect great things, I will now show you the greatest curiosity we have. A unique book of which there is no similar copy existing.' Our expectations were raised to the highest point, nor were they lessened when we saw him open the carefully locked bookcase, and take therefrom a small volume from a hiding-place at the back. 'We have to be very particular about this,' he remarked, for fear that it should get stolen.' What rare work could it be that we had come upon thus unexpectedly, we wondered, and that was treasured so highly? Then he placed the book in our hands, and asked us to remark the binding. It appeared of some kind of leather, but not being experts in bookbinding, we could see nothing particular about it, or wherein it differed from other bindings of the same class. Then our guide remarked slowly, that due effect might be given to his utterance, 'It's bound in tanned human skin! Look inside,' and he took the book, opened it, and we read 'The binding of this book is the skin of the murderer William Corder, taken from his body and tanned by myself in the year