« PreviousContinue »
WHEN the Romans finally evacuated Britain, they left, in many parts of the country, elegant buildings, which had been devoted to the purposes either of luxury or devotion, but which, unfortunately, the Britons were unable to protect, on the one hand, from the attacks of the Picts and Scots, on the other, from the ferocious Saxons, to whom the superior beauty of an edifice was only an additional reason for its destruction. After, however, the Saxons had firmly established themselves in Britain, and had leisure to devote themselves to the arts of peace, they were visited by Roman missionaries, and converted to Christianity, and it became necessary to build temples for the accommodation of the numerous worshippers. The rude architects of those early times, were directed by the Roman missionaries to the ruins of those very buildings which their ancestors had so zealously destroyed, and from their imperfect imitations arose that style of architecture which is denominated " Saxon." Their unskilful VOL. V. 3rd SERIES.
endeavors to imitate the Corinthian capital may sometimes excite a smile in the beholder, it should, however, be remembered that this was the beginning in England of that art which afterwards produced the cathedral of York, and which from that time was constantly, though almost imperceptibly, advancing towards perfection.
Specimens of this early style of English ecclesiastical architecture are now very rare, many having been destroyed in the subsequent Danish invasions, and others having been modernized or rebuilt by the Normans, whose style is very similar to that of the Saxons, and sometimes very difficult to distinguish from it.
The Church from which the accompanying view was taken, was erected about 689, A.D. by King Ethelred, who is reported to have built it in fulfilment of directions given in a dream, which he superstitiously believed to have been a divine revelation, to build a church where he should find a white hind. There are, on one side of the tower, figures of a man and a hind, which probably refer to the legend of its origin. The building was originally very magnificent, and in the shape of a cross; but only one of the transepts remains entire. It stands without the walls on the east side of the city of Chester.
The neighbourhood of this church is rendered interesting by its being near to the scene which tradition points out as the residence of the unfortunate Harold after his escape from the battle of Hastings. He is said by one of the chroniclers to have "yscaped to the countrey of Chester, and lived there holylye, as men troweth, an Anker's life, fast by St. John's Church, and made a good ende, as it was knowen by his last confession." This story does not, however, rest upon sufficient authority for it to become a matter of historical belief.
The Church from which the above view was taken, is one of unknown antiquity. It is supposed, however, by Dr. Clarke, to have been erected prior to the introduction of Gothic architecture into Europe, by some Eastern Christians, and if so, would afford a strong argument in favor of those who maintain, that the Gothic style of building was of Eastern origin, having been introduced into Europe by some of those numerous pilgrims who, before the Holy Wars, as they were called, visited the East. It will be observed that the windows are completely Gothic, and it might fairly be called a specimen of that peculiar style of architecture. J.H.
"TRUTH is a jewel!" said a lady to some children in an Infant school I was visiting lately-and pausing a moment, she asked them "what is a truth?" "Truth is a jewel!" replied the little creatures with one voice. The lady then
drew her watch from her girdle, and holding it up to the children, said, “should you like to have a gold watch, such as this, with a gold chain, topaz and cornelian seals, and so on?" shewing them her seals. "Yes! yes!" was of course the exclamation of all. "O, but," said the lady, "you may have something far better than a gold watch and seals; what is the watch good for? What does it tell ?" "It tells the hours," said the infants. "But what can you tell ?" "Tell the truth!"
was the reply. 'Then," said the lady, "if you tell the truth you have a jewel far more precious than my watch, and chain, and seals, all together!"
Now, though all gems or jewels are precious, there are some more precious than others; so while all truths are precious, there are some more precious than others. Truth in the heart and lips of a child, or youth, is inestimably precious, as a principle of action, as a moral virtue, as a grace of the Spirit of God. The truths of which I mean to speak to my readers to-day are the objects of faith in one sense, and ought to be the subjects of prayer; and when believed and possessed, become moral qualities in the heart, principles of conduct in the life, and emit a light purer and brighter than that of any brilliant ever drawn from the mines of Golconda. But as the lady caught the attention of her infant auditors by a demonstration, so I would endeavor to seize and retain the thoughts and attention of my elder, though still youthful readers, by somewhat similar means.
It is related in the history of the Hebrews, that in the reign of Saul, the policy of their enemies suffered them to have no smith in Israel; and that the Israelites went down to the forges of the Philistines to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock. Now it is not the policy, but the piety of our church which suffers us to have no images, or pictures, or rosaries in our worship. But if we can sharpen the useful instruments we possess at the forges of the Philistines, I see no reason why we should, in this respect, be more fastidious than the Israelites of old.
I do not mean to speak at present of images or pictures, as you will find these spoken of elsewhere in a book written for