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the foundation of the church in the thirteenth century. One has not often such a welcome, even from a verger, and I make this occasion to say that few things add more to the comfort of sight-seeing travel than an appreciative verger. He imparts a quality of his church or cathedral to the sight-seer, who feels himself Early English or at least Perpendicular Gothic under his flattering ministrations, and he supplements the dry facts of the guide-book with those agreeable touches of fable which really give life to history.
St. Mary Redcliffe is so rich in charming associations, however, as scarcely to need the play of the sacristan's imagination for the adornment of her past. She is easily, as Queen Elizabeth so often-quotedly said, “the fairest, the goodliest, and most famous parish church in England," and is more beautiful and interesting than the cathedral of her city, if not more graceful in form and lovely in detail than any other church in Europe. One scarcely knows which of her claims on the reader's interest to mention first, but perhaps if the reader has a feeling heart for genius and sorrow he will care most for St. Mary Redcliffe because Chatterton lies buried in her shadow. Or, if he is not buried there, but at St. Andrews, Holborn, in London, as Peter Cunningham claims, there is at least his monument at St. Mary's Redcliffe to give validity to the verger's favorite story. The bishop forbade the poor suicide to be buried in the church-yard, and he was interred in a space just outside; but later the vestry bought this lot and enclosed it with the rest, and so beat the bishop on his own consecrated ground. I could not give a just sense of how much the verger triumphed in this legend, but apparently he could not have been prouder of it if he had invented it. He pointed out, at no great remove, a house in or near which
Chatterton was born; and he must have taken it for granted that we knew the boy had pretended to find the MS. of his poems in an old chest in the munimentroom, over the beautiful porch of the church, for he did not mention it. He was probably so absorbed in the interest which Chatterton conferred upon St. Mary Redcliffe that he did not think to remind us that both Coleridge and Southey were married in the church. Southey was born in Bristol, and they both formed part of a little transitory provincial literary centre, which flourished there before the rise of the Lake School under the fostering faith of Joseph Cottle, the publisher, himself an epic poet of no mean area.
But St. Mary Redcliffe has peculiar claims upon the reverence of Americans from its monument of Admiral Penn, father of him who founded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The formidable old sailor's gauntlets, cuirass, and helmet hang upon the wall above the monument, and near by is the rib of a whale which John Cabot is said to have slain in Labrador. Less endearing associations for us, and less honorable to the city are those of the slave-trade which Bristol long carried on to her great gain and shame. Slavery was common there, not only in the Saxon and Norman days, but practically far down the centuries into the eighteenth. In the earlier times youths and maidens were roped together and offered for sale in the market; people sold their own children abroad; and in the later times, Bristol prospered so greatly in the exportation of young men and women to the colonies, that when this slavery was finally put an end to, it was found just to compensate her merchants and ship-owners in the sum of nearly a million dollars for their loss in the redemptioners whom they used to carry out and sell for their passage-money.
In the strange contemporaneity of the worst and the best things Bristol grew in grace; beautiful churches rose, and then her people fought the fight out of Romanism into Protestantism; in the civil war she held for the Parliament against the King, and was taken by Rupert and retaken by Cromwell. A hundred years after, the great religious awakening to be known as Methodism, began in and about Bristol. Whitefield preached to the miners at Kingswood, and then Wesley, whose help he had invoked, came and preached to all classes, in the town and out, moving them so powerfully to seek salvation, that many who heard him fell down in swounds and fits, and "roared for the disquietness of their hearts," while tens of thousands were less dramatically saved from their sins. Yet another hundred years and the spirit miraculously responded to the constant prayer of George Müller for means to found the Orphanages, which witness the wonder at this day to any tourist willing to visit them. Without one specific or personal appeal, alms to the amount of three million dollars flowed in upon him, and helped him do his noble work.
Riches abounded more and more in Bristol, but the city continued almost to the nineteenth century in a mediæval inconvenience, discomfort, and squalor. A horse and cart could not pass through her tortuous streets, and trucks drawn by dogs transported her merchandise; down to 1820 heavy wagons were not permitted for fear of damaging the arches of the sewers, and sledges were used. All the same, there was from the beginning a vehement and powerful spirit of enterprise, and Bristol is connected with our own history not only by the voyages of the Cabots to our savage northern shores in the fifteenth century, but by the venture of
the Great Western, which, in 1838, made the first steam passage of the Atlantic Ocean. In honor of the relations established by her mariners between the old world and the new, I over-ruled our driver's genteel reluctance from the seafaring quarter of the town, and had him take us to as much of the port of Bristol as possible. I am not sure that I found the points from which either the Matthew sailed for America in 1497, or the Great Western in 1838, but I am sure that nothing more picturesque could have rewarded my vague search. Among the craft skirting the long quays there was every type of vessel except the Atlantic liner which had originated there; but the steamers, which looked coast-wise and river-going, contributed their full share to the busy effect. This for the moment was intensified by the interest which a vast crowd of people were taking in the raising of a sunken barge. Their multitude helped to embarrass our progress through the heaps of merchandise, and piles of fish, and coils of chain and cordage, and trucks backing and filling; but I would not have had them away, and I only wish I knew, as they must later have known, whether that barge was got up in good shape.
On one shore were ranks of warehouses, and on the other, the wild variety of taverns and haunts of crude pleasure, embracing many places for the enjoyment of strong waters, such as everywhere in the world attract the foot wandering ashore at the end of a sea-leg. Their like may have allured that Anglicized Venetian, John Cabot, when he returned from finding Newfoundland, and left his ship to enjoy the ten pounds which Henry VII. had handsomely sent him for that purpose, as an acknowledgment of his gift of a continent. It is not to be supposed that there were then so many and so
large shops as now intersperse the pleasure-resorts in the port of Bristol; I question whether Cabot, if he had strained his eyes over-seas by looking out for new hemispheres, could have found there a whole building lettered over with the signs of an optician, and I do not yet see just why such a semi-scientist should so abound there now. But I shall always be sorry I did not go to him to replace the eye-glasses I had broken, instead of poorly driving to the shop of an optician in one of the best city streets. It was a very handsome street full of shops, such as gave a due notion of the sufficiency of Bristol to all demands of wealth and ease, and I got an excellent pair of glasses; but if I had bought my glasses in the port, I might perhaps have seen the whole strenuous past of the famous place through them, and even "stared at the Pacific" with the earliest of her circumnavigating sons. However, we cannot do everything, and we did not even see that day the cathedral which St. Mary Redcliffe so much surpasses, for anything we know to the contrary. We could and did see the beautiful Norman gateway of the Abbey, which it is no treason to our favorite church to allow she has none to equal, and passing under its sumptuously carven arches into the cathedral we arrived at the side of the regretful verger. He bade us note that the afternoon service was going on, and how the Elder Lady Chapel with its grotesque sculptures in the medieval taste, which used to have fun in the decoration of sacred places with all sorts of mocking fancies, was impossible to us at the moment.
But the Bristol cathedral is not one of the famous English cathedrals, and our regret was tempered by this fact, though the verger's was not. I tried to appease him with a promise to come again, which I should like nothing better than to keep, and then we