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therefore imagine me next day at the end of my journey, in the midst of a warm-hearted family, who realize the blessedness of Church principles, and are alive to the privileges which the Church system offers them. Imagine them bent upon giving a quiet country parson all the enjoyment they can, and therefore not planning pic-nics nor fishing excursions, (though for "auld lang syne,” a bat and ball are visible,) but considering how, in the shortest possible space of time, the greatest possible amount of information on Church matters can be gained. The result of their judicious catering I will now communicate to you, and that briefly, to get in all I can.
And first of all, as in duty bound, we visited an old College friend, to whom the Church is much indebted, and who is loved the more, the more he is known. The church of which he is Curate, has been recently restored, in a most complete and perfect manner. It is one of Mr. Scott's most successful restorations: and when I say that, I mean no small praise; as I do think that thorough Church architect is establishing many claims to the good opinion of Churchmen. The scrolls are very beautiful; as is the diaper-work in the chancel. All the arrangements and appointments for Divine Service are of the best character, and there is every facility for celebrating Divine worship decently and in order.
I had the satisfaction of inspecting a fine monument of antiquity, in the shape of an old inn, built about 1009, and where the Duke of Monmouth was sheltered during his Rebellion. We also saw the old chest that erewhile belonged to the Abbey of Glastonbury; which, amid some modern alterations, still preserves indisputable marks of its antiquity.
It was a glorious day; for, though the rain fell in the morning, the skies cleared, and we had cheerful and bright faces, and all went merry as a marriage bell. You who know our common friend so well, will readily imagine how thoroughly happy we were.
The following day was one of hard work. We began with driving up some hills, which are not second to those of Devonshire, and from the summit of which views of the most magnificent character are gained. Our object
was to see the Church of Leigh-upon-Mendip which is, altogether, a fine building; the tower being one of the noblest specimens of a Somersetshire tower: not quite equal, I must confess, to Wrington. The large "pens," which modern comfort and exclusiveness have invented, have been removed, and the old oaken benches restored, as they were in days of old. The arrangements of the Church are correct. You will be glad to learn that there is here an Industrial School, which has been attended with most satisfactory results. The proceeds of last year were very large, when we consider the smallness of the plot of ground under cultivation. There were, I believe, £49 for two acres, over and above vegetables used. Our readers will remember in our pages the account of the Finchley Schools, (upon the success of which, the promoters deserve hearty congratulation,) and those at Leigh and Mells are on a similar principle.
Thence, over a beautiful tract of country, to Chantrey, a chapelry in the parish of Whatley. This is a Cathedral in miniature. Every thing is good, yet all on too large a scale for so small a building. This is more especially the case with reference to the chancel, which gives one the idea of being overcrowded. Some of the scrolls are very well done; and I can only express the gratification I feel in adding, that this noble structure is daily opened for holy worship, and that daily God is praised in the beauty of holiness.
Thence we proceeded over Mells Green, (which is the most beautiful of any I ever saw,) to Frome Selwood, a town which has obtained notoriety on many accounts. All here is full of cheer. The Vicar is going on with many good works, as usual; among which we may name Schools; Juvenile and Adult College; House of Refuge; Libraries; and temporary Homes for factory females out of work.
S. John Baptist's day was indeed a great and glorious day; and I was sorry indeed that my journey took place after that festival. There was a solemn dedication feast, with its Holy Eucharist, and the gathering of rich and poor. There was the inauguration of a College for the middle classes; an ecclesiastical-looking building.
There was laid the foundation-stone of an Infants' School, and a Home for factory girls, by the Marchioness of Bath. The restoration of the noble old church, is also being proceeded with; and great boxes are gradually giving way to neat, substantial oaken benches. There is an early Morning Service at half-past five, that the workman may go out to his work until the evening, strengthened with grace from above. Such are the great works that are going on in the long-neglected parish of Frome Selwood. Truly we may say, "What hath GOD wrought!"
There was a rainbow in the cloud that hung over the good Vicar but three years ago; and the distresses of S. Barnabas' are turning out to the advantage of the Church elsewhere: and he who left that glorious structure, chanting, in broken accents, "By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept," is now once more going forth bearing precious seed; and he who has so sown in tears will yet reap in joy. That GOD may long preserve him in health and strength to do his Master's work will, I am sure, be the prayer of hundreds of the sons of England's Church. The sermon preached by him on the Eve of S. John Baptist, is very characteristic, and should, I think, be printed, in a cheap form, for general circulation in the parish, so that all might have a copy.
The day following found us in the magnificent Cathedral of Wells. What a noble building, and how carefully are the restorations being carried on! The beautiful Choir and exquisite Lady Chapel, cannot but command universal admiration. Most fully, in such a place, do we realize Wordsworth's sonnet
"Open your gates, ye everlasting piles!
Types of the spiritual Church which God hath reared;
But yet, on the day we visited it, the solemn teaching was unfelt by the masses that crowded its nave.
It was a great day at Wells; and the occasion was one which called for prayer and meditation. The installation of a Bishop is certainly no light or trifling matter. Long before the choir doors were open, the nave was almost filled with people, but most seemed to forget that they were in the presence of GOD, and that He dwelleth in His holy Temple.
The service was of the usual Cathedral cast, with the exception of the Priest's part, which was read. If any doubt the superiority of intonation over reading, to fill a large building, we wish they had been at Wells on this occasion, as we did not hear one word of the prayers.
We (my party and myself) proceeded from Wells, to examine the glorious ruins of Glastonbury, magnificent still in its desolation. Far different were our feelings as we gazed in wondering awe at the fine remains. Though the rain was falling, we felt as if there we could have chanted our solemn Litany, and sung some of those olden strains which in other days resounded within those walls. A holy stillness pervaded the spot, and Wordsworth again came to my mind, as I thought of past and pre
"Monastic domes! following my downward way,
Your spirit let me freely drink, and live,"
The rich specimens of architecture that still remain, are too well known to require any detail here. The his tory of its foundation is given at large by various monkish writers. They say that S. Philip, thirty-one years after CHRIST, sent over Joseph of Arimathea, (a chapel
dedicated to whom in part yet remains,1) at the head of eleven others, to evangelize Britain; and that, on their arrival, Arviragus, although he had not been converted to the faith, gave them 1400 acres of land, whereon to build a church. The death of Joseph and his companions, was followed by a decline in religion. About 166, however, King Lucius applied to Eleutherius, Bishop of Rome, to send over some missionaries. Phaganus and Diruvianus were subsequently despatched and, converting many, settled here with twelve of their disciples.
To trace the subsequent history of this institution, to its rise and fall, would require more than one number of the little "Mag." I must, therefore, content myself (though somewhat unwillingly) with saying, that it grew to be one of the richest Abbeys in England, standing in a close of about forty acres, and was dissolved by Henry VIII. Richard Whiting was the last abbat. The account of him given in Stevens's History of Abbeys, though somewhat long, may yet interest our readers :
"Whiting was Abbat of this monastery: a man both venerable for his age, which was almost decrepit, and really wonderful for the moderation of his religious life, which he had preserved amid the greatest plenty of temporal blessings. For this England had still retained, that, though the monasteries were extraordinarily wealthy, they should not be governed by any but monks. All the religious men also lived in community; were more assiduous in the Choir; and very rarely went abroad without the enclosure of their monasteries. Whiting, therefore,
1 Dr. Stukely says, "The present work is about the third building upon the same spot. It is 44 paces long, 36 wide without. It is so entire that we could well enough draw the whole structure. The roof is chiefly wanting. Two little turrets are at the corner of the west end, and two more at the interval of four windows from thence: which seems to indicate the space of ground the present chapel was built on; the rest beneath, and the church, was a sort of ante-chapel. Here was a capacious receptacle for the dead. They have taken up many leaden coffins, and melted them into cisterns. The roof
of the chapel was finely arched, with rib-work of stone. The sides of the walls are full of small pillars of Suffolk marble, as likewise the whole church which was a way of ornamenting in those days. They are mostly beaten down. Between them, the walls are painted with pictures of saints, as is still easily seen.'