At Canterbury

THE Canterbury pilgrim of to-day, who is borne southward by one of the quick trains of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway, will be apt, as he fitfully attempts to summon the correct associations of the scenes through which he is rushing, to think quite as much of poor little David Copperfield, faring ragged and forlorn toward Miss Trotwood’s cottage upon Dover cliffs, as of that stately procession of ye olden time immortalized by Dan Chaucer. The spirit of Dickens seems to pervade the Kentish country, and the formality of our visit to its illustrious dead is broken by his arch greeting upon the threshold. It is perchance no fragment of knighte’s or clerke’s tale which keeps time, in our brains, to the throbbing of the locomotive, but certain heartfelt rhymes of a singer of the far West, who in his native gift of story-telling and vein of humor strikingly resembled Dickens himself : —

“ Lost is that Camp, and wasted all its fire;
And he who wrought that spell ? —
Ah, towering pine and stately Kentish spire,
Ye have one tale to tell!
Lost is that camp! but let its fragrant story
Blend with the breath that thrills
With hop-vines’ incense all the pensive glory
That fills the Kentish hills.”

Even when we have descended from the train, and turned our backs upon the noisy station, the fancies of yesterday strive yet, for a little, with the fatalities of the twelfth century and the sombre phantoms of the first millennium. A long reach of the old city wall lies before us, the dark shells of its frequent towers overflowing with ivy and hawthorn, like a row of huge vases upon some terrace of the Titans ; but the line of the fortifications is unpleasantly broken, in one place, by the would-be Gothic spires of the youngest, reddest, rawest, and most “ dissident ” of the chapels of dissent. It is still the versatile Micawber whom we half expect to see reviewing yon drove of beeves on its way to the cattle-market " with the practiced eye of an Australian farmer,” five minutes after the notion of emigration has first been suggested to his mind ; we fancy Uriah Heep’s fishy eye behind the heart-shaped orifice in yon wooden shutter, and Agnes Wickfield’s meek face glances from between the parted curtains of a broad, bow - windowed, brass-knockered mansion close upon the street.

But the tricksy creatures of the modern imagination efface themselves, one by one, as we get deeper into the heart of the strange old town, and the realities of a portentous past assert their proper power. The streets contract. The windows which peer into them from beneath frowning brows become lattices with quarrel - panes. The projecting stories crowd one above another upon either hand, leaving but a narrow line of sky between them overhead, as in ancient Continental towns. There are not many, in Canterbury, of those delightsome old oak-timbered dwellings, richly carved along the faces of their beams, which are the glory of the midland counties (the one perfect style of domestic architecture !), but scores of homesteads and hostelries, whichever way you turn, which inform you at the first glance that they count their age by centuries. It is not, indeed, the Checkers Inn which receives ourselves, though that still exists in the form of an extensive draper’s shop; and the Chamber of the Hundred Beds and the vast cellarage adapted to the insatiate thirst of the fourteenth century are yet intact. But it is an inn with a paved court-yard; a long dresser in its entrance-hall, backed by blue and white Bible-tiles, and laden with what would incontinently betray a chinamaniac into one form or another of sin ; an oaken stair, moreover, and stained glass in Gothic windows along the corridor into which it leads. Even the waiter who served us our first lunch in Canterbury seemed impressed by the duty of living up to his historic surroundings : “ This very spot where you are a-sitting, sir, is more than four undred years old.”

“ Have you many younger ones hereabout ? ” carelessly inquires the genial captain of our expedition, and the solemnity of the waiter’s tardy negative has in it something nobly English.

The profusion and prominence of hotels, taverns, inns, and all manner of places of public entertainment, extraordinary for so small a city, is one of the first plain mementos which we perceive of Chaucer and the era of the pilgrimages. Many of these houses are very quaint in their appearance, and almost all have picturesque and suggestive names. Beside the transmuted Checkers, we find the Fountain, the Fleur-deLys, the Rose, the Fleece, the Saracen’s Head, and the Greyhound ; the Guildhall, the Sun, the Star, and the Seven Stars ; and two signs of St. George and the Dragon. Not many of these, of course, are as old as Chaucer, but it must be remembered that in his time, and for long afterward, it was only an insignificant portion of the pilgrims to the shrine of St. Thomas — and those, for the most part, of modest condition — who were lodged in hostelries at all. The palace and the priory which formerly adjoined the cathedral, in the leafy mazes of whose beautiful Saxon and Norman ruins one may literally lose one’s self to-day, entertained their hundreds of the more illustrious guests from every corner of Christendom. The magnificent monastery of St. Augustine, which, in the fourteenth century, or two hundred years after the martyrdom of Becket, covered seventeen acres of ground, received its thousands.

There were also numbers of endowed hospitia, where the sane were fed as well as the sick cared for. Into one of the most venerable of these we strayed quite accidentally. A low stone archway of the early English form, opening directly from the pavement of the High Street, seemed to invite us into a cool vestibule, which we found haunted by the usual genius, or rather genia, of such places, — an old woman with a story to tell.

“ What house is this ? ” we ask.

“ Thomas a Becket’s house, ma’am.”

“ How his house ? You don’t mean that he ever lived here ? ”

“ Yes,ma’am,” conclusively,“helived here, — before the Reformation.” This last clause is dropped with the air of a generous cicerone, who will give the worth of a shilling, and not withhold a curious bit of historical information. “ Come up-stairs,” she adds, with the same ungrudging manner, “ and see a beautiful picture.”

We mount the dim stairway in her wake, and find ourselves in what, although docked of its fair proportions now, and disfigured in its shape by modern partitions, was evidently once a spacious vaulted hall. The walls are clean and ghastly with plaster, everywhere but at the northern end, where shines a noble fresco, with tints as fair as though laid on but yesterday, representing the figure of our Lord, soaring as in a vision, with hands upraised in blessing. The drawing is pre-Raphaelite, but the coloring is beautiful, the expression benign, the action majestic.

“ When was this discovered ? ”

“ Only last year, ma’am. They took away the old chimney, and there it was. It cost the Reverend [not his Reverence, as usual] a deal to have it picked out.” We can now see plainly on either side of the fresco the converging lines which mark the shape of the old projecting chimney. Outside these lines are dimly discernible, under the whitewash, the outlines of other figures, a crowd of them. It is the merest ghost of a picture, — armed knights and a sinking figure in priestly robes, — and the drawing seems more modern than that of the singularly preserved central figure, but the subject of St. Thomas’s martyrdom is unmistakable.

“ Why do they not restore the rest of the painting ? ”

“ Oh, no, ma’am ! The Reverend never would, on account of they Catholics.”

It appears upon investigation, however, that it is not so much the uncompromising Anglicanism of the present guardian of St. Thomas’s Hospital which forbids the lifting of this tantalizing veil as the impossibility of removing the plaster, where there has been no brick-work, without bringing the painting with it. Abandoned attempts of this kind vex and sadden us, in great numbers of the old ecclesiastical buildings of England, and help clearly to define our sentiments toward those merciless iconoclasts who were everywhere in such haste to consign to one whited sepulchre the insignia of the ancestral faith.

But to return to St. Thomas’s, or, as it is quite as often called, the King’s Bridge Hospital. It was, indeed, a foundation of the chancellor archbishop, and the door-way by which we entered, as well as the refectory where the fresco was discovered, and the vaulted and groined underground passage, now become a series of coal-bins, but believed once to have led from the hospital to the cathedral, may possibly have belonged to the original building of Becket’s own erection. But the establishment was greatly enlarged and enriched after his canonization had so increased the fame of Canterbury, and, over and above ample accommodations for sick pilgrims, a plentiful supper used to be served in the refectory to such as were too poor to seek the inns. The large, rambling building is now in part an almshouse and in part a school. Our guide showed us the lodging of one of the beneficiaries, a woman of extreme age, but with delicate, even distinguished features, who received us with a certain remote and tremulous dignity. The room in which she sat was very comfortable, and, chilled to the marrow as we were by three months of English summer, we quite envied the venerable inmate her cosy fire. The place was dimly lighted, and the soft sound of lapping water was distinctly audible under the open lattices. Peering from one of these, we perceive that the opposite buildings are divided from the almshouse, as by a Venetian canal, by the river Stour alone, which runs between their foundation stones so fast and clear that we can see the fine long water-grasses under its surface, carried backward like streaming hair. The narrow vista of red brick walls and irregular mossy gables closed by the single stone arch of King’s Bridge is extremely picturesque. We confess to an odd partiality for these private almshouses, — monuments of the piety of a by-gone time, and often, in themselves, as at Warwick and Coventry, beautiful specimens of old-fashioned building. Political economy is supposed to disapprove them, but it certainly seems as if one of the Lord’s poor might await his viaticum more peacefully and collectedly in a place like this than in one of those overgrown modern establishments where bodies are fed and souls are sped by steam.

But we linger too long upon the way to the chief goal of our pilgrimage, and must now bend our steps toward the cathedral. The approach by Mercery Lane, at whose entrance from the High Street stands the Checkers Inn aforesaid, is not only the most convenient, but the most impressive. In Chaucer’s day, as now, the lane was lined with shops, then principally devoted to the sale of religious relics and mementos of the minster and the town. It is believed also to have displayed, in those days, that singular arrangement of open arcades above the basement story, which is best seen in Chester, and is always a reminiscence of the Roman occupation. If this were so, the passage down Mercery Lane must then have been a mere footway, for it is still extremely narrow. Opposite the end of it stands Christ Church gateway, a beautiful Gothic structure, which deceives at first by a look of exceeding antiquity, due to the softness of the sandstone of which it is built and the wanton devastation of its numerous niches. The comparatively recent date of its erection is recorded on the front, — 1517, — and under its deep archway we pass into the cathedral precinct.

The mighty edifice, or rather heap of edifices, which confronts us has about it something of the essential and unclassifiable grandeur of a great feature of natural scenery. We can scarcely measure with the eye its fine pinnacles, etched far above us upon the always pensive sky of England. It is of all the Christian ages ; it is of all the Christian styles ; but criticism is dumb before its majestic unity. Antiquaries point to the position of its principal entrance door, upon the south side, as connecting it with that pre-Augustinian church of Britain which the mythical Arthur defended in vain ; to a portion of the crypt as dating from the era of Augustine’s mission, that is to say, the close of the fifth and beginning of the sixth century ; to the still imposing remains, upon its northern side, of erections by Cuthbert under Eadbald, and by Egelnoth under Canute; to the glorious central tower and transepts of Lanfranc, and the nave and chapels of William of Sens. But as a man’s memory goes back inviolate through a long life crowded with vicissitudes, — through changes, it may be, of name and frame, and creed and country,— so this great monument, whose proportions the eye may barely embrace, holds fast through the ages its stupendous identity, and may be said, with scarce a figure, in the language of metaphysics, to be “ aware of itself as past and future.” We shall do well to stray slowly about the spacious and peaceful close of the cathedral, and study the expression of its lineaments from every practicable point of view, for the aspect of the interior will be found less grateful to the feelings, if not less imposing.

For the first impression which you will receive on entering is unquestionably one of desolation. There is, indeed, the ineffable sublimity of the Gothic nave and aisles, for which no other work of human hands can prepare us, and with which no other can be compared, — the vastness forward and upward, the matchless association of beauteous lines innumerable; but all is stark, silent, vacant, colorless. Efforts are making, certainly, toward bringing back something like the color of health to this pale wilderness of stone by restoring the stained glass of the lofty windows, wantonly shattered by the sprightly soldiery of Cromwell. The most beautiful and renowned window of all, that in the transept of the martyrdom, is said to have been demolished by a single warrior, who went by the appropriate sobriquet of Blue Dick, and who shouted, as he plied his playful hammer, that he was “ rattling down proud Becket’s glassy bones.” The officers of the parliamentary army stabled their horses in the cathedral nave, during the occupation of Canterbury. Here, as elsewhere, the modern windows, however elaborate and costly, are painfully inferior to such of the old ones as have escaped destruction. The restorations of twenty years ago and more are, almost without exception, crude, glaring, and ill assorted in their colors, missing entirely the depth of the ancient tints. Those of the last decade which display the subdued nuances of the “ aesthetic ' period are certainly more harmonious and pleasing pieces of color than the others, but are too often impaired by the weakness and sentimentality of their designs.

While we have been musing upon this curious record, in glass, of the fluctuations of modern fashion, there has been a slight movement far away toward the centre of the church, and the gates in the screen of the inclosed choir have been heedfully shut and secured; a faint murmur of intonation announces to the outsider that divine service has begun, and soon a slender sound of chanting goes up among the immeasurable arches, touchingly enough. But the exclusive and invisible rite seems strangely out of keeping with the vast sublimity of the place, and it is hard to resist the comparison of the defended choir with an isolated outpost in a devastated country, once teeming with wealth, and glowing with loyalty from end to end. The figure of the verger pacing up and down like a sentry before the choir screen assists the military illusion.

It is something to be thankful for, however, that, while the service continues, silence is imposed upon the verger. He will have us at his mercy soon, for he alone can admit us to the arcana. Let us, then, while responding in silence to such broken phrases of petition and of praise as may reach us from within the choir, pause on the first landing of the broad steps by which we ascend to its level, and, leaning over the low marble wall which divides them from the north transept, survey for ourselves the scene of the martyrdom, unvexed by the dreadful volubility of its authorized showman.

There seems every reason to suppose that the stone pavement beneath us is the very one upon which Becket fell. A piece of one of the flag-stones, about six inches square, said to indicate the exact spot, was carried away to Rome as a relic ages ago, and replaced by another which we see. The altar which was erected hard by as soon as the church was reconsecrated after the crime has long since disappeared, though traces of its position may yet be discerned. The central pillar, against which the archbishop made his intrepid stand when he refused to be drugged by the murderer from his sacred post, has been removed, and through the open door we look into the self-same cloister— sunny and peaceful now, though its exquisite arches are black with time — along which, in the brief twilight of December 29, 1170, the victim moved firmly and with full consciousness of his mortal danger to his memorable doom. He passed from the archiepiscopal palace of the day along the eastern and southern aisles of the cloister, endeavoring to infuse something of his own courage into the terrified monks who huddled around him, while the four barons, Tracy, Fitsurse, Le Bret, and Morville, hurried around the western and northern aisles, and they met in the north transept of Lanfranc’s cathedral.

There is no room in this idle narrative for a serious discussion of the character or the cause of Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury; and if there were, it might be as well to decline it. There is perhaps no figure in all mediaeval history which has been so amply illustrated from so many different points of view. The emotions which his name excited, and still excite after seven hundred years, range all the way from the most enthusiastic religious veneration to the most acrimonious civic hostility and personal contempt. The cloistered chroniclers of his own time have told us his story with a circumstantiality and a vividness such as they seldom attain, and two of the most authoritative of living historians have devoted each a volume, within the last five years, to his career, and to elaborately correcting each other’s quotations and demolishing each other’s deductions from the original records which bear upon the case. The modern reader without any previous bias either way —and most modern readers aspire to be considered such—may take his choice between the regal saint of the great ecclesiastical period, the meek martyr of the ritualistic revival, the coarse monster of Froude, the unscrupulous usurper of Freeman, and the high-souled chancellor of Ozonam. But of one thing we may all be sure : there is a reason in the nature of things for this man’s ubiquitous and imperishable celebrity. Not by chance did the most powerful monarch of the twelfth century perform so abject and agonizing a penance for his own implication in the crime which was committed here; not by chance did others of the kings of the earth continue for generations afterward to bring the glory and honor of their costliest treasures to the vanished shrine in the chapel at the far eastern end of the cathedral; while the deep hollows in the flight of stone stairs that lead up to it, and in the pavement round about, attest the devotion of myriads of unnamed men. Still less is it insignificant that the name of Thomas à Becket is now, perhaps, not less than ever, a battleground for men who agree but in the one point of holding his canonization an empty form and the offerings at his shrine as the outcome of a degrading superstition. There must have been, there must still he, an intense and perhaps even yet but half-appreciated import in his entire story: the fiery and ambitious nature, the proud ecclesiastical consciousness, the resolute self-discipline and unguessed austerity, the heroic manner of his death, and his extraordinary posthumous honors.

A Bohemian nobleman of the fifteenth century, Leo von Rozimal, who wrote an account of his travels in England, has left us in a single sentence a summary of the chancellor archbishop’s career, so simple and so precise that it is fit to replace the memory of tomes of controversy : —

“ In eo templo occisus est Divus Thomas Cantuariensis archiepiscopus ideo quod iniquis legibus quas Rex Henricus contra Ecclesite Catholicae libertatem rogabat sese constanter opposuit. Qui primum in exilium pulsus est, deinde, cum revocatus esset, in templo sub vespertinis precibus, a nefariis hominibus, qui regi impio gratificari cupiebant, Deum et sanctos invocans, capite truncatus est.”

This artless expression of the “ common sense ” of mankind upon the whole subject, three hundred years after the tragedy and four hundred years ago, may be found embodied in a long extract from the quaint narrative of Rozimal in the appendix to the late Dean Stanley’s admirable Historical Memorials of Canterbury. The chapter on the murder of Becket, in the same volume, contains a remarkably graphic and complete account of the final scene and the circumstances immediately preceding it. The lamented dean’s residence as canon at Canterbury gave him rare facilities for comparing the different contemporary narratives ; while, in his study of the localities, he must have enjoyed — a capital point — a glorious independence of the verger. It is, naturally, not a sympathetic picture which he draws, — sympathetic with the saint, that is to say, — but it is both highly dramatic and minutely faithful. Thanks to Dean Stanley’s thorough investigations, and to his picturesque and popular pen, any one may now know as much of the course of events upon that fatal Tuesday evening as it is possible to know of any day so long gone by. It is thus that we are incidentally made to see, in a light clearer and less colored than the suffusion of devout partisanship might have allowed, the unwavering constancy of the martyr, his ascendency over his assassins and over death. It is thus that the conscientious methods and the analytic skill of the rationalizing school often serve, unintentionally, the cause of supernatural truth.

Not less valuable and agreeable shall we find Dean Stanley’s assistance in recalling and grouping those scenes in the life of the Black Prince which associate him with the self-chosen spot of his burial, and helped, no doubt, to fix his preference upon it; for England’s most ideal knight, as well as her most eminent ecclesiastic, was interred inside these walls. And now, at last, the verger has claimed us for his own, and is sweeping us, along with other human material which has been collecting while we mused, through the north aisle of the choir to the desolated chapel of the Shrine and Crown. A gilded crescent, no doubt a crusading trophy, and the sole remnant of all the priceless offerings with which the place was once enriched, hangs high in the dome of the apse. On the right hand is the tomb of King Henry IV., and we trust, as we glance at it in passing, that the head which wears that crown has long lain easy now. On the left, we are suffered to pause for a moment before the monument of the hero of Cressy and Poitiers. It is in beautiful preservation, the rigid effigy, with slender hands folded and fine features, evidently a perfect likeness, quite unscathed. Even the symbolic representation of the Holy Trinity, the object of the Black Prince’s peculiar devotion, painted on the wooden canopy above the tomb, is quite distinct. Round about the sides of it those most appropriate mottoes of the sleeper, Hoch muth and Ich dien, are inwoven with the ornamentation ; above it hang his mouldering surcoat, with its embroidery of lions and fleur-de-lys, his helmet, saddle, shield, gauntlets, and scabbard. We render grace to Oliver Cromwell for the touch of national and reverent feeling which led him to forbid the desecration of this one tomb ; yet we feel a slight reaction of wrath also when we reflect how much else he might have spared to us, in equal integrity, if he would. As it is, he rifled the scabbard of its illustrious sword for his own private collection.

Lastly, before being dismissed into the nave once more, we are permitted by the verger to gaze for a moment on the so-called seat of St. Augustine, a sort of huge, elementary arm-chair of gray marble, in which the primates of England have been enthroned for many generations, which is certainly of Saxon workmanship, and may have been the identical throne of the Saxon kings of Kent. Whether or no St. Augustine ever sat in it, — and it is not very likely that he did, — it leads us to his memory. It fixes our thoughts, as we bid good-by to the cathedral, on the austere and aureoled figure of that adventurous missionary, who came to recall, somewhat sternly as we can but fancy, to the memory of Englishmen the faith of which they had once heard imperfectly from Christian soldiers of the Flavian and Antonine Cæsars,—the faith for which St. Alphage and St. Thomas were to die in after years, and which Edward Plantagenet was to hold so fervently.

The memorials of St. Augustine are for the most part outside the cathedral and beyond the city walls. The noble monastery which he founded, a small portion of whose beautiful remains are now incorporated in a missionary college of the Church of England, was built upon land granted him by Ethelbert, the Saxon king, which had been a cemetery in the Roman times, and was therefore necessarily, by the law of the twelve tables, outside the circuit of the city. As we make the tour of the existing college buildings, we observe curiously how the nice taste which has everywhere adapted the new to the old has necessitated an unmixed monasticism of aspect and arrangement: in the dim and narrow cells of the students, the spacious but barren refectory, the mournful little mortuary chapel, with its altar and preparations for kneeling beside the dead. But the college buildings, though spacious, cover but a tithe of the ground once occupied by the convent. Stately fragments may be detected here and there throughout a large surrounding neighborhood, incorporated in quaint dwellings, overshadowing vulgar stable-yards, letting the sunshine in upon brilliant flower-beds through Gothic arches, ivy-wreathed. The most impressive of all these relics of the past lies at the extreme eastern point of the ancient monastery precinct. It is an entire arch, built not merely of Roman brick, which may be descried, in great numbers, in many of the old structures hereabout, but by Roman hands, and its remarkable history is fairly well authenticated. It formed a part of what was first a Roman temple, afterwards the seat of Ethelbert’s pagan worship ; granted by him, after his conversion, to Augustine, and then dedicated to the boy martyr, St. Pancratius, whose name it still bears, probably, as Dean Stanley suggests, in memory of those yellowhaired lads, the non Angli, sed angeli of the great Gregory’s compassionate pleasantry, whose presence in the Roman market-place suggested the first thought of St. Augustine’s mission.

Interesting as this ruin is, however, there is a spot yet to be visited which is even more intimately associated with those figures of the remote past, — Augustine, Ethelbert, and Bertha. Emerging from the old monastery grounds, we find ourselves presently at the lychgate of the oldest Christian church in Great Britain, St. Martin’s-on-the-hill. The king whom St. Augustine found in Kent was a pagan when he came, but the queen was a Christian. Bertha was a French princess, one of that long succession of royal brides and exiles from a brighter birthplace, for whose inevitable homesickness in this insular atmosphere and under these frowning skies we feel an undying sympathy. We do not know much about Queen Bertha, but the fact that her Kentish lord — a monarch of mark and might in his day — was won over to her faith after their marriage inclines us to invest her image with something of power as well as of charm. She was accompanied by a chaplain and confessor, whose name every ancient writer spells as him listeth, and no two alike; but all agree that he was a man of exceptional holiness, and that he consecrated for her use, to St. Martin of Tours, the bowed, shapeless, ivy-smothered chapel on the slope before us, and afterwards baptized King Ethelbert within its walls. The archaeologists, after long and dubious discussion of the case of this venerable little church, and much of denying and disproving, inform us, at last accounts, that we may say with a species of truth, within its walls. The greater part of the building must have been reconstructed, partly out of Roman materials, in a much later reign than Ethelbert’s, but a fraction of the original edifice remains. Two things within the shadowy interior strike even the lightly-learned observer as pointing to such a conclusion : the font, which unwavering tradition declares to have been that of King Ethelbert’s baptism, is decorated around its lower section with Runic rings, and the pavement of a portion of the chancel is of inch-square Roman tesseræ.

The view from the porch of St. Martin’s is one of rare loveliness. Framed in the rustling foliage of the trees which overshadow the church-yard, we see below us the fair cathedral spires, towering over the red-tiled roofs of the town, and the soft and cultured hills beyond them, which enfold the valley of the Stour. We all know that some landscapes possess, independently of the grace of their contours, an indescribable amenity of look, a tender and appealing physiognomy, and this is such an one. It seems to hold suspended for us the emotions of countless others of our kind who have surveyed it from this spot. We cannot choose but fancy the smile which it wore to Queen Bertha when she looked upon it, after the devoutly desired consummation of her husband’s baptism; that King Ethelbert may have paused upon the threshold here, seeing in the scene, as in a mirror, the reflection of his altered life ; that its wistful beauty may have wrung from the appeased and subjugated spirit of the saint himself one of those poignant cries of his, which even the secular world cannot forget, for they tremble with the passion of his stormiest years : “ Too late I loved thee, O thou Beauty of Ancient Days, old and yet ever new, — too late I loved thee ! ”

We are presently shown a touching proof of how deeply one of the gentlest spirits of our own time felt the spell of this time-hallowed spot. The Deans of Canterbury have usually been buried in the cathedral, but the late Dean Alford desired to be laid here, and himself selected the place and the inscription for his extremely simple monument: “Deversorium viatoris Hierosolymam proficiscentis.” As we linger near it we wonder for a moment why this tomb seems to have so very intimate an interest for our individual selves, who knew so little in his life-time of him who sleeps below. And immediately there start forth phrase by phrase, rhyme by rhyme, out of the mists of the past, certain stanzas with his name attached, cut from a newspaper corner three thousand miles away when the writer of this was a very child, and conned over with that powerful attraction toward what is saddest and tardiest in human experience which some children are possessed to feel: —

“ The dead alone are great.
When heavenly plants abide on earth,
Their soil is one of dewless dearth;
But when they die, a mourning shower
Comes down and makes their memories flower
With odors sweet, though late.
“ The dead alone are dear.
When they are here, strange shadows fall
From our own forms and darken all;
But when they leave us, all the shade
Is round our own sad footsteps made,
And they are bright and clear.
“ The dead alone are blest.
When they are here, clouds mar their day
And bitter snow-falls nip their May ;
But when their tempest-time is done,
The light and heat of heaven’s own sun
Broods on their land of rest.”

Strange that these plaintive numbers, overlaid, and seemingly forgotten for so many years, should have been always waiting, ready to recur beside their author’s dust so aptly. With them we take our leave of the spirits of St. Martin’s churchyard.

Associations like those which have their centre in the historic streets and buildings of old Canterbury — and we have not named the half — widen out through all the surrounding region like ripples, and dimple with their charm a circumference of fifty miles of pleasant country. We may follow them in what direction we will, albeit the configuration of the land hereabout has greatly altered within historic times. We may go down to the Isle of Thanet, — strictly speaking, an island no longer, — and find the memory of the spot where St. Augustine probably landed preserved in the name of the now inland farm of Ebbes Fleet. We may go northward to Reculver, to the hoariest and most desolate ruin upon the coast of sea-girt England, — a pair of gray church towers, long a landmark for mariners, corroded by the sea wind, and smeared with orange-colored lichen. The waves are sapping their very foundations today, as they have already swallowed up two sides of the otherwise indestructible wall of the Roman fortress within whose circuit they were built, probably in the earliest Norman times. Inside the same impregnable defenses was reared the palace to which King Ethelbert retired when he ceded to Augustine his former residence in Canterbury as a site for Christ Church, now the cathedral. The foundations of the palace only remain, but in Ethelbert’s day they were a mile in shore. Or we may wander westward from Canterbury to Harbledown, the last halting-place, before their arrival, of pilgrims to the shrine, from London and the north, — a place described by Chaucer with somewhat elephantine humor : —

“Woot ye nat where ther stant a litel town
Which that ycleped is Bob-up-and-down.”

There we shall encounter another hospital of St. Thomas, another immemorial church, the phantom of a yew-tree under which the archbishop may well have sat, and sundry household utensils of his, — or so they say; they are antiquated enough, certainly, — all displayed for what you please by worthless, attenuated, stone-deaf beneficiaries.

Turning homeward from Harbledown, we get our best distant view of the cathedral. The hour is sunset, the breeze fresh, the quiet prospect enchanting. Everywhere about the valley the men are busy harvesting and stacking the golden wheat. The serried armies of the hop-fields carry their pale green plumes proudly aloft for yet one week longer, ere they fall a prey to the pickers. The windmills upon the heights wave their long arms cheerily. The great bell-Harry tower of the cathedral begins to speak.

“ Bell’arry’s gone six ” is the way they express it in the Canterbury streets ; “ it’s time to quit.” He has a glorious voice, Bell’arry, big and deep and mellow. But the Cantuarians whose comings and goings are regulated by his stately summons seem not a whit more respectful of the passing time than if it were less magnificently measured out to them.

Harriet W. Preston.