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rewarded exertions, he has done much to reduce to order the chaos by which he was surrounded, and he has consequently brought to light several curious articles; but we are convinced that he does not even ascribe to himself the information which we hold to be absolutely necessary for the objects of the Commission. Allowing however that he was so qualified, he has the whole duties of his office as under-keeper to attend to, and which are more than sufficient for any individual. Is it then on the second secretary that the responsibility rests ?-Of him too we are disposed to think kindly; but assuredly he is not exactly the person on whose judgment and acquirements the public are inclined to rely. To what, then, we may be asked, do our remarks tend ? Simply to this ; that as we employ tailors to make our coats, shoemakers to make our shoes, and every other artisan to perform what relates to his particular trade, it appears to us no less necessary that the persons selected to execute a task requiring a minute and critical knowledge of history in its most extensive sense, should neither be statesmen nor ministers, secretaries nor under-secretaries, keepers nor underkeepers; but men whose time has been exclusively devoted to such subjects; whose historical and antiquarian works are identified with the literature of their country; whose reputation justifies the belief that they will only select what is new and important; and whose remarks on the different articles printed will be alike distinguished by liberal and enlightened views of past events, and by a profound knowledge of the circumstances and persons that may be alluded to. Whether such hopes can be entertained from those to whom the objects of the Commission are at present intrusted, we leave our readers to judge *.
We know not if it be the intention of the Commissioners that the documents they may cause to be printed are to be illustrated by notes. Under other circumstances we should consider them indispensable; but as the Commission is now formed, we sincerely hope they may be omitted. In that case the only blunder it can commit, will be, to print useless articles, or to repeat “a twice-told tale;” but if they attempt to illustrate, they will, in all probability, not only commit themselves, but give erroneous interpretations to points of historical interest, which, coming from a government-commission, will, in the eyes of the multitude, possess an adventitious, but dangerous authority.
* We are of course aware that neither Mr. Peel nor Mr. Hobhouse are now in office; but we shall be extremely astonished to find that either of these gentlemen employs the leisure which he may possess among the dust of worm-eaten letters and state papers, even if, which, as we have already said, we seriously doubt, his studies and inclinations suited him for the task,
A ridiculous effect has attended his Majesty's commands, with respect to the publication of the documents in the State Paper Office. Until lately, an application to the Secretary of State for permission to copy any letter preserved in it was almost always granted; but we are told that the Duke of Bedford was recently refused a transcript of a few articles he wished, because “ it was probable that those letters might form part of a selection of state papers now preparing for publication; and ought not, therefore, to meet the public eye in the mean time.” In the name of common sense-if we do not invoke what is unknown in the regions whence this reply came—what has such a contingency to do with the question? The only object with which those documents are to be printed is, to give to the world the information which they contain; and if that object can, to any extent, be attained immediately, by allowing a person who, for a literary or other purpose, asks to transcribe them, it appears to us little less than folly to refuse it, upon the grounds which have been assigned. We can perfectly understand, that an author, jealous of his fame, or a bookseller, jealous of his pocket, might be unwilling to permit any part of the contents of a work to be known, until it came before the world properly dressed and ticketed; but these reasons cannot apply to the property of government. It seems, however, that all access to these records is denied, until it suits the Commission to send forth its “ selections:" when this may be, no one can guess ; so that, if an author wishes to benefit by any paper in that repository, he must wait until it has either been introduced or rejected by this distinguished literary Commission; and thus, until that moment arrives, the admirable intentions of his Majesty are made to repress, rather than to extend, historical information.
Our readers may be assured that we shall keep a vigilant eye on the proceedings of this Commission, both because it ought to accomplish much, and because we have the utmost distrust of official institutions for literary purposes; a distrust which is fully warranted by many acts of the Commission for the publication and preservation of the Public Records, and still more by the extraordinary anomaly which has been committed in the appointment of the Commissioners, and their officers.
Banners of the Knights Commanders, and Plates of the Companions of the Bath in Westminster Abbey.--A Correspondent has inquired of us why the banners of the Knights Commanders, and the Plates containing the styles of the Companions of the Order of the Bath, have not been placed in Westminster Abbey, agreeable to the provisions in the London Gazette, declaring the enlargement of the Order, in January, 1815 ?
Although we confess our inability to solve what has always struck us as an extraordinary mystery, being thus called upon, we cannot refrain from offering a few remarks on the subject. Not only did the government pledge itself that this distinction should form part of the honours attached to the new classes of the Order of the Bath, but each officer upon whom the cross was conferred has actually paid for his Banner or Plate ; and we are informed, that the sums received for that purpose, and for a copy of the Statutes, amount to some thousand pounds. This happened in the majority of cases nearly thirteen years ago, and not a Banner is yet suspended, a Plate fixed, or a copy of the Statutes issued *. The interest must form no trifling sum ; but what has become of it, or of the principal, the persons thus mulcted know not. The money, however, is, comparatively speaking, a trifling consideration : they naturally and justly consider, that to have their ensigns and names placed in that splendid edifice, would be a far more permanent and gratifying distinction than the personal decoration, or any other privilege attached to the Order. But how many of those heroes have died before that promise has been fulfilled, if indeed it will ever be performed. Upon this subject we feel warmly. As antiquaries and as Englishmen, we are anxious that what may be called our Temple of Fame should contain the memorials which were intended to adorn its walls: we therefore call upon his Majesty's ministers to see that the spontaneous engagement of their predecessors be immediately fulfilled; and thus prevent our gallant defenders from being any longer defrauded of their money and their rewards. The deceased members of the Ordler are also entitled to have their names and services commemorated, not only because they have paid the expenses attending it, but for the gratification of their relatives ; even if respect for their merits does not cause it to be done.
We propose, at no very distant period, giving an article on the Order of the Bath ; and if measures are not in the mean time taken to carry into execution the objects for which the Crown is pledged, and the individuals have paid, we shall then be obliged to lay before the public an exposé of facts, names, and anecdotes, which will reddound as little to the credit of the parties implicated, as of a government which can
* A further sum was paid by each member of the Order “for recording the statement of his services in the books appropriated to the Knights Commanders and Companions ” Whether this has been done or not, we have no means of ascertaining.
suffer so disgraceful a transaction. That his Majesty is ignorant of this fraud upon those whom he has honoured with the Order, we have strong grounds for believing ; and it is not necessary for us to anticipate what may be the manner in which he will evince his royal displeasure on the occasion.
ANTIQUARIAN DISCOVERIES.-It may be known to a few persons, that a “ History of Glastonbury Abbey” was published about a year since, by the Rev. Richard Warner. Of the singular sagacity of its reverend author a correspondent in the last number of the Gentleman's Magazine has given a memorable example, which we notice because it serves as a parallel story to that of Aiken Drum’s Lang Ladle in “ The Antiquary.” It appears that Mr. Warner took it into his head that the greater part, if not all our conventual, cathedral, and parochial churches, “were literally and strictly built by free masons;” and in corroboration of his extraordinary hypothesis, he added the following note:
“ Something like a confirmation of the truth of this notion is seen in the emblems of free masonry which decorate the northern and southern entrances into the ancient church of Banwell, in the inside, particularly the bust of a man over the latter portal, supported by these symbols, with a book open before him, as if he were studying the rules of his art.” Mr. Urban's correspondent says, that, in the years 1812 and 1813, that church underwent some repairs, when one of the workmen, who happened to be a free mason, amused himself “ by erasing two antique corbal heads from the doorway of the south entrance, and carved upon the faces of the blocks those very symbols of masonry which Mr. Warner alludes to, and which now appear there.” The bust which that gentleman describes as the “ bust of a man,” his corrector informs us is the bust of an angel “ with an open book certainly; but the back or covers thereof are placed against the breast of the figure, and the open part or leaves towards the spectator ; so that, if he is studying,' he holds the book in a most extraordinary position for such a purpose. On the open leaves of this book the same person has also engraved the emblems of masonry.” That a layman should be a better judge than a clergyman of the heads of “angels,” is sufficiently astonishing; but that a man, who has written a huge quarto, should consider a person to be “ studying" the volume which he holds with its back towards him, is a specimen of discernment perhaps unequaled in the history of topographers. Besides these splendid proofs of Mr. Warner's accuracy of observation, his corrector, who has evinced his own sagacity by calling the book containing these blunders “a very valuable work!" also states, that this “bust of a man” does not stand over the southern entrance, as the author has asserted, but over the northern ; a slight mistake in the knowledge of the points of the compass, which any ploughboy would have corrected. We believe, that immediately after the appearance of the “ History of Glastonbury," its author was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; but whether as a matter of course, because he wished to be so, or as a special reward for the research he displayed in finding such indisputable evidence of his free-mason theory, we are not informed.
LONDONIANA*.-London, for some ages before the Reformation, contained an extraordinary number of religious edifices and churches, which occupied nearly two-thirds of the entire area. Independently of St. Paul's Cathedral and the Abbey at Westminster, the following Friaries and Abbeys existed immediately prior to that epoch: Black Friars, between Ludgate and the Thames; Gray Friars, near Old Newgate, now Christ's Hospital; Augustin Friars, now Austin Friars, near Broad-street; White Friars, near Salisbury-square; Crouched, or Crossed Friars, St. Olave's, Hart-street, near Towerhill; Carthusian Friars, now the Charter-House; Cistercian Friars, or New Abbey, East Smithfield; Brethren de Sacca, Old Jewry.
Priories.—St. John of Jerusalem, Clerkenwell; Iloly Trinity, or Christ Church, on the scite of Duke's-place, and near Aldgate; St. Bartholomew the Great, near Smithfield; St. Mary Overies, Southwark; St. Saviour's, Bermondsey.
Nunneries.- Benedictines, or Black Nuns, Clerkenwell; St. Helen's, Bishopsgate-street; St. Clare's, Minories ; Holywell, between Holywell-lane and Norton Falgate.
Colleges, &c.--St. Martin's-le-Grand ; St. Thomas of Acres, Westcheap; Whittington's College and Hospital, Vintry Ward; St. Michael's College and Chapel, Crooked-lane ; Jesus Commons, Dowgate.
Hospitals, having resident Brotherhoods.-St. Giles's in the Fields, near St. Giles's Church; St. James's, now St. James's Palace ; Our Lady of Rounceval, near Charing Cross; Savoy, Strand; Elsing Spital, now Sion College ; Corpus Christi, in St. Laurence, Pountney ; St. Papey, near Bevis Marks; St. Mary Axe; Trinity, without Aldgate; St. Thomas, Mercer's Chapel ; St. Bartholomew the Less, near Smithfield; St. Giles, and Corpus Christi without Cripplegate; St. Mary of Bethlehem, on the eastern side of Moorfields; St. Mary Spital, without Bishopsgate; St. Thomas, Southwark; Lok Spital, or Lazar, Kent-street, Southwark; St. Katharine's, below the Tower.
* The articles which will be inserted under this designation were written by the late Mr. William Hamilton Reid, with a view to publication, under the title of “Illustrations of Ancient London, or Neglected Antiquities; including occasional remarks upon the customs, characters, and manners of former times." It will be seen that Mr. Reid's collections were made with considerable industry, and some skill; and though his papers do not, perhaps, often contain much original information, they concentrate a variety of facts relative to the Metropolis, from scarce books and traditions, which, in the unpretending form they are here inserted, will, it is expected, afford some amusement to the general reader, even if they do not attain the higher object of increasing the stores of antiquarian literature. It is scarcely necessary to add, that, with but few verbal corrections, they will be given in Mr. Reid's own words; and consequently, that the statements they contain must be considered to rest entirely upon his authority.