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NOTES PERTINENT AND IMPERTINENT ON LONDON
The Temple Church.
[S it because of the beauty of the
the associations connected with the place, or is it merely because it is the fashion, that people are induced to go up to the Beautiful Gate of the Temple on Sundays to pray? Beautiful Gate! Ay, beautiful indeed since the brick and mortar screens that erewhile hid it were removed, and disclosed not only the Beautiful Gate but the little chapel of St. Anne and the venerable walls of the Temple Church itself. Time was when utilitarianism ruled supreme over art within the Temple precincts-when church, and college, and garden suffered alike because 'there was no use' in developing beauties, natural or artificial--when groined roofs with costly paintings on them were painted stone colour to save the expense of redecorating them-when loveliest pillars of serpentine marble were whitewashed to save the expense of polishing— and when the tombs of those whose
'Souls are with the saints, we trust,' were left to moulder and decay-in some cases even their ruins perishing-because no one was found to declare the use they would be if preserved.
Nous avons changé tout cela. The spirit of art, and of appreciation for the beauties of it, has succeeded the spirit of Vandalism, and among other improvements effected by the change has been the restoration of the church, with its beautiful gate, and the demolition of the buildings
which concealed the view of them.
It can scarcely be fashion only - that induces people to go, for the practice has endured much longer than fashions last. For years the Temple has been filled on Sundays with an admiring congregation, even in the days before the
⚫ Singing boys, dear little souls, With nice clean faces and nice white stoles,' and the voices of the choristers, whose business it is to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,' pre
sented an attraction that of itself would draw a multitude. No; it is not fashion, neither is it solely the beauty of the service-plain cathedral service it is, such as our fathers have told us of, steering a middle course between that of the extreme church parties on either hand, inviting all men to come, and forbidding none of them, either by word or deed. The only stumbling-block
it can hardly be called a rock of offence-which the conductors of it oppose to the public is in the shape of a regulation that none may be admitted to the inner sanctum, or the church proper, before the beginning of the psalms for the day, unless they be provided with the order of a bencher (one of the executive council of the Temple) or the personal escort of a member. This regulation-the effect of which we shall have occasion to notice presently-is designed to prevent the crowding out by the general public of those for whom the church is specially intended, the members of the Inn and their friends. At the first word of the psalms, however, the restraint on admission is thrown aside, and whoso can may get a seat, Jews or proselytes, Cretes or Arabians, it does not matter a rush, all for whom there are vacant seats are admitted.
The beauty of the Temple cannot fail to attract. Those who have seen it tell those who have not, and so a perpetual stream of visitors is kept up. He who would know it should see it, should stand outside the porch-railings when the door is open and look upon the interior in its most elegant perspective aspect, its rich, ungorgeous nave, its chastely splendid aisles, its magnificent east window. He should stay on the threshold and see the ancient round chapel, its arcades, its perfect windows, its beautiful glass, and the treasures committed to its special charge, the tombs of the knights. A flood of recollections will come across his mind as he stands beside
Notes Pertinent and Impertinent on London Society.
the tombs of those who fought in Holy Land. Things present will fade away, and in their stead will come up visions of the great past, wherein soldier monks, both of the Temple and of the order of St. John of Jerusalem, will figure with the forms of those who overthrew their respective rules. There will be views of the time when King John held a parliament in the place, and there will come visions of
Those bricky towers,
The which on Thames' broad aged back do ride,
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers,
There whilom wont the Templar knights to bide,
Till they decayed through pride.'
Then he will see how among those same bricky towers' what time the Commons rose against the poll-tax, 'the rascal many ran, heaped together in rude rabblement;' he will almost feel the breath of the destroying angel which then smote all the learned in the law, and burned the books that stood in hutches in that same round tower in which he now stands. Then, like Ingoldsby's visitor to Netley, he will hear the sacrilegious cry of Henry and his ministers, "Down with the nests, and the rooks will fly!" and perhaps, like that same visitor, he will be warned by rude means that now is not then, that he must not block up the way, where, instead of knights, and kings, and parliament men, and Wat Tyler's avengers, and other the insubstantial forms with which his fancy has peopled the Temple, the weekly congregation of 'miserable sinners,' gathered out of all sections of London Society, is pressing forward in carnest quest of the chief seats of the synagogue.
Let us stand aside for a few minutes, while the organ is pouring forth in richest stream the full notes of the voluntary, and the vergers are marshalling the numerous worshippers and settling them into their stalls.
'You must really stand back, ladies. The gangway must be kept clear.'
'But there's plenty of room; why shouldn't we go in?'
'You have no order, madam. You must stand back, please. Allow these gentlemen to pass.'
'Gentlemen indeed! Do you mean to say ladies are not accommodated before the gentlemen?'
The courtly, sorely-tried porter vouchsafes no reply. He gently restrains the onward movement of the ladies and contrives a lane in the crowd for the passage of the 'gentlemen,' who pass in, quite unconscious of the heartburning their admission has produced.
"That's Sir Frederick Flinter, the eminent Q.C., and the other is the Solicitor-General,' whispers some one in the throng as the brass bar which guards the entrance to the sanctum closes behind the last two, and the necks of the multitude stretch out like those of certain birds, in hope of their owners getting a view of them.
Other people, notable and otherwise, arrive, and are passed in or retained at the side entrances according as they have or have not orders of admission. The ladies who were clamorous for admittance are reinforced, and the urbanity of the porter, to say nothing of the strength of the brass rod, is tested to the uttermost. Ladies who come with members of the Inn enter along with them, to the disgust and dissatisfaction of the ladies who do not, and whose only comfort is derived from a sight of the confusion into which their more fortunate sisters are thrown after getting in by the separation, so far as sittings are concerned, of man and wife, of brother and sister, and of the young lady from
'A nearer one Still, and a dearer one Yet than all other.'
Money, that persuasive silver hammer, is tried upon the door of the porter's duty, but fails to elicit any encouraging sound. The man has not an 'itching palm,' and even if he had, he has been a soldier, and knows that duty requires him literally to carry out his orders. Too soon, too soon, ye cannot enter now;' this is the burden of his song, which he explains again and again to mean that until the beginning of the