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THE ABBEY CHURCH OF ST. ALBAN’S.
ESCRIPTIONS of cities, towns or villages, that have been in days gone so noted, are at all times interesting to the curious reader; and none,(we think)can be more so, than that of St. Alban's, the capital town of Hertfordshire, which derived its name from the protomartyr of England, who suffered as early as the third century. It is governed by a mayor, ten burgesses, a steward, and
a chamberlain ; and is a peculiar liberty both for ecclesiastical and civil government; and returns two members of parliament.
The town rose out of the ruins of old Verulam. The first Verulam was stormed and taken by Julius Cæsar. It was here Cassibelan, a famous British king then kept his court. The first destruction of the place is supposed to have been by Boadicea, the famous British queen, who cut off seventy thousand Romans in one battle ; and the second (which was erected on the ruins of the other,) in the wars between the Britons and Saxons; and almost infinite are the numbers of antiquities bere dug up.
The origin of St. Alban's was owing to the Monastery built by Offa, king of the Mercians, to the memory of St. Alban, in expiation of his barbarvus murder of Ethelbert, king of the East-Angles, whom he had treacherously inveigled to his court, on pretence of marrying his daughter: and the same Offa it was that built Hertford Church, NO. XXI.
and dedicated it to St. Ethelbert, and made a journey to Rome as further penance, where he was absolved, though he kept the murdered prince's dominions, and joined them to his own.
Of all the monasteries in England, none could outshine this. Its revenue was great, and its privileges still greater. In the royalties it had from its founder, and the episcopal powers from the pope, none came up to it. The mitred abbot bad precedency of all in England, and was subject to no ecclesiastical power, but the pope immediately; and he had episcopal jurisdiction over both clergy and laity, in all the lands belonging to his monastery. From first to last they were forty-one in number, and many of them persons of great accomplishments, and high birth: the thirty-ninth of which, though not high born, was Cardinal Wolsey. The last abbot was Richard Boreman, who at the dissolution quietly surrendered on the Royal command, and accepted of a pension for lifeoftwo hundred aod sixty-six pounds,thirteen shillings, and fourpence.
Two bloody battles were fought near this place between the houses of York and Lancaster : the first upon the 23d. of May 1455, in which the Yorkists got the day, the second on Shrove Tuesday, in the 39th. of Henry VI. when the martial queen Margaret overcame the Yorkists, who had then the king in their power and fought under the sanction of his naine.
The subject of our engraving, the Abbey-Church, was founded by king Offa; but it has been rebuilt in whole or part, several times. The town purchased it at the dis. solution, for 4001, which prevented so noble a fabric being pulled down, and torn to pieces, for making money of the materials; and it is made a parish-church for the borough, The high altar is a curious piece of gothic architecture.
Within the north entrance is Offa on his throne. Underneath, a Latin inscription, which may be thus read in English :
The Founder of the Church, about the year 793.
Sublime, was once for Mercian Offa known, In the most eastern part of the church stood the shrine: six holes remain in the pavement, where the supporters of it were fixed. The inscription is still to be seen : S. ALBANUS VEROLAMENSIS, ANGLORUM PROTOMARTYR, 17 Junii 1936
On the south side of the Shrine, in the wall of the south isle, is duke Humphrey's monument, with the arms of
France and England quartered, and a ducal coronet. In niches on the south side are seventeen kings; the niches on the other side have none remaining. The inscription on the duke's monument is in Latin, which may be thus Englished :
Sacred to the pious memory of an excellent man.
His country's light, the states rever'd support,
Who peace, and rising learning deign'd to court;
Yet, spite of envy, shall his glory stand. · Many years ago, while they were digging for a grave,
stairs, leading down to the vault where the body lies, were discovered.
In the vault is a leaden coffin, with the body preserved by the pickle it lies in, except the legs, from which the flesh is wasted, the pickle of that end being dried up. On the wall at the east end of the vault is a crucifix painted, with a cup on each side of the
other at the side, and a fourth at the feet. The vault is very neat, and has no offensive smell. The coffin we are told, bad an outside of wood, wbich is entirely gone.
The west end of the choir has a noble piece of Gothic workmanship for the ornament of the bigh altar. Capt. Polehampton, about fifty years ago, gave an altar-piece, which represents the last supper.
Many curious medals and coins are to be seen in the church, which have been dug out of the ruins of old Verulam.
The noble fabric bas wanted its abbot's zeal, and purse too, for repairs, since it has been a parish-church. The roof 'was preserved by contribution of the nobility and gentry of England, many of whose arms were put up on this occasion; and money has been collected several times besides for its support : indeed such a fine fabric must too often stand in need of such helps, as there is no settled fund to maintain it." "There are three churches in the town at present, besides the Abbey-Church; viz. St. Michael's, St. Peter's, and St. Stephen's.
Allading to a pretended miraculous cure of a blind man, detected by the Duke.
THE DEATH OF THE FIRST-BORN.
BY ALARIC A. WATTS.
MY sweet one, my sweet one, the tears were in my eyes, When first I clasped thee to my heart, and heard thy feeble cries ;
[to kiss For I thought of all that I had borne as I bent me down The cherry lips and sunny brow, my first-born bud of bliss! I turn to many a withered hope,-to years of grief and
pain, And the cruel wrongs of a bitter world flash'd o'er niy boding brain ;
[cuting foes,I thought of friends grown worse than cold, of perseAnd I asked of Heaven if ills like these must mar thy
youth's repose ! I gazed upon thy quiet face-half hlinded by my tears Till gleams of bliss, unfelt before, came bright’ning on my Sweet rays of hope that fairer shone 'mid the clouds of
gloom that bound them, As siars dart down their loveliest light when midnight
skies are round them. My sweet one, my sweet one, thy life's brief hour is o'er, And a father's anxious fears for thee can fever me no
more; And for the hopes—the sunbright bopes—that blossomed at thy birth,
[of earth! They too have fled, to prove how frail are cberished things Tis true that thou wert young, my child, but though brief
thy spau below, To me it was a little age of agony and woe; [fade, For, from the first faint dawn of life thy cheek began to And my heart had scarce thy welcome breathed, ere my
hopes were wrapped in shade. Oh the child, in its bours of health and bloom, that is
dear as thou wert then, Grows far more prized-more fondly loved-in sickness and in pain!
[was lost, And thus 'twas thine to prove, dear babe, when every hope Ten times more precious to my soul-for all that thou
Cradled in thy fair mother's arms, we watched thee day by
day, Pale like the second bow of Heaven, as gently wąste away; And, sick with dark forboding fears we dared not breathe
aloud, Sal, band' in hand, in speechless grief, to wait Death's
coming cloud, It came at length :-o'er thy bright blue eye the film was gathering fast,
[the last ;And an awful shade passed o'er thy brow, the deepest and In thicker gushes strove thy breath-we raised thy drooping head,
dead! A moment more-the final pang--and thou wert of the Thy gentle mother turned away to hide her face from me, And murmured low of Heaven's behest, and bliss attained
by thee,-. She would have chid me that I mourned a doom so blest. as thine;
[mine! Had not her own deep grief burst forth in tears as wild as We laid thee down in thy sinless rest, and from thine
infant brow Culled one soft lock of radiant hair our only solace now; Then placed around thy beauteous corse, Powers-not
more fair and sweet Twin rose-buds iu thy little hands, and jasmine at thy feet. Though other offspring still be ours, as fair perchance as itbou,
[brow With all the beauty of thy cheek—the sunshine of thy They never can replace the bud our early fondness nurst, They may be lovely and beloved, but not like thee-the
first! The first! How many a memory bright that one sweet
word can bring, Of hopes that blossomed, dropped and died, in life's de. lightful spring ;-Of fervid feelings passed away—those early seeds of bliss, That germinate in hearts unseared by such a world as this! My sweet one, my sweet one, my fairest and my first! When I think of what thou might'st have been, my heart
is like to burst; But gleams of gladness through my gloom their soothing
radiance dart, And my sighs are bushed, and my tears are dried, when I turn to what thou art !