Page images

would overwhelm the shadowy pile that now stands before me. The young, the beautiful, the patriotic, the learned, and the pious, have been immured within its dreary walls, and a rigorous captivity has been followed by a cruel death.

When we think on the multiplied transgressions of mankind, well may we exclaim, “ Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man, that thou visitest him ?Psa. viii. 4.

The Tower, founded by William the Conqueror, and in part built by his son Rufus ; was repaired by Thomas à Becket; enlarged by Longchamp, bishop of Ely; and finished by Henry III. Edward iv, Richard III, and Henry viii, made to it some additions and repairs. . The first governor of this fortress, in the time of William the Conqueror, was Geoffry de Mandeville, who laid out much money on the building; and the present governor is Arthur, duke of Wellington.

There is a misshapen irregularity, a strange mingling of ancient and modern times; an anomalous jumbling together of things wont to be kept separate, about the Tower, that takes away the impression which a castle or fortress usually makes on the mind. It is a confused heap, made up of towers of stone, brick, and cement, of houses, bastions, batteries, and turrets, of walls, sentinels, chimney-pots, and vanes :--but I will enter the place.

The Tower was not always so easy of access ;


for power is jealous, and oppression and cruelty, which have at times resided there, are watchful, if not fearful. Four gates have I passed, and the warders and armed sentinels have let me proceed without a challenge ; but in olden times the drawbridge to the Tower was always raised, and the huge, unwieldy gates were always closed.

Traitor's Gate looks gloomy ; but if so to me, how much more so must it have appeared to the many

who have passed under that low-browed arch, with almost the certainty that they would never again return! There is a loneliness, a disconsolateness in the dash of the water, as the tide rolls in, that makes one melancholy. A sluice beneath the Traitors' Gate supplies the broad, deep moat with water from the river.

And this is Wakefield Tower, or the Bloody Tower. Whether Richard 111, called Crookback, really did cause to be murdered in this tower the children, Edward v and the duke of York, will perhaps only be revealed, when the secrets of all hearts will be made known. Either he has been sadly maligned, or a sore catalogue of evil deeds has been truly laid to his charge.

What a noble gateway is here! The sculptured arches that vault the portal, the grotesque heads, and finely carved tracery that springs from them, are exquisitely beautiful. Here is a portcullis, too, with its spikes of iron, and the massy gates have enormous hinges ; one of them is broken.

There have evidently been two hinges at the bottom of the gates, but they are gone, though the pins on which they turned are remaining still.

The platform and the row of lofty trees to the left, offer some attractions to those who have time to promenade. I have mounted the stone steps, gazed on the shipping in the river, walked in part round the Tower, passed by the Devil's Battery, the Stone Battery, and the Wooden Battery, and am now returned to the White Tower, so called because Henry III ordered it to be whitened. It is the original and principal tower in the fortress.

Where now stands the Ordnance Office, once stood the old palace, the dwelling-place of kings, with its spacious halls and extended galleries, its noble courts, and goodly gardens. Not a vestige of these remains; but the antiquarian visitor draws

upon his memory, and revels in the knowledge he has acquired from the dusty records of departed days.

What glorious gifts are memory and imagination! By these I once more build up the princely pile, long since dissolved, and people it with the Edwards, and Henries, and Richards of old. There is the painted hall, and in it are assembled a goodly throng of joyous guests.

The royal captive, John, is feasting with the third Edward, and all his court. But this pageant has melted

into air; and Henry of Lancaster occupies its place, having received a kingly diadem from the second Richard. Thus are the puppets of power moved backwards and forwards.

Thus Time, advancing with a smile or frown,
One raises up, and pulls another down.

A further change, and now the painted hall is thronged with other characters : Catherine of Aragon," beautiful and goodly to behold,” Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr, in quick succession, hold their interviews with the eighth Henry, before their espousals to him. What a lesson for ambition to ponder! Two of Henry's wives were divorced, and two brought to the scaffold by the royal sensualist. Sunshine and


and smiles began the dream of joy of the latter ; but Tower Hill, and the block, and the murderous axe, were at its close. The old palace and the painted hall are gone ; the councils are dissolved, the banquets are broken up, the revels are ended, and the guests departed. There stands the modern Ordnance Office, and here am I, musing on the unsubstan

tial past.

In my perambulations I have fallen in with many of the warders, in their round flat-crowned caps, and bands of party-coloured ribbons; their fine scarlet cloth coats, with large sleeves and fullgathered skirts, seamed with gold lace, and their

a gen

broad, laced girdles. Bearing the royal badge under their breasts, they accompany the visitors through the different armouries.

There are forty of these men in the Tower, all habited like the royal yeomen of the guard : and besides them there are many other officers, among

which are tleman gaoler,” and four gunners.

Successive reductions have taken place in the price of admittance, but the number of persons visiting the tower now, is so much greater than formerly, that much more money is received from the present sixpenny admission than was ever realized when the price was three shillings.

I have passed through the Ordnance Office, and have just left the curiously carved portal of the Record Office. This latter office is a place of great importance. “Rolls from the time of king John to the beginning of the reign of Richard III, are kept here in numerous wainscot presses. These rolls and records contain the ancient tenures of land in England; the original laws and statutes ; the right of England to dominion over the British seas ; ieagues and treaties with foreign princes; the achievements of England in foreign wars ; ancient grants of our kings to their subjects; the forms of submission of the Scottish kings ; writs and proceedings of the courts of common law and equity; the settlement of Ireland, as to laws and dominions ; privileges and immunities granted to all cities and corporations

« PreviousContinue »