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double rows of black marble steps; the noble portico of twelve Corinthian columns, and eight of the composite order above them; the triangular pediment, with a representation of St. Paul's conversion; the statue of St. Paul on the centre, with St. Peter, St. James, and the four evangelists at the sides, are well worthy attention.
I remember to have heard an anecdote about the motto "Resurgam" on the south front. It is said, that when sir Christopher Wren was undecided about the motto he should choose, he had occasion for something to put under a stone that was about to be placed in a certain position, when a workman brought him a piece of an old tombstone, on which was graven the word Resurgam. This word was instantly adopted as the required motto. Whether this story be true or not, a more appropriate motto could scarcely have been found. I have often gazed on the weather-bleached stonework of St. Paul's, especially on the south side, without being able to determine the rule, or the natural laws, by which such an effect has been produced. Many of the pillars and prominent parts of the building are, here and there, almost as white as if covered with whitewash; while the adjoining stonework is much more like ebony than ivory. The winds, the rains, and the climate appear to have been fickle in their attacks on this venerable edifice; they are not invariably the most prominent parts, nor seemingly those most exposed that are thus bleached; nor are they the most secluded that are dingy and dirty. The general effect, however, of the discolouration is highly imposing. It is said, that "mansions may be built, but not oak-trees;" and certain it is, that if another St. Paul's could be erected, equal in all other respects, it must, of necessity, be inferior in that time-worn and venerable appearance, which the present truly magnificent edifice possesses. Old people are usually sticklers for things ancient in appearance, and I would not willingly part with what the finger of time has inscribed on St. Paul's.
I have entered the church by the northern door: it is the hour of prayer; the minister, the choristers, and the congregation are assembled; and as I sit on one of the benches in the vast area of the church, the shrill and harmonious chaunt of youthful voices is rising round me, and the deep diapason of the solemn organ, like thunder modulated and rendered musical, is impetuously bursting from the choir, pouring irresistibly along through the elevated arches, and long-drawn aisles, and filling, with awful melody, the mighty dome above my head.
If, clothed and clogged with the infirmity of human nature, such soul-transporting sounds, and rapturous emotions are permitted us, what will be the music of heaven! and what the unimaginable transports of glorified spirits!
While the visionary and devotee consider these sublime choruses as of themselves constituting devotion; and while some condemn them as inconsistent with the simplicity of Christian worship; enough for me if I feel that they give a passing fervour to my faith, and carry my affections onward to that eternal world, that is represented to us as resounding with hallelujahs. So long as music is content to be the handmaid of Devotion, she is well worthy of regard; but when she sets up herself to be worshipped, down with her, down with her, even to the ground! „
The service is now ended, and the congregation are thronging the space between the choir and the northern door, while, here and there, small parties are seen walking from one monument to another.
I look up at the capacious dome with wonder. What a pigmy am I, compared to this stupendous structure, which is itself but a speck in creation! The oppressive vastness of the church is increased by its absence of ornament. Not that the columns, the arches, and the vaulting of the cupola are altogether without decoration; but the grotesque and elaborate carvings that frequently enrich Gothic edifices are here looked for in vain. The magnificence of St. Paul's is rather felt in its influential whole, than seen in the costliness of its individual parts.
Those who have seen the scaffolding erected here on the first Thursday in June, occupied by' seven" thousand children, have gazed on a spectacle that they are not likely to forget.
Here are the works of the Bacons, Chantrey, Flaxman, Westmacott, and Rossi; Baily, Tollemache, Hopper, and Gahagan. Here are the monuments of Nelson, Howe, St.Vincent, Heathfield, Collingwood, and Duncan; Abercrombie, Cornwallis, and sir John Moore; sir Joshua Reynolds, Barry, Opie, West, and sir Thomas Lawrence; Dr. Johnson, sir William Jones, Howard the philanthropist, and the architect of the place, sir Christopher Wren.
The flags, in both dome and nave, are motionless, like the arms which waved them amid the stormy fight. Many a death-grapple took place before the French, and Dutch, and Spanish standard-bearers were despoiled of them.
Observe that family group of spectators: they are from the country; the father takes the lead, with a boy of five years old, dressed in his new buttoned clothes; the mother holds by the hand her little daughter. The father has told them already, before they quitted home, of the wonders of the place, and they regard his words as the voice of an oracle. He has been here before, and he shows them one monument after another, with an emotion very like that of pride; for how could they manage to see all without him? what would they know of the place without his descriptions? He is the master of the ceremonies; the family head and guide; the London directory; the everything to them in their visit to this wonderful city. Perhaps, while I am making my remarks on the stranger, he may be commenting on me. He may be saying to himself, "Yonder grey-headed old gentleman looks about him. I wonder whether he is as much in earnest after the things of a better world, as he appears to be after the things in this. It is high time for him to be setting his affections on things that are above, bearing in mind that 'our days upon earth are a shadow.'"
The finely-wrought and imposing figures of Nelson, with the lion beneath him; sir John Moore wounded and dying; and sir Ralph Abercrombie falling from his horse into the arms of a Highland soldier, by turns attract the attention and secure the admiration of the several visitors of the cathedral. The soldier and the sailor, on entering fliis much-frequented place, must feel an additional enthusiasm. They see the homage that is paid to the hero, and forget the wounds and death-grapples, the cries and groans, the widows' sighs and orphans' tears that are required to make up a victory.
Look at the awe-struck little urchins, that are gazing with timid air on the monument of Howard. Their attention has already been directed to the diminutive figures in bas-relief, representing the