Page images

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 unsubstantial past.

In my perambulations I have fallen in with many of the warders, in their round, flat-crowned caps, and bands of parti-coloured ribbons; their fine scarlet cloth coats, with large sleeves and full-gathered skirts, seamed with gold lace, and their 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 "a gentleman goaler," 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 impor"Rolls from the time of king John to the beginning of the reign of Richard II., 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; leagues 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 dominion; privileges and immunities granted to all cities and corporations during the periods above mentioned, with many important records, and curious and valuable documents, together with the first edition of the Common Prayerbook, as settled upon at the restoration of Charles II., and that very ancient work called Doomsday-book."

Let me now enter the Horse Armory. Ay! this is a goodly sight in the eyes of a warrior; for here the walls are hung

Resplendently, with arms and armour bright,
Habergeon hard, and ponderous battle axe,

Hauberk and helm, cuirass, and lance, and sword.

Armour has, at different periods, been formed of different materials, leather and padded linen, iron, steel, brass, silver, and gold. The hauberk, or shirt of mail, was formed of rings, placed edgeways, or of flat rings, sown on the vesture, or of small metal plates, covering each other like the scales of a fish. Over body armour surcoats were once worn, to prevent the sun from heating it. Gambuised armour was made of stitched padded work; leathern vests were worn by archers; mail and plate armour were mingled together, before plate armour became general. Plate armour was not only plain but also fluted, black, bronzed, and engraved, as well as inlaid and embossed. Armour was at times so expen

sive, that it was said of sir Walter Raleigh, that when habited in his silver suit of armour, "he had a Spanish galleon on his back." When men dwell together in

the fear of God, and in mutual affection, how little is armour required!

These mail-clad warriors make us think of the Philistine giant slain by David, who, nearly three thousand years ago, defied the armies of the living God. "And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliah, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail ; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron and one bearing a shield went before him," 1 Sam. xvii. 4-7. How beautifully clear is this description! As I read it the Philistine giant seems to stride before me, and I can almost see his ugly, frowning face in spite of his iron helmet. This passage of Holy Writ is a perfect picture.

Among such a profusion of armed men and armed horses, the spectator becomes bewildered. Here are Edward 1., in his hauberk; Henry vi., in flexible plate armour, with battle-axe, long-pointed toes to his sollerets, and enormous spurs; Edward iv., in tournament armour; Henry vii., in an elegant fluted suit; Henry VIII., and Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk-the latter in plate, and the former in gilt plate armour. These, with Charles I. in his gilt armour, James II. in his cuirass, and more than a dozen others, all on horseback, make a formidable appearance. Let me, for a moment, take a single figure, that I may see of what a suit of

armour is composed, beginning at the feet, and ending with the head.

First come the sabatynes, or steel clogs; then the greaves, or shin pieces; then the cuisses, or thigh pieces; next, the breech mail; the tuillettes, or waist pieces; and the cuirass, or breast plate. Now come the vambraces, or lower-arm covers, rere-braces for the rest of the arms to the shoulders; gauntlets, or iron gloves for the hands, and a helmet for the head. There are, besides, a dagger, a short sword, a cloak worn over the armour, a bacinet, a long sword, a pennoncel, held in the left hand, and a shield. The lance used in tilting is different to that employed in a deadly enterprise.

I could willingly linger here, but it may not be : hurrying, therefore, past the effigies, arches, soldiers, and swordsmen, officers, cavaliers, cuirassiers, and pikemen, and stealing a hasty glance at the pistols, carbines, muskets, and fowling pieces, the Mameluke crimsonvelvet saddle; the splendid Turkish bridle, and the swords, helmet, and girdle of Tippoo Saib, I make the best of my way to Queen Elizabeth's Armoury, without pausing more than a minute to admire the ramrod canopy, the gun-barrel pillars, the gigantic man-at-arms, the crusader on his barbed horse, and the curious representation of St. George and the dragon.

And now the implements of war, the instruments of destruction, thicken upon me. These are the prolific progeny of evil passions; the scorpion brood of sin. There is a party of visitors before me, and their admiration and praise are unbounded. One timid female alone has whispered the word "dreadful!" and dreadful they are cross-bows, daggers, swords, pikes, and halberds, hand-guns, arquebuses, haquebuts and demihaques,

are mingled with wheel-locks, snap-haunces, calivers, and carabines. There seems no end to the ingenious devices of strife and violence, anger and hatred, malice and all uncharitableness. Esclopettes, fusils, musquetoons, and fowling pieces, petronels, blunderbusses, dragons, and hand mortars, dogs, tricker locks, and selfloading guns, are but a small part of the murderous collection.

Turn which way I will, I see weapons of cold-blooded cruelty. Ingenuity has been industrious and successful, in providing means to beat, bruise, pierce, cut, tear, mangle, batter, and destroy the human form. Thum-screws, yokes, cravats, billhooks, glaives, gisarmes, ranseurs, partizans, and spontoons; iron maces, military forks, and two-handed battle axes. Here is a tormenting catchpole, with a collar of torment; there, an Iddart staff or a Jedburgh axe; and yonder a military flail, a beheading axe, and a murderous morning star. Did the warlike wielders of these expect to enjoy peace? could the merciless inventors of them ever hope for mercy? If the High and Holy One should deal with them as they have dealt with others, the gates of mercy are closed against them for ever.

In this cell, formed within the thickness of the wall, it is said that sir Walter Raleigh stretched his imprisoned limbs. There are inscriptions cut on the angles of its entrance, supposed to be by the hands of captives confined there. One is, "He that endureth to the end shall be saved;" and another, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Under any cumstances, these are impressive texts of Scripture, but how significant and striking, with the axe of the executioner in prospect! But enough of the White Tower.


« PreviousContinue »