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Gothic; the human figure, when introduced either gracefully and naturally, occupies the niche, or fills up the spandril; or the head alone, wimpled, crowned, or with flowing hair, forms the bracket of the arch, But in foliage the taste of the Gothic architect absolutely revelled: every leaf,—rose, thistle, strawberry, ivy,—every one from the simple trefoil to the elaborate acanthus, from the light and graceful convolvulus to the richest oak, find a place :— and almost every flower too,—lilies, marigolds, delicately drooping bell-flowers, and rich clusters, which resemble the hydrangea, and roses of every kind, from the formal heraldic rose to the simplest hedgerow, or the many leaved rose of Provins—all, delicate and natural, as though by sudden magic they had been frozen to marble, clasp the graceful shaft, adorn the moulding, or enrich the ponderous key-stone.* The close of this century was distinguished, too, by the erection of those numerous chapter-houses of unrivalled beauty; and by those additions to our cathedrals, which many judges have considered to be the most exquisite parts of the whole. This, too, was the era of the graceful market cross, and of those unrivalled sepulchral crosses, which, amid their mouldering desolation, still exhibit so much grace and beauty.
Nor was the progress of the arts, during this period, confined to their three grand divisions ; the very seals of the middle of this century exhibit much
* To the plates of those beautiful works, the late Mr. Charles Wild's Lincoln and Worcester, and Mr. Britton's cathedrals, the writer has been indebted for the illustrations of this interesting subject.
beauty of execution. The great seal of Henry III. is a noble specimen of engraving; and both the armed equestrian figure, and the crowned and robed sitting figure, display singular grace and spirit. Many seals of the nobles, also, present similar indications of rapid improvement; that of the lady Ela of Salisbury, with her ample robe and merlin on wrist, is a beautiful specimen of sealengraving ; and the contemporary seal of the earl of Albermarle exhibits a design of almost classical character.*
In the beautiful art of illuminating manuscripts, equal improvement is visible. The initial letters, instead of the intricate arabesques of the preceding century, often display well executed minatures, surrounded by elegant borders. Light foliage sometimes encompasses the page; and when single wholelength figures are introduced, we can readily perceive that the illuminator took his idea from the graceful figures that adorned the niches of his church.
The same elegance and spirit which characterize the sculpture of this period may be traced (more faintly indeed) in its illuminations; some of which, although mere'pen and ink outlines, slightly shaded with green and purple, display the ease and perfect command of hand which delight us in the sketch book of an
* The great seal of Henry is well engraved in the Record edition of the Foedera. It may here be as well to warn the reader against forming his judgment of the seals of this or of a later period, from the copies in Sandfoi d; these are so coarsely drawn, and so rudely engraved, as to give no notion of the merit of the original.
artist.* Although the illuminations of this century cannot compete in beauty, and exquisitely high finish, with those of the two following centuries we may yet distinctly trace in them the dawn of that purer taste and better style, which the 14th century beheld in its perfection. The taste which thus adorned the pages of the manuscript equally displayed itself on the cover. This was sometimes silk, adorned with appropriate ornaments of " goldsmiths' work," but more commonly of oak, richly carved, and often inlaid with brass or ivory; while the smaller books frequently had covers of delicately wrought ivory, in which gems, and sometimes even relics, were inserted. From some incidental notices, it would appear that gold itself was occasionally employed as a covering, and the thin plate elaborately chased, formed the splendid binding. All the works in gold and silver, during this century, appear to have been very beautiful; and the London goldsmiths still retained the pre-eminence which was assigned them in Saxon times. During Henry's reign, he commissioned them to make a splendid gold cross; this they executed with such taste and skill, that it was said the richness of the material was wholly lost sight of in the surpassing beauty of the work. Many small figures in gold and silver,
* Among other manuscripts illuminated in this manner, queen Mary's Psalter, in the Royal library, merits particular notice for the ease and spirit with which the countless variety of figures of every kind, from the most grotesque demon to the most lovely saint, are drawn. Dr. Dibdin in his Decameron has given two copies of figures from the Register of the Abbey of Abingdon of this period, which illustrate the remarks on the grace and spirit with which the human figure is often delineated.
412 THE ARTS IN THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY.
of most delicate workmanship, were executed about this time ; while for the rich altar plate—the chalice, the paten, the censer, the alms-dish, the candelabrum, —the classical remains of antiquity seem to have been the models.
Never was any age in England characterized by such rapid advancement in the arts. The century which at its commencement witnessed but the first efforts of the architect to point the arch, or to give the massive column greater lightness, and which placed the rude attempt at monumental sculpture among the proudest boasts of art, saw ere its close the unrivalled Gothic established in undisputed pre-eminence; and noble monuments, and exquisite statues, adorning those glorious structures, which filled the whole land with beauty. We must conclude, although much more might be added; but well pleased will the writer be, if these remarks should in the slightest degree awaken, even in one mind, a taste for the study of those beautiful monuments which have survived through so many change-bringing centuries, or contribute to foster that enlightened interest, which alone can preserve their remains from speedy and irretrievable ruin.
Parentage of Elinor—Edward's Voyage to Spain, and Marriage—Elinor arrives in England—Her Voyage with Edward to Palestine—Edward wounded by an Assassin—Their return to Europe—Edward's Journey with the Count of Chalons—Their arrival in England—Coronation— Edward's Arrangements for Elinor's Dower—The Improved Coinage —Statutes protecting Property —Wolves in England— Edward's Round Table in Wales—Death of his eldest Son—Affairs in England—Expulsion of the Jews—Early Science—The Mendicant Orders—Progress of the English Language—The Earlier English Romances—Death of Elinor—Her splendid Funeral—Edward's Gifts Westminster Abbey—Her Tomb there—Her Crosses—Conclusion.
BY a singular coincidence, the queen, whose memoirs close the present volume, like her with whom its pages commence, has obtained a traditionary fame, far more extended than that which the historian could give. The beautiful and excellent queen, to whose memory thirteen noble crosses once arose, and whose many virtues well deserved that unrivalled tribute, is still on the fame of an apocryphal story, celebrated throughout the land; and the unlettered peasant still pauses to gaze on the graceful