The Princes Chamber.
The Foreign Office.
Prince Of Wales.
For more than five hundred years a constant struggle has been going on in the Anglo-Saxon race between the idea of absolute kingship and that of popular participation in political power. The former has been steadily losing ground, while the path of the latter has been continually widening, till now the real Government of the United Kingdom is lodged in the House of Commons. The almost absolute Elizabeth, of three hundred years ago, would have regarded the political condition which exists in England now, as the annihilation of the royal prerogative; yet never under Elizabeth, or any other English sovereign, did British royalty, which has to-day for its high exponent Queen Victoria, stand on a foundation so embellished by affection, hallowed by reverence, and buttressed by loyalty.
To the thoughtful tourist in London, the object of greatest interest is Westminster Abbey. Prayers have ascended from its consecrated site for nearly thirteen hundred years, and parts of even the present structure date from 1065. Moreover, after the bareness of St. Paul's, it is with genuine delight that we walk through the pillared aisles of this old Gothic Pile, whose pointed arches, fluted columns, and immense rose windows, which fill the temple with a softened light and bring a flush of color to the time-stained walls, are all in harmony with the inspiring thoughts suggested by the hallowed shrine. It is, however, neither its age norarchitectural impressiveness that gives greatest glory to this edifice. Westminster Abbey is England's Pantheon of Genius. There is no Temple of Fame in the whole world to equal it. The Church of Santa Croce, at Florence, most nearly resembles it; yet the illustrious Italians buried there are but a handful to the mighty dead who slumber in this temple by the Thames; and the Walhalla of the Germans, at Regensburg, above the Danube, although magnificent, is not a burial-place, while all its monuments are modern and its associations purely secular. But England's minster wears the triple crown of noble architecture, venerable age, and hallowed memories, and through each aisle and chapel of this national mausoleum flows the majestic stream of English history, none the less real because invisible.
P'Rincess Of Wales.
The Towers Of The Abbey.
It will be easily comprehended, therefore, that to try to explore thoroughly this city of the dead at a single visit, is as unwise as to inspect with equal brevity the Vatican, or the Louvre. The tourist who attempts so profitless a task irreparably wrongs himself, by weakening, or forever losing, the ennobling thoughts which cannot be awakened in the mind of one who is exhausted or confused. Westminster Abbey should be visited repeatedly, for about an hour at a time : once, for example, to note only its ancient monuments; a second time, to see the graves and ceno-taphs of its more recent dead; and, later still, to enjoy the general architectural effect of the vhole edifice; while there can be no limit to the number of occasions when one may profitably leave the noisy streets and spend an hour in the sacred silence of the Poets' Comer. He must be singularly irresponsive to impressions who can look, unmoved, upon the tombs and effigies of England's kings and queens, whose history is also ours, and think how little is the area that now constitutes their empire! Some of these royal statues lie outstretched upon their tombs, while others kneel in prayer; but all of them alike - conquerors and conquered, friends and foes, murderers and their victims - lie silent and at peace, at last, within the solemn shadow of the Abbey's roof. Yet these sculptured sovereigns have not remained entirely unmolested. Some of their graves have been disturbed. The tomb of Edward the Confessor was once broken open by some human ghoul, and even the marble figure of Elizabeth no longer wears its golden crown. How can she rest here now so quietly when only a chapel's width divides her from her rival, Mary, Queen of Scots? Did they both carry their hostility beyond the grave? Have they met? What are now their relative positions? In vain we lose ourselves in such conjectures, for though we ask to-day the same sad questions uttered by the patriarch Job, and the Persian Omar, we find no adequate reply.