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Synopses & Reviews
To the not too critical stranger all will be glorious, and to the thoughtful archaeo logist and artist all will be interesting, even should it be felt impossible to admit that the memories of so many famous men have here always been perpetuated in the best manner or in the best taste. We shall have something more to say about the monu ments presently, but let us first contemplate the abbey as a building, not in the complete sense of an architectural analysis, but rather as a first impression upon the artistic mind. Let us enter by the North Porch, the only one now used in this year of grace 1885, when the dynamite scare has caused to be closed to the public the West Entrance, as well as that by the Poets’ Corner. The great transept in all its length will be before us, and impressive enough it is in its pro portions; the white marble statues, busts, and monumental slabs, however, considetably marring the general effect. The non – artistic public will turn to the right and left to admire the statues and monu ments, all rather more than less modern, in the whole transept, the north end de voted to monuments of statesmen, and the south to those of poets and men of letters generally, and hence called the Poets’ Corner. In speaking of Westminster from an artist’s point of view, I should like to imagine all these modern monu ments and statues away, consigned to some other great national mausoleum or Campo Santo, and instead of them, here and there some tombs with recumbent figures and beautiful Gothic canopies all in the grey or brownish-grey tones of centuries. The present arrangement disturbs the repose distressingly. Let us mention here that we perambulate the abbey in search of the harmonious and the picturesque, and that we will Speak mainly from that principle; and I would now question whether the view obtained of the chance], as seen from the point where the south aisle Opens into the transept, does not present something far finer than the views obtained of the transept alone. In the distance you have the beautiful Gothic tombs of Aymer de Valence, etc. Above, the great arches, the fine triforium, and the clerestory; and in the background you get a glimpse of the northern chapels. Here all is old except the reredos and the objects in the foreground, but these, being dark, and in the shade, do not disturb the harmony. This view is probably finest lit up by the rays of the sun at noon of a summer’s day. Pass ing by the nave, where I have found but little that lends itself to my purpose, let us enter the aisles of the chancel, where, on the north side, I find my first subject. I chose this because here comes promi nently into view, on the right side of the picture, the tomb of King Henry III.
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