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Now if any man will say this habit of John was neither of camel's skin, nor any coarse texture of its hair, but rather some finer weave of camelot, grograin, or the like, inasmuch as these stuffs are supposed to be made of the hair of that animal, or because that Elian affirmeth that camel's hair of Persia is as fine as Milesian wool, wherewith the great ones of that place were clothed; they have discovered an habit not only unsuitable unto his leathern cincture, and the coarseness of his life, but not consistent with the words of our Saviour, when reasoning with the people concerning John, he saith, "What went you out into the wilderness to see? A man clothed in soft raiment ? Behold, they that wear soft raiment, are in king's houses."
Of the Picture of St. Christopher.
THE picture of St. Christopher, that is, a man of a giantlike stature, bearing upon his shoulders our Saviour Christ, and with a staff in his hand, wading through the water, is known unto children, common over all Europe, not only as a sign unto houses, but is described in many churches,9 and stands Colossus-like in the entrance of Notre Dame in Paris.1
Now from hence common eyes conceive an history suitable unto this description, that he carried our Saviour in his minority over some river of water; which notwithstanding we cannot at all make out. For we read not thus much in any good author, nor of any remarkable Christopher, before the reign of Decius, who lived two hundred and fifty years after Christ. This man indeed, according unto history, suffered as a martyr in the second year of that emperor, and in the Roman calendar takes up the 21st of July.
9 is known unto children, &c.] This gigantic saint is not so general an acquaintance in our nurseries, &c. as he seems to have been in days of yore. An amusing account of one of the ecclesiastical figures of him, just as here described, may be found in the Gent.'s Mag. for Oct. 1803. Notre Dame.] Also in the cathedral of Christ's Church, Canter
The ground that begat or promoted this opinion, was first the fabulous adjections of succeeding ages unto the veritable acts of this martyr, who in the most probable accounts was remarkable for his staff, and a man of a goodly stature.
The second might be a mistake or misapprehension of the picture, most men conceiving that an history, which was contrived at first but as an emblem or symbolical fancy; as from the annotations of Baronius upon the Roman martyrology, Lipellous,* in the life of St. Christopher, hath observed in these words: Acta S. Christopheri à multis depravata inveniuntur: quod quidem non aliunde originem sumpsisse certum est, quàm quòd symbolicas figuras imperiti ad veritatem successu temporis transtulerint: itaque cuncta illa de Sancto Christophero pingi consueta, symbola potiùs quàm historia alicujus existimandum est esse expressam imaginem; that is, "the acts of St. Christopher are depraved by many: which surely began from no other ground than that in process of time unskilful men translated symbolical figures unto real verities and therefore what is usually described in the picture of St. Christopher, is rather to be received as an emblem, or symbolical description, than any real history." Now what emblem this was, or what its signification, conjectures are many; Pierius hath set down one, that is, of the disciple of Christ; for he that will carry Christ upon his shoulders, must rely upon the staff of his direction, whereon if he firmeth himself he may be able to overcome the billows of resistance, and in the virtue of this staff, like that of Jacob, pass over the waters of Jordan. Or otherwise thus: he that will submit his shoulders unto Christ, shall by the concurrence of his power increase into the strength of a giant; and being supported by the staff of his Holy Spirit, shall not be overwhelmed by the waves of the world, but wade through all resistance.
Add also the mystical reasons of this portrait alleged by Vida and Xerisanus; and the recorded story of Christopher, that before his martyrdom he requested of God, that wherever his body were, the places should be freed from pestilence and mischiefs, from infection. And therefore his picture or portrait was usually placed in public ways, and at
*Lip. De Vitis Sanctorum.
the entrance of towns and churches, according to the received distich :2*
Christophorum videas, postea tutus eris.
Of the Picture of St. George.
THE picture of St. George killing the dragon, and as most ancient draughts do run, with the daughter of a king standing by, is famous amongst Christians. And upon this description dependeth a solemn story, how by this achievement he redeemed a king's daughter: which is more especially believed by the English, whose protector he is; and in which form and history, according to his description in the English college at Rome, he is set forth in the icons or cuts of martyrs by Cevalerius, and all this according to the Historia Lombardica, or golden legend of Jacobus de Voragine. Now of what authority soever this piece be amongst us, it is I perceive received with different beliefs: for some believe the person and the story; some the person, but not the story; and others deny both.4
* Anton. Castellionæ Antiquitates Mediolanenses.
2 Add also the mystical, &c.] First added in 3rd edition. 3 and all this, &c.] First added in 2nd edition.
4 some believe the person, &c.] Dr. Pettingal published a dissertation to prove both the person and the story to be fabulous, and the device of the order to be merely emblematical: and Dr. Byron wrote an essay (in verse) to prove that St. Gregory the Great, and not St. George, was the guardian saint of England. Against these two, and other writers on the same side, Dr. S. Pegge drew up a paper which appeared in the 5th vol. of the Archæologia: vindicating the honor of the patron saint of these realms, and of that society; asserting that he was a Christian saint and martyr-George of Cappadocia; and distinct from the Arian bishop George of Alexandria, with whom Dr. Reynolds had identified him. In this paper Dr. Pegge has not mentioned the present chapter, which in all probability only attracted his notice some years after.-In his (posthumous work called) Anonymiana, No. 54, he says, that "the substance of Pettingal's dissertation on the original of the equestrian figure of St. George (which the learned author supposes to be all emblematical) and of the Garter, may be found in Browne's Vulgar Errors."
Browne, however, it must be observed, is of the same opinion as Dr.
That such a person there was, we shall not contend: for besides others, Dr. Heylin hath clearly asserted it in his History of St. George. The indistinction of many in the community of name, or the misapplication of the acts of one unto another, hath made some doubt thereof. For of this name we meet with more than one in history, and no less than two conceived of Cappadocia. The one an Arian, who was slain by the Alexandrians in the time of Julian; the other a valiant soldier and Christian martyr, beheaded in the reign of Dioclesian. This is the George conceived in this picture, who hath his day in the Roman calendar, on whom so many fables are delivered, whose story is set forth by Metaphrastes, and his miracles by Turonensis.
As for the story depending hereon, some conceive as lightly thereof, as of that of Perseus and Andromeda, conjecturing the one to be the father of the other; and some too highly assert it. Others with better moderation, do either entertain the same as a fabulous addition unto the true and authentic story of St. George,5 or else, we conceive the literal acception to be a misconstruction of the symbolical expression; apprehending a veritable history, in an emblem or piece of Christian poesy. And this emblematical construction hath been received by men not forward to extenuate
Pegge as to the reality of St. George, his identity with George of Cappadocia, and his distinctness from the Arian bishop. All these parties are agreed in declining assent to the dragon part of the story.
It is very probable that Sir Thomas was led partly by his residence at Norwich, to investigate the story of St. George, who is a personage of no small importance there. Pegge mentions the guild of St. George in that city (in his paper in the Archæologia), but he was probably not aware that there has been from time immemorial, on ["Lord] Mayor's Day" at Norwich, an annual pageant, the sole remnant of St. George's guild, in which an immense dragon, horrible to view, with hydra head, and gaping jaws and wings, and scales bedecked in gold and green, is carried about by a luckless wight, whose task it is, the live-long-day, by string and pulley from within, to ope and shut the monster's jaws, by way of levying contributions on the gaping multitude, especially of youthful gazers, with whom it is matter of half terror, half joy, to pop a half-penny into the opened mouth of SNAP (so is he called), whose bow of thanks, with long and forked tail high waved in air, acknowledges the gift. Throughout the rest of the year, fell Snap lives on the forage of that memorable day: quietly reposing in the hall of his conqueror's sainted brother, St. Andrew, where the civic feast is held.
5 some conceive, &c.] First added in 2nd edition.
the acts of saints: as, from Baronius, Lipellous the Carthusian hath delivered in the life of St. George; Picturam illam St. Georgii quâ effingitur eques armatus, qui hastæ cuspide hostem interficit, juxta quem etiam virgo posita manus supplices tendens ejus explorat auxilium, symboli potiùs quàm historiæ alicujus censenda expressa imago. Consuevit quidem ut equestris militiæ miles equestri imagine referri. That is, the picture of St. George, wherein he is described like a cuirassier or horseman completely armed, &c. is rather a symbolical image, than any proper figure.6
Now in the picture of this saint and soldier, might be implied the Christian soldier, and true champion of Christ: A horseman armed cap à pié, intimating the panoplia or complete armour of a Christian combating with the dragon, that is, with the devil, in defence of the king's daughter, that is, the Church of God.? And therefore although the history be not made out, it doth not disparage the knights and noble order of St. George: whose cognisance is honourable in the emblem of the soldier of Christ, and is a worthy memorial to conform unto its mystery. Nor, were there no such person at all, had they more reason to be ashamed, than the noble order of Burgundy, and knights of the golden fleece; whose badge is a confessed fable.8
Of the Picture of Jerome.
THE picture of Jerome usually described at his study, with a clock hanging by, is not to be omitted; for though the meaning be allowable, and probable it is that industrious father did not let slip his time without account, yet must not
the picture, &c.] First added in 2nd edition.
7 Church of God.] Or rather the soule, for soe in the picture and story shee is called [psyche] that is the soul of man, which in a specificall sense is endeed every Christian soule, and comprehensively may signifye, the Church of God.- Wr.
s fable.] Borowed from that old storye of the Argo-nauts, or Argoknights, as wee may call them, though the golden fleece be a meer romance.-Wr.