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friend *. It is by far the largest piece of the Cross I ever met with, being about two inches and a half long, and about half an inch broad, but very thin. It is inserted in the lower shaft of an archiepiscopal cross, made of some curious wood, and inclosed in a gilt case. Had you seen me respectfully saluting that material instrument of my redemption, you would, perhaps, have accused me of idolatry, and yet, Sir, you may recollect, that when you and I and certain other friends visited the British Museum, most of the company kissed the old parchment of Magna Charta upon bended knees, without any imputation of idolatry; and when the miniature of your deceased father, inclosing a relic of his hair, was brought home to you by the artist, you paid it, if I well remember, some such homage of respect and affection. You will tell me that you did not mean, on this occasion, to pay respect to the picture itself, but to the beloved personage whom it recalled to your remembrance; and I admit your plea. But pray, Sir, why may not I avail myself of the same plea, in justification of the respect which I paid to what I believe to have been part of the very wood on which my best friend shed his blood for me. Am I less able to make a distinction between a piece of wood and the great Redeemer, than you are to distinguish between colouring and your deceased
* I have seen authentic vouchers for these several particulars in the possession of my friend.
parent? Or than the nobles of the land are to distinguish between the empty chair of state, to which they sometimes bow, and the King's person? Or than witnesses in a court of justice are to distinguish between the paper and ink they kiss, and the word of God which these represent to them?
But, to quit the regions of controversy for those of antiquity, having again mounted my chaise at Holy Cross, and proceeded two or three miles in the same western direction in which I came to it, I descried, amongst the clouds, the Rock of Cashel for so the ancient cathedral of this metropolitical see is called, from the lofty rugged rock upon which it stands. A nearer survey of this awful pile suggests the idea of a castle rather than a church. In fact it was both one and the other. For here the renowned Cormac Cuillinan, who was at the same time King and Archbishop of Munster (being also a celebrated legislator, poet, and saint), erected his royal castle and his metropolitical cathedral close together. The latter he consecrated to God, in honour of St. Patrick, A. D. 900 *. A much more spacious and elegant cathedral was added to this above two centuries later, being consecrated, and
* A curious old painting of Cormac in robes, partly royal and partly archiepiscopal, together with his patron St. Patrick, is seen in the new and spacious catholic chapel of the city of Cashel. Though I have followed Ware, Harris, Nicholson, &c. in the date here assigned to Cormac, yet I have some reason to suspect that he lived at a much later period.
a synod held in it, A. D. 1134 at which time the former church began to be used as a chapterhouse. The present cathedral bears intrinsic marks of the age assigned to its erection, namely, the twelfth; as does Cormac's church, now called Cormac's hall, of the tenth. But both these venerable edifices, together with the adjoining palace, have been abandoned by the late archbishops, who have built for themselves a more comfortable residence, and a church more proportioned to the small number of their flock, in a different situation. But the huge pile of building before us, covering, as it does, the native rock, and seeming as if it had been formed out of its summit, does not consist only of the cathedral and the castle, but also of one of those remarkable round towers, which are, in a manner, peculiar to Ireland, and which have exercised the ingenuity of so many antiquaries to explain their original use. This tower, and that at Kilkenny, are the highest I have seen in this country, and stand close to the cathedral, the latter within a few feet of it, while the other actually communicates with it by a door at a considerable height from the ground.
These towers are, as their name imports, perfectly round, both on the outside and in the inside. They are carried up, in this shape, to the height of from 50 to 150 feet*, and they terminate at the top in a tapering sugar-loaf covering, which is
Kilkenny Tower is said by Harris to be 150 feet high.
concave in the inside, and convex on the outside. They are, in general, about 14 feet in the diameter at the bottom, comprehending the thickness of the walls, and about 8 feet in the diameter of the cavity. They decrease insensibly up to the top, where they measure about 6 feet in the interior. There is a door into them, at the height of from 8 to 16 or 20 feet from the ground. They are universally built of stone, tho' not always of the stone which the country affords. The materials of this tower of Cashel are found to have been brought from a considerable distance, and are much better than those of which the cathedral is built. The workmanship of them is excellent, as appears to the eye, and as is. proved by their durability. When viewed in the inside, they are found to be perfectly empty. There are, however, holes in the stone work of the walls, into which beams appear to have been heretofore inserted, for forming stories at proper distances, though all these beams are now decayed, and there are a few small loop-holes, perhaps four or five in the whole height, for admitting light into the interior. Near the top of each tower there are usually four of these loopholes, corresponding in general with the four cardinal points. I must not forget to add, that the Round Towers are always found, either adjoining to churches, or to the site of ancient churches.
From this description of these celebrated towers, I make no doubt but you will form as
accurate an idea of them as if you had actually seen them; and of course you will be qualified to judge of the respective systems of different authors concerning their use. But first to say a few words concerning the period in which they were generally erected. It appears to me that this must be very remote, from the circular arches over the doors of many of them, which proves them to be anterior to the introduction of the pointed arch, from the Saxon zigzags and other ornaments of these door-ways, from the circumstance of the timber which formed the stages in them having entirely mouldered away and disappeared, and from the account which Giraldus Cambrensis gives of them in the 12th century; for he describes them as quite common throughout Ireland, and as being then of a remote antiquity. It seems to me, however, that he himself did not then understand their original use. The prevailing opinion which ascribes the building of them to the Ostmen or Danes, does not seem to be well founded. These invaders never extended their conquests to all the parts of Ireland in which these towers are found. They were not so completely masters of any considerable part of the interior country as to venture upon raising considerable structures in it. These pirates did not build similar towers in England, Normandy, or Sicily, when they conquered those countries, nor did they even build such in their own country, as appears upon inquiry. Finally, the reason assigned for attributing these