Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

the Restoration, was “the Spanish collar of torture," to which they assigned the date 1588. Strange enough, this has never been exhibited among the pretended spoils, but always remained, as it still does, in the Horse-armoury.

The earliest notice of a Spanish-armoury occurs in the reign of James II., in an order for the repair of windows in the same, whence we may probably conclude it was then formed in compliment to his having been Lord High Admiral, As for Queen Elizabeth, she has been placed there within the memory of some who are still living. When, on fitting up the Horse-armoury, I deprived her of her father's armour, Miss Lucy Aikin was quoted against me, for her having been thus equipped at Tilbury while'; I have no doubt her authority had been the representation at the Tower, as all the contemporary descriptions are to the contrary.

With respect to “ the representatives of gin and beer,” (one of them holds a ham or piece of bacon) which are of the time of Edward VI., I conceive that they were originally over the doors in the great hall of the palace at Greenwich, which led to the buttery and larder, an usual custom in old buildings, and that they were brought with the armour from that royal residence on its destruction. It seems that they were in a room with other lumber under the old Horse-armoury in the Tower, which was erected in the time of Charles II. As to their removal thence, their being fresh painted, or their present position, I am in no ways concerned.

For the authenticity of “ the axe by which Anne Boleyn was beheaded,” there is only, unfortunately for the credibility of the story, the positive testimony of Hall, who may be regarded as the courtchronicler of the time, that “ her head was struck off with a sword!!!"

With the building erected for the Horse-armoury I have had nothing to do; it is solely the taste and architecture (for so I

suppose

I must call it) of Mr. Wright, the clerk of the works, who reinstated the Spanish-armoury more suo. As no superior artist to a common carpenter was allowed me; as I had to bear in mind that economy was the order of the time; and as I worked hard myself during as many hours as would make thirty whole days, it is gratifying to find that my only reward, the approbation of the public, I have in your pages. I have had no further to do with the catalogue and its bombastic language than giving the list of suits which could be identified; and I am sorry to learn the mark for that purpose has been omitted in the description of James II's. That cuirass and helmet bear upon them the initials of the king, with the royal arms, and the costume is such as would have been worn with them. The reason why he is moved forward and Edward I. backward is to give room for the spec, tators to pass behind the rest; but those suggested in the guide-book are highly amusing.

The wonder there should be a hiatus from Edward I. to Henry VI, will cease when it is mentioned that while the latter is actually of that time, the former is fabricated of chain mail of uncertain date to the form used at the period assigned to it. It was a compromise with those feelings which constantly called on me to retain William the Conqueror, “because he had built the White Tower,"

Perhaps the smallness of the legs, which your correspondent alludes to, and which he will frequently find in old armour, arises from the effect of proportion. The jambs were to cover the human legs with merely hose underneath, while all other parts, on which the armour was placed, were doubly or trebly clad. But, as to armour of extraordinary size, your correspondent does not seem to have noticed that of a man-at-arms in the middle of Henry VIII.'s reign, which, though not stretched out to the full dimensions it had, when bearing the name of John of Gaunt, to the costume of which period it bears as much resemblance as to the jacket of a modern hussar, is still of a large size.

In the old arrangement, all the mounted figures were in one position; the armour of the horses any where but on the animals, while they themselves were supported by wooden props; but, on a recent visit to the new armoury, I was sorry to observe that, for want of the timely aid of a bit of wire behind, the riders are all falling forwards.

I close this letter, with mentioning that your correspondent may find a long account, accompanied with engravings of the inscriptions in the Tower, in the xiiith vol. of the “ Archæologia," p. 68, by Mr. Brand.

With my best thanks, I remain,

Gentlemen,
Your's, respectfully,

SAM. R. MEYRICK, LL.D. 20, Cadogan Place, 5th January, 1829.

A few words, in comment on the foregoing :

To the EDITOR of the “ LONDON MAGAZINE." MY DEAR SIR,

I am very much obliged to you for sending me Dr. Meyrick's kind and good-humoured letter, in the manuscript. I shall have very slight need to “remark upon it”-as I find that, for so green an antiquarian, I have kept delightfully free from error.

Alas! for my exclamations about Anne Boleyn and the axe! And, as the spirit in which I went through the Tower was any thing rather than over-credulous, it is rather hard that I should have been bamboozled wrongfully into sentiment. One reason I believed the tale to be likely was that Anne Boleyn and Essex were among the few, and I believe the last, who were beheaded in the Tower, instead of on Tower Hill. But, certainly, Hall is, for a fact of this kind, conclusive authority.

I fully understood that Dr. Meyrick had had concern with only the arrangement of the armour in the Horse Armoury; but I confess I was not at all aware that all the arms and armour, alleged to have been taken from the Armada, were “ make-believe.” Indeed, without knowledge almost equal to that of Dr. Meyrick himself, I do not see what protection there is against such downright assertion as that concerning the Armada in the erudite, but, as it seems, mendacious, Guide-book.

Still, neither of my two points of wonder is solved. Indeed, Dr. Meyrick mistakes the ground of my first, which is not on account of the hiatus froin Edward I. to Henry VI.--but that there should be no armour of Edward III.'s time, when the occupation of all Europe was incessant fighting. I say that I wonder that there should be “no complete suit of an earlier date than that of Henry VI."; and I allude to the probability of the suit of Edward I. being made up—though it seems I did not go so far as the truth, and that it has, in fact, been "fabricated into the form used at that period.” But this gives no solution to the problem of “Whence comes it that all the armour of the 14th century should have vanished ?"

Neither is the explanation regarding the general tenuity of the leg satisfactory. This is not a point on which my eye can have deceived me-neither can the slenderness arise from the cause pointed out by Dr. Meyrick, inasmuch as my friend, who accompanied me round the Tower, has since measured the leg of the figure representing Henry VIJI., which is certainly one of the, if not the, largest of the mounted line:' my friend is a person of about the middle height, and slenderly formed rather than otherwise—and he found the circumference of the outside of the armour of the leg to be from an inch and a half to two inches less than that of his own, with the kerseymere trowser pressed close to it. This proves the smallness of the jamb to be a matter of direct fact, and not of proportion with the other parts of the armour: and, as the measurement was of one of the largest suits, the average difference would be much greater. I do not, at thi ment, recollect the degraded armour of John of Gaunt, now more chronologically gracing the limbs of a man-at-arms of Henry VIII.'s time; but I spoke of the general moderate size of the armour, and of the extreme spindleness of shank which must have been prevalent, supposing the kings, lords, and knights, to have really had their limbs cased as they are here represented.

I am glad that my eye and my acquaintance with the costume of the end of the seventeenth century were correct in my estimation of James II.'s curiously clad figure. I certainly wondered that it had not the mark of authenticity—but that unhappy effigy seems to be as ill-fated as its original.

I could have wished that Dr. Meyrick had noticed the general absence of crests;—but I am only too much gratified that he should have thought my inerudite lucubrations worthy of any comment at all, and am exceedingly thankful for those which he has given.

Yours, very faithfully,

The WRITER OF THE VISIT TO THE Tower.

mo

SUPPLY OF ANATOMICAL SUBJECTS.

The late murders in Edinburgh have very strongly called public attention to this subject. The horror arising from them has served more than all that sound reason and good sense have urged for years to bring home to the minds of men the necessity of furnishing the surgeons with subjects for dissection, in a regular and legal manner. We confess we think this a narrow view of the question: the great and paramount object should be that students should have proper and ample means of prosecuting their professional education. No one can shrink with greater awe than we do from the details which the trial of Burke brought to light:-—but we cannot believe that the practice has become nearly so general, either in Edinburgh or in London, as it has been lately endeavoured. to make it appear. That it has existed to a certain extent, there can be no doubt; but that it has existed long, or that it has spread into anything like a prevalent system, we wholly disbelieve;--for that beliefmust involve the connivance, to use the lightest word, of a large body of surgeons at a continued course of murder. To this we attach no faith..

That the establishing means for a regular supply of bodies will wholly put a stop to such terrible and loathsome doings, is, no doubt, a very eminent advantage ; and that it will annihilate the existence of the trade of exhumation-conducted, as it is, by gangs of intolerable ruffians—is another, less only than that. But the great principle of . the whole subject is, that it is the duty of a civilized community to provide-or, at the least, to throw no impediment in the way of their provision-due means for medical men to acquire that fitting knowJedge of their art, without which their very existence would be hurtful to the last degree, instead of being an inestimable blessing. As the law at present stands, a surgeon is actually guilty of a misdemeanour for having a dead body in his possession. That which every medical man declares to be an absolute necessary, for him to acquire the slightest kņowledge of his profession, is proscribed by law; and the same law holds him responsible to his patients for having due skill to treat their diseases concerning which he may be called in. Actions enforcing the latter right are by no means rare; but it has only within this year been held that the mere possession of a dead body, for the purpose of dissection, with the knowledge of its having been disinterred, is a misdemeanour*.

That such a state of things should continue—that medical men

So ruled by Baron Hullock at Lancaster Spring Assizes, 1828. This was confirmed by the Court of King's Bench, who passed sentence on the defendant in the May following. It is singular that in Mr. Serjeant Russell's work on Crimes and Misdemeanours, in the chapter on offences relating to dead bodies no mention whatever is made of the possession as a crime at all, and this in the edition published as late as 1826 ; neither, we believe, is the doctrine laid down in any of the books. It is, we cannot but think, a very violent extension of the principle which regards exhumation. It is, in fact, making the possessor of a corpse, under the circumstances mentioned in the text, a principal in the act of exhumation : for iu a misdemeanor, which exhumation is, there can by law be no accessories.

[ocr errors]

a

should be liable to punishment if they learn their profession, and to be called upon for pecuniary compensation if they practise it unskilfully - that the most villainous of mankind should, of necessity, be encouraged and fostered by the most respectable surgeons for the supply of bodies; and that, after all, that supply should be so scanty and so dear as to render the necessary education daily more difficult and more expensive to obtain-that these things should exist in England in the nineteenth century, is so preposterous that we think it is impossible for the approaching Session of Parliament to pass over without a bill being brought in for their cure.

Last year, a Committee sat on this subject, and we hastily noticed their report at the moment of its appearance. (London Magazine, September 1828.) We then expressed our hearty concurrence with the recommendation of the Committee; but we shall now go into rather a more detailed view of the subject in general, and especially devote a portion of our attention to the evidence. e do this because we believe the public mind to be at this moment very much interested on the question; and still more because we think a fair and frequent discussion of it, the thing of all others most calculated to dissipate those prejudices which still certainly exist to some extent, but we are convinced to a far less than has been represented by many.

The evidence differs very curiously on some points ; but, on one, all are agreed; viz. that without the dissection of dead bodies it is impossible for any one to acquire proper knowledge of medicine or surgery. It is the one great foundation of all medical knowledge ;without it, there is none. For this purpose it follows of course that it is necessary that surgeons should have dead bodies. Either the dead must be dissected, or the living must be mangled, poisoned, and die, in cases where medical knowledge has the power to save. Of the prejudices against dissection, we shall speak bye and bye; we now assume that it is necessary that bodies should be procured for that purpose. The knowledge of anatomy is indispensable; unless we choose to abandon the aid of medicine altogether, dead bodies must be used to make known the structure of the living. And yet, at this moment, all such supply is prohibited by law-for, the bodies of murderers are so few that they cannot be taken into account.

We will assume, for the time, that a supply is necessary. It has been so found in all countries; and we grieve to state that our own is the only one among civilized nations, in which that supply is insufficient, which it now is grossly; and the only one, with the exception of America, in which it is procured by exhumation. That the United States should share this stigma with us is quite natural. They are, as it were, our offspring; and it is to be understood that they should have some of our bad points as well as our good. Still, we cannot but consider it a strong stain upon the British stock, that those sprung from it should be the only nations professing to be civilized which withhold by law the necessary means for the acquisition of knowledge in the science which is that of the most temporal importance to the human race.

The result of this is, that both the most eminent of those questioned

« AnteriorContinuar »