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American Shrines in England

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All England is an American shrine, full of rich records of the makers of their nation. Let us start with Westminster Abbey, the one building that can claim to be, more than any other, the heart of England. Its memorials touch American history and American life at many points. In the nave is the monument to Brigadier-General Viscount Howe, killed near Ticonderoga in 1785, in his thirty-fourth year, when fighting against the French. This memorial was erected by the authorities of "Massachusetts Bay, New England," and contains a glowing testimony to his military virtues and his personal character. Here, too, you will find the memorial, placed by King George III of unhappy memory, to the romantic and tragic Major John Andre, shot by Washington as a spy during the War of Independence, and yet to this day honoured by both nations. In the north transept one revives memories of the great Chatham, who fought so hard in and out of Parliament for the cause of American freedom. Near the tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a Congressional Medal, placed there by General Pershing. The monument to General Wolfe, who won Canada for England, can be found at the entrance to the ambulatory. There is a plaque to Colonel Joseph Lemuel Chester, of Columbia College, New York City, "the learned editor of the Westminster Abbey Register, in grateful memory of the disinterested labour of the American master of English genealogical learning." This tablet was erected by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster.

The Chapter House is rich in American memories. Of special interest is the tablet to Dr. Walter Hines Page, publisher, editor and ambassador, who represented his country here in the Great War. Lord Grey placed it here, with its worthy inscription, "The friend of Britain in her sorest need." A beautiful stained window is in honour of James Russell Lowell, poet and American Minister to England from 1880-1885. General Burgoyne, who is buried in the Abbey, is left without stone or statue.

The church of S. Margaret's, Westminster, just by the Abbey, testifies to Bishop Phillips Brooks, the great American Churchman, who, in Westminster Abbey and elsewhere, did so much to promote and deepen Anglo-American friendship. Opposite the Abbey, facing the open street, stands a fine statue of Lincoln, a replica of Saint-Gaudens's statue in Chicago. In Old Palace Yard, near by, Sir Walter Raleigh, the man who more than any other laid the foundations for the British settlement of America, was beheaded on the morning of October 29, 1618. "It is a sharp and fair medicine to cure me of all my diseases," said he, as he fearlessly felt the edge of the axe. Christ Church, Westminster Bridge Road-where many famous American preachers come each year-has a tower in honour of Abraham Lincoln. At the corner of the National Gallery, somewhat dwarfed by its surroundings, is a replica of the Houdon statue of George Washington, "presented to the people of Great Britain and Ireland by the Commonwealth of, Virginia, 1921."

Southwark Cathedral, on the southern side of London Bridge, has become an American Mecca, and with reason. It was from Southwark that John Harvard came. Robert Harvard, a Southwark butcher, sent his son John to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and from there he proceeded in due course as a clergyman to New England. At his death he left half of his little portion to help a "schoole or colledge" then being planned by the people of Massachusetts. The college was named after him, and Harvard University is to-day his undying memorial.

One of the earliest points of interest in British relations with America is found in the ancient city of Bristol. It was from here that, in 1497, John Cabot, the Venetian mariner, set forth, armed with a charter from King Henry VII, "to seek out, discover and find whatever islands, regions, countries or provinces of the heathens and the infidels, wherever they may be, whatsoever they be and in whatsoever part of the world, which, before this time, have been unknown to all Christians." Merchant adventurers of Bristol found the money for his expedition, and Cabot's voyages did for the settlement of the north of America what Columbus's had done for farther south. On the top of Brandon Hill stands the Cabot Tower, 105 feet high, erected to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of Cabot's expedition.

In S. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, is buried Admiral Sir William Penn, and above his monument his suit of armour is still shown. He was the father of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania.

In the church of S. Dunstan's in the west, in the City of London, lies the body of Lord Baltimore, whose name is borne to-day by the mighty city on the Atlantic coast. Lord Baltimore was a man ahead of his age. Sir George Calvert-to give him his earlier title-was one of the Secretaries of State under James I, a Catholic and a man of enlightened and liberal views, who dreamed of establishing a commonwealth beyond the seas where freedom of conscience and freedom of person should rule. He set out with a number of followers for Newfoundland, calling the island Avalon, the ancient name of Glastonbury, the cradle of British Christianity. Here he built a fort for defence, houses for his people and a great mansion for himself, about forty miles north of Cape Race. The climate of Newfoundland defeated him, and he then turned to Maryland. His plan for settlement there found little success in his life, but his son was able to bring to fruition what he had begun.

It was from the Hard of Plymouth that the Pilgrim Fathers, a group of strongly religious men drawn from different parts of the country by common faith and common love of liberty, set out to establish New England on September 6, 1620. Gainsborough, in Lincolnshire, had been one of their chief centres, where they had worshipped at the Separatist Church. To-day, the John Robinson Memorial Church stands there. Near by is the village of Scrooby, where William Brewster lived. Three or four miles away is Austerfield, the home of William Bradford, for over thirty years Governor of the "Pilgrim Republic." At Sturton-le-Steeple lived John Smith and John Robinson. These men had faced prison and poverty for their beliefs. John Smith, the pastor of the Separatist Church, formerly a fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, had been cast in the Marshalsea Prison, London. To escape their persecutors, they went first to Amsterdam, and then to Leyden, and from there they came back to England for their venture. The tale of how they set forth from Southampton Water in the Mayflower and the Speedwell, how they were obliged to take shelter in Plymouth, and how after delays and repairs and with the loss of some timorous souls they set forth again, has often been told, as has the story of their sufferings on their tempestuous Atlantic voyage. The forty-one souls who arrived at Plymouth Rock out of the 149 who started forth had indeed been tried by fire. It was from Plymouth that Sir Walter Raleigh set out for America; it was at Plymouth that the American seaplane N.C.4 arrived in 1919, at its triumphant completion of the first trans-Atlantic flight.

One of the most interesting associations with the life of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England is to be found in the old Artillery Grounds near Smith-field, London, to-day the home of the Honourable Artillery Company. A guild of archers and gunners came together in 1537 "to maintain for the better defence of the realme the science of shooting with long bow, crossbow and handgun." They were the fathers of the Trained Bands, who fought so well for Cromwell. They set a fashion in volunteer soldiering, which was followed in various other parts of the country. John Underbill of Boston, a famous fighting man, came to the Artillery Grounds to study the military art. When he returned home, he discovered others who had been officers in the Trained Bands or members in the Artillery Company before leaving England. The Puritan Fathers had no regular military force to defend them from Indians, and Underbill proposed to raise a company on the London model. When he asked Governor Winthrop for a charter of incorporation, Winthrop at first refused, fearing that "a standing authority of military men might easily in time overthrow the civil power." Later, however, he relented.

The London and Boston Companies were at first in close connexion. Afterwards they lost touch with each other for nearly two hundred years. They came together again in 1857. In 1896 the Boston Company visited London in a body, where it had a reception from Queen Victoria, the Government, and the Army.

Anyone who seeks to follow the doings of William Penn in England will have to go far. Here was a young man born with the best that the world had to give. He was the son of a rich admiral and his father the favourite with king and Court, but he adopted the most unpopular creed of his time, Quakerism. To be a Quaker meant persecution, execration and probably imprisonment. William Penn suffered all and in full measure. When a soldier came to interfere with a Quakers' meeting, Penn, the aristocratic pacifist, promptly threw him out with such energy that he went to prison for it. He lay in the Fleet Prison-only the site of it can be seen to-day, partly on the very grounds of the office from which "Wonderful Britain" is published-because he would not pay the claims of a steward which he thought unjust. His trial at the Old Bailey in 1670 with William Mead, a London draper, for "preaching to an unlawful assembly in Gracechurch Street," is historic, for it marks a great step forward in the history of religious freedom in Britain. The Recorder did his utmost to force the jury to find the prisoners guilty, having them locked up without food for two nights. But these sturdy London citizens were not men to be bullied, and maintained their verdict of not guilty despite the Recorder's threats and monetary fine. A tablet in the New Bailey celebrates their courage and tenacity. In Meeting House Lane, Peckham, there still stands a house, now a small shop, with an inscription over it, telling that this was the original meeting house used by William Penn, Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania, before imprisonment in the Tower for his religious convictions.

The chief memorials of Penn are to be found in Chalfont St. Giles, in Buckinghamshire, quite close to London. He came here first because of his marriage with the daughter of the wife of a Quaker squire near by; he came here again in the later years of his life, and his body lies in the beautiful burying grounds of Jordans Meeting House, together with those of his two wives and five of his children. Benjamin Franklin lived for some time in London, first as a poor young printer, and then in better state. He arrived in December, 1724, with his friend James Ralph, and took a room for 35. 6d. a week, "as much as we could then afford," in Little Britain. He went to work at his trade as compositor at Palmer's, in Bartholomew Close, near by. He returned to America from Gravesend after two years' stay here. It was thirty-one years before he came back, now a man of substance and power, Agent General for the General Assembly of Pennsylvania. He lived in lodgings fitting for a man of his position in Craven Street, Strand, had a chariot to drive in, and was treated with great distinction.

George Washington was by tradition and in his manner of life an English country gentleman, and that naturally so, for the Washingtons were one of the old county families of Northamptonshire. It was a Lawrence Washington, twice Mayor of Northampton, who bought Sulgrave Manor from King Henry VIII in 1539, when Henry broke up the monasteries. The Washington family lived there till 1610, when Robert Washington sold the estate to his nephew, Lawrence Makepeace of the Inner Temple. The Washington coat-of-arms still remains over the doorway of the Manor House. The connexion between Lawrence Washington, who died in 1584, and George Washington, who was born in 1732, has been carefully worked out.

In 1914 the British Committee for the celebration of the 100 Years' Peace between Great Britain and the United States purchased Sulgrave Manor House and its surrounding property and dedicated it as a public memorial, a symbol of Anglo-American friendship. A large number of historic memorials have been gathered and the house is furnished in keeping with its age. Sulgrave Manor is in the very heart of England, remote even from railways. The whole life of the district and the natural surroundings of the place help to bring to the mind of every visitor a picture of the old England as it was.

Hingham in Norfolk, within easy reach of Norwich, claims to be the English home of the Lincoln family, and in the church of S. Andrew there is a bronze bust of the Liberator, unveiled in 1919 by Mr. John W. Davis, the American ambassador, with an inscription: "In this parish for many generations lived the Lincolns, ancestors of the American Abraham Lincoln. To him, greatest of that lineage, many citizens of the United States have erected this memorial, in the hope that for all ages, between that land and this land and all lands, there shall be 'malice towards none, with charity for all.'"

Of other more recent American shrines in England it is as yet too early to write. When the Americans came over here in large numbers to fight by our side during the Great War, they established many enduring connexions with British life. Certain places became their special centres, and some of our cemeteries were the resting places of many of their dead, although most of these have since been removed to America. The American cemetery at Brook-wood contains close on 500 graves. At one time 639 American soldiers were buried at Everton Cemetery in Liverpool, and a large number were buried near Winchester.

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Pictures for American Shrines in England

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