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nected during the remainder of his life. Throughout the whole of Yorkshire there were few clergymen more useful than Mr. Dixon, and none, perhaps, more generally beloved. He passed through all the grades of clerical life, and did his duty in each, whether he was acting as a parish-priest or a canon, or in the weightier and more delicate position of adviser to the primate, for he was domestic chaplain to two archbishops. For many years he was a prebendary of Ripon, but he gave that office up in 1852, and he held also, in succession, the perpetual curacy of Mappleton, the vicarage of Wistow and curacy of Cawood, the vicarage of Topcliffe and the rectory of Sutton-onthe-Forest. At the time of his decease he was prebendary of Weighton and a canon residentiary at York, rector of Etton, and vicar of Bishopthorpe. In the last-mentioned position he was brought frequently into daily contact with the primate, who had the greatest confidence at all times in his wisdom and discretion.
In his private life no one merited or won more universal respect and regard than Mr. Dixon. Gifted with ample means, and with a heart as open as his purse was large, he was never appealed to in vain, and he rejoiced to do good. In almost every parish in which he laboured he left behind him some substantial token of his munificence, and in everything that he did he exhibited the considerate kindness and the courteous demeanour of a Christian gentleman. His unobtrusiveness made these points in his character more observed and valued, for he was singularly modest and retiring, and yet when from the necessities of station he was brought prominently before the public eye, he never shrank from doing his duty in a position to which he was naturally averse. The refinement of his manners threw a charm over everything that he said and did. Nearly ten years have passed away since his decease, but even now there is no one in York who does not speak of Mr. xon with an honest warmth of feeling which is beyond the suspicion of affectation. An almost universal homage is still paid to his
courtesy and goodness. In this brief tribute to his character the writer can only give the echo of the popular voice. It is a matter of deep regret to him that he never even saw the gentleman of whom he is now speaking, and whose literary labours it has been his privilege to take up and enlarge.
In the glorious choir at York, surrounded by carving and colours such as no other Christian temple can exhibit, a pious hand has erected a memorial of brass, enriched with the cunning workmanship of the graver, to an uncle and a nephew. Upon it the names of William Mason and William Dixon are inscribed, although neither of them is sleeping in that sacred dust over which you walk. One is resting in a neighbouring graveyard, the other is lying in “Aston's secret shade,” which he loved so well. Yet in the noble fane at York, in which they were both sometime dignitaries, how appropriately are these two kinsmen commemorated and connected! That shrine in which they worshipped gave to each of them of its inspiration. It evoked Mason's verse, and the choir of the cathedral and its music were almost his chief care : it induced Dixon to recount and recall the great deeds of those who had ruled and ministered in that sanctuary of which he was so proud.
The worthies and the annals of the church of York have at all times excited an unusual amount of attention. Putting
historical works of a general interest and bearing in which the capital of the North and its ecclesiastical superiors are mentioned very frequently and fully, there are many pieces which are specially devoted to the Fasti of that cathedral. From the writings of Beda and Alcuin we may learn the history of Paulinus and Chadd, of Egbert, Albert, and the Eanbalds, but we have separate and distinct lives of as many as five of the early primates, Wilfrid, St. John of Beverley, Oswald, Thurstan, and St. William. In the twelfth century the famous chronicler, Symeon of Durham, addressed a brief but interesting letter to Hugh, the dean of York, in which he gave him a short account of the archbishops up to his day, and about the same time, or
a little later, the poet, Hugh de Sotevagina, wrote down the lives of the first four primates after the Conquest, and his work is as yet unpublished. The historians of the church of Hexham record many interesting particulars relating to the archbishops and the cathedral of York, with which they were officially connected. In the fourteenth century, Thomas Stubbs, a Dominican friar, compiled his well-known chronicle containing the biography of the heads of the Northern province from its foundation to the end of the reign of Edward III., and this was subsequently continued by an unknown hand to the period of the Reformation. In addition to this there is more than one poem in which the glories of the church of York are described in lively verse, ascending from the middle of the fifteenth century until the mists of antiquity conceal all historical information but that which suggests itself to the imagination of the enthusiastic bard. After the Reformation there is a long pause in the annals of York, broken only by the biographies of the Northern archbishops which occur in the great work of Godwin, by Hacket's delightful life of archbishop Williams, and a work by another hand on the same theme. Towards the close of the seventeenth century we come to a man of whom no Yorkshireman ought to speak without respect and admiration, James Torre, the York antiquary.
He was a scion of a good Yorkshire family, and in his zeal for antiquity he was not unworthy of the county which was the mother of Roger Dodsworth and many other scholars of repute and fame. His powers of application must have been prodigious, for although he was but a middle-aged man when he died, he had filled scores of folio volumes with materials for history, biography, and genealogy, all written in that curiously minute hand which was one of the characteristics of the literary men of that age. The nerves and the heads of those who are now living shrink from the very thought of what persons like Prynne, Dugdale, Dodsworth and Torre could effect and endure. I do not think that James Torre of York was inferior in appli
cation to any of the scholars that have been mentioned. If we form our estimate of him merely from the three or four volumes of his manuscripts which are preserved at York in the registry of the dean and chapter, we can see that he was a man of extraordinary powers. In the space of three or four years he literally made an abstract of most of the official documents in the registers of the archbishops and the chapter. The succession of clergy in every living in the diocese, up to the time in which he lived, is given as far as he could ascertain it. The testamentary burial of every person of importance, all instruments and deeds connected with endowments of livings and chantries are mentioned, and in many instances church notes are added besides. These are some of the contents of these wonderful volumes.
The most extraordinary, however, of them all, is that which is specially devoted to the minster at York. There is in it a history of the church from the earliest times; there is a perfect survey of the fabric, all the glass is described, every monument is measured and drawn, and its inscription and decorations are given in the most minute way, by which many things are preserved which have long since disappeared. The endowments of the church are all given: there is even an abstract of the leases. There are full lists of the parsons, vicars, and chantry-priests. But the greatest wonder in the volume is that part which may appropriately be called the Fasti of the Cathedral. It is a list of all the archbishops, deans, dignitaries and canons of the church to the time in which Torre lived; all their preferments in the diocese are specified; the exact dates are given, with references for each statement, but here, as a general rule, the compiler ends. These things are merely the dry bones of a skeleton, but each is in its proper place, and Torre has left to others the more difficult and laborious task of clothing them with flesh and blood. He has made the framework of the Fasti himself, and in doing that he has accomplished a great deal.
Torre died at a comparatively early age, and little has been
since done to illustrate the biography of the dignitaries of the minster. His lists appeared with a few additions in the works of Le Neve and Browne Willis, and the Fasti Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ have been still more improved in the recent edition by Mr. T. D. Hardy. The antiquary, Francis Drake, wrote the lives of the archbishops and published them in his Eboracum, but they contain little information of any novelty or value, and they are disfigured in several places by those caustic remarks of which that historian was too fond. There are memoirs also of archbishop Sharpe and of several of the later primates, but the Fasti of the industrious Torre still occupy the first position in importance. They are not free of course from errors of omission and commission,—the character of the work precludes the possibility of that—but on the whole these unrivalled collections are marvellously exact.
Mr. Dixon's connection with the church of York, the taste for letters which he inherited, and the natural bent of his own mind, induced him many years ago to turn his attention to the manuscripts of Torre, and the history of the minster and its officers. As he was unable to decipher the mediæval hands, he took the greater interest in the more modern period, and with much industry and perseverance he drew up a volume which he entitled, “Fasti Eboracenses; or, A catalogue of the Members of the Cathedral of York from the Great Rebellion to the present time.” These are written in a stout folio of five hundred and fifty pages, drawn up with much care, and illustrated with information derived from many persons and sources.
The work is by no means a dull and dry catalogue of names, but it contains numerous extracts from printed books, and many
facts which could only have been ascertained by personal enquiry, and with much trouble and research.
For many years Mr. Dixon confined himself to the limits which have just been mentioned, but at the suggestion of the late learned and amiable Archdeacon Todd, he subsequently determined to take a wider range, and to attempt the biographies