Observations of this nature will suggest themselves to every one, and the arguments urged by the Abbe de la Rue are very strong; and yet I confess that my own feelings always inclined to the side of those who assign the highest antiquity to the tapestry. I think so the more since I have seen it. No one appears so likely to have undertaken such a task as the female most nearly connected with the principal personage concerned in it, and especially if we consider what the character of this female was: the details which it contains are so minute, that they could scarcely have been known, except at the time when they took place: the letters agree in form with those upon Matilda’s tomb; and the manners and customs of the age are also preserved.—Mr. Stothard, who is of the same opinion as to the date of the tapestry, very justly observes, that the last of these circumstances can scarcely be sufficiently insisted upon; for that “it was the invariable practice with artists in every country, excepting Italy, during the middle ages, whatever subject they took in hand, to represent it according to the costume of their own times.”
Till the revolution, the tapestry was always kept in the cathedral, in a chapel on the south side, dedicated to Thomas a Becket, and was only exposed to public view once a year, during the octave of the feast of St. John on which occasion it was hung up in the nave of the church, which it completely surrounded. From the time thus selected for the display of it, the tapestry acquired the name of le toile de Saint Jean; and it is to the present day commonly so called in the city. During the most stormy part of the revolution, it was secreted; but it was brought to Paris when the fury of vandalism had subsided. And, when the first Consul was preparing for the invasion of England, this ancient trophy of the subjugation of the British nation was proudly exhibited to the gaze of the Parisians, who saw another Conqueror in Napoleon Bonaparte; and many well-sounding effusions, in prose and verse, appeared, in which the laurels of Duke William were transferred, by anticipation, to the brows of the child and champion of jacobinism. After this display, Bonaparte returned the tapestry to the municipality, accompanied by a letter, in which he thanked them for the care they had taken of so precious a relic. From that period to the present, it has remained in the residence appropriated to the mayor, the former episcopal palace; and here we saw it.
It is a piece of brownish linen cloth, about two hundred and twelve feet long, and eighteen inches wide, French measure. The figures are worked with worsted of different colors, but principally light red, blue, and yellow. The historical series is included between borders composed of animals, &c. The colors are faded, but not so much so as might have been expected. The figures exhibit a regular line of events, commencing with Edward the Confessor seated upon his throne, in the act of dispatching