« VorigeDoorgaan »
images and produce its results. Immortality must be the goal of such creative power, and shall not that immortality find repose at last in His presence, who delighted in the works of His own hands, when he saw that they were good, and whose Palace, from everlasting to everlasting more crystalline than light, is eternal in the heavens !
Windsor Scenes and Sports.
"There is an old tale goes, that Herne, the Hunter,
Doth all the winter time, in still midnight
Walk round about an oak, with great ragged horns."
MUCH prefer the railroad route up the valley of the Thames, past Richmond to Windsor, to any other ride in the environs of London. A whole day must be given to it at the least. Cars leave Waterloo bridge station almost hourly, and before you are aware of it, you are ushered, by the unpoetical steam-car, through Windsor Forest, where Herne the Hunter took his round, and where the fairies danced in the jocund moonlight to plague Falstaff for his sins.
The railroad station is under the shadow of the Castle; which is a congregation of towers and buildings of stone somewhat ancient some of them even dating back to Cæsar, but fitted up with every comfort for the residence of the Queen, who delights, it is said, to retire here.
We easily obtained admission to the halls and reception rooms of the Castle. The portraits of the Stuarts, especially of the unfortunate Charles I., and his family, by Vandyke, are fine artistic pieces, more admirable than their power-besotted originals. The line of heavy Dutchmen (always excepting the bright and manly form of William III.), who followed the Stuarts, hung upon the walls of the splendid dining halls. Elegance, taste, and richness, beyond comparison with any thing except Versailles, are displayed throughout the apartments. The
object of all, the Queen herself, had just left Windsor for the Isle of Wight, where the yatching season is opening.
We rode up in the cars, with the India-rubber man to the Queen. He was visiting the riding-school to line the riding-rings with India-rubber. "Why?" do you ask? As an Englishman would say "Don't you zee,-Hif an 'orse kicks and makes a sound, he kicks again. Hif he kicks hindia-rubber, don't you zee, he makes no sound. He don't kick again. The 'orses are spirited and high kept. They never kick twice at hindia-rubber. Don't you zee, zur ?" The transcendentalism of the above, I would love to enlarge upon. The Queen and her children practise daily in the riding-rings at Windsor, and extend their drives through the adjacent parks.
From the towers or from the terrace there is one of the grandest views in England. Twelve counties can be seen. Eton, in neat Gothic, and white compared to the buildings of the metroplis, the nursery of the greatest and best of England, lies immediately below. Slough, where Gray is buried, and the churchyard in which he composed his elegy, are plainly discernible. There is intervening and every where filling up the view, the greenest, goodliest English landscapes we have yet admired. The Royal relatives, including the Queen's mother, whose wealth has been unsparingly bestowed to decorate these vales and hills, reside in the precincts of Windsor.
But what immense area is that, stretching over 6,000 acres, measuring a circuit of 48 miles, interspersed with the lime, chestnut, beech, holly, fir, and oak?-None other than the Windsor Forest, upon whose domain we intrenched when we entered the tower below. Look down the green lane, miles long, known as Queen Anne's walk, and terminated by a colossal statue of George III., with its triple roads, and you will see a part of our magnificent drive to the Virginia Waters. These waters lie on the other side of the forest; consequently we shall have a ride through the fairy-haunted greenwood.
But before we go, let us give a few thoughts to that dim elder
day, which arose with Chaucer, and beamed upon these leafy walks and gray battlements. It was here that our Helicon's first stream gushed in its own native and rugged simplicity. Irving visited here in the genial month of May, when the birds twittered musically in the groves, and wrote his sketch of the Royal poet-James I. of Scotland-who was imprisoned for many years of his youth, by Henry IV. in the castle. While a prisoner, he fell in love with one of the maidens of the court, and poured forth his plaint like a caged nightingale. But his song is but a tiny voice in that grand choral harmony of English bards, whose leader, Chaucer, trod these very paths, and attuned his lyre under these gnarled oaks. Well has Campbell sung of Windsor and Chaucer :
"Should thy bowers in ivied ruin rot,
There's one, thine inmate once, whose strain renowned
-He led the way
To welcome the long after-coming beam
Of Spenser's light and Shakspeare's perfect day!"
To read the quaint old bard, somewhat grimly smiling, as it were, through a rusty visor,-to catch the genuine humor and natural poetry of his soul, as he tells his tales of Canterbury,--to do this, without visiting Windsor, is a rare joy; but to re-read Chaucer, after having seen his haunts,-well, wait till the bright fire snaps in the winter evening, when we have our gown and slippers on, with the wind whistling bleakly; methinks, then, these scenes of to-day will help to open the chambers of fancy, light the flame of imagination, and bid the Old Muse sing with heartiest song.
These grounds of Windsor were the favorite residences of the Georges-kings of England. How much time, care and money has been bestowed by them in introducing Virginia Water into the park! It was formed when the Duke of Cumberland, the hero of Culloden, resided in the large red maze of building,
wherein the hounds of Prince Albert were baying deep-mouthed when we passed; and it is the largest artificial piece of water in the realm. The streams of the neighborhood are collected into a basin, which is adorned and margined in its winding pictu resqueness with leafy copses, and a velvet sward. Our grassplots do not give one the idea at all of that velvety, spongy smoothness which I mean, when I speak of the English lawn. A dark glen or ravine receives the water-after it falls in a cascade of some twenty feet. Around are by-paths, inviting the foot to wander at pleasure, through every variety of shade. The trees are none of them so high as our best forest trees, but they have the tough old venerableness that Chaucer loved, and the neat trim of architectural beauty. Where clusters of them occur, they are arranged so as to form one top, with happy effect. Deer in great herds crop the grass or sleep under the shade. But their timidity has been long lost. The approach of the stranger excites no attention-no quivering nostril, wild glance or swift bound into the covert. Six thousand deer people the park, to say nothing of other game-plenty as blackberries, kept for Prince Albert's peculiar pastime.
It was one of the finest walks conceivable to leave the car. riage and stray along Virginia Water. A man-of-war, flaunt ing the flags of all nations, lay upon its tranquil bosom-ą present to the late Queen Adelaide. Lovers were sauntering most lovingly, and as Yellowplush would say, 'Oh! 'ow 'appily,' along the sward. Swans were swimming along the verdant margin. A little distance from the bank we found the Grecian temple in ruins; an excellent imitation of the temple of Jupiter at Athens. Shelley loved to meditate amidst these witching spots, and perhaps here drank in the spirit of that Beauty which informed his Muse. He resided in the little village of Bishops. gate near by, itself surrounded by every allurement of rural loveliness.
The royal Conservatory is in the midst of the forest, still kept in royal style, affording a resting-place for the Queen when