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refreshing to linger by. Though our river here is neither grand nor strictly beautiful, it has a tranquil companionable loveliness that is no less agreeable. Just the place is it to delight the river rambler, or the angler who with the proper taste for his craft cares less for the fish than the recreation, and enjoys far more than either the pleasant scenery which the pursuit opens to him. At every curve in our river we see, on looking back, the lofty keep of Windsor Castle adding a finishing grace to the landscape; while forwards Cooper's Hill and some other more distant uplands form a scarcely less graceful background; and the river itself seems to be the especial home of the swans.
Presently we come to a very noticeable house— in appearance something between a farm-house and a mansion, or the parsonage of some wide-spread glebe. It is a fine substantial structure and looks very picturesque as it lies there under the shadow of those magnificent walnut-trees. Mr. Jesse, in his work entitled 'Spots of Interest in the vicinity of Windsor and Eton,' has given a full and interesting account of this building, which he calls "King John's Hunting-lodge." The house is a very old one, but unquestionably of some centuries later date than the reign of John. The interior (which I have not seen), Mr. Jesse says, is quite as remarkable as the exterior; and he adds, "It is evident from the old foundations and the appearance of the adjoining ground, that this was a very considerable place in former times. It is also curious that an underground passage has been traced for some distance from the house leading directly towards Windsor Castle. . . I recollect the late Sir Jeffrey Wyatville informing me that he had discovered, and traced for a short distance, an underground passage at the lower end of the Round Tower at Windsor Castle, leading in the direction of the one already mentioned, and that there was an old tradition of such a one existing. Should this ever prove to be the case, the projector of the Thames Tunnel cannot claim the merit of originality." Originality of conception Brunei would hardly claim at any rate, as tunnels were certainly not a new idea when he projected that under the Thames. But he is safe enough from any rivalry on the part of a Windsor tunnel, though if such a tunnel there were, it would be a formidable rival —makirf* up in extent for any deficiency in size. From' the Bound Tower to this lodge is just two miles in a direct line, and, though railway engineers have made tunnels of far greater length in our days, it would require some more veracious authority than Old Tradition—who is notoriously an old fabulator—to render it for a moment credible that such a work had been accomplished in the middle ages. The nature of the soil would indeed make it no trifling task even now, with all the experience of the past twenty years, to carry a tunnel under the Thames here, and through the marshy ground that borders it. The truth is, that these underground passages are by no means uncommon either in old manor-houses or castles, but in no instance, I believe, is there evidence that they have been traced to any great distance from the place where they originate, though in almost every case Tradition connects them with some other building in the same locality, whether at a distance of two or three hundred yards, or two or three miles, being a matter with which that busy dame seldom troubles herself. These subterranean passages were doubtless constructed for the purpose of temporary concealment in troublous times—in some instances, with a view to escape from the house, if escape became necessary; and in either case they would not be carried farther than was needful for the purpose.
It will be well to cross by the ferry to Old Windsor; as that place must not be passed without notice, though there is little in it to detain us. It is a good sized and respectable village; indeed, from the numerous mansions and well built houses it contains, it wears rather a stately air. And it is of old standing. Its greater neighbour*it looks upon as of comparatively modern origin. Before the present town of Windsor was in existence, Old Windsor could boast of possessing a royal residence. The Saxon monarchs had a palace there; and as late as 1107 Henry I. held his court in it. In the 'Saxon Chronicle,' sub anno 1110, it is recorded that " this year, at Pentecost, King Henry held his court for the first time in the New Windsor." British or Saxon remains have at different times been discovered about Old Windsor.
Cooper's Hill, which now rises before us and so greatly enriches the scenery, is itself memorable as having given birth to the earliest professedly descriptive poem in the language. The view from the summit is indeed sufficient to inspire a lover of nature. A broad expanse of luxuriant and fertile country is spread at your feet, and stretches away till lost in the hazy distance,
"While Thames among the wanton valleys strays."
The rich tract of Windsor Forest, and the beautiful country beyond, extends on the other side; numerous cheerful residences adorn and enliven the natural scenery; and the royal castle stands exposed in all the majesty of its proportions. Some of the objects that animate the canvas of Denham have disappeared from the landscape; the ruins of the old abbey are no longer to Jae seen, the progress of cultivation has removed or softened some of the wilder features of nature, and the prospect seems, to an ordinary eye, more circumscribed than it appeared to the ken of the poet,— yet is it still very lovely, and would for its own sake amply repay the slight labour necessary to enjoy it.
Pope has said—
"On Cooper's Hill eternal wreaths shall grow, While lasts the mountain or while Thames shall flow:"
and, though the greater excellence of later descriptive poems, and perhaps a more genial feeling for what is really beautiful in nature, have abated the eagerness with which Denham's verses used to be read, and taken off somewhat of the keenness of admiration with which they used to be quoted, yet will their real excellence long maintain for them sufficient celebrity to hinder the prophecy from being reckoned merely the hyperbole of a brother poet. It is not, however, as has been often said, so much the descriptions themselves that render these verses so pleasing, as the easy semi-philosophic strain into which they seem so naturally to flow. The poet did attain the excellence he sought after in the words of his famous apostrophe to the Thames:—
"O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
"Four verses which," as Johnson remarks, "since Dryden has commended them, almost every writer for a century past has imitated." Denham was one of those men who display in their writings a genius which their conversation does not promise. When he published his 'Sophy,' Waller said "that he broke out like the Irish rebellion, threescore thousand strong, when nobody was aware or in the least suspected it:" yet, notwithstanding this display of power, when in the following year his ' Cooper's Hill' appeared, we are told that " a report was spread that the performance was not his own, but that he had bought it of a vicar for forty pounds." (Johnson.)
Denham's life was unhappy in the beginning and the end. At the outset of his career he took to gambling, and dissipated a good part of his fortune. When an old man (according to Grammont, who gives a very unfavourable sketch of him, at the age of seventy-nine, but if Wood dates his birth correctly, at somewhat over fifty) he had the folly to marry a lady of the Court, one of" King Charles's beauties," a Miss Brooks, whose age was only eighteen. He was made as unhappy as he could expect to be. The lady indeed died within a brief space, but Denham derived as little comfort from her death as he had from her life. He was generally suspected to have poisoned her, and "the populace of his neighbourhood had a design of tearing him in pieces, as soon as he should come abroad; but he shut himself up to bewail her