shire. The former, which is called the Verlam or Muse, passes by Eedburn and some other villages, and by Gorhambury, where was the famous residence of Lord Bacon ; it then runs between the site of the Roman city of Verulamium, and the Saxon city of St. Alban's, both places of more than ordinary interest to the antiquary, and which no one can visit without pleasure. Some five or six miles below St. Alban's, and not far from Colney Street, the Verlam is joined by the Colne, which is a much smaller stream, although it has been swelled by the addition of a brook that rises between Elstree and Barnet, and which some topographers have erroneously called the main branch of the Colne.* After the confluence of these streams, the next town that is passed is Watford ; near which is Cashiobury, the seat of the Earl of Essex, one of the most celebrated among the " show " mansions of the country. The grounds, which are very beautiful, are watered by the Gade, a feeder of the Colne. The river next flows by Moor Park, which has been the residence of a succession of celebrated men: among others, Cardinal Wolsey, the unfortunate James Duke of Monmouth, and Lord Anson have been its occupants. At Bickmansworth the Colne it swelled by the Chess, a stream that rises near Chesham, in Buckinghamshire, a pretty little town in a pleasant situation. The only place worth noticing on the Chess is Cheneys, once a seat of the Duke

* The carelessness with which such matters are treated in topographical works is remarkable. I have noticed Bo less than four different and widely separated places mentioned as the source of the Colne, viz., Market Street, Hatfield, Elstree, and Chesham; and in each instance no other place was referred to.

of Buckingham. A few miles more bring us to Harefield, where stood a mansion that had been honoured by our two greatest bards. On the last day of July, in 1602, Queen Elizabeth, in the course of one of her progresses, visited Harefteld, the residence of the Lord Keeper Egerton. Many were the entertainments provided for the occasion, but the most memorable was the new play of ' Othello,' performed by Shakspere's own company, and perhaps for the first time. Some thirty years later, when Egerton's widow, the Countess Dowager of Derby, was the owner of Harefield, Milton wrote his 'Arcades,' as the poetic part of an entertainment to be presented before the Countess " at Harefield, by some noble persons of her family." The fortune of the Countess was remarkable in thus having performed before her, in her own house, the works of the two greatest of English poets, under their own direction; and we may suppose she was worthy of such an honour, if it be true, as is said, that Milton was a frequent visitor at Harefield during his residence at Horton. The mansion was burnt down about 1660: according to a tradition preserved by Lysons, "the fire was occasioned by the carelessness of the witty Sir Charles Sedley, who was amusing himself by reading in bed."

A few miles below Harefield the Colne receives a considerable tributary, the Mishbourne, which rises in the vicinity of Amersham in Buckinghamshire, and flows past the Chalfonts and Denham. At Chalfont St. Giles still remains the cottage which the quaker EUwood hired for the retreat of Milton in the year of the great plague 1665. It was in this house that the blind bard wrote the greater part, if not the whole, of 'Paradise Regained.' The house is a humble one, not much above an ordinary cottage either in size or appearance. It has been a good deal altered for the worse externally, but the interior has been much less interfered with. The present occupant is a tailor. Chalfont village is one of the prettiest of simple country villages— containing a neat church, groups of picturesque cottages, and having about it many pleasant green lanes well stored with hedge-row elms. At Denham—the place described with so much zest by Davy in his ' Salmonia,' and where he found such good fishing and excellent cheer—the Mishbourne falls into the Colne. Somewhat lower the Colne passes by Uxbridge, as well as several villages of little celebrity. The only thing to be noticed in Uxbridge is the house in which the commissioners appointed in 1614 to arrange the differences between Charles I. and the Parliament, prosecuted for fourteen days their ineffectual labours. Iver, the next place by which the river flows, though now but an unimportant village, was once a markettown. It dates its origin from Roger de Iveri, a follower of the Conqueror. In the church is a large and very curious monument to Sir George and Sir Edward Salter, "carvers to King Charles I." Ritchings Lodge, a mile or two below Iver, has a place in our literature. It once belonged to Lord Bathurst, whose possession of it Pope has celebrated in his letters. Here he used to assemble around him the wits of the day. In the gardens were incriptions written there by Pope, Addison, Prior, Congreve, and Gay—" and what he esteemed no less," says Lady Hertford, " by several fine ladies." From Lord Bathurst it passed into the hands of the Earl of Hertford, and Ritchings, called by him Percy Lodge, lost none of its fame with the change of name and owner. Lady Hertford, better known perhaps as the Duchess of Somerset—herself of a literary turn—was a lso the patroness of the professed votaries of literature, and her connexion with Ritchings contributed as much to its celebrity as that of Lord Bathurst. Her name authors of very various kinds delighted to honour. She had the double fortune to be praised by the poetical and the pious. She is the Eusebia of Dr. Watts; the Cleora of Mrs. Rowe. Thomson dedicated his poem of ' Spring' to her, and immortalised in sounding verse her " unaffected grace,"

[graphic][merged small]

"With innocence and meditation joined
In soft assemblage."

And he entreated her to " listen to his song,''

"Which thy own Season paints; when Nature all Is blooming and benevolent, like thee."

But he did not play the courtier as well in conduct as in verse. Johnson tells a pleasant story of his unskilful management on a visit here. "It was the practice of the Countess of Hertford," says Johnson, "to invite every summer some poet into the country, to hear her verses and assist her studies. This honour was one summer conferred on Thomson, who took more delight in carousing with Lord Hertford and his friends, than assisting her ladyship's poetical operations, and therefore never received another summons." The bard's insensibility to the lady's poetry was sufficiently provoking, but considering in what an elegant strain of flattery he had addressed her, the punishment does seem a little too severe. My Lord,

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