Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

chemist; when he is a real bubble and a visionary miser ; when ambition is but a frolic; when the worst designs are for the foolishest ends, contempt extinguishes all reflections on his character. The portrait of the duke has been drawn by four masterly hands : Burnet has hewn it with a rough chisel; Count Hamilton touched it with that slight delicacy that finishes while it seems to sketch ; Dryden catched the living likeness ; Pope completed the historical resemblance. Yet the abilities of this lord appear in no instance more amazing, than that, being exposed by two of the greatest poets, he has exposed one of them ten times more severely. Zimri is an admirable portrait, but Villiers made Dryden satirise himself.”

Yet the portrait of Villiers, by Dryden, has the advantage of condensation, which will not apply to the caricatured character of Bayes, in the “Rehearsal.” Dryden limns Villiers thus :

A man so various that he seem'd to be

Not one, but all mankind's epitome ;
Stiff in opinion, always in the wrong,
Was everything by fits, and nothing long ;
But in the course of one revolving moon,
Was poet, statesman, fiddler, and buffoon :
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
Besides a thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Blest madman ! who could every hour employ,
With something new to wish or to enjoy.
Railing and praising were his usual themes,
And both, to show his judgment in extremes.
So over violent, so over civil,
That every man, with him, was God or devil.
In squandering wealth was his peculiar art,
Nothing went uprewarded but desert.
Beggar'd by fools, whom still he found too late,
He had his jest, and they had his estate.
He laugh'd himself from court, then sought relief
By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief,
For spito of him, the weight of business fell
On Absalom, and wise Achitophel.
Thus wicked but in will, of means bereft,
He left not faction, but of that was left."

Dropmore, a seat in beauty of situation, variety of prospect, and magnificence only inferior to Cliefden, was erected by Lord Grenville, upon the site of a small cottage. This demesne, which is generously thrown open to the stranger upon application at the gate, contains one of the finest collections of various species of pine-trees in the kingdom. The greater part of the

[ocr errors]

present domain was formerly the property of the Friends, descendants of the celebrated Dr. John Friend, who purchased the manor of Hitcham, and is buried in the village church. A Latin inscription on a tablet of black marble records the name, age, and professional merit of the deceased.

Dropmore is in the parish of Hitch AM, a village in the hundred and deanery of Burnham, about a mile north of the Bath road, and within three miles of Maidenhead in Berkshire. The manor, which probably belonged to some religious house, was, in the reign of Henry the Eighth, the property of Lord Chief Justice Baldwin, whose daughter and heiress brought it in marriage to Thomas Ramsey, Esq. Nicholas Clarke, marrying a daughter of Mr. Ramsey, became possessed of this manor. Queen Elizabeth paid a visit to his son, Sir William, at Hitcham, in 1602, upon which occasion, we are told that he “so behaved himself, that he pleased nobody, but gave occasion to have his misery and vanity spread far and wide.”

In the parish church are several memorials for the families of Ramsey and Clarke. The windows of the chancel are decorated with stained glass, the colours of which are very brilliant. The rector of this parish is nominated by the Provost and Fellows of Eton College, pursuant to the bequest of Mr. Archer, a former Fellow, who, being possessed of the advowson, has bound his heirs to present a clerk nominated by the college.

Taplow, in the hundred and deanery of Burnham, is another magnificent seat, crowning the hills overhanging the Buckinghamshire side of Thames.

The manor was held on lease under the crown in the reign of King James the First, by Sir Henry Guildford ; it soon afterwards came into possession of the Hampson family. The heirs of Sir David Hampson sold this manor about the year 1700 to the Earl of Orkney, a distinguished officer in the campaigns of the Duke of Marlborough. His eldest daughter, who was married to William O'Brien, Earl of Inchiquin, succeeding him in his honours and estates, became Countess of Orkney, in her own right: she had two daughters, the elder, the late Countess of Orkney, was the first wife of her cousin Murrough, Earl of Inchiquin, since created Marquis of Thomond. The niece of Sir Joshua Reynolds was the second Marchioness, and resided here for a considerable time after her husband's death.

There is a tradition that Queen Elizabeth, during her temporary confinement here in the reign of her sister Mary, planted an oak in the park, which is still pointed out to the curious stranger.

The walks through the grounds are exceedingly pleasing, and the breaks here and there, through the intervening trees, have the effect of pictures.

In the parish church is the tomb of Sir Robert Mansfeld, and several other memorials of that family. The amiable Anne, Countess of Orrery, whose beauty and virtues have been celebrated in the poetical works of her husband and his contemporaries, lies buried in this church.

BURNHAM is a large straggling village, from which derive their name the hundred and deanery. There was a Benedictine monastery at this place, which was endowed with the manors of Burnham, Cypenham, Stoke, Bulstrode, and some others. After the Dissolution, it fell successively into the hands of the families of Darell and Lovelace: Lord Lovelace sold it to the Villiers family: by one of the Earls of Jersey the lease of the manor was disposed of to Lord Grenville.

The poor remains of the abbey were incorporated with a farm-house, known by its name.

In the church is a memorial to one of the once powerful family of Hastings, Earls of Huntingdon. There is also a handsome monument to that eminent judge, Mr. Justice Willes, with a medallion and inscription to the memory of his son. There are memorials of the families of Eyre, Evelyn, Sumner, and Hawtrey, by one of which last-named family the advowson was bestowed upon Eton College.

Burnham Beeches, celebrated for their enormous growth and antiquity, are well worthy a visit from the admirer of forest scenery.

Gray, in a letter to Walpole, gives a good description of this interesting spot. “I have, at the distance of half a mile, the vulgar call it a common, a forest all my own, at least as good as so, for I spy no human thing in it but myself.

“It is a little chaos of mountains and precipices : mountains, it is true, that do not ascend much above the clouds, nor are the declivities quite so amazing as Dover cliff; but just such hills as people who love their necks as well as I do, may venture to climb, and crags that give the eye as much pleasure as if they were more dangerous. Both vale and hill are covered with most venerable beeches and other very reverend vegetables.”

Few beeches in Windsor forest even, where are some of enormous growth, approach the magnificence of those at Burnham; in Sherwood are trees of perhaps equal antiquity, but by no means in the same flourishing condition. Nowhere can a more complete idea be formed of seclusion and melancholy solitude; yet is not the grandeur without relief in the more gentle attributes of cultivated scenes: there is not beneath the shade of Burnham woods, the withered desolation of American pine forests; the grass grows green and tender, and nibbling flocks give a pastoral character to the scene : on the other hand, there is nothing here of trimness in walks, or art in vistas : nature and time have worked mightily in their loveliness; and these stupendous trees are their monuments, looking on them, and reflecting how many centuries they have been flourishing, we either sigh or smile, as our mood prompts, at the handful of hours making up the life of man.

The manor of Cypenham was part of the ancient demesne of the crown, and is said to have contained a palace of the Mercian kings. Henry the Third is known to have resided occasionally here, his charter for the foundation of Burnham Abbey being dated from his palace at this place. Here resided, during a considerable portion of his life, in learned retirement, the well-known philologist and antiquary, Jacob Bryant.

Bryant was a native of Plymouth, and received his education at King's College, Cambridge, of which he was fellow.

Through the influence of the Duke of Marlborough, Master-General of the Ordnance, who was his pupil at the University, he obtained a place in that department of the public service, and afterwards accompanied his grace to Germany, as private secretary. Having refused the lucrative appointment of Master of the Charter House, he settled at Cypenham, where he passed a long life in the pursuit of difficult learning, occasionally giving to the world the fruit of his laborious erudition. His works are “ Observations and Inquiries relating to various parts of Ancient History,” his “ New System, or Analysis of Ancient Mythology,” his defence of the disputed passages in the History of Josephus, relative to our Saviour ; his essay on the authenticity and antiquity of the poems ascribed to Rowley, and his historic doubts of the authenticity of the facts upon which Homer constructed his Iliad.

Mr. Bryant died unmarried, in November 1804, of mortification of the leg, occasioned by a rasure of the skin against a chair while taking a book from the shelf, in his study at Cypenham.

Leaving the high ground, whereon stand Dropmore, Cliefden, and Hedsor, we descend to

Cookham, and find it a retired village, pleasantly situated near the Thames.

There is nothing particularly remarkable in the history of this place : an estate in this parish was the property of one Henry Washington, who by the tradition of the place is erroneously supposed to have been ancestor to the celebrated general of that name.

In Cookham parish, exactly opposite the beautiful demesne of Cliefden, is Formosa Place, or the Island of Formosa, the property of the Young family. This beautifully situated property, upon which vast sums have been from time to time expended, was formerly osier-beds, of no beauty and little value.

In Cookham church, a very old and rather fine edifice, are memorials of the families of Farmer, Batham, and Weldon. A brass plate, near the entrance into the chancel, commemorates Sir Edward Stockton, whilom vicar of this parish, and canon professed of the house of our Lady at Gisborough, Yorkshire.

MAIDENHITHE, or as it is now corrupted in common parlance, Maidenhead, is partly in Cookham, and partly in Bray parish. A number of ridiculous conjectures, connected with the etymology of the place, are gravely detailed by Leland and Camden : the true etymology is Magne hithe, a large haven, port, or wharf, by which title this place is distinguished in many ancient records.

Before the erection—so far back as the thirteenth century—of a bridge at Maidenhead, the great road to Oxford went through Burnham, crossing the Thames at Babham Ferry, near Cookham.

The bridge soon gave rise to a new town on the site of a hamlet known as South Elington, and a chapel, subject to the mother church of Bray, for the use of the increasing population, was erected. Maidenhead Bridge was originally of timber, and in 1688 was fortified to impede the approach of the Prince of Orange towards the metropolis, and its defence entrusted to a party of Irish soldiers; but some of the townsmen beating a Dutch march in the night, the soldiers took the alarm and abandoned the place, leaving their cannon behind them.

BRAY is the next object of interest, as we complete our circle in this direction towards Windsor. It lies in the Deanery of Reading, about four miles from Windsor, and about a mile and a half from Maidenhead. The manor

« AnteriorContinuar »