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learn to read, at least he does not leave Eton without learning something, for he learns to swim ! As to social intercourse, most of us here are the sons of gentlemen, and we are expected to behave like the sons of gentlemen; when any one forgets himself, there are enough of us to bring him to his senses; and little interference from the masters is required: if, indeed, a boy is incorrigible, he is expelled, and we see no more of him.”
Eton boys are famous for their athletic sports, of which rowing and cricket matches are the chief : but their grand festival, more prized from its rarity, is the triennial pageant entitled the Montem.
The Magna Britannia contains the following account of this curious ceremony :
“This procession is made every third year upon Whit-Tuesday, to a tumulus near the Bath road, which has acquired the name of Salt Hill, by which also the neighbouring inns have been long known. The chief object is to collect money for salt, as the phrase is, from all persons present, and it is exacted even from passengers travelling the road. The scholars who collect the money are called salt-bearers, and are dressed in rich silk habits. Tickets inscribed with some motto (mus pro lege, for example), by way pass-word, are given to such persons as have already paid for salt, which has been in use from time immemorial. The procession itself seems to have been coeval with the foundation of the College, and it has been conjectured with much probability, that it was that of the bairn or boy bishop. We have been informed that originally it took place on the 6th of December, the festival of St. Nicholas, the patron of children: being the day on which it was customary at Salisbury, and in other places where the ceremony was observed, to elect the boy-bishop from among the children belonging to the Cathedral.
Such is the traditional origin of the procession ad Montem, of which a description so lively and graphic occurs in the pages of Knight's Quarterly Magazine, that none but an Etonian could have given anything like it.
The Montem being a ceremony of unfrequent occurrence, and which we have not ourselves had the good fortune to witness, will we hope, excuse the liberty we have taken of transferring it to our pages.
“We reached at length the foot of the mount, a very respectable barrow, which never dreamt, in its Druidical age, of the interest which it now excites, and the honours which now await it. Its sides are clothed with mechanics in their holiday suits, and happy dairy-maids in their Sunday gear. At its base sit peeresses in their barouches, and earls in all the honours of four-inhand. The flag is waved, the scarlet coats and the crimson plumes again float amongst us, and the whole earth seems made for one universal holiday. I love the no meaning of Montem-I love to be asked for salt by a pretty boy in silk stockings and satin doublet, though the custom has been called something between robbing and begging—I love the apologetical • Mos pro lege,' which defies the Police and the Mendicity Society-I love the absurdity of a captain taking precedence of a marshal, and a marshal bearing a gilt baton at an angle of forty-five degrees from his right hip; and an ensign flourishing a flag with the grace of a tight-rope dancer, and sergeants paged by fair-skinned Indians and beardless Turks; and corporals in sashes and gorgets, guarded by innocent polemen in blue jackets and white trousers. I love the mixture of real and mock dignity; the Provost in his cassock, clearing the way for the Duchess of Leinster to see an ensign make his bow, or the head master gravely dispensing leave till nine, to Grand Seignors, and Counts of the Holy Roman Empire. I love the crush in the cloisters, and the riot on the mount- I love the clatter of carriages, and the plunging of horsemen—I love the universal gaiety, from the peer who smiles and sighs that he is no longer an Eton boy, to the country girl who marvels that such little gentlemen have cocked hats and real swords.
“I will not attempt to reason about the pleasures of Montem, but to an Etonian it is enough that it brings pure and ennobling recollections—calls up associations of life and happiness, and makes even the wise feel that there is something better than wisdom, and the great that there is something nobler than greatness. And then the faces that come about us at such a time, with their tales of old friendship or generous rivalries. I have seen to-day fifty old schoolfellows of whom I remember only the nicknames: they are now degenerated into scheming M.P.'s, or clever lawyers, or portly doctors : but at Montem they leave the plodding world of reality for one day, and regain the dignities of sixth-form Etonians.”
But it is time to ascend to Windsor, whose ample towers overhang the ground whereon we stand, with majestic elevation.
A delightful stroll of two miles through fertile meads by the brink of Thames, in full view of the Castle, brings us to
Datchet, where Shakspeare lays the scene of his “fat Knight's” submersion, “hissing hot” from the “buck-basket " where he lay perdu among the soiled linen “like a piece of butcher's offal in a barrow.” In the parish church of Datchet is a monument to the memory of Katharine, wife of Sir Maurice Berkeley, daughter of Lord Mountjoy; and another commemora
tive of Christopher Barker, printer to Queen Elizabeth. The village of Datchet has nothing to detain us a moment from crossing the bridge, (where patient anglers are busy plying their contemplative trade,] and entering by a turnstile the Little or Home Park.
Though this park is not the usual, yet it is by no means the least delightful approach to Windsor Castle. We would earnestly recommend such as may do our book the honour to make it their companion, that after visiting Eton they should take this route, rather than that through the busy town; the train of associations, and that generous glow of admiration with which we should approach a place so haunted by the romance of his tory, poesy, and life, as Windsor Castle, are apt to be rudely broken in upon by passing through the streets of an ordinary country town.
THE LITTLE, OR HOME PARK, lies in level expanse below the northern and eastern sides of the Castle. It is about four miles in circumference, comprising nearly five hundred acres, encompassed by a wall of red brick, and planted with formal avenues of noble elms. The ground to the north was laid out as a garden in the time of Queen Anne, but has since been levelled, and formed into a spacious lawn.
In the reign of Charles the Second, a portion of the park, to the east, was converted into a bowling green, which does not now exist. A little to the right of the footpath leading from Datchet is a delightful retreat, embowered in evergreens, and laid out with surpassing taste, wherein is a romantic cottage, named after her Majesty Queen Adelaide. It is the very picture of peace, quiet and elegant repose,-a place where royalty may forget the tedious forms and dull magnificence of state, and enjoy for a time the happiness of seclusion and retirement.
In a cottage in Windsor Great Park, George the Fourth, notwithstanding his habitual love of splendour and magnificence, delighted to spend the evening of his days. It is worthy of remark that the most magnificent palaces are often deserted by their possessors, for some lowly cot in a corner of their far-spreading demesne: even kings, it would appear, must live in cottages, when they would live content.
The grand attraction of the Home Park to classical tourists is Herne's Oak, a pale, shattered, leafless ruin, the embrace of whose sapless arms even the clinging ivy has deserted. A brass plate, with an inscription, has, by the good taste of Mr. Jesse, been provided as a distinctive mark of this classic and venerable tree. The same gentleman, whose solicitude for the preservation of whatever objects in nature, architecture, and art, connected with our royal residences, is well known and gratefully appreciated, has undertaken the defence of his favourite tree against certain imputations thrown out against its identity with the tree of the Hunter. “It would be out of the province of a work of this nature," says
Jesse, in his Summer's Day at Windsor, “ to enter into all the arguments which have been brought forward against the existence of the tree in question. For the satisfaction, however, of those who may feel inclined to visit this interesting relic, it may be stated that many old inhabitants of Windsor look upon it as the real Herne's Oak, and bear this testimony to their fathers and grandfathers having done so before them—one of the best proofs, perhaps, of its identity. Not a leaf, not a particle of vitality appears upon it. The hunter must have blasted it.'
Not any of the delightful associations connected with it have vanished; nor is it difficult to fancy it as the scene of Falstaff's distress, and the pranks of the “ Merry Wives.”
“ There is an old tale goes, that Herne the hunter,
There is a pit hard by, where “ Nan and her troop of fairies, and the Welsh devil Evans,” might have couched, without being perceived by the “fat Windsor stag," when he spake like “Herne the hunter."
The hypotheses and conjectures of some who insist that the Herne's Oak identical with that made classic in the “Merrie Wives of Windsor was cut down by order of George the Third, as we have no faith in them, we shall not be at the trouble to recapitulate. If George the Third did give orders for cutting down the tree, we are happy to believe implicitly, with Mr. Jesse, “that the tree was supposed to be Herne's Oak, but it was not :" while those who argue that the genuine “Simon Pure” has gone the way of all timber, are desirous only of showing their accuracy at the expense of our pleasurable associations. Mr. Jesse takes the popular side, and proves triumphantly—at least we are willing to believe he has done so—that the Herne's Oak of Shakspeare, notwithstanding the fiat of its royal master, is preserved to us still.
From the pathway, near to Herne's Oak, the visitor has a delightful view of that portion of the Castle comprising the private apartments of the Sovereign, and the visitors' apartments; the former looking towards the east, the latter to the south. This view of the Castle is less majestic than those from some other points; its clevation is less apparent, and its outline more uniform, but nothing can more effectually satisfy the mind with the