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sister's reign. It was here she heard the milkmaid singing, and envied her happy lot. The verses she is said to have written upon that occasion may have been still decipherable in Shakspeare's time, and he may have perused them on their extraordinary tablet:
O Fortune, how thy restless, wavering state
And freeing those that death have well deserved.
So God send to my foes all they have thought.
And so, by Begbrooke and Wolvercote, with a drink, perhaps, at Aristotle's well, into Oxford by St. Giles's Street, to the Crown, or, perhaps, on his first visit, to some humbler shelter.
What a revelation of delight and beauty to the youth from Stratford ! It would form an epoch in his life, this first passing under the spell of Oxford. It was like entering the Presence. The colleges, already venerable, seemed the very homes of learning and thought. His shrewd observation would, indeed, presently suggest to him that folly and ignorance had here and there intruded themselves, and that often the Muses must be blushing for those called their sons; but so broad and wise a critic would never make the blunder of forgetting in certain abuses the magnificent uses and the magnificent fruits of the great school within whose precincts his heart beat with a new rapture. It was a temple dedicated to Wisdom, and we may believe he bowed his head in it with a sincere worship. To say nothing else, the mere outward beauty of the place, its halls and quadrangles and groves, its antiquity which showed as "a lusty winter, frosty but kindly," its stately towers, the majestic river on whose waters its fair face was mirrored-the mere outward beauty of the place would gladden his inmost soul.
(iii) From Oxford to High Wycombe, 25 miles.-The common route from Oxford to London was by Tetsworth, High Wycombe, and Beaconsfield. It was by this route that Brunetto Latini, from whom we have already quoted, proceeded in the thirteenth century. Harrison, in the Elizabethan age, in his chapter on Thoroughfares, mentions it. This is his list of the intermediate places: "Whatleie, Thetisford, Stockingchurch, East Wickham, Becconsfield, Uxbridge." The Stratford citizens went this way on the occasion referred to above. So Evelyn, in 1664, going "with my lord visct. Cornbury to Cornbury in Oxfordshire, to assist him in the planting of the park and bear him company, with Mr. Belin and Mr. May, in a coach with six horses; dined at Uxbridge, lay at Wickam." Returning from Oxford, "we came back by Beaconsfield; next day to London, where we dined at the lord ChanVOL. XXXV.-No. 205. 5.
cellor's with my lord Bellasis." And endless other instances might be given. But the route by Henley is scarcely four miles longer, and no doubt was often taken.
Shakspeare would pass down "the High," and beneath Magdalen Tower, across Magdalen Bridge, and then turn to the left. He might keep to the main road, go on up Heddington Hill, and so pass near Forest Hill, where the Powells lived, with whom Milton was to be one day connected, perhaps exchanging a "good morrow" with the future father of Mary; or, more probably, he would take the nearer road which runs just north of Horspath, and so to Wheatley. Then crossing the Thame, on to Tetsworth, where he might pause to look at the rude sculptures over the south doorway of the church. Then mounting the hill in front of him, he would find the Chilterns now close at hand, stretching from north to south before him like a wall, here richly beech-wooded, there bare down. Near Aston Rowant, which lies a little to the north of the road, there were objects of interest on either hand that might well have attracted him, did his leisure serve. Some two miles to the south there was Shirburne Castle, looking much as we see it now, much as the men of the fourteenth century had seen it, with its towers and moat and drawbridges, as perfect a representation of the Middle Ages as exists, we suppose, at least exteriorly; the interior is modernised. It was here, but not in the present building, which dates from 1377 according to Murray, that Brunetto Latini passed a night. Some eight miles to the north from Aston Rowant, he would find localised traditions of a king on whom he was himself to confer immortal distinction; for the Kimbles -Great Kimble, Little Kimble, and Kimblewick-near Princes Risborough, are said to have derived their name from Cymbeline, or Kimbelinus apud Geoffrey of Monmouth, Kimbel apud Robert of Gloucester. A yet older form of his name-the form found on certain coins -is found close by in Cunobelin's Camp. The mound by Great Kimble church, the Whiteleaf Cross on Green Holly Hill, and the earthwork just mentioned, all give to the neighbourhood a strange traditional interest. And it has other charms. The view to the west, from near Cunobelin's Camp, is of unusual extent and beauty; and it is good to be there for a summer's evening.
He looked and saw wide territory spread
Before him, towns and rural works between.
Let us now go on our way from Aston Rowant to the Chilterns, by Stokenchurch Hill to Stokenchurch. Thick wood still covers the sides of the Chilterns here; the thieves that once swarmed in them are no more, or rather have transferred themselves to some other beat, for we cannot flatter ourselves or them that they have grown honest. They only do not rob here because there is no one to rob, and because that way of doing the business is something out of date. Stokenchurch has now a deserted look; it seems created for coaches to drive through, and at the present time they are like angels' visits. On now across the
Common into Buckinghamshire, to West Wycombe, not in Shakspeare's time deformed by a church so unsightly and in such vile taste, with its "hypæethral mausoleum," which looks rather like an overgrown pound. And so to High or Chipping Wycombe, called also by Harrison, as we have seen, East Wycombe, whose most interesting feature is its large and handsome church, with its fine Perpendicular tower.
(iv) From High Wycombe to London, 29 miles.-The road runs alongside of the Wick till, when a mile beyond Loudwater, that streamlet turns south towards the Thames; and then makes for Beaconsfield, to be made famous in after days by the residence of Waller (at Hall Barns) and Burke (at Gregory's, or Butler's Court, as he named it). The church lies close by the wayside, and might well attract the traveller's notice. And now on by a gentle descent, passing on the right of Bulstrode Park, with its old earthwork and legend of Saxcn daring, and then across the common by Gerard's or Jarrett's Cross. And so crossing the Colne into Middlesex, to Uxbridge, in whose main street still stand many houses that, to judge from their appearance and style, were there when Shakspeare passed through. The place has long outshone its mother village. "Though," says a writer* in 1761, "it is entirely independent, and is governed by two bailiffs, two constables, and four headboroughs, it is only a hamlet to Great Hillington" [sic].
The road would now, no doubt, begin to give evidence of the proximity of the metropolis in an increasing number of passengers. The attractive force of the great centre would be more manifestly shown, and Shakspeare would see a striking illustration of one of his own similes :
As many arrows, loosed several ways,
Come to one mark; as many ways meet in one town;
As many fresh streams meet in one salt sea;
As many lines close in the dial's centre;
So may a thousand actions, once afoot,
From Hillingdon Hill, with Harrow on his left and Windsor in the distance on his right, he would look down on the champaign in which London lies. And then, now on the very threshold of his Promised Land, across Hillingdon Heath, and through Northcote, near Southall; over Hanwell Common, through Ealing Dean to Acton, by Kensington Gravel Pits, through Tyburn, all along Oxford Street as far as High Street, when, following the old line, he would turn off by St. Giles'-inthe-Fields (then really so), and proceed along Broad Street, and so along Holborn, houses now beginning to multiply around him, and so, at last, into LONDON.
J. W. HALES.
* London and its Environs, &c., 6 vols. Printed for R. and J. Dodsley. 1761.
"Out of the mouth of babes."
My little niece and I-I read
My Plato in my easy chair:
We worked in silence, but, alas!
Among the cards a mighty spill.
And then the little ape exclaimed,
"Well! Such is life! Look, Uncle Will !
I gave a start and dropped my book—
It was the Phædo I had read
A sympathetic current thrilled,
Like lightning, through my heart and head.
I eyed with curious awe the child,
The unconscious Sibyl, where she sat, Whose thoughtless tongue could babble forth Strange parables of life and fate.
Yes, such is life! a Babel house,
A common doom hath tumbled all,
King, Queen, and Knave, and plain, and trump,
A motley crew in motley fall!
We rear our hopes, no Pharaoh's tomb,
Nor brass could build so sure a name;
But, soon or late, a sad collapse,
And great the ruin of the same.
Ab such is life! Oh, sad and strange
That Love and Wisdom so ordain! Some ere the Builder's hands have yet One card against another lain;
Some when the house is tiny still;
Or should you win the topmost stage,
"But I can build it up again."
My height of awe was reached. Can babes
Yes, Lizzie, build it up again!
F. E. T.