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Nec tam Larissæ percussit campus opimæ,
Et præceps Anio, et Tiburni lucus, et uda
Mobilibus pomaria rivis.
HORATII, liber i. Od. 7.
HERE is the aspect of the country grand;
Green are the meads through which clear rivers flow; Here o'er the road, as guardians of the land, Vast oaks their venerable branches throw; And in the sunlight woods continuous glow, Where Perdita might choose her choicest store Of flowers with artless comment to bestow On high-born swains; and where, with Hellenore Laurel-crown'd, sylvan boys from openings might out
Here Flora's spots of loveliness surpass
Armida's gardens or Alcina's isle :
Gay flower-beds, fountains bosom'd in soft grass,
Wind flower-inwoven creepers, here beguile The slave to Mammon of his golden cares,
As plays o'er Avon's stream eve's roseate smile. And Nature here her richest livery wears, Flourishing as her poet's fame, whose throne no rival
Beautiful are the fields that brighten round
Stratford, where fairies dance beneath the moon;
And Ariels, as he sleeps on sacred ground,
Visit the day-dreams even of rustic loon.
Juliet before the eye of fancy glows
With love, far lovelier than in grand saloon
The richest gems of beauty: Shakspeare throws
Mightiest of mighty bards! may I unblamed
Or in the soul sublime emotions raise,
Or melt with tenderness, delight with wit;
And Warwickshire of Somerville can boast,
Of fame, since days of Shakspeare somewhat rare. 'Tis said, the county has become effete *
With bringing forth Creation's richest heir: Yet Warton offered up, as was most meet, Incense of praise to Dugdale in a sonnet sweet.
They were congenial spirits, and they drunk
And renovate their Norman fame of yore.
The spirit of the Nimrod-Bard survives
Not in heroic verse, but toast or song:
The sport, now heighten'd into racing, gives
There is a caustic saying of Dr. Parr's on record, that "Warwickshire produced Shakspeare, and became effete."
Re-echoing woods the joyous cry prolong
Of "forward!" swift as breeze o'er waving corn,
Hounds sweep unequall'd in their pace along
Large fields from Radbourne Gorse *, and Boxall's + horn
Can make the heart rejoice on dull November's morn.
Where is the sage oracular that dwelt
Whilome at Hatton, cloud-compelling Parr?
Through realms of knowledge celebrated far;
His feasts were sumptuous on his natal day;
Fair as the yet unmelted flagons shine
* A famous covert in Warwickshire.
Who knows not Bill Boxall, the celebrated huntsman to the Warwickshire hounds?
In banquet-rooms of high-born thanes: he loved
Rich as the colours of the rainbow shone
His eloquent discourse, whate'er the theme; Whether he spoke of mighty statesmen gone, Their names like bubbles, buoyant on Time's stream— Glittering, though evanescent as a dream ;
Or as his guests with old Falernian warm'd,
Flash'd with the goblet round wit's frequent beam : Sunny old man! his imagery charm'd
Ripe scholars, wise self-love his satire oft alarm'd.
Kenilworth Castle! history relates
Its pristine grandeur, and tradition tells
Each sea-god who in coral cavern dwells!
Triton and Proteus strange, in vesture green
Diana with her nymphs-the gods of Greece are seen!
* See Laneham's Letter describing the magnificent pageants presented before Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth Castle in 1575; also Gascoigne's Princely Pleasures.