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Hanmer, 540.—Benefactors: Rich. Clough, ib.—Memorable Persons : Thos. ap
OXFORDSHIRE hath Berkshire (divided first by the Isis, then by the Thames) on the south; Gloucestershire on the west; Buckinghamshire on the east; Warwick and Northampton-shires on the north. It aboundeth with all things necessary for man's life; and I understand that hunters and falconers are no where better pleased. Nor needeth there more pregnant proof of plenty in this place, than that lately Oxford was for some years together a court, a garrison, and an university ; during which time it was well furnished with provisions on reasonable rates.
And why of these in Oxfordshire? why not rather in Northamptonshire, where there be the most, or in Yorkshire, where there be the greatest, parks in England ? It is because John Rous of Warwick telleth me, that at Woodstock in this county was the most ancient park in the whole land, encompassed with a stone wall by king Henry the first.
Let us premise a line or two concerning Parks; the case, before we come to what is contained therein.
1. The word parcus appears in Varro (derived, no doubt, à parcendo, to spare or save) for a place wherein such cattle are preserved.
2. There is mention once or twice in Domesday-book of parcus* silvestris bestiarum, which proveth parks in England before the Conquest.
3. Probably such ancient parks (to keep J. Rous in credit and countenance) were only paled, and Woodstock the first that was walled about.
I Camden's Britannia, in Oxfordshire.
4. Parks are since so multiplied, that there be more in England than in all Europe besides.*
The deer therein, when living, raise the stomachs of gentlemen with their sport; and, when dead, allay them again with their flesh. The fat of venison is conceived to be (but I would not have deer-stealers hear it) of all flesh the most vigorous nourishment, especially if attended with that essential addition which Virgil coupleth therewith:
Implentur veteris Bacchi pinguisque ferina.
“ Old wine did their thirst allay, fat venison hunger." But deer are daily diminished in England, since the gentry are necessitated into thrift, and forced to turn their pleasure into profit: “Jam seges est ubi parcus erat;" and, since the sale of bucks hath become ordinary, I believe, in process of time, the best stored park will be found in a cook's shop in London.
Plenty hereof doth, more hath, grown in this county, being daily diminished. And indeed the woods therein are put to too hard a task in their daily duty (viz. to find fuel and timber for all the houses in, and many out of, the shire); and they cannot hold out, if not seasonably relieved by pit-coal found here, or sea-coal brought hither. This minds me of a passage wherein Oxford was much concerned. When Shot-over woods (being bestowed by king Charles the First on a person of honour) were likely to be cut down, the university by letters laboured their preservation ; wherein this among many other pathetical expressions, “ That Oxford was one of the eyes of the land, and Shotover woods the hair of the eyelids; the loss whereof must needs prejudice the sight, with too much moisture flowing therein." This retrenched that design for the present; but in what case those woods stand at this day, is to me unknown.
BUILDINGS. The colleges in Oxford, advantaged by the vicinity of fair free-stone, do for the generality of their structure carry away the credit from all in Christendom, and equal any for the largeness of their endowments.
It is not the least part of Oxford's happiness, that a moiety of her founders were prelates (whereas Cambridge hath but three episcopal foundations, Peter-house, Trinity-hall
, and Jesus); who had an experimental knowledge what belonged to the necessities and conveniences of scholars, and therefore have accommodated them accordingly; principally in providing them the patronages of many good benefices, whereby the fellows of those
Camden's Britannia, in Oxfordshire.
colleges are plentifully maintained, after their leaving of the university.
Of the colleges, University is the oldest, Pembroke the youngest, Christ Church the greatest, Lincoln (by many reputed) the least, Magdalen the neatest, Wadham the most uniform, New College the strongest, and Jesus College (no fault but its unhappiness) the poorest; and if I knew which was the richest, I would not tell, seeing concealment in this kind is the safest. New College is most proper for southern, Exeter for western, Queen's for northern, Brasen-nose for north-western men, St. John's for Londoners, Jesus for Welshmen; and at other colleges almost indifferently for men of all countries. Merton hath been most famous for schoolmen, Corpus Christi (formerly called Trilingue Collegium) for linguists, Christ Church for poets, All-souls for orators, New College for civilians, Brasen-nose for disputants, Queen's College for metaphysicians, Exeter for a late series of Regius professors ; Magdalen for ancient, St. John's for modern, prelates; and all eminent in some one kind or other. And if any of these colleges were transported into foreign parts, it would alter its kind (or degree at least) and presently
of a college proceed an university, as equal to most, and superior to many, academies beyond the seas.
Before I conclude with these colleges, I'must confess how much I was posed with a passage which I'met with in the epistles of Erasmus, writing to his familiar friend Ludovicus Vives, then residing in Oxford, in Collegio Apum, in the College of Bees, according to his direction of his letter. I knew all colleges may metaphorically be termed the Colleges of Bees, wherein the industrious scholars live under the rule of one master, in which respect St. Hierome* advised Rusticus the monk to busy himself in making bee-hives, that from thence he might learn“ monasteriorum ordinem et regiam disciplinam," (the order of monasteries and discipline of kingly government. But why any one college should be so signally called, and which it was, I was at a loss ; till at last seasonably satisfied that it was Corpus Christi ; whereon no unpleasant story doth depend.
In the year 1630, the leads over Vives's study, being decayed, were taken
and new cast; by which occasion the stall was taken, and with it an incredible mass of honey.† But the bees, as presaging their intended and imminent destruction (whereas they were never known to have swarmed before) did that spring (to preserve their famous kind) send down a fair swarm into the president's garden ; the which, in the year 1633, yielded two swarms; one whereof pitched in the garden for the president; the other they sent up as a new colony into their old habitation, there to continue the memory of this mellifluous doctor, as the university styled him in a letter to the cardinal.
* In Epistolà ad Rusticum monachum.
† Butler, of Bees, p. 23.