At the same time that the Queen was about to enter the Castle, that memorable discharge of fireworks by water and land took place, which Master Laneham, formerly introduced to the reader, has strained all his eloquence to describe.
“Such,” says the Clerk of the Council-chamber door “was the blaze of burning darts, the gleams of stars coruscant, the streams and hail of fiery sparks, lightnings of wildfire, and flight-shot of thunderbolts, with continuance, terror, and vehemency, that the heavens thundered, the waters surged, and the earth shook; and for my part, hardy as I am, it made me very vengeably afraid.”
[See Laneham’s Account of the Queen’s Entertainment at Killingworth Castle, in 1575, a very diverting tract, written by as great a coxcomb as ever blotted paper. [See Note 6] The original is extremely rare, but it has been twice reprinted; once in Mr. Nichols’s very curious and interesting collection of the Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth, vol.i. and more lately in a beautiful antiquarian publication, termed Kenilworth illustrated, printed at Chiswick, for Meridew of Coventry and Radcliffe of Birmingham. It contains reprints of Laneham’s Letter, Gascoigne’s Princely Progress, and other scarce pieces, annotated with accuracy and ability. The author takes the liberty to refer to this work as his authority for the account of the festivities.
I am indebted for a curious ground-plan of the Castle of Kenilworth, as it existed in Queen Elizabeth’s time, to the voluntary kindness of Richard Badnall Esq. of Olivebank, near Liverpool. From his obliging communication, I learn that the original sketch was found among the manuscripts of the celebrated J. J. Rousseau, when he left England. These were entrusted by the philosopher to the care of his friend Mr. Davenport, and passed from his legatee into the possession of Mr. Badnall.]
Nay, this is matter
for the month of March,
When hares are maddest. Either speak in reason,
Giving cold argument the wall of passion,
Or I break up the court. —Beaumont and Fletcher.
It is by no means our purpose to detail minutely all the princely festivities of Kenilworth, after the fashion of Master Robert Laneham, whom we quoted in the conclusion of the last chapter. It is sufficient to say that under discharge of the splendid fireworks, which we have borrowed Laneham’s eloquence to describe, the Queen entered the base-court of Kenilworth, through Mortimer’s Tower, and moving on through pageants of heathen gods and heroes of antiquity, who offered gifts and compliments on the bended knee, at length found her way to the Great Hall of the Castle, gorgeously hung for her reception with the richest silken tapestry, misty with perfumes, and sounding to strains of soft and delicious music. From