IT was now the joyous month of June; and where is June so joyous as within the courts and halls of peerless Windsor? Where does the summer sun shine so brightly as upon its stately gardens and broad terraces, its matchless parks, its silver belting river and its circumference of proud and regal towers? Nowhere in the world. At all seasons Windsor is magnificent: whether, in winter, she looks upon her garnitures of woods stripped of their foliage -- her river covered with ice -- or the wide expanse of country around her sheeted with snow -- or, in autumn, gazes on the same scene -- a world of golden-tinted leaves, brown meadows, or glowing cornfields. But summer is her season of beauty -- June is the month when her woods are fullest and greenest; when her groves are shadiest; her avenues most delicious; when her river sparkles like a diamond zone; when town and village, mansion and cot, church and tower, hill and vale, the distant capital itself -- all within view -- are seen to the highest advantage. At such a season it is impossible to behold from afar the heights of Windsor, crowned, like the Phrygian goddess, by a castled diadem, and backed by lordly woods, and withhold a burst of enthusiasm and delight. And it is equally impossible, at such a season, to stand on the grand northern terrace, and gaze first at the proud pile enshrining the sovereign mistress of the land, and then gaze on the unequalled prospect spread out before it, embracing in its wide range every kind of beauty that the country can boast, and not be struck with the thought that the perfect and majestic castle -
"In state as wholesome as in state 'tis fit Worthy the owner, and the owner it,"-together with the wide, and smiling, and populous district around it, form an apt representation of the British sovereign and her dominions. There stands the castle, dating back as far as the Conquest, and boasting since its foundation a succession of royal inmates, while at its foot lies a region of unequalled fertility and beauty-full of happy homes, and loving, loyal hearts -- a miniature of the old country and its inhabitants. What though the smiling landscape may he darkened by a passing cloud! -- what though a momentary gloom may gather round the august brow of the proud pile! - the cloud will speedily vanish, the gloom disperse, and the bright and sunny scene look yet brighter and sunnier from the contrast.
It was the chance of the writer of these lines upon one occasion to behold his sovereign under circumstances which he esteems singularly fortunate. She was taking rapid exercise with the prince upon the south side of the garden-terrace. All at once the royal pair paused at the summit of the ascent leading from George the Fourth's gateway. The prince disappeared along the eastern terrace, leaving the queen alone. And there she stood, her slight, faultless figure sharply defined against the clear sky. Nothing was wanting to complete the picture: the great bay-windows of the Victoria Tower on the one hand -- the balustrade of the terrace on the other -- the home park beyond. It was thrilling to feel that that small, solitary figure comprehended all the might and majesty of England -- and a thousand kindling aspirations were awakened by the thought.
But it was, as has been said, the merry month of June, and Windsor Castle looked down in all its magnificence upon the pomp of woods, and upon the twelve fair and smiling counties lying within its ken. A joyous stir was within its courts -- the gleam of arms and the fluttering of banners was seen upon its battlements and towers, and the ringing of bells, the beating of drums, and the fanfares of trumpets, mingled with the shouting of crowds and the discharge of ordnance.
Amidst this tumult a grave procession issued from the deanery, and took its way across the lower quadrangle, which was thronged with officers and men-at-arms, in the direction of the lower gate. Just as it arrived there a distant gun was heard, and an answering peal was instantly fired from the culverins of the Curfew Tower, while a broad standard, emblazoned with the arms of France and England within the garter, and having for supporters the English lion crowned and the red dragon sinister, was reared upon the keep. All these preparations betokened the approach of the king, who was returning to the castle after six weeks' absence.
Though information of the king's visit to the castle had only preceded him by a few hours, everything was ready for his reception, and the greatest exertions were used to give splendour to it.
In spite of his stubborn and tyrannical nature, Henry was a popular monarch, and never showed himself before his subjects but he gained their applauses; his love of pomp, his handsome person, and manly deportment, always winning him homage from the multitude. But at no period was he in a more critical position than the present. The meditated divorce from Catherine of Arragon was a step which found no sympathy from the better portion of his subjects, while the ill-assorted union of Anne Boleyn, an avowed Lutheran, which it was known would follow it, was equally objectionable. The seeds of discontent had been widely sown in the capital; and tumults had occurred which, though promptly checked, had nevertheless alarmed the king, coupled as they were with the disapprobation of his ministers, the sneering remonstrances of France, the menaces of the Papal See, and the open hostilities of Spain. But the characteristic obstinacy of his nature kept him firm to his point, and he resolved to carry it, be the consequences what they might.
All his efforts to win over Campeggio proved fruitless. The legate was deaf to his menaces or promises, well knowing that to aid Anne Boleyn would be to seriously affect the interests of the Church of Rome.