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“The history of « Fair Rosamond' has been enveloped in romantic traditions, which have scarcely any foundation in truth ; but which have taken so firm a hold on the popular mind, and have been identified with so much poetry, that it is neither an easy nor a pleasant task to dissipate the fanciful illusion, and unpeople the bower,' in the sylvan shades of Woodstock. Rosamond de Clifford was the daughter of a baron of Herefordshire, the beautiful site of whose antique castle, in the valley of the Wye, is pointed out to the traveller between the town of the Welsh Hay and the city of Hereford, at a point where the most romantic of rivers, after foaming through its rocky, narrow, bed in Wales, sweeps freely and tranquilly through an open English valley of surprising loveliness. Henry became enamoured of her in his youth, before he was king *** but long before his death Rosamond retired to lead a religious and penitent life, into the
little nunnery' of Godstow. As Henry still preserved gentle and generous feelings towards the object of his youthful and ardent passion he, made many donations to the little nunnery' on her account ; and, when she died, the nuns, in gratitude to one who had been, both directly and indirectly, their benefactress, buried her in their choir, hung a silken pall over her tomb, and kept tapers constantly burning around it. These few lines, we believe, comprise all that is really known of the Fair Rosamond. The legend, so familiar to the childhood of all of us, was of later and gradual growth-not been the product of one imagina
tion, The chronicler Brompton, who wrote in the time of Edward III., or more than a century and a half after the event, gave the first description we possess of the secret bower of Rosamond. He says that, in order that she might not be easily taken unawares by the queen,' Henry constructed, near Woodstock, a bower for this most sightly of maidens,' of wonderful contrivance, and not unlike the Dædalean labyrinth; but he speaks only of a device against surprise, and intimates, in clear terms, that Rosamond died a natural death."- Pictorial History of England, vol. i. p. 481.
Drayton* says that the ruins of Rosamond's labyrinth, together with the well, which was paved with square stones at the bottom, and also her tower, were yet remaining in his time. The labyrinth was altogether under ground ; being vaults arched and walled with brick and stone, almost inextricably wound one within another; by which she was at any time able to escape from her pursuers; and
Michael Drayton was born before Sbakspeare.