Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Beauties of the Isle of Britain
By William Camden (15511623)
From Remains concerning Britain
WHEREAS I have purposed in all this treatise to confine myself within the bounds of this Isle of Britain, it cannot be impertinent, at the very entrance, to say somewhat of Britain, which is the only subject of all that is to be said, and well known to be the most flourishing and excellent, most renowed and famous Isle of the whole world. So rich in commodities, so beautiful in situation, so resplendent in all glory, that if the most Omnipotent had fashioned the world round like a ring, as he did like a globe, it might have been most worthily the only gem therein.
For the air is most temperate and wholesome, sited in the middest of the temperate zone, subject to no storms and tempests as the more Southern and Northern are; but stored with infinite delicate fowl. For water, it is walled and guarded with the Ocean, most commodious for traffic to all parts of the world, and watered with pleasant fish-ful and navigable rivers, which yield safe havens and roads, and furnished with shipping and sailors, that it may rightly be termed the Lady of the Sea. That I may say nothing of healthful baths, and of meres stored both with fish and fowl, the earth fertile of all kind of grain, manured with good husbandry, rich in mineral of coals, tin, lead, copper, not without gold and silver, abundant in pasture, replenished with cattle both tame and wild (for it hath more parks than all Europe besides) plentifully wooded, provided with all complete provisions of war, beautified with many populous cities, fair boroughs, good towns, and well-built villages, strong munitions, magnificent palaces of the Prince, stately houses of the nobility, frequent hospitals, beautiful churches, fair colleges, as well in other places, as in the two Universities, which are comparable to all the rest in Christendom, not only in antiquity, but also in learning, buildings, and endowments. As for government ecclesiastical and civil, which is the very soul of a kingdom, I need to say nothing, when as I write to home-born, and not to strangers.