BLENHEIM PALACE, 1 NOVEMBER 1997

“Do I dare to believe what my eyes perceive?
Never have I seen such treasure!
I've silver and gold, new mint and old,
But this — this is wealth beyond measure!
Here's a text from the library at Ephesus;
Alexandria on the Nile;
And Carthage; and Rome . . .”
“Aye, and closer to home,
Manuscripts from the Emerald Isle!
Heiroglyphics, sire, long lost alphabets
In languages known and obscure.
These great tablets were wrought
By men who fought
'Round the ancient walled city of Ur.
Here are books all the way
From the court of Cathay;
Sanscrit scrolls from Hinduland;
Small tablets from Crete;
The Timaeus, complete . . .”
“Written in Plato's own hand?”
“I've been meaning to read it,”
The dwarf replied.
“I never could find the time.
Said the knight, "but I may.
Oh, I plan to, one day,
But I do like books best if they rhyme.”

GRUMPUSS © 1992 by Travis Edward Pike

The banquet, menu and all, was arranged by Wonkie Hills and catered by The Admirable Crichton. The Long Library was originally designed by Vanbrugh as a picture gallery.  The Willis organ, which you can just see at the far end of the 180 foot long room, was installed by the 8th Duke and his American Duchess, Lillian, in 1891.

After my performance, about 100 of my special guests joined me for dinner in this “room full of treasure.” At the end of the evening, as I offered the toast to the Queen and then to the United States of America, organist Andrew Patterson played both the British and American National Anthems on that magnificent organ. It was “Otherworldly,” especially on that particular night. One almost expected Errol Flynn to march in and throw one of the king's deer onto the table.


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