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It has been justly observed, that Henry VII. explained much of his character by the reserved and haughty manner in which he secluded himself from the view of the Londoners, by entering that city in a litter, after the battle of Bosworth field. A man, who on such an occasion could disappoint the curiosity, and check the rising loyalty of his people, must have been defective in the best qualities of the head and heart; and, in confirmation of this position, we find the history of his reign affords reason to conclude, he was far from a kind husband, incapable of friendship, and, towards the latter part of his life, exceedingly superstitious. Many of the public acts of his reign are praised by our historians. Others are less 'honourable, particularly those towards the House of York, and the means by which he collected greater sums than any preceding monarch had obtained from the people.
The pride of office, the pride of station, and the pride of riches, prevailed at this period quite as much as at present. The person erect; the eye disdainfully averted; the measured step; and the disinclination to return the salutations of the humble (observable in the really noble, and the recently elevated), did not escape the keen inspection of the satirist.
“ How often have I heard people say,” remarks Elyot, in his ‘Governour,' " when men in great authority have passed by, without making
gentill countenance to those which have done to them reverence, This man weeneth with a look to subdue all the world! Nay, nay, men's hearts be free, and will love whom they list. And thereto all the other do consent in a murmur as it were of bees. When a nobleman passeth by, shewing to men a gentill and familiar visage, it is a world to behold how people taketh comfort; how the blood in their visage quickeneth ; how their flesh stirreth, and hearts leap for gladness. Then they all speak as it were in an harmony. The one sayeth, “Who, beholding this man's most gentill countenance, will not, with all his heart, love him? Another saith, 'He is no man; but an angel. See how he rejoiceth all men that behold him ! Finally, all do grant, that he is wortlıy all honour that may be given or wished him."
Cardinal Wolsey, who lived at this precise period, was an example of the first character drawn hy Elyot. His gentleman usher and faithful attendant, to the last moment of his existence, published a narrative of the life of this proud prelate;-a man who had“ more regard to the honour of his person than to his spiritual function; wherein he should have expressed more meekness and humility. For pride and ambition are both linked together: and ambition is like choler; which is an humour that makes men active, earnest, and full of alacrity, and stirring, if it be
not stopped or hindered in its course. But if it be stopped, and cannot have its
it becometh adust, and thereby malign and venomous.
“ So ambitious and proud men, if they find the way open for their rising and advancement, and still get forwards, they are rather busy than dangerous: but if they be checked in their desires, they become secretly discontent, and look upon men and matters with an evil eye; and are best pleased when things go backwards. But I fo
But I forbear to speak any further.”
Thus wrote the servant of the Cardinal ; whom we will now introduce on his way to Westminster, in all the pride of office; and, conscious of his importance, exciting in the breast of the
spectators the sentiment--" This man weeneth with a look to subdue all the world."
When the Cardinal first issued from his privy chamber in Term, he generally heard two masses in his chapel. Returning there, he enquired of his attendants whether themselves were ready, and had prepared the waiting and presence
chambers. About eight o'clock, he again left his private apartment, in the cardinal's habit of crimson taffata or crimson satin, with a scarlet pillion, and a tippet of sable round his neck; bearing in his hand, as was his constant practice on these occasions, an orange deprived of its contents, and filled with a sponge impregnated with vinegar, &c. to
preserve him from infection, when passing through the crowds his splendour or office attracted.
A lord, or person of eminence, bore the hat; and another the great seal before him. He then entered the presence-chamber ; where his two crosses were in waiting, and a numerous levee of noblemen. The gentlemen ushers exclaimed, “ On masters before, and make room for my lord!" — who descended into the hall, preceded by a serjeant at arms with a silver mace, and two gentlemen with silver plates ; his mule, covered with crimson velvet, waited for him at the door of his palace; and, being mounted, he followed his two crosses and two pillars, carried by persons on horseback, and was uimself surrounded by four footmen armed with pole-axes, and a considerable number of gentlemen of various ranks.
Very few facts are related in our antient authors which enable us to comprehend the manners and usages of private life. . On the other hand, they are diffuse upon the most trivial circumstances relating to the powerful. Some traits should be given to illustrate the customs of the latter ; and the life of Wolsey will furnish a curious instance of a subject emulating one of the most dread sovereigns England has known.
Wolsey being raised to the dignity of cardinal, in addition to his archbishopric and chancellorship, felt himself superior to all spiritual con
troul; and, as has already been said, passed from place to place in all the pomp allowed by the Romish church. Indeed such was his ambition in this particular, that he selected two of the tallest priests in the kingdom to bear his crosses before him. His household consisted of a steward, who was in priests orders, a treasurer, who had the honour of knighthood, a comptroller, an esquire, a confessor, a doctor in divinity, three marshals, three ushers of the hall, two almoners, and a number of grooms.
The officers of his hall-kitchen were two clerks, a clerk comptroller, a surveyor of the dresser, a clerk of the spicery, two cooks, their assistants and children amounting to twelve individuals, four scullions, two yeomen of the pastry, and two paste layers.
The master cook, who presided in the kitchen, wore a superb dress of velvet or satin, and was decorated with a chain of gold. He had six assistants, and two deputies.
The larder bad a yeoman and a groom. The scullery and buttery an equal number of persons each; the
the same; the cellar three yeomen and three pages; the chandery two yeomen, and the waifery two.
The wardrobe of beds was superintended by a master, with twenty assistants: the landry, a yeoman, a groom, and thirteen pages, two yeomen surveyors, and a groom surveyor. In the