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bility that splendid living, and luxurious fare, distinguished this reign. Before we bid adieu to Wolsey, another proof shall be given of my supposition being correctly founded, in which many
of our antient customs may be accurately traced. Wolsey had been sent to France, where he negotiated a peace between the two nations ; he returned, and several men of rank came over to ratify it. Those were to be splendidly entertained at the expence of Government, and Hampton Court was the place selected for this purpose.
The great waiting-chamber of that palace had rich hangings of cloth of arras ; and others were adorned in a similar manner, according to the use intended to be made of them : in each were stationed the best proportioned yeomen of the king's household. Tables were placed in them, and cupboards filled with silver utensils. Plates of the same metal, suspended to the walls, highly , polished, reflected the lights set before them; and great fires of wood and coals blazed in the chimneys. The presence-chamber was still more superbly decorated with cloth of arras, and a canopy of state ; under which a table was set in the midst of the apartinent surrounded by six desks of plate, gilt with the finest gold, “ saving one pair of candlesticks of silver, and gilt, with lights in the same.”
The cupboard, abounding with massy vessels and other articles of great value, was railed from the rest of the room; and the walls had silver gilt plates to reflect the numerous wax candles burning before them. Gentlemen waiters ats tended ; and officers were appointed to conduct the strangers to the supper prepared for them, accompanied by the sound of trumpets. vice came up in such abundance," says our authority, “ both costly, and full of devices, with such a pleasant noise of musick, that the Frenchmen (as it seemed) were wrapped up heavenly paradise. You must understand that my lord cardinal was not there all this while. But the French monsieurs were very merry with their rich fare, and curious cates and knacks. But before the second course my lord cardinal came in, booted and spurred, suddenly amongst them; at whose coming there was great joy, every man rising from his place, whom my lord cardinal caused to sit still, and keep their places ; and, being in his riding apparel, called for his chair, and sat him down in the midst of the high table, and was there as merry and pleasant as ever I saw him in
life. “ Presently after came up the second course, which was above one hundred several devices, which were so good and costly that I think the Frenchmen never saw the like. But the rarest
curiosity of all the rest they all wondered at (which indeed was worthy of wonder) were castles, with images in the same, like St. Paul's church for the model of it. There were beasts, birds, fowls, personages, most excellently made, some fighting with swords, some with guns, others with cross bows, some dancing with ladies, some on horseback, with complete armour, justling, with long and sharp spears, other strange devices, which I cannot describe ; amongst all, I noted there was a chess-board, made of spice plate, with men of the same, and of good proportion.”
The cardinal observing, perhaps, that one of the company particularly noticed the latter imitation, made it a present to him; at the same time ordering that a case should be made for its safe conveyance to France. He then drank of ypocras, from a cup worth 500 marks, to the king's health, and that of the king of France; which compliment was returned by the ambassadors.
The gentleman usher adds further, that the cup went so “merrily about,” many of the Frenchmen were led to their beds. Whether Wolsey was conducted to his, is not mentioned.
In reviewing this account of a royal entertainment in the time of Henry the Eighth, it is worthy of remark that it was then the custom to make representations of men, beasts, and things, in pastry; which, I apprehend, was sup
posed by many to be a modern invention, though this supposition is certainly unfounded. It seems extremely probable that it was but recently introduced when the preceding account was written, notwithstanding what has already been said on the subject. The author of “ the Life of Wolsey," speaks of the pastry as a subject of wonder, “as a rare curiosity and worthy of wonder;" and as of a spectacle “ Frenchmen never saw the like.” From which latter circumstance we may suppose the custom was not imported from France; where, indeed, the cardinal thought it worth his while to send part of it as a present.
The union of the houses of York and Lancaster in the time of Henry VII. contributed greatly to ameliorate the situation of all ranks of society ; and the people must have seen with infinite satisfaction, that their lives and property were not likely to be sacrificed by a ruinous civil war, in a contest between powerful families for the crown, at least for many years. The total extinction of numbers of great persons and their relatives naturally rendered vassalage less common; and as this description of tyranny ceased, so, in proportion, those people emigrated from place to place, and practised their different occupations to their own emolument.
Before this period the monarch was surrounded by rivals, who greatly restricted his acts. But
when Henry VIII. ascended the throne, he soon found that he stood alone in power, with nobles generally inclined to promote his views, provided they were rewarded for their services. He therefore devised means to exhibit the scaffold to such who wished to oppose him ; and to make those perish on it who actually resisted his authority. Contented with their new situation, the common classes of people viewed the acts of the Government with perfect composure; and, perhaps, with sufficient dread to produce the same effect. This fact, however, is no great compliment to their patriotism and humanity, when we consider the unheard-of crimes of their tyrant: whose character may be included between the extremes of baseness and cruelty.
Henry affected a high respect for the profession of arms; he assisted at tournaments, and they terminated with his reign. Himself and courtiers were, as has already been mentioned, richly habited. The walls of his palaces, and those of his nobles, were hung with rich tapestry and arras; but we know little of their furniture beyond the beau fet; which always exhibited massy basins and covers, goblets, and candlesticks. We may, therefore, imagine it to have been rude and clumsy, and confined to meré usefulness. The drawings extant of the beds of the rich invariably represent them nearly in the present form, as to height and curtains. Holin