« PreviousContinue »
abstinentis, et contemplativi, hanc sedem in memoriam ejusdem Jeremiæ extruxit, anno Dom. 1609.
Howell, writing in 1621, speaks of the walks in Gray's Inn Gardens, as “the pleasantest place about London.” Hither, in May 1662, when Mrs. Pepys was about to purchase some new articles of dress,—her gossipping husband mentions his bringing her, in order to observe “the fashions of the ladies ;” and here Addison, in the Spectator, mentions Sir Roger de Coverley walking on the terrace,
hemming twice or thrice to himself with great vigour, for he loves to clear his pipes in good air, (to make use of his own phrase) and is not a little pleased with any one who takes notice of the strength which he still exerts in his morning hems.”
We have already alluded, in our notices of Lincoln's Inn, to the famous masques, revels, and Christmasings, of which the halls of the Inns of Court were anciently the scene; the days of the yule-wood, of boars' heads, and barons of beef, when the Lord of Misrule and the King of the Cockneys performed their fantastic fooleries; and when, in the words of Justice Shallow :
'Twas merry in hall,
all. During the reigns of Henry the Eighth and Queen Elizabeth, masques and other goodly “ disguisings” appear to have been frequently performed at Gray's Inn. The first of which we have any record, was a masque composed by one John Roo, serjeant-at-law, which was performed at Gray's Inn,
in 1525. It was principally remarkable from the great offence which it gave to Cardinal Wolsey, whose ambition and misgovernment it was supposed that the author intended to satirize. According to the old chronicler, Hall, “ This play was so set forth with rich and costly apparel, and with strange devices of masks and morrishes, that it was highly praised by all men, except by the Cardinal, who imagined that the play had been devised of him. In a great fury he sent for Master Roo, and took from him his coif, and sent him to the Fleet, and afterwards he sent for the young gentlemen that played in the play, and highly rebuked and threatened them, and sent one of them, called Thomas Moyle, of Kent, to the Fleet; but by means of friends, Master Roo and he were delivered at last. This play sore displeased the Cardinal, and yet it was never meant for him, wherefore many wise men grudged to see him take it so to heart; and even the Cardinal said that the King was highly displeased with it, and spake nothing of bimself.”
It may, or may not have been the case, that Roo, when he composed his Masque, intended to “ devise” the Cardinal. From the following passage, however, in Fox's “ Acts and Monuments," it is evident that the performers were fully aware that Wolsey would in all probability conceive himself to be the object of its satirical pleasantries, and therefore their offence was nearly the same as if the attack had been a premeditated one. Fox, writing of Simon Fish, of Gray's Inn, author of the “Supplication of the Beggars," observes “It happened the first year that this gentleman came to London to dwell, which was about the year of our Lord 1525, that there was a certain play or interlude, made by one M. Roo, of the same Inn, gentleman, in which play partly was matter against the Cardinal Wolsey; and when none durst take upon them to play that part which touched the said Cardinal, this aforesaid M. Fish took upon him to do it. Whereupon great displeasure ensued against him on the Cardinal's part, in so much as he being pursued by the said Cardinal, the same night that this tragedy was played, was compelled of force to void his own house, and so fled over the sea to Tindal.” During the period Fish was residing in Germany, a copy of his “Supplication of the Beggars," -a satire on the monastic orders in England,-- was shown by Anne Boleyn to Henry the Eighth, who was so much pleased with it, that he not only permitted the author to return to England, but took him under his protection. Fish, however, survived his recal only a short time, dying of the plague in 1531.
As a specimen of those costly entertainments, with which the Courts of Law were anciently in the habit of regaling their sovereigns, the following account may not be unacceptable to the reader. The Masque, to which we allude, was performed in the Palace of Whitehall, before Charles the First and Henrietta Maria, at Allhallowtide, in
1633; on the occasion of the birth of the Duke of York, afterwards James the Second. given by the members of the four principal Inns of Court, - Lincoln's Inn, Gray's Inn, and the Middle and Inner Temple ;—the hall of Ely House being the place where the masquers assembled, and from whence the motley procession set out in long array for Whitehall. “On Candlemas-day, in the afternoon, the masquers, horsemen, musicians, dancers, and all that were actors in this business, met at Ely House, in Holborn; and when the evening was come, all things being in full readiness, they began to set forth in this order down Chancery Lane to Whitehall. The first that marched were twenty footmen, in scarlet liveries with silver lace, each one having his sword by his side, a baton in one hand, and a torch lighted in the other. There were the Marshal's men, who cleared the streets, made way, &c. After them came the Marshal, Mr. Daniel, afterwards knighted by the King. He was of Lincoln's Inn, an extraordinary handsome, proper gentleman; he was mounted on one of the King's best horses and richest saddles, and his own habit was exceeding rich and glorious; his horsemanship was very gallant; and besides his Marshal's men he had two laquies, who carried torches by him, and a page in livery, that went by him carrying his cloak.
“ After the Marshal followed a train of a hundred young gentlemen, selected, on account of their showy and handsome appearance, from the different
Inns of Court; all of them mounted on gallant horses, sumptuously caparisoned, which had been furnished for the occasion from the King's stables, and those of the principal nobility. Then followed the chariots of the inferior Masquers, after which came the first chariot of the grand Masquers, which was not so large as those that went before, but most curiously framed, carved, and painted with exquisite art, and purposely for this service and occasion. The form of it was after that of the Roman triumphant chariots. The colours of the first chariot were silver and crimson, given by lot to Gray's Inn; the chariot was drawn with four horses all abreast, and they were covered to their heels all over with cloth of tissue of the colours of crimson and silver, huge plumes of red and white feathers on their heads; the coachman's cap and feather, his long coat, and his very whip and cushion of the same stuff and colour. In this chariot sat the four grand masquers of Gray's Inn; their habits, doublets, trunk-hose, and caps, of most rich cloth of tissue, and wrought as thick with silver spangles as they could be placed ; large white stockings up to their trunk-hose, and rich sprigs in their caps, themselves proper and beautiful young gentlemen. On each side of the chariot were four footmen in liveries of the colour of the chariot, carrying huge flambeaux in their hands, which, with the torches, gave such a lustre to the paintings, spangles, and habits, that hardly anything could be invented to appear more glorious.