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Burleigh a purse with £30. In this manner Elizabeth received every year presents to the value of something like £10,000! It is true that she, on her part, gave gifts in return; but as they were chiefly small silver-gilt articles, of a value quite out of proportion to those she received, her bargain was a good one, and she remained with something like £8,000 to the good.
The entertainment of all those regularly attached to the Court, together with the number of great personages, with their retainers and servants, who flocked to the palace to partake of the hospitality of the Queen at these festive seasons, involved an enormous outlay for the supply of food. Every day wagon-loads of provisions of all sorts were brought into the Court. The Queen's own “Book of Diet" enumerates tons upon tons of butter, eggs, milk, cheese, and other farm produce; some twenty varieties of fish; countless barrels of beer and hogsheads of wine; and every sort of game and poultry--venison, hares, rabbits, partridges, pheasants, teals, snipe, larks, ducketts, capons, chickens—that were supplied by the purveyors to her Majesty.
At these times of festivity Queen Elizabeth, who inherited from her father an ardent love of stag-hunting, often shared in the sports provided for the entertainment of her guests at Hampton Court, and shot the deer with her own bow. But though a thoroughly keen sportswoman, she always associated with the day's hunting something of the romantic pageantry with which she loved to invest every action of her life. For instance, we read on one occasion of “a delicate bower being prepared, under the which were her Highness' musicians placed, and a cross-bow by a nymph, with a sweet song, delivered to her hands to shoot at the deer.” And there is record of her going out “to hunt the hart,” in her younger days, attended by twelve ladies in white satin on ambling palfreys, and a large retinue of gentlemen, dressed “in russet damask and blue embroidered satin, tasselled and spangled with silver, with bonnets of cloth of silver, with green feathers”; and of her being met, on entering the chase, by fifty archers, also in green, with scarlet boots and yellow caps, with gilded bows, who presented her a silver-headed arrow, winged with peacocks' feathers.
At the same time, more practical matters were not over
FURNITURE OF ELIZABETH'S PALACE.
looked ; and some convenient place in a shady wood was usually chosen, near a stream, where the party might sit down to have luncheon.
In 1592 the palace was visited by the Duke of Wirtemberg, who gives the following account of it in his diary:
“This is the most splendid and most magnificent royal palace of any that may be found in England, or, indeed, in any other kingdom. It comprises ten different large courts, and as many separate royal and princely residences, but alí connected ; together with many beautiful gardens, both for pleasure and ornament—some planted with nothing but rosemary; others laid out with various other plants, which are trained, intertwined, and trimmed in so wonderful a manner, and in such extraordinary shapes, that the like could not easily be found. In short, all the apartments and rooms in this immensely large structure are hung with rich tapestry, of pure gold and fine silk, so exceedingly beautiful and royally ornamented that it would hardly be possible to find more magnificent things of the kind in any other place. In particular, there is one apartment belonging to the Queen, in which she is accustomed to sit in state, costly beyond everything; the tapestries are garnished with gold, pearls, and precious stones—one table-cover alone is valued at above fifty thousand crowns-not to mention the royal throne, which is studded with very large diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and the like, that glitter among other precious stones and pearls as the sun among the stars.
“Many of the splendid large rooms are embellished with masterly paintings, writing tables inlaid with mother-of-pearl, organs, and musical instruments, which her Majesty is particularly fond of.”
Similar testimony to the splendour of Hampton Court in Queen Elizabeth's reign is borne by the French ambassador. “I have seen,” wrote he, “in the palaces of Windsor and Hampton Court, but especially at the latter, more riches and costly furniture than I ever did see, or could have imagined.” And Bohun, in his "Character of Queen Elizabeth,"is equally emphatic on this point. “In the furniture of her royal palaces,” says he, “she ever affected magnificence and an extraordinary splendour; she adorned the galleries with excellent pictures, done by the best artists; the walls she covered with rich tapestries. She was a true lover of jewels and pearls, all sorts of precious stones, plate, plain, bossed of gold and silver, and gilt; rich beds, fine coaches and chariots, Persian and Indian carpets, statues, medals, etc., which she would purchase at great prices. The specimen of her rich furniture, which was moveable, was to be seen a long time after her death, at Hampton Court, above any of the other royal houses in her times. And here she had caused her naval victories obtained against the Spaniards, to be represented in excellent tapestries, and laid up amongst the richest pieces of her wardrobe.”
In the winter following the Duke of Wirtemberg's visit, the Court was again at Hampton Court, where Christmas was celebrated with all the usual festivities. In the midst of them Robert Carey, Earl of Monmouth, who had deeply offended Queen Elizabeth in transgressing her favourite prejudice by perpetrating matrimony, arrived at the palace. “Our first encounter," says Carey,
was stormy and terrible, which I passed over with silence. After she had spoken her pleasure of me and my wife, I told her that she herself was the fault of my marriage, and that if she had but graced me with the least of her favours, I had never left her nor her Court; and seeing she was the chief cause of my misfortune, I would never off my knees till I had kissed her hand, and obtained my pardon. She was not displeased with my excuse, and before we parted we grew good friends.”
From this time forward to the end of Elizabeth's reign we find scarcely any further references to Hampton Court; her Majesty, in the last eight years of her life, seldom residing here.
Her last visit took place in the summer of 1599; but we can find no particulars of it, except that she was seen through one of the windows of the palace, “dancing the Spanish Panic to a whistle and taboureur (pipe and tabor), none being with her but my Lady Warwick.” Her visit did not last more than three or four days, after which she went back again to Nonsuch. “At her Majesty's returning from Hampton Court," wrote the Scottish ambassador," the day being passing foul, she would (as was her custom) go on horseback, although she is scarce able to sit upright, and my Lord Hunsdon said, 'It was not meet for one of QUEEN ELIZABETH'S LAST VISIT.
her Majesty's years to ride in such a storm.' She answered in great anger, ' My years ! Maids, to your horses quickly; and so rode all the way, not vouchsafing any gracious countenance to him for two days. As she passed Kingston, one old man fell on his knees, praying God 'that she might live a hundred years,' which pleased her so, as it might come to pass; which I take to be the cause that some preachers pray she may
last as the sun and the moon." But her hour was now drawing nigh; and three years and a half after, on the 24th of March, 1603, Elizabeth of England, in the seventieth year of her age and the forty-fourth of her reign, breathed her last at Richmond Palace.