Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE CARDINAL'S HOUSEHOLD AND RETINUE. 35

descriptions of his goblets, cups, flagons, bowls, basins, ewers, plates, saucers, dishes, etc., of gold, of silver, and of silver gilt, show that his collection, could it be brought to the hammer at Christie's, would outdo those of all modern collectors.

CHAPTER III.

CARDINAL WOLSEY'S MAGNIFICENCE.

Rich as was the furniture of the Cardinal's palace, and vast as was its extent, it was only just adequate to meet the requirements of the enormous and splendid household which he maintained.

The estimates given of the number of his retainers are various, but we shall be safe within the mark if we put them down as consisting of at least 500 persons. Among these were many lords and gentlemen of the first families in England, who, according to the custom of that age, took up their residence with the great ecclesiastics for the political and educational advantages thereby to be gained.

His hall, in which there was constantly kept open table, was presided over by three officers—a steward (who was always a priest), a treasurer (who was a knight), and a comptroller (a squire). These were assisted by a cofferer, who was a doctor, and numerous marshals, yeomen, ushers, grooms, and almoners. He had two principal kitchens, one being the privy kitchen for his own table. Here reigned his master cook, a functionary attired in velvet and satin, and wearing a gold chain round his neck. The small room where he sat and gave his orders to his subordinates may still be seen, opening into one of the great kitchens, now used as a lumber room on the north of the old palace. The servitors in the other kitchens and the adjoining offices (which also remain pretty much in their original state) were upwards of eighty in number, and consisted of assistant cooks, yeomen, grooms, and labourers of the kitchen, scullery,

were

pastry, scalding house, saucery, buttery, ewery, cellar, wafery, bakehouse, etc. Besides these there were the hallkitchen, with two clerks of the kitchen, a clerk comptroller, a surveyor of the dresser, a clerk of the spicery and two master cooks and twelve assistant cooks, and labourers and children of the kitchen.

Nearly a hundred servants more were employed in his wardrobe, laundry, woodyard, etc.; and at the porter's lodge at the great gate were two yeomen and two grooms.

The Cardinals stud and stable were, of necessity, on a similar scale. Like the King, he had a master of the horse ; and also a clerk of the stable and a yeoman of the same, a saddler, farrier, a yeoman of his chariot, a sumpter man, a yeoman of his stirrup, a muleteer, and sixteen grooms besides helpers. Of horses and mules, besides upwards of a hundred serving for his household, for his escort, and for carts, there

six horses to wait on my Lord at Hampton Court and other places,” and six gray and white ambling mules “for my Lord's own saddle.”

The officers of his chapel were even more numerous still. Besides sixty priests in copes, who attended the services on great festivals and walked before the Cardinal in procession round the cloisters of Hampton Court, there were: first, a Dean, “a great divine, and a man of excellent learning"; then a Sub-dean; a repeater of the choir; a Gospeller, and a Pisteller, that is, two priests, who respectively sang the gospel and the epistle of the day at High Mass; twelve singing priests, twelve singing children, and sixteen singing laymen, besides “divers retainers of cunning singing men, that came at divers sundry principal feasts." These formed a choir that far excelled that of the King, who declared that, if it was not for the personal love he bore him, he would have boys and men and all. For his Majesty complained that “if any manner of new song should be brought unto both the said chapels to be sung ex improviso, then the said song was better and more surely handled” by the Cardinal's choir than

his own.

But even all these were exclusive of his personal attendants, who numbered no less than a hundred and sixty persons. They were: his High Chamberlain, his Vice-Chamberlain, twelve gentlemen ushers, daily waiters, eight gentlemen THE CARDINAL'S POMP AS LORD CHANCELLOR. 37 ushers and waiters of his privy chamber, nine or ten lords, forty persons acting as gentlemen cup-bearers, carvers, sewers, etc.; six yeomen ushers, eight grooms of the chamber; six and forty yeomen of his chamber, “daily to attend upon his person”; sixteen doctors and chaplains, two secretaries, three clerks and four counsellors learned in the law. These, and many more whom we need not particularize, were constantly in attendance on him while he resided at Hampton Court; and the cost of entertaining them raised Wolsey's household expenses alone to something like £50,000 a year in modern reckoning.

As Lord Chancellor, he had an additional and separate retinue, almost as numerous and various—clerks, running footmen, armourers, minstrels, sergeants-at-arms, heralds, etc.

The display of such pomp and splendour could not fail to rouse to fury such austere spirits as Skelton and Roy, who, being unable to recognize anything in magnificence but the outward show, looked on it only as vulgar ostentation. The late Mr. Brewer, who made so deep a study of Wolsey's administration, and analyzed his character to its very elements, attributes his taste for the magnificent to its true motives. "He was resolved,” he says, “to invest his new dignity with all that splendour and magnificence, which no man understood better, or appreciated more highly than he did. Even in that age of gorgeous ceremonial, before Puritan sentimentalism had insisted on the righteousness of lawn sleeves; when the sense aches with interminable recitals of cloth of gold, silks and tapestries, even then amidst jewelled mitres and copes, a Cardinal in his scarlet robes formed a conspicuous object. Not that Wolsey was the slave of a vulgar vanity; magnificent in all his doings,-in plate, dress, tapestry, pictures, buildings, the furniture of a chapel or a palace, the setting of a ring, or the arrangements for a congress, there was the same regal taste at work, the same powerful grasp of little things and great. A soul as capacious as the sea, and minute as the sands upon its shores, when minuteness was required he would do nothing meanly. The last great builder this country ever had, the few remains that survive him show the vastness of his mind and the universality of his genius."

Wolsey himself, in answer to the upbraidings of Dr. Barnes, one of the new puritanic sect, vindicated himself by asking : “How think ye? were it better for me, being in the honour and dignity that I am, to coin my pillars and pole-axes, and give the money to five or six beggars? Do you not reckon the commonwealth better than five or six beggars ?” To this Dr. Barnes, who himself tells the story, answered that he reckoned it “more to the honour of God and to the salvation of his soul, and also to the comfort of his poorer brethren, that they were coined and given in alms.” To such theories Wolsey had much too much love of art and of magnificence to assent,

yet in bestowing
He was most princely: Ever witness for him
Those twins of learning, that he raised in you,

Ipswich and Oxford ! While at Hampton Court, Wolsey, though not so overwhelmed with labour as when in London, found little time for exercise or recreation. He rose early, said usually two masses in his private closet, and by eight o'clock, after having breakfast and transacting some private business, he came out of his Privy Chamber in his Cardinal's robes, his upper garment, which was either of fine scarlet, or else of crimson satin, taffety, damask, or caffa, the best that could be got for money, and upon his head a round pillion, with a noble of black velvet set to the same in the inner side; he had also a tippet of fine sables about his neck.” He then gave audiences and received any person of import

Of his appearance when attired in his Cardinal's robes, the best idea is afforded by his portrait, still preserved at his college of Christ Church. He was at this time about forty years old, and is described by the Venetian ambassador as "very handsome"; though Skelton and Roy, his satirists, both speak of him as being disfigured by the small-pox; and Skelton, in addition, taunts him with being

ance.

“So full of melancholy
With a flap afore his eye-"

probably a hanging eyelid.

The rest of the morning was occupied in reading, writing, WOLSEY'S APPEARANCE.

39

and signing despatches and other documents, corresponding with the King, and inditing instructions to countless agents abroad. In the afternoon, if any time remained, he took his

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

recreation by walking in his galleries and cloisters when the weather was rough, and strolling in his park or garden when it was fine. Even then, however, his mind was not at rest, for Cavendish tells us he was accustomed to walk towards evening in his garden to say his even-song and other divine

« PreviousContinue »