Page images

service with his chaplain. And elsewhere he assures us that “what business matters soever he had in the day, he never went to his bed with any part of his divine service unsaid, yea, not so much as a single collect.” The same delightful biographer gives us, in his metrical life of his master, a pleasing picture of his habit of evening recreation :

“My galleries were fayer, both large and long,

To walk in them when that it lyked me best ;"

“My gardens sweet, enclosed with wallés strong,

Embanked with benches to sytt and take my rest,

The knots so enknotted, it cannot be exprest ;
With arbors and alyes so pleasant and so dulce,
The pestylent ayers with flavors to repulse.

This stanza gives a vivid idea of Wolsey's old garden at Hampton Court; though, unfortunately, but few traces of it now remain. It was situated to the south of the Base and Clock Courts, where can still be seen the inclosed parterres -known as the Pond Gardens—which were laid out, as we shall see further on, by Henry VIII. And along the very pathway, by which thousands of careless sightseers, in the summer months, now flock to see the great vine, paced the myriad-minded Cardinal 360 years ago, pondering his mighty schemes of imperial politics.

When term began, he had to return to London to sit daily in Westminster Hall. His progresses from the palace on these occasions were made with the greatest display, his ordinary pomp as Cardinal being swelled by that of his office of Lord Chancellor. As he entered from his Privy Chamber, “apparelled all in red, as a Cardinal,” into his Chamber of Presence, which was thronged with servants and "noblemen and very worthy gentlemen," waiting to attend him, he was preceded by his pursuivant-at-arms, with a great mace of silvergilt, and by his gentlemen ushers calling out : “On, my lords and masters, on before; make way for my Lord's grace.” In this manner he passed from his Presence Chamber through the hall, and down to the door, where he mounted his mule. Here the whole procession was formed, everyone almost being on horseback. First went the Cardinal's attendants, attired in liveries of crimson velvet



with gold chains, and the inferior officers in coats of scarlet, bordered with black velvet. After these came two gentlemen bearing the great seal and his Cardinal's hat, then two priests with silver pillars or pole-axes, “and next two great crosses of silver, whereof one of them was for his Archbishop




rick, and the other for his legacy, borne always before him, whithersoever he went, or rode, by two of the most tallest and comeliest priests that he could get within all this realm.” Then came the Cardinal himself “very sumptuously on a mule, trapped with crimson velvet, and his stirrups of copper gilt.” He was followed by four footmen with gilt pole-axes in their hands, and many other followers, his yeomen being in French tawny liveries, having embroidered on the backs and breasts of their coats the letters T and C under the Cardinal's hat. The annexed sketch, taken from an ancient drawing, exhibits the Cardinal and the suite setting out.

With regard to these progresses, Roy asks:

[blocks in formation]

The “red hat” was, like a red rag to a bull, a special source of irritation to, and a target for the scorn of, his numerous enemies :

" Whiles the red hat doth endure,
He maketh himself cock sure;
The red hat with his lure
Bryngeth all things under cure."



Even Sir Thomas More flung sarcasms at it in the House of Commons. Some of this rancour is, however, not surprising, if we are to believe the assertion of Tyndale, that, when it first arrived from Rome, it was set on a cupboard and tapers about, so that the greatest Duke in the land must make curtesie thereto."

The Cardinal's progresses to and from Hampton Court were not always performed by land. Sometimes he chose

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

the river, and embarked in his magnificent State barge “furnished with yeomen standing on the ails, and crowded with his gentlemen within and without.”

When Wolsey was residing at Hampton Court, he was continually receiving visits from the foreign ambassadors, who sometimes rode down from London to have audiences of him, and sometimes remained as his guests for a few days. On these occasions he did not fail to impress them with his own influence beside the King, and the greatness and power of this country. Their despatches home constantly dwelt on these topics, and enhanced the weight of England's voice in the councils of Europe.

If any special embassy came into the kingdom, it was to Wolsey's palace that they were first directed; by him they were received in almost regal state, and to him they addressed their diplomatic arts.

Of the Cardinal's position in regard to foreign powers, no better idea can be formed than from Mr. Brewer's eloquent vindication of him, which we cannot refrain from quoting here: “The bent of his genius," says he, "was exclusively political, but it leaned more to foreign than domestic politics. It shone more conspicuous in great diplomatic combinations, for which the earlier years of the reign furnished favourable opportunities, than in domestic reforms. No man understood so well the interests of this kingdom in its relations to foreign powers, or pursued them with greater skill and boldness. The more hazardous the conjuncture, the higher his spirit soared to meet it. His intellect expanded with the occasion. . . Proud cardinal and proud prelate were the terms lavished upon him by men as proud as himself with much less reason to be proud. . . . From a humble station by his own unassisted efforts he had raised himself to the most conspicuous position, not in this nation only, but throughout the whole of Europe. He was seven times greater than the Pope himself,' is no exaggeration of the Venetian Giustinian, for he saw at his feet what no pope had for a long time seen, and no subject before or since, princes, kings, and emperors courting his smiles. Born to command, infinitely superior in genius to those who addressed him, piercing their motives at a glance, he was lofty and impatient. But there is not a trace throughout his correspondence of the ostentation of vulgar triumph or gratified vanity. Grave and earnest, it occasionally descends to irony, is sometimes pungent, never vainglorious. . . . In genius, in penetration, in aptitude for business and indefatigable labour he had no equal. All despatches addressed to ambassadors abroad or at home passed through his hands, the entire political correspondence of the times was submitted to his perusal and waited for his decision."

And this is only in accordance with contemporary testi

« PreviousContinue »