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heavy cost at which that victory was to be secured. Most curious particulars on these subjects are furnished by the accomptbooks of the houses -by the “Gesta Grayorum” (which was published for the purpose of describing a celebrated Christmas kept at Gray's Inn, in 1594, and had its title imitated from the then popular work called the “Gesta Romanorum”),—by Dugdale, in his “ Origines Juridiciales,"—and by Nichols, in his “ Progresses of Queen Elizabeth." For some time, Lincoln's Inn appears to have carried it all its own way,—having been first on the ground. The Christmas celebrations seem to have been kept by this society from as early a period as the reign of Henry VI. ; although it was not until the reign of Henry VIII. that they began to grow into celebrity,—or, at least, that we have any account of their arrangements. When, however, the societies of the two Temples, and that of Gray's Inn, began, with a laudable jealousy, to contest the palm of splendor, the necessary expenditure appears, occasionally, to have “given them pause.” Accordingly, they held anxious meetings, at the approach of the season, to decide the important question--whether Christmas should be kept that year or not ?—and one of the registers of the society of Lincoln's Inn, bearing date the 27th of November, in the twenty-second year of Henry VIII.'s reign, contains the fol. lowing order :-“Yt is agreed, that, if the two Temples do kepe
Chrystemas, then Chrystemas to be kept here; and to know this, the Steward of the House ys commanded to get knowledge, and to advertise my master by the next day at night.”
There is a curious story told in Baker's Chronicle, of an awk. ward predicament into which the society of Gray's Inn brought themselves by a play which they enacted amongst their Christmas revels of 1527. The subject of this play was to the effect that “ Lord Governance was ruled by Dissipation and Negli. gence; by whose evil order Lady Public-Weal was put from Governance." Now, if these gentlemen did not intend, by this
” somewhat delicate moral, any insinuation against the existing state of things (which, being lawyers, and therefore courtiers, there is good motive to believe they did not) it is, at all events, certain that, as lawyers, they ought to have known better how to steer clear of all offence to weak consciences. That respectable min
ister, Cardinal Wolsey, felt himself (as we think he had good right to do) greatly scandalized at what, if not designed, was, by accident, a palpable hint ;-and, in order to teach the gentlemen of Gray's Inn that they were responsible for wounds given, if they happened to shoot arrows in the dark, he divested the ingenious author, Sergeant Roe, of his coif, and committed him to the Fleet, together with one of the actors, of the name of Moyle,—in order to afford them leisure for furnishing him with a satisfactory explanation of the matter.
In Dugdale's “ Origines Juridiciales,” we have an account of a magnificent Christmas which was kept at the Inner Temple, in the fourth year of Queen Elizabeth's reign ;-at which the Lord Robert Dudley, afterwards Earl of Leicester, presided, under the mock-title of Palaphilos, Prince of Sophie, High Constable Marshal of the Knights Templars, and Patron of the honorable order of Pegasus. A potentate with such a title would have looked very foolish without a “tail ;”—and accordingly, he had for his master of the game, no less a lawyer than Christopher Hatton, afterwards Lord Chancellor of England, with four masters of the revels, a variety of other officers, and fourscore persons forming a guard. Gerard Leigh, who was so fortunate as to obtain the dig. nity of a knight of Pegasus, describes, as an eye-witness, in his “ Accidence of Armorie,” the solemn fooleries which were enacted on the occasion, by these worthies of the sword and of the gown.
Of course, it was not to be expected that such shrewd courtiers as lawyers commonly are, if they had ever kept Christmas at all, should fail to do so, during the reign of this virgin queen,-when its celebration offered them such admirable opportunities for the administration of that flattery which was so agreeable to her majesty, and might, possibly, be so profitable to themselves. We have great pleasure in recording a speech made by her majesty, on one of these occasions, nearly so much as two centuries and a half
ago, but which, for its great excellence, has come down to our days. The gentlemen of Gray's Inn (their wits, probably, a little sharpened by the mistake which they had made in her father's time) had ventured upon a dramatic performance again; and, in the course of a masque which they represented before the
queen's majesty, had administered to her copious draughts of that nectar on which her majesty's vanity was known to thrive so marvellously. They appear, however, with a very nice tact, to have given no more of it on this occasion, than was sufficient to put her majesty into spirits, without intoxicating her ;-for by this period of her life, it took a great deal of that sort of thing to intoxicate the queen’s majesty ; and the effect was of the pleasantest kind, and could not fail to be most satisfactory to the gentlemen of Gray's Inn. For, after the masque was finished (in which we presume there had been a little dancing, by the lawyers--who would, as in duty bound, have stood on their wigs to please her majesty), and on the courtiers attempting, in their turn, to execute a dance, her majesty was most graciously pleased to exclaim, “What ! shall we have bread and cheese after a banquet ?"-meaning thereby, we presume, to imply that the courtiers could not hope to leap as high, or, in any respect, to cut such capers, as the lawyers had done. Now, this speech of the virgin queen we have reported here, less for the sake of any intrinsic greatness in the thought, or elegance in the form, than because, out of a variety of speeches by her majesty, which have been carefully preserved, we think this is about as good as any other; and has the additional recommendation (which so few of the others have) of exhibiting the virgin queen in a good humor. And further, because, having recorded the disgrace into which the gentlemen of Gray's Inn danced themselves, in the lifetime of her illustrious father,-it is but right that we should, likewise, record the ample indemnification which they must have considered themselves to have received, at the lips of his virgin daughter.
The celebrations at the inns of court were, from time to time, continued—down to the period of the civil troubles which darkened the reign of Charles I.; and so lately as the year 1641, when they had already commenced, we find it recorded by Evelyn, in his Memoirs, that he was elected one of the comptrollers of the Middle Temple revellers, “as the fashion of the young students and gentlemen was, the Christmas being kept this yeare with greate solemnity.” During this reign, we discover the several societies lessening their expenses by a very wise compromise of their disputes for supremacy :—for in the eighth year thereof, the four Inns of Court provided a Christmas masque in conjunction, for the entertainment of the court, which cost the startling sum of £24,000, of the money of that day; and in return, King Charles invited one hundred and twenty gentlemen of the four Inns to a masque at Whitehall, on the Shrove Tuesday following.
That our readers may form some idea of the kind of sports which furnished entertainment to men of no less pretension than Hatton, and Coke, and Crewe, we will extract for them a few more of the ceremonies usually observed at the grand Christmases of the Inner Temple,before quitting this part of the subject.
In the first place, it appears that on Christmas Eve there was a banquet in the hall, at which three masters of the revels were present; the oldest of whom, after dinner and supper, was to sing a carol, and to command other gentlemen to sing with him ;-and in all this we see nothing which is not perfectly worthy of all imitation now. Then on each of the twelve nights, before and after supper, were revels and dancing ;-and if any of these revels and dancing were performed in company with the fair sex (which, on the face of the evidence, doth not appear), then we have none of the objections to urge against them which we have ventured to insinuate against the solemn buffooneries, to which the bar was fined for refusing to surrender itself, in the time of James I. Neither do we find anything repugnant to our modern tastes, in the announcement that the breakfasts of the following mornings were very substantial ones, consisting of brawn, mustard, malmsey,—which the exhaustion of the previous night's dancing might render necessary; nor that all the courses were served with music—which we intend that some of our own shall be, this coming Christmas. But against most of that which follows we enter our decided protest,—as not only very absurd in itself, but eminently calculated to spoil a good dinner.
On St. Stephen's day, we learn that, after the first course was served in, the constable marshal was wont to enter the hall (and we think he had much better have come in, and said all he had to say beforehand), bravely arrayed, with "a fair rich compleat
harneys, white and bright and gilt, with a nest of fethers, of all colors, upon his crest or helm, and a gilt pole ax in his hand,”and, no doubt, thinking himself a prodigiously fine fellow. He was accompanied by the lieutenant of the Tower, “ armed with a fair white armour,” also wearing “ fethers,” and “ with a like pole ax in his hand,”—and of course also thinking himself a very fine fellow. With them came sixteen trumpeters, preceded by four drums and fifes, and attended by four men clad in white “harneys,” from the middle upwards, having halberds in their hands, and bearing on their shoulders a model of the tower,—and each and every one of these latter personages, in his degree, hav. ing a consciousness that he, too, was a fine fellow. Then, all these fine fellows, with the drums and music, and with all their “ fethers” and finery, went, three times, round the fire,—whereas considering that the boar's head was cooling all the time, we think once might have sufficed. Then the constable marshal, after three curtesies, knelt down before the lord chancellor, with the lieutenant doing the same behind him, and then and there deliberately proceeded to deliver himself of an “oration of a quarter of an hour's length,” the purport of which was to tender his services to the lord chancellor ;—which we think, at such a time, he might have contrived to do in fewer words. To this the chancel. lor was unwise enough to reply that he would “ take further advice therein ;”—when it would have been much better for him to settle the matter at once, and proceed to eat his dinner. However, this part of the ceremony ended, at last, by the constable marshal and the lieutenant obtaining seats at the chancellor's table, upon the former giving up his sword ;-and then enter, for a similar purpose, the master of the game, apparelled in green velvet, and the ranger of the forest, in a green suit of “satten,” bearing in his hand a green bow, and “ divers” arrows, “ with either of them a hunting-horn about their necks, blowing together three blasts of venery.” These worthies, also, thought it necessary to parade their finery three times round the fire; and having then made similar obeisances, and offered up a similar petition, in a similar posture, they were finally inducted into a similar privilege.
But though seated at the chancellor's table, and no doubt suffi. ciently aroused by the steam of its good things, they were far