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Curialia : or an Historical Account of forne Branches of the Royal
Houshold, &c. &c. Part I. By Samuel Pegge, Esq. 410.
35. 6d. Payne. Curialia : or an Historical Account of some Branches of the Royal
Houshold, &c. &c. Part II. By Samuel Pegge, Ejq. 460.
56. Payne. IT is a fubjeçt of some curiosity, if of no great use, to ob
ferve the progress of customs and manners, and to trace the influence which different situations, or revolutions in the state of society may have on them. The changes of fashion, and the fucceffion of a new folly for one more ancient, is of little importance : the variety, which alone deserves our at, tention, is to be deduced from a better source, It cannot have escaped the most fuperficial observer, that the pride of station, and the pageantry of office, are now endured rather than co. veted; and, instead of the oftentation, sometimes necessary, but often the assumed importance of him who cannot acquire it by his own merits, every one wishes, at present, to slide into that easy equality, and happy freedom, which grandeur haş often envied, and dignity in vain aspired to. Courts have, on this account, been fripped of a great part of their fascinating glare ; and kings, sometimes doomed to feel what wretches feel,' have aimed allo at those pleasures which subjects alone used to enjoy. On this account, the names of offices remain without the duty; and the reader of hiftories and memoirs understands imperfectly, or mistakes the force of the defcription, because he is unacquainted with the rank or the dignity of the actors. There is also fome amusement in the apparently barren disquisition on the offices of those who have attended kings and heroes in their more retired moments, and seen the man, separate from the monarch of the general; who þave observed the anxieties of greatness, the terrors of gran, deur, or the listlessness attendant on defires, almost checked by gratification. It is to some of these causes, and perhaps ta each, that we have followed Mr. Pegge in his very accurate enquiry, with great pleasure : indeed, less perseverance than a reviewer ought to possess, will enable the reader to pursue an author, who selects his instances with propriety, and en, livens a dreary path with every occasional entertainment in
The first Differtation is on the Esquires of the King's Body, Esquires are well known to have been the attendants on knights; and, in the times of feudal magnificence, where wealth, dignity, and strength, confifted in the number of retainers, rather than the bulk of possessions: the esquires be
longing to the houshold were forty; but of these, four only were appropriated to the person of the fovereign. We mall feled the original account of their offices, from the Liber Niger, in the time of Edward IV.
“ Esquires for the king's body four, noble of condition, whereof always two be attendant on the king's person, to array and unarray bim, watch day and night, and to dress him in his cloaths : and they be callers to the lord chamberlain if any thing lack for his person or pleafaunce, Their business is in many secrets, some fitting in the king's chamber, some in the hall with persons of like service, which is called knights service. Taking every of them for his livery at night” ( a cer. tain quantity of bread, wine, and ale, and in winter certain allowances of candles, wood, &c.]" and wages in the counting. house, if he be present in court, daily feven.pence halfpenny, and cloathing with the household winter and summer, or else forty Shillings, besides his other fee of the jewel house, or of the treasurer of England, and, besides his watching-cloathing of chamber of the king's wardrobe. He hath abiding in this court but two servants (and) livery sufficient for his horses in the country by the herberger.”
The great object of their services was the king's person ; and it was so exactly limited, that while the esquire attended at his meals, and dressed him loosely in his bedroom, the principal parts of his dress were put on by the gentlemen of the privy chamber. In the night, the esquire's power was abfoJute; he slept in the presence, next the guard chamber, received every message, and had a right to enter the king's bedchamber, when it was necessary to deliver a packet or letter into his own hands. We shall extract Mr. Marham's account of this part of the office, as it will give a striking proof of the extensive privileges of the esquire during the night.
• In all the time of my duty and service upon my royal master, his late majesty of blefled memory, I, being esquire of the body, did always come into the king's bed,chainber with out asking leave of any; and I did every night, having my sword and cloak on, bring in the morter into his majesty's beds chamber, and Aayed there as long as I pleased, which was com: monly till his majesty went into bed; and, having received the word from his majesty, I set the guard, and after all-night was served up, I had the fule and absolute command of the bouse above and below Itairs, as his majesty did declare
upon several occasions to be the right of my place. And in the time of war, upon all occasions that required, I went into the bede chamber, and awaked his majesty, and delivered all letters and messages to his majesty: and many times, by his majesty's command, I returned anfwers to the letters, and delivered orders. And I remember that, coming to the king's bed-chamber
f of is and f the or the in the 10 have its, and 1; who
rhaps ta accurate ance than to pursue i and en, inment in
door, which was bolted on the inside, the late earl of Bristol, "then being in waiting, and lying there, he unbolted the door upon my knocking, and asked me what news ? - I told him I had a letter for the king. The earl then demanded the letter of me, which I told him I could deliver to none but the king himself: upon which the king faidThe efquire is in the right; for he ought not to deliver any letter or message to any but myself, he being at this time the chief officer of my house; and if he had delivered the letter to any other, I should not have thought him fit for his place.'
“ And before this time I never heard that any offered to hinder the esquire from coming to the king, and I have frequently brought letters and meffages to the bed-side when the duke of Richmond was in waiting."
This access to the bed-chamber was however soon afterwards abolished ; and the office was at last reduced to a poft of honour only. Mr. Pegge then examines the equire's rank, and the station which he occupies in procesions; but this subject cannot be easily abridged. The origin of the office seems to have been coeval with knighthood. Chaucer was certainly a 'squire of the body to Edward the Third ; for, in two fucceflive commiffions, he is ftyled scutifer & armiger, which are supposed to be progressive ranks; the duty of each branch of the office is ascertained by the title. Two lines of Chau. cer bave, we think without reason, been adduced to show his rank :
• For by that morter, which I se brenne,
Know 1 full well, that day is not far henne.' The morter was a wick in the middle of a cake of wax, which, when hurned, reseinbled the initrument called a mortar. It was supposed, that unlefs Chaucer had had access to the king's chamber, after ALL-NIGHT was served, he could not have known this word. But the reason and the etymology are alike fanciful. Mortier a veille is, at this moment, in old French authors, a name for a wax taper; and the name of a « mortar, wherein you bray spices,' is comparatively modern. Some of the terms in this, and the subsequent Dissertation, seem to us to admit of a more fimple explanation. We would submit, with deference to Mr. Pegge, whether callers to the lord chamberlain, if any thing lack, for his person or pleaJaunce,' does not mean that it was part of the 'squire's office to call the lord chamberlain, instead of styling them • retainers' to him. Again, the herberger seems to be the officer who provides the forage ; and not the 'harbinger :' in the subsequent Dissertation, the gentlemen of the privy chamber are said to þave berbigage for their horses. But these hints are only sug
gested gested for the author's attention : errors are as easily committed by looking too deep for a meaning, as by a careless inattention.
The gentlemen of the privy chamber, whose institution and history Mr. Pegge next examines, are the confidential officers by day; though in rank they seem to have been, at least in the privy chamber, subordinate to the gentlemen uhers.' A certain number of these gentlemen, who were usually of rank and weight, always attended the king in war, in processions, journeys, &c. They seem to have been alike attendants and companions of their fovereign ; their salary was not mean ; and, in point of precedence, they were respectable., Bus, from the reign of James 1, they have been reduced almost to a post of honour; for, in the fatal hour of retrenchment, their falary was abolished, though their duty was for a time continued. In a subsequent period, their office was ftill refpectable : they basked in the sunshine of a court, and probably were considered as in a state of probation for embassies and other offices.
• The present appointment of a gentleman of the privy chamber runs in general terms, viz. " To have, hold, exercise, and enjoy, the faid place, together with all rights, profits, privileges, and advantages thereunto belonging, in as full and ample manner as any gentleman of his majefty's most honour. able privy chamber doth or hath held and enjoyed, or of right ought to hold and enjoy the same." Thele are the words as they stand at this day; but anciently the rights and privileges were described at large, and in an appointment, anno 1662, (the 14th of king Charles the Second), are thus set forth. “ His person is not to be arrested or detained without leave first had and obtained neither is he to bear any public office, nor to be impanelled on any inquest or jury-nor to be warned to ferve at afsizes or seffions, whereby he may pretend excuse to neglect his majesty's fervice." This points immediately at an exemption from the hrievalty of a county, where the nomi. nation is in the king and the reason is given for the dispen. fation.'
This is now the only advantage of the office; but the daty is also confined. These gentlemen appear at a coronation, a joyal funeral, and the solemn entrance of a Venetian ambalfador, which happens only once in a reign. A description of this procession, in 1762, is added from the Gazette of that time.
The Second Part of this work is just published ; and, our account of the former was delayed from the expectation of it. Mr. Pegge's object in this part is the establishment and history of the band of gentlemen penfioners, who retain a greater Share of duty than the gentlemen of the privy chamber, but who have also lost a great part of their ancient splendour and importance.
The early period of their history has been little known to themselves or their historians. The inftitution of this band was attributed to Henry VII, but the industry of Mr. Pegge has discovered the original statutes, and consequently fixed their origin in the early part of his successor's reign. The prudent and cautious father of the spirited and magnificent Henry, indeed established a band of fifty archers, under the title of yeomen of the guard ; but his son wanted a more splendid retinue. He consequently formed his new and fumptuous troop of gentlemen, as attendants and companions. We cannot enter into a long detail of the nature of this institution, and fhall only observe, that it confisted of the sons and brothers of the firft noblemen in the kingdom; and in its rolls are to be found the names of personages most distinguished for their fpirit and gallantry, as well as for political judgment and extensive learning. Their own dress was splendid ; and they had each a page, one or two archers, and a servant. It is not to be doubted, but the decorations of the gentleman pensioner, and his attendant, were in the gayeft ftyle, fince his time of life,.family, and fortune were such, as would inspire a love of fhew, and he was in the service of a young prince, whose fplendour was conspicuous in the eyes of Europe. Henry had however a pattern for this institution, in the gens d'armes of France : their customs were fimilar ; and they seem under mutual obligations, in this respect, to each other.
It is commonly supposed, that this band was foon diffolved on account of the expence ; for each speare, including the attendants, received three shillings and four-pence per day, (60l. 165, 8d. per ann.) Indeed, from its first inftitution, in 1599, it scarcely again appears till 1539 ; but, in the Eltham fatutes, we find them complete, more'fully officered than at frft, though, probably on that account, the pay is there limited to gol. per annum. They appear again in 1550 ; and were muftered in 1551. The firft description of the Land is in Hall.
“ This band,” says he, confifted of fifty gentlemen to be Spears, every of them to have an archer, a demi-lance, and a coufrill, and every spear to have three great borses, to be attendant on his person; of the which band the earl of Essex was captain, and fir John Peachy lieutenant. This ordinance continued but a while, the charges were so great; for there were none of them, but they and their horses were apparciled and trapped in cloth of gold, silver, and goldsmiths work."