Page images

ning his influential course ; that a Sir Thomas More graced England; and that in Germany there was "one Martin Luther," who "belonged to an order of strolling friars." Under Leo's munificent encouragement, Rafaello produced those magnificent creations which have been the inspiration of subsequent ages; and at home, under Wolsey's enlightened patronage, colleges were founded, learning was encouraged, and the College of Physicians first instituted in 1518, found in him one of its warmest advocates and firmest supporters.

A modern writer gives the following amusing picture of part of the bustle attendant on the event we are considering. "The palace (of Westminster) and all its precincts became the elysium of tailors, embroiderers, and sempstresses. There might you see many a shady form gliding about from apartment to apartment, with smiling looks and extended shears, or armed with ell-wands more potent than Mercury's rod, driving many a poor soul to perdition, and transforming his goodly acres into velvet suits, with tags of cloth of gold. So continual were the demands upon every kind of artisan, that the impossibility of executing them threw several into despair. One tailor who is reported to have undertaken to furnish fifty embroidered suits in three days, on beholding the mountain of gold and velvet that cumbered his shop-board, saw, like Brutus, the impossibility of victory, and, with Roman fortitude, fell on his own shears. Three armourers are said to have been completely melted with the heat of their furnaces; and an unfortunate goldsmith swallowed molten silver to escape the persecutions of the day.

"The road from London to Canterbury was co\-ered during one whole week with carts and waggons, mules, horses, and soldiers; and so great was the confusion, that marshals were at length stationed to keep the whole in order, which of course increased the said confusion a hundred fold. So many were the ships passing between Dover and Calais, that the historians affirm they jostled each other on the road like a herd of great black porkers.

"The King went from station to station like a shepherd, driving all the better classes of the country before him, and leaving not a single straggler behind."

Though we do not implicitly credit every point of this humorous statement, we think a small portion of description from the old chronicler Hall (we will really inflict only a small portion on our readers) will justify a good deal of it; but more especially it will enlighten us as to some of the elaborate conceits of the day, in which, it seems, the needle was as fully occupied as the pen.

Indeed, what would the "Field of the Cloth of Gold" have been without the skill of the needlewoman? Would it have been at all?

"The Frenche kyng sette hymself on a courser barded, covered with purple sattin, broched with golde, and embraudered with corbyns fethers round and buckeled; the fether was blacke and hached with gold. Corbyn is a rauen, and the firste silable of corbyn is Cor, whiche is a harte, a penne in English, is a fether in Frenche, and signifieth pain, and so it stode; this fether round was endles, the buckels wherwith the fethers wer fastened, betokeneth sothfastnes, thus was the devise, harte fastened in pain endles, or pain in harte fastened endles.

"Wednesdaie the 13 daie of June, the twoo hardie kynges armed at all peces, entered into the feld right nobly appareled, the Frenche kyng and all his parteners of chalenge were arraied in purple sattin, broched with golde and purple velvet, embrodered with litle rolles of white sattin wherein was written quando, all bardes and garmentes wer set full of the same, and all the residue where was no rolles, were poudered and set with the letter ell as thus, L, whiche in Frenche is she, which was interpreted to be quando elle, when she, and ensuyng the devise of the first daie it signifieth together, harte fastened in pain endles, when she.

"The Frenche kyng likewise armed at al pointes mounted on a courser royal, all his apparel as wel bardes as garmentes were purple velvet, entred the one with the other, embrodred ful of litle bookes of white satten, and in the bokes were written a me; aboute the borders of the bardes and the borders of the garmentes, a chaine of blewe like iron, resemblyng the chayne of a well or prison chaine, whiche was enterpreted to be liber, a booke; within this boke was written as is sayed, a me, put these two together, and it maketh libera me; the chayne betokeneth prison or bondes. and so maketh together in Englishe, deliver me of bodes; put to ye reason, the fyrst day, second day, and third day of chaunge, for he chaunged but the second day, and it is hart


fastened in paine endles, when she deliuereth me not of bondes; thus was thinterpretation made, but whether it were so in all thinges or not I may not say."

The following animated picture from an author already quoted, has been drawn of this spirit-stirring scene:—

"Upon a large open green, that extended on the outside of the walls, was to be seen a multitude of tents of all kinds and colours, with a multitude of busy human beings, employed in raising fresh pavilions on every open space, or in decorating those already spread with streamers, pennons, and banners of all the bright hues under the sun. Long lines of horses and mules, loaded with armour or baggage, and ornamented with gay ribbons to put them in harmony with the scene, were winding about all over the plain, some proceeding towards the town, some seeking the tents of their several lords, while mingled amongst them, appeared various bands of soldiers, on horseback and on foot, with the rays of the declining sun catching upon the heads of their bills and lances; and together with the white cassock and broad red cross, marking them out from all the other objects. Here and there, too, might be seen a party of knights and gentlemen cantering over the plain, and enjoying the bustle of the scene, or standing in separate groups, issuing their orders for the erection and garnishing of their tents; while couriers, and poursuivants, and heralds, in all their gay dresses, mingled wtth mule drivers, lacqueys, and peasants, armourers, pages, and tent stretchers, made up the living part of the landscape.

"The sounding of the trumpets to horse, the shouts of the various leaders, the loud cries of the marshals and heralds, and the roaring of artillery from the castle, as the king put his foot in the stirrup, all combined to make one general outcry rarely equalled. Gradually the tumult subsided, gradually also the confused assemblage assumed a regular form. Flags, and pennons, and banderols, embroidered banners, and scutcheons; silver pillars, and crosses, and crooks, ranged themselves in long line; and the bright procession, an interminable stream of living gold, began to wind across the plain. First came about five hundred of the gayest and wealthiest gentlemen of England, below the rank of baron; squires, knights, and bannerets, rivalling each other in the richness of their apparel and the beauty of their horses; while the pennons of the knights fluttered above their heads, marking the place of the English chivalry. Next appeared the proud barons of the realm, each with his banner borne before him, and followed by a custrel with the shield of his arms. To these again succeeded the bishops, not in the simple robes of the Protestant clergy, but in the more gorgeous habits of the Church of Rome; while close upon their steps rode the higher nobility, surrounding the immediate person of the king, and offering the most splendid mass of gold and jewels that the summer sun ever shone upon.

"Slowly the procession moved forward to allow the line of those on foot to keep an equal pace. Nor did this band offer a less gay and pleasing sight

M 2

« PreviousContinue »