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The aspect of affairs was now more serious than he had
anticipated. Supper was indeed commencing. Some
scheme or witty device must be hit upon, — speedily too,
or the king's displeasure might be difficult to assuage.

" But for thy bright eyes and fair speech, my lady
Grace, I had not been a missing from my duty." He
looked thoughtful, and it was the maiden's turn to rally.

They ascended the hill by a short but steep path. As
they approached the sumrqit, he seemed to awake from a
deep reverie.

" Now, have you granted me an audience for a lover's
sake — to-morrow, let me be the ambassador for another."

*' I have no lovers from whom I would care to be ho-
noured with an embassy !"

" None?" said the knight peering curiously, as if he
would penetrate the folds of a real Flanders scarf, she had
thrown carelessly about her head —

' " Then will I be thy lover true,
And thou my beauteous queene'

through these gay festivities. — But mark me!" — He
became serious on the sudden. The expression of his


eye, from its general character of assumed gaiety, was
changed into that of tenderness and respect. " Mark me,
lady, I would be spared the horror of a rival. Will you
be my partner in these pageantries — my mistress unto
whom I may render mine homage and my trust ?"

" 'Tis a brave speech. Sir John," cried the lady, as
though wishful to divert the subject — " my cousin tells me
that you are a knight of great courage and renown, but he
sayeth not aught of your disposition to outrival him in
heroics. Good b'y'e — a promise made is a promise
broken ; therefore, I'll offer none. I meet you not to night
at the feast, having obtained mine excuse."

Saying this, she bounded from him ere he was aware,
and was speedily out of sight.

He was not a little chagrined at her abrupt departure;
yet her very carelessness, and the open simplicity of her
manner, only served to fix her the more deeply in his
thoughts. But a problem of greater difficulty was to be
resolved than how to fix the cameleon hue of woman's
thought. He had a king to pacify, — wayward as a child,
fickle as a lady's favour. Unless he could acquit himself
by some witty quibble or device, he might bid adieu to the
gaieties over which he presided. The time was short, and
his wit must needs be ambling. As he passed through
the court revolving many plans for his deliverance, he was
aware of a loud dispute between the two household divi-
nities we have before noticed. Words were nigh being
exchanged for blows, but they were stayed out of respect
to the intruder.

Leaving Sir John to confer with those doughty dispu-
tants, let us follow the king to supper. Space forbids
that we describe the Wonders of this feast, and the dainties
H 3


that were provided, — how the swans were roasted, and the
herons eaten cold, — how pies were baked of the red deer,
and the wild boar, not a whit too small for the reception
of any moderate sized Christian subject of his majesty's.
There were turkeys, quails, poults, and plovers ; but of
pheasants, only two, and one for the king. The greatest
triumph, however, was reserved for the confections; an
artificial hen was here served of puif-paste ; her wings dis-
played, sitting upon eggs of the same materials. In each
of these was enclosed a fat lark roasted, and seasoned
with pepper and ambergris.

They sat down, but the master of the ceremonies was
still absent ; whereupon the king, much distempered
thereby, called out to Sir George Goring.

" Our mummer and our dancer being departed, — whilk
thing, aforetime, we did maist righteously inhibit, — thinkest
thou, he may not henceforth eschew our service?"

" My liege, your grace's commands were to seek him
a full hour agone, but the scared deer hath taken to covert.
He was, peradventure, afraid of the hunting, and liketh his
own neck better than the sport. He careth not, methinks,
to shew his face that turns his back on his comrade's

" May be," said Buckingham, " your majesty's favour
is not so winsome as a lady's cheek. I would wager my
cap. Jack Finett hath found a smoother tongue, but a
harder service than your majesty's."

" O'my saul, — if I thought so," said the monarch, as
he threw down a spoonful of buttered pease, " I would
send him to the Tower, and he should write a book on
Hercules his distaff."

" Or Omphale's spindle," said a voice at the lower end
of the hall, which, issuing from a mask, closely fitted.



sounded wonderously hollow and portentous. A profound
silence ensued, — all eyes being turned towards the
speaker — who was no less a personage than the first
household god, attired in his proper suit. He approached
the king's table, waving his hand in token of attention,

" The knight ye speak of, mark me well,
I've just drawn from the castle-well !'"

" Mercy on us," cried Sir Richard Hoghton " The

draw-well is more than eighty yards deep. Thou art a
lying deity, and shalt be banished from this bright

But the deity, nothing abashed, thus continued,

" How came he thus, I dare not tell ;
My brother naay the mystery dispel."

He stooped down, — rising again to the astonished eyes
of the fair dames and nobles at the upper bench, in the
forester's habit of Kendal green, with cloak and doublet of
the same colour.

" What's now ?" said James. — " Witchery and fause
negromancie, o'my troth. — 'Tis treason. Sir Richard, to
use glamour in the king's presence."

But the sylvan god continued in the doggrel of his pre-

" Sir John to be forgiven would hope ;
He had been drowned, but for the rope ! "

" Ay," said the king, chuckling at this opportunity,
purposely given, for a display of his wit — " he'll be
hanged — na doot, na doot."

" Prythee, Sylvanus, or whatever thou be, bring Sir
John hither, that he may dry his web in the hot sunshine
H 4


of a lady's glance," said Villiers, with an ill-suppressed

Again, this Proteus was transformed. Doffing his habit,
Sir John Finett stood confessed before them. He knelt,
penitently, before the king, humbly assuring his majesty,
that he had been preparing this device, and many others,
to please and surprise him ; but that through the bungling
of some, and the bashfulness of others, he was obliged to
enact the parts himself. This excuse, the king was gra-
ciously pleased to accept, commending him for his great
diligence and zeal.

The night now wore on with much outward show of mirth
and reveh-y ; but the king went early to rest, purposing to
rise betimes.

On the following day, he went out again with a great
company, and killed a brace of stags, which mighty achiev-
ment, by authentic record, we find was accomplished
before dinner, — the king alone being able to bring down
the venison.

We willingly pass over this day's banquet, — nor do we
care to chronicle the feats of Morris the head cook, and
his deputies of the ranges and the pastries. The boiling
and roasting of poults and pullets, and the construction of
comfits and confections, we consign to everlasting oblivion.

When the king rose from table, about four o'clock, as
we find it in the private journal of one present, he purposed
to view the alum mines, about two miles distant from the
Tower ; but, being eager for the sport, he went forth again
a hunting. He shot at a stag and missed. The next bolt
broke the thigh bone, and the dog being long in coming.
Lord Compton despatched the poor beast, whereby his
capture Mas effected. We forbear to dwell on this and


much more, of the like interest, returning with the king to
supper, where the beautous Grace Gerard was present, and
Sir John Finett, her true knight and devoted slave. Dr.
Morton, then bishop of Chester, was chaplain, doling out a
long Latin grace with great unction.

The music had ceased, the second course being just
served, when a signal was given for the king's pledge.

" Let each one pledge the fairest," cried the royal toast-
master, moved to some unwonted gallantry, by approxi-
mation with the fair and lusty dames about his person.
For it hath been wittily if not wickedly said by a popular
writer in another place, that James was in all things like
unto Solomon, save in the matter of women.

Now was there a brave stir throughout the assembly.
Such pledging of mistresses and challenging of cups, that
nothing could be like unto it.

" To the bright eyes and peerless grace of the lady
Grace Gerard," said Sir John Finett, draining his goblet to
the uttermost ; — and the maiden's cheek glowed like a

" Said I not that he could win a lady's grace sooner
than a monarch's disfavour ? Nay, your majesty, I but
meant that Sir John conveys the fairest eyes and the
warmest hearts into his own keeping, like an Ochus-
Bochtis" said Buckingham, looking envious at the distinc-
tion he had gained.

" I see plainly that Truth is hidden in a well," said
Goring drily.

Sir John Finett, courtier and dissembler as he was,
could scarcely hide the truth of this sally. But he
quickly recovered his self-possession ere the king's eye
could detect a change. Yet did he not escape the vigi-


lance of his two friends, who suspected the real cause of
his absence on the preceding night.

" Thou shalt be her true knight to-morrow, and she
shall be queen of our sports," said the king, graciously
extending his hand to the blushing maiden.

But this speech pleased not some of the courtiers, and
Buckingham, having his eye on this fair flower, secretly
resolved that Sir John should not enjoy its fragrance un-

On the following morning, being Sunday, there came a
great company of peasants and handicraftsmen, — noto-
rious idlers about the parish, — with a petition, wherein it
was shown, that the loyal and peaceable inhabitants of
Lancashire had been long hindered of their usual diver-
sions on Sundays and other holydays, by the rigour of
Puritans, Precisians, and such like folk,* who, being
enemies to all innocent and lawful mirth, did mightily
begrudge, and maliciously restrain their use. These peti-
tioners, therefore, prayed his majesty, " that he would
not forbid their exercising of all honest and lawful recre-
ation, such as dancing of men and women, archery, running,
leaping, and vaulting ; nor prohibit the use of may-games,
may-poles, morice-dances, and other like lawful sports,
so that the same should not impediment or cause neg-
lect of divine service."

The ground of this complaint was laid in the time of
Elizabeth, who, in order to reform the manners of the
people, instituted a high commission in the year 1579.
The commissioners were Henry Earl of Derby, Henry

* Some say this petition was presented at Mycrscough, but we in-
cline to the opinion here given.


Earl of Huntingdon, William Lord Bishop of Chester, and
others. At their sittings, which were held in Manchester,
they issued orders throughout the county against "pipers
and minstrels playing, making, and frequenting bear-bait-
ing and bull-baiting on the Sabbath days, or upon any
other days in time of divine service, and also against
superstitious ringing of bells, wakes, and common feasts ;
drunkenness, gaming, and other vicious and unprofitable
pursuits." These restrictions the royal pedant thought
incompatible with the public weal, and graciously an-
swered the petitioners in suchwise that he would have
these over-righteous zealots rebuked ; that it was a misuse
of their authority ; and that he would not only grant the
humble request of his subjects, but, on that very evening,
he would have a masque and an allegory, with dancing and
other like diversions, by the lords and other nobility there

Such was the origin of the famous " Book of Sports."
His majesty, on returning to the capital, issued a procla-
mation,* stating, —

" That in his progress through Lancashire, he found it
necessary to rebuke some Puritans and precise people,
and took order that the said unlawful carriage should not
be used by any of them hereafter, in the prohibiting and
unlawfully punishing his good people, for using their
lawful recreations and honest exercises upon Sundays,
after divine service." " His majesty further saw that his
loyal subjects in all other parts of the kingdom did suffer
in the same kind, though not, perhaps, in the same degree

Royal proclamation, M ay 2 1 . 1618.


as in Lancashire ; and he did, therefore, in his princely
wisdom, publish a declaration to all his loving subjects,
concerning lawful sports to be used on Sundays and festi-
vals." — Published by his royal command in the year
1618, under the title of " The Book of Sports." The
royal visit to Lancashire proved ultimately of more im-
portance to the civil and ecclesiastical establishments of
the kingdom than could have been anticipated either by
the king or his subjects. This infamous " Book of
Sports," formed the first link in that mysterious chain of
events, ending in the downfall of the Stuarts, and their
exile and expulsion from the throne.

The gladsome tidings having been communicated to
the petitioners, with one accord they gallopped off, shout-
and huzzaing, to the great annoyance of all peaceable and
sober-minded persons, and the great dishonour of that
holy day.

The king attended divine service at the chapel, where
Dr. Morton preached, commanding and exhorting to an
obedience well pleasing to their maker ; inasmuch as it
was rendered to the vice-regent of heaven, the high and
mighty and puissant James, Defender of the Faith, and so
forth. After this comfortable and gracious doctrine, there
was a rush-bearmg * and a piping before the king in the

* This ceremony was formerly used for the conveyance of rushes in-
tended to be strewed in the church upon the clay floors between the
benches. It is now generally known but as an unmeaning pageant
■otiU practised in the northern and eastern parts of Lancashii-e, for the pur-
pose of levj-ing contributions on the inhabitants. An immense banner,
of silk adorned with tinsel and gay deuces, precedes the rush-cart,
wherein the rushes, neatly woven and smooth cut, are piled up and
decorated with flowers and ril)ands, in rustic taste. The cart, thus


great quadrangle. Robin Hood and Maid Marian, with
the fool and hobby-horse were, doubtless, enacted to the
jingling of morris-dancers and other profanities.

These fooleries put the king into such good humour
that he was more witty in his speech than ordinary.
Some of these sayings have been recorded, and amongst
the rest, that well-known quibble which has been the
origin of an absurd mistake, still current through the
county, respecting the sirloin. It is said to have been
knighted there by his majesty, who found, such were his
knight-making propensities, that other subjects were ex-

The occasion, as far as we have been able to gather, was
thus : — Whilst he sat at meat, casting his eyes upon a
noble surloin at the lower end of the table, he cried out,

" Bring hither that surloin, sirrah, for 'tis worthy of a
more honourable post, being, as I may say, not surloin but
«Vloin, the noblest jomt of all ;" which ridiculous and
desperate pun raised the wisdom and reputation of Eng-
land's Solomon to the highest.

Great was the stir and preparation for the evening
masque ; a pageant containing many allegories and de-
vices ; dancing and merry games, with all other " lawful
recreations and honest amusements." Little heed was
given, we fear, to their Maker's service, these vain follies

laden, is drawn round to the dwellings of the principal Inhabitants, by
morris-dancers, who perfonn an uncouth dance, attended by a man in
motley attire, a sort of nondescript, made up of the ancient fool and
maid Marian. This personage jingles a horse-collar hung with
bells, which fonns not an unsuitable accompaniment to the cere-


running in the heads and filling the thoughts of the few who
chose to attend in the chapel ; the greater portion were
preparing for the entertainment, into which service they
entered heartily, and without grudge.

Sir George Goring and Sir John Finett were verily inde-
fatigable on the occasion, drilling and marshalling men,
women, and children ; conning their lessons, and correcting
the awkward and ridiculous movements and mistakes of
their pupils. Hobbe and the house-steward were the fore-
most in their parts, having important functions allotted to
them ; one, to grunt and howl in the similitude of a
huge bear, and the other to roar in lieu of a lion, before
the " Bower of Beautie" for such was the title or motto of
the pageant. Nor was Sir John lacking in due homage to
his mistress ; she was appointed to enact " The Queen of
Beautie." It was after much solicitation that she con-
sented, receiving with great gravity and attention the
instructions of her accomplished preceptor.

The day was nigh spent and the sun fast sinking on the
ocean, now waiting with a chariot of flame to conduct him
to other skies.

Grace was just finishing her toilet, and her maid ad-
justing the last plait in her head-dress, when a low and
guarded knock announced a visitor. The door was slightly
opened, when a messenger threw in a gay billet and
departed. It was superscribed thus : — " To the Fairest,

With a quickened pulse and a tremulous hand, she
glanced over the page, elaborately penned as follows :

" The Bower of Beautie hath a snake ; beware that he
come not nigh thee, for his tooth has venom, and his tail
a sting.


From the mask with the black visard and silver mantle.

She had barely finished the perusal, when there came
tripping in the page of Sir John Finett, carrying a sealed
billet redolent with the most costly perfume. The super-
scription was precisely similar, and nearly in the same
hand. — " To the Fairest, These."
She hastily broke open the packet.
" Beauteous and most matchless queen ! jealous of thy
coming, the orb of day hasteneth to hide himself in
Thetis's lap. He leaveth thee our luminary in his stead,
whose twin stars shall so outmimic day that his brightness
shall not be remembered. Truly am I in great heavinesse
and sorrow, seeing that I cannot be with you in the open-
ing of the pageant, by reason of mine office, and my duty
to the king. Yet will I not leave you without a protector.
My trusty friend Weldon, will enact your faithful knighte.
He weareth a black visard and mantle of spotted silver,
and will accompany you to the bower, from whence he
delivereth the queene and her distressed damsels out of
durance. When the dancing begins, expect me.

Little space was left for deliberation. The bell rung
out its signal for the actors to arrange themselves ; hear-
ing which, she thrust the billets behind her stomacher, and
hastened to the great court, where, on a platform sup-
ported by four wheels, was builded a sort of hut, deco-
rated in a tawdry and fanciful style, and ycleped " The
Bower of Beautie."

Into this bower the queen was to be conducted, but
the uproar and confusion were indescribable ; strange
and antic figures hurrying to and fro, seeking their


companions, and crying lustily for their places. Sir
John Finett and Sir George Goring fulfilled the office of
whippers-in, attempting to establish order out of these
undisciplined elements. Grace drew back ; but suddenly
there came forth an armed knight from the bower towards
her, wearing a black visor and a mantle of spotted silver,
courteously beseeching her that she would accompany
him to her station. A great curtain of figured arras hung
in front, concealing the interior, where the queen and
her maidens were supposed to be held captive. Grace
stepped into this temporary confinement in which were
four other ladies masked, who graciously saluted their
queen. The black-faced visor having seated himself, the
arras was again let down ; when several men, bedizened
with ribands and nosegays, wheeled off the vehicle to
its destination on the green.

The bower was garnished with roses, gilliflowers, pinks,
and odoriferous herbs. Garlands of artificial flowers were
interspersed ; likewise imitations in satin, silk, and gold,
of various trees, herbs, and fruits, not to be found in those
parts. All this had been accomplished with great pains
by the ladies of the queen's mimic court, Sir John Finett
superintending " The Bower of Beautie" as his peculiar
province. To Sir George Goring were allotted the bears,
satjTS, imps, angels, gods, and other like rabble, who were
taught with much labour and difficulty, in so short a
space, their several parts.

Sir John Finett had received a mandate to be near the
king during the acts, that he might be instructed in their
several uses and designs, Buckingham having signified his
wish to sport a mask on the occasion; Sir John, therefore,


much to his regret, was completely debarred from ap-
proaching his mistress.

The king's coming was announced by a flourish of
trumpets, and a loud bray from the delighted multitude,
who sent up a shout that shook the very foundations.

Under a pavilion of crimson cloth, decked with fringes
and valences of gold, walked forth the monarch. He
leaned familiarly on the arm of his host, who, together
with Sir John Finett, was in immediate attendance.
After the king's train had passed, came a troop of morris-
dancers, and the hobby-horse, who frolicked in a most
ungainly fashion round the Bower of Beautie, kissing
hands, and making many salutations towards their en-
thralled queen. Next came out a bear and a lion, ac-
companied by a thing intended to represent an ^e, whose
office it was to torment these grave animals with his
tricks. But so encumbered were they in their disguise, —
a heavy covering of bucks' skins and long wool, — that
they had much ado to keep on their clothes, while at-
tempting to resent the indignities they endured.

" Hang thee, Will — keep thy paws off my tail," said
lion : " dost' not see I shall be uncovered before the king?"

" I'll baste thine hide," said bear, " if thou meddlest any
more with mine."

The ape had settled himself on the back of this august-
looking animal, from whence he was suddenly dislodged,
much to the delight and entertainment of the king, who
laughed heartily at his disaster. The ravenous animals
were on their way to the bower, there to watch for the
captives, making great demonstrations all the while of
their blood-thirsty intent.

Bear and lion accordingly squatted down before it,



making as tliough they would gladly have been at supper
on the fair carcasses of those within. Anon comes a
mighty magician, with a long beard, and a wand of some
ells in extent, purposing to effect the deliverance of the
captives ; but the beasts rushed upon him, and, in a trice,
brought him to the ground. At this juncture the Silver
knight — showing thereby the superiority of true valour
over false gramarye — should have issued from the bower,
rescued the magician, and slain the beasts, opening a way
for the escape of these imprisoned damsels, who were to
come forth dancing, and representing a fair masque before
the king ; — but the magician remained unrescued, while
bear and lion lay growling for a long space, not knowing
what else to do. They looked about wistfully, not choos-
ing to feast on their prostrate victim. At last, finding no
change in the posture of affairs, they fairly stood erect,
much to the marvel and amusement of the spectators,
running off on their hind legs amid the shouts and derision
of the assembly.

Sir John, apprehending some mistake, left the king for
a moment to see how matters stood ; but Goring had
lifted up the arras, and, lo ! the knight with the black
visor and mantle of silver was not there, neither was the
Queen of Beauty in her bower. The four disconsolate
maidens still sat waiting for their cue, and expecting
release. This was an unlooked-for disaster. The pageant
was at a stand. On enquiry, the maidens told how that
the gallant knight and the peerless queen had departed
before the king's arrival, saying they would return anon.

Sir John was bewildered and alarmed. The Silver
knight was trusty, and no suspicion crossed him from that
source ; yet was their absence wholly unaccountable.


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