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gentlemen, are seated according to their rank. All clenching quirp, that an admiring listener is tempted to being thus ordered, the first course is brought in ; the exclaim, "Truly, Maister Jeremiah, an' thy wit groweth principal dish, the boar's head, being carried by the at this rate, thou mayest e'en come to be made my steward, while the other officers of the household follow, lord's fool-save the mark !-some day.” “I dare each bearing a dish : the music plays loudly all the time warrant now," chimes in a second, who, by right of of this service, while there is chanted ore rotundo, the serving as parish clerk on Sundays, speaks as song which, with some variations, was sung in every having authority in all matters of wit and scholarship, hall in England when the first dish was brought to “I dare warrant now, Maister Jeremie there thinketh table on Christmas day. *
he hath wit enow already to serve the turn, should he “ Caput Apri defero
suffer such preferment; but I trow an' that is a cut Reddens laudes Domino.
above thy reach, Jeremie : 'let every man be satisfied The Boar's head in hand bring I,
with that God hath given him, and eschew all vain With garland's gay and rosemary;
aspirings,' as sayeth the crooked letters over Maister I pray you all sing merrily
Dominie's desk in our revestry ; but come, man, speak Qui estis in convivio.
out, dost thou not conceive thy wit would serve thee to “ The Boar's head, I understand,
retort all the gibes and the fleers, the quirks and the Is the chief service in this land,
floutings, the ruffs and the mopes, and the gullings Look wherever it be fand,
thou would'st have put upon thee at yonder high-board. Servite cum Cantico.
Sure I think thou would'st look like a noddy, Maister “Be glad, Lords, both more and lass,
Jeremie ; thy little wit would'st forsake thee, and thou For this hath ordained our steward,
would'st be fain to cry out like thy namesake, in the To cheer you all this Christmas,
Lesson, 'Behold, I am dumb; I cannot speak, I am The Boar's Head with mustard."
like a child before thee'-eh, Jeremie, what sayest There is an over-abundant supply of every kind of thou?" "Why, marry I say, only let my lord make me flesh and fowl, but fish is not there, that being no his fool, and then show me the man would dare question meat for feast days.' The rarer dishes are brought to my wit-or folly either, Maister Leatherlungs !” the high-board, and from thence a regular gradation But the ears of those who sit at the dais are not may be traced down the tables, to the plainer and more shocked by the ribaldry. Only the boisterous unordinary but substantial meats at the lower end of the checked bursts of laughter now and then ascend from hall; but the distinction is a usual one, and no feeling of the bottom of the hall, and provoke once and again a abasement is occasioned by what is considered as much lighter laugh of sympathy. But in truth if some una mere matter of etiquette as the arrangement of places. refined pleasantry should reach the high-board, it would Every course is served like the first, with music, but no not greatly offend :-perhaps it would hardly shock the other dish calls for a carol, not even the Christmas.pie, nerves of the ladies seated there-to say nothing of the the plum porridge, the pudding, or the mighty baron. lords. After dinner, hippocrass and confects are served at the When the sports have gone on a fair space, there is dais, a spiced bowl of less costly wine at the upper a motion made to clear the hall. My lord's minstrels, tables, and the plain English beverage at the lower end. with a company of players who have come by invitation All as they are bid make themselves merry as best they to Penshurst for the occasion, are to show their skill. may. There are more and merrier Christmas sports for The dais is yielded to them, and they proceed to make the
young and the active than in these duller days can their preparations behind curtain which is drawn in easily be fancied; while the seniors and the less lively front of the platform. But we have no space left to take to tables and shovel-board, and other of the common describe their doings. Suffice it that a new interlude both games. Each end of the hall has its own amusements. "goodly and merry," has been prepared for this evening; At the upper part something of state is maintained, that the players go through their parts to the content even in the wildest play. The jester there helps on the of my lord and the more critical part of the assembly, mirth, but his wit is of a caustic and comparatively and to the unbounded delight of the remainder ; that polished kind. At the lower end the merriment is after the play, the minstrels sing their ballads of ruder, the jest coarser. There the wit flows from rus- | “knightly deeds and ladies' love,” for the edification tics, who, having gained a village celebrity, on this of the gentle ; and Clym of the Clough, Chevy Chase, grand occasion put forth their mirth-moving powers and Robin Hood for the simple : that the joculators with as keen a rivalry as modern wits, whose feet are hold conversations with voices on the roof and under under the polished mahogany; and if they have less the floor; and transfer handkerchiefs and rings and esprit, they have perhaps more good-nature. One tells purses from the hands and the pockets of their owners a tale provocative of broad laughter; another strains to the pockets or the persons of honest people in other his powers of mimicry; while a third is so ready with a parts of the room, and do other deeds of no less magical * It is still sung with undiminished zeal, though with in
a character, till the rustics fancy the lights burn blue, novations, in the hall of Queen's College, at Oxford, (see and look with undisguised terror on the conjurors : vol. ii., p. 57). The version given above is printed by Wynkyn that the tumblers throw summersaults, and poise chairs, de Worde.
and plates, and straws, and cast up knives and balls three or four at a time, just as the tumblers do now- natural consequence of feudal manners. In England a-days in the back streets of London, and to still more the system was breaking up when Jonson wrote, and he admiring spectators.
notices it with his usual good sense. It is to the honour After players and minstrels, with their humbler of Pensburst that the observation was made there.” brethren the joculators, have gone through their de- All this is undoubtedly true: but the innovation, visings, the forms are removed, the tables drawn close excellent as it is in itself, very materially assisted in to the wall, and the dancing—"the damsels' delight"- breaking up that old-fashioned hospitality which assemcommences in earnest. My lord leads off the brawls with bled the several ranks in the same Great Hall. When a fair guest, or the daughter of one of his tenantry. The all partake of "the lord's own meat, of the same first dances are of a stately kind, and they grow gayer and bread, and beer, and self-same wine,” it is evident that freer as the night advances. As Selden has expressed the guests will be fewer than when each was served in it, in an unmatchable sentence :-"First you have the accordance with his rank and place : the banquet would grave measures, then the corrantoes and the galliards, be too costly else ; and it is probable that the guests will and this is kept up with ceremony; at length to be of a different grade : the humble dependant and French-more, and the cushion-dance, and then all the plain country tenant would hardly be served in such a company dances,--lord and groom, lady and kitchen- fashion. The lord may sit at the head of the long maid, no distinction. . . . Omnium gatherum, tolly- table, (not at the centre, as in olden times,) and the polly, hoity come toity." We may drop the curtain : guests below the salt may fare as well as those above “England was merry England when
it; but the 'simple folk,' who were formerly glad of a Old Christmas brought his sports again.
seat at the lower end of the hall, with a trencher of 'Twas Christmas broach'd the mightiest ale ; plain beef, or brawn, and a cup of ale, will hardly be 'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale ;
called to a seat near the lord, and to share in his A Christmas gambol oft would cheer
venison and claret. The change will bring others in A poor man's heart through half the year.”
its train : the ‘vast hall' itself will seem an uncomfort(Scott.)
able place to dine in, when the floor of it is empty, and We have tried to picture Penshurst Hall in its palmi- all the company are on the dais. Accordingly, we find est days. Ben Jonson, in a succeeding generation, thus that at this very time, the great were beginning to dine sings the praises of its every-day hospitality: the lines in other rooms; in fact, a Royal proclamation was are deserving regard on many accounts:
issued in 1626 against the practice :-“Whereas, sun
dry noblemen, gentlemen, and others, do much delight “Penshurst, whose liberal board doth flow With all that hospitality doth know,
and use, to dine in corners and secret places, not repairWhere comes no guest but is allowed to eat
ing to the High Chamber, or Hall, &c.” But the Without his fear, and of thy lord's own meat:
change was not thereby stayed; and a few years later, Where the same beer, and bread, and self-same wine the old custom of dining in the great hall was as much That is his lordship's shall be also mine:
spoken of as a bygone thing as it would be now. Sel. And I not fain to sit (as some this day)
den notices the consequence of the change with his At great men's tables and yet dine away.
usual sagacity ; but his manner of expression shows Here no man tells my cups; nor standing by No waiter dost my gluttony envy;
how entirely the old custom had already become a matter
of tradition. "The Hall was the place where the great But gives me what I call, and lets me eat; He knows below he shall find plenty of meat.
lord used to eat, (wherefore else were the halls made Thy tables hoard not up for the next day;
so big ?) where he saw all his tenants and servants Nor when I take my lodgings need I pray
about him. He eat not in private, except in time of For fire, or light, or livery-all is there
sickness ; when once he became a thing cooped up, all As if thou then wert mine."
his greatness was spoiled. Nay, the king himself used On the lines
to eat in the hall, and his lords sat with him, and then
he understood men." He is right: when there was “Where comes no guest but is allowed to eat
more of social intercourse, the great did better underWithout his fear, and of thy lord's own meat,”
stand men, and in return were better understood by Gifford observes, “ This, and what follows, may appear them. Much of the mutual suspicion and ill-feeling a strange topic for praise to those who are unacquainted that so unhappily exists between the different classes with the practice of those times. But, in fact, the of society, in the country as well as in the town, may liberal mode of hospitality here recorded, was almost be traced to insufficient knowledge of each other,-the peculiar to this noble person [Sir Robert Sidney, after- result of the mutual isolation in which each dwells, as wards Earl of Leicester]. The great indeed, dined at far as the other is concerned. long tables (they had no other in their vast halls), and We have made a rather long stay in this hall; and permitted many guests to sit down with them ; but the yet in good truth there are half a score more things we gradations of rank and fortune were rigidly maintained, ought to repeat concerning it, from Jonson's descripand the dishes grew visibly coarser as they receded from tion of another pleasant old custom he was here a witthe head of the table. No reader of our old poets can ness to, down to the last reparation. The old hall is be ignorant of the phrase, below the salt: it is the desolate now. No fires burn on the hearth : the damp hangs heavily on the naked lime-washed walls. All | pass unnoticed, notwithstanding that there are some that it contains are the long tables that are nearly which bear the name of Titian, and of other famous rotten with age, and a few mouldering breast-plates masters. Generally, however, it may be admitted that and matchlocks that lie upon them, and two or three the pictures at Penshurst are not of a high class. The rusty tilting helmets; but one of these,-a very curious attention is chiefly claimed by the portraits; and those one too,-is said to have been worn by Sir Philip of the Sidneys are, of course, the most interesting. Sidney.
In this room the portrait of Sir Philip Sidney-a very The state apartments, those which are open to public striking one-claims the first place ; but there is to our inspection, are not very remarkable on their own thinking a still more attractive portrait of our English account, nor very beautiful: it is their contents that are Bayard in the gallery we shall visit presently. Another the chief attraction. Yet with their antique furniture, noticeable portrait here is that of the lady immortalized and the quaintly attired family pictures on the walls, they in Jonson's famous epitaph as 'Sidney's sister, Pem. serve to place before the visitor with uncommon distinct- | broke's mother.' From these we turn to the represenness, the domestic life of a former age, and to illustrate tation of a somewhat later Sidney. The portrait of obsolete habits. The first room into which the sitor Algernon Sidney was taken shortly before his execution is conducted, on quitting the hall, is the ball-room, which for his alleged participation in the Rye House Plot.' retains to a considerable extent the furniture and fittings There can be no doubt that the principles of Algernon it was provided with on occasion of the visit of Queen Sidney were entirely opposed to those of the GovernElizabeth to Penshurst. The two small odd-looking ment, nor indeed that they were ultra-republican ; but chandeliers, and the alabaster plates on the table, are said there can at the same time be as little hesitancy in to have been presented to Sir Henry Sidney by her affirming that his trial was a mockery, that his condemmajesty. There are some portraits here, that as works nation was unjust, or that his execution conferred of art will repay examination - especially those by eternal dishonour on the profligate and unworthy Vandyke; and some are also valuable on account of monarch. The portrait is undoubtedly authentic; the the persons they represent. The miscellaneous pictures period when it was taken is indicated by a representaare of small account, though one will attract a moments tion of the block and executioner in the background, notice when it is pointed out as the work of Elizabeth's added when the picture was finished, after the death of Earl of L ice ster. The smaller room adjoining con- the illustrious sitter. The face well accords with the tains objects of far greater interest. One is a portrait character which his contemporaries have left of him : of himself by Rembrandt, broad, massive, forcible. stern, haughty, enthusiastic, impatient of contradiction, There are some other pictures here by eminent painters, but of consummate ability, and unwavering resolution ; chiefly of the Italian schools ; and there are also some without any of the poetry of character, or lofty chivalry more good old English portraits. On a table is a Sidney that rendered the other Sidney the object of such relic: Sir Phillip's two-handed sword; a sufficiently general admiration and devoted attachment, he, performidable weapon no doubt in skilful hands; but withal | haps, had even higher qualifications for public life. rather unwieldy. It is a rather curious example of In the next room, called the Tapestry Room, from this kind of sword, but that is a point for the antiquary. two immense pieces of Gobelin tapestry which are susThere are several other noteworthy things in this room, pended in it, is a portrait of the mother of Sir Philip but we must pass on.
Sidney; she has pleasing, yet strongly marked features, The next room is the most perfect and the most in- and much resemblance in character, as well as contour teresting, called Queen Elizabeth's drawing-room, on of face to her distinguished descendants. A curious account of its having been furnished by her when about contrast in every respect to the matronly grace and to visit Sir Henry: it still retains its furniture unaltered, modest dignity of the mother of the Sidneys, is another save as time alters every thing, since she was its occu- female portrait also in this room-Nell Gwynne, by pant. The room is very spacious, and the furniture, as Lely, who has here exposed that frail lady's charms may be supposed, magnificent; yet not so magnificent as even more freely than he usually does in his innume. perhaps would be expected. English workmen had not rable representations of her. In the little ante-room then attained any very great skill in upholstery. The attached to this are a few more pictures of different chairs and couches are covered with richly embroidered degrees of merit and interest; and also a relic that yellow and crimson damask—the embroidery being, it never fails of devotees. This is a fragment of Sir is affirmed, the work of the Queen and her maids, Philip Sidney's shaving glass, which being concave, of worked by them in order to do especial honour to Sir course shows the face considerably enlarged: one may Henry, who was a highly esteemed and favoured servant fancy from it that the good knight was rather curious of hers, as he had been of the two preceding monarchs. about having a smooth chin. A table in this room has an embroidered centre-piece, The Long Gallery will require some time in its which is related to have been wholly wrought by the actual examination : here it must be passed over Queen's own hand. There are a good many pictures hastily. Among the paintings are some of considerable in this room on which we might linger. One or two excellence. They claim the hands of Titian, Da Vinci, are of a rememberable character. But the paintings, Caracci, Rembrandt, Vandyke, Holbein, and others of which are chiefly valuable as works of art, we must the great names of different ages and schools : not all
of them, however, will sustain a scrutiny into their such necessary additions to a great house, as might claims. Still, as hitherto, the portraits chiefly interest well show Kalander knew that provision is the founthe general visitor. Among the portraits we may give dation of hospitality, and thrift the fuel of magnificence. first place to the lady whom Waller made so widely The house itself was built of fair and strong stone, known as Saccharissa, under which delectable name he not affecting so much any extraordinary kind of finewooed her favour and celebrated her beauty. As is ness, as an honourable representing of a firm statewell known, the lady rejected his suit, and he bore his liness. The lights, doors, and stairs, rather directed fate with most exemplary but very unpoetical fortitude. to the use of the guest, than to the eye of the She does not appear very charming in her picture; artificer; and yet as the one chiefly heeded, yet the but she had sufficient charms to attach the affections of other not neglected; each place handsome without a far more worthy man than her poetic admirer, and curiosity, and homely without loathsomeness ; not so sense enough to prefer him. In another room there is dainty as not to be trod on, nor yet slubbered up
with a portrait of the Earl of Sunderland, the successful good fellowship; all more lasting than beautiful, but lover of Lady Dorothy Sidney. Robert Dudley, that the consideration of the exceeding lastingness Earl of Leicester (who it will be recollected was the made the eye believe it was exceeding beautiful." uncle of Sir Philip Sidney), is also here ; and here is the portrait of Sir Philip, to which we before alluded. already mentioned. Instead of now attempting to de. It is a quaint, hard production ; but the painter, Mark scribe it, we shall again turn to the Arcadia, and borGarrard, has somehow contrived to impart uncommon row a passage, which is a sufficiently accurate sketch naïveté and character to his work. Sir Philip is repre- of the scenery in all its permanent features ; while the sented with his arm round his younger brother Robert landscape derives fresh delights from the exquisite old(the lord of Penshurst whom Jonson celebrates), and world air it breathes. This first picture may be underboth the brothers, while they are remarkably alike in stood to depict the park, which, it will be remembered, features, have decided individuality of expression. was in his time far more extensive than now:-“It
Since Horace Walpole published his deprecatory is," he says, “truly a place for pleasantness, not unfit notice of Sir Philip Sidney, a good many smaller wits to flatter solitariness; for it being set upon such unhave given utterance to their ill opinion of him. Wal- sensible rising of the ground, as you are come to a pole's scoff is easily accounted for. He delighted in pretty height before almost you perceive that you paradox ; was an habitual sneerer; frivolous and lax ascend, it gives the eye lordship over a good large cirin mind and practice : cold, flippant, heartless; of all cuit, which, according to the nature of the country, men least fitted to appreciate or even understand the being diversified between hills and dales, woods and lofty poetic seriousness of Sir Philip's character. His plains, one place more clear, another more darksome, censure of the writer is sufficiently refuted by the it seems a pleasant picture of nature, with lovely lightunanimous opinion of every one who, having the someness and artificial shadows." smallest spark of poetry in his soul, has read Sidney's The following embraces the vicinity. It would be works. His condemnation of the man has an answer idle to praise the painting, (by the way, Master Izaak in the universal admiration of his contemporaries : and Walton has copied some parts of it,) but we may just such contemporaries ! He whose early death a nation point attention to the skilful introduction of the human mourned; whom the greatest minds praised with a and other accessaries, or, as a landscape painter devotion and lamented with an earnestness without would call them, “the figures :"—there be no such parallel in his generation ; and of whom so gifted a Idyllic shepherds and shepherdesses to be met about man as Lord Brooke, the favoured of sovereigns, so Penshurst now :-" There were hills which garnished thought, as to cause to be placed on his tomb, as his their proud heights with stately trees : humble valleys, highest eulogy, that he was "the friend of Sir Philip whose base estate seemed comforted with the refreshSidney”-surely could not have been "a person of the ing of silver rivers : meadows, enamelled with all sorts slender proportion of merit " Walpole represents. of eye-pleasing flowers : thickets, which, being lined
We must leave Penshurst. Many more things in with most pleasant shade, were witnessed so, too, by these apartments might fairly claim notice, but we the cheerful disposition of many well-tuned birds : each have already made too long tarriance here. When he pasture stored with sheep, feeding with sober security, returns to the park, the visitor will no doubt again while the pretty lambs, with bleating oratory, craved look around the exterior of the building; at any rate, the dams' comfort : here a shepherd's boy piping, as he should do so, as he will then more readily perceive though he should never be old : there a young shepthe purpose and connection of the several parts. There herdess knitting, and withal singing, and it seemed that is a passage in the first book of the Arcadia, in which her voice comforted her hands to work, and her hands Sidney appears to have been describing his family kept time to her voice-music. As for the houses of mansion ; and as it has not been quoted in connection the country, (for many houses came under their eye,) with the place which it characterises in so pleasant a man- they were all scattered, no two being one by the other, ner, the reader will probably not be sorry to see it here: and yet not so far off as that it barred mutual succour :
“They might see (with fit consideration both of the a show, as it were, of an accompanable solitariness, and air, the prospect, and the nature of the ground) all of a civil wildness."