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Title: Royalty in All Ages - The Amusements, Eccentricities, Accomplishments, - Superstitions and Frolics of the Kings and Queens of Europe
Author: Dyer, T. F. Thiselton (Thomas Firminger Thiselton)
Language: English
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                              IN ALL AGES

                    [Illustration: text decoration]

                   T. F. THISELTON-DYER, M.A. OXON.

                    [Illustration: QUEEN ELIZABETH]

                              IN ALL AGES

           The Amusements, Eccentricities, Accomplishments,
                          Superstitions, and
                       Frolics of the Kings and
                           Queens of Europe


                   T. F. THISELTON-DYER, M.A. OXON.

                       CONTEMPORARY ENGRAVINGS_

                          JOHN C. NIMMO, LTD.

                  Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
                        At the Ballantyne Press


It has been remarked that to write of the private and domestic acts of
monarchs while still alive savours of scandal and bad taste, but when
dead their traits of character, however strange and eccentric they may
have been in their lifetime, at once become matter of history. Adopting
this rule, we have confined ourselves in the present work to dealing
with royalty in the past; and, in a field so wide, we have, as far as
possible, endeavoured to make each chapter concise and representative of
the subject treated. The following pages, whilst illustrating the
marvellous versatility of royalty, when seriously analysed tend to show
how vastly superior the latter-day sovereigns have been when compared
with those of earlier times, many of whose extraordinary freaks and
vagaries as much degraded the throne, as the refined and cultivated
tastes of her late Majesty Queen Victoria elevated and beautified it.

                                                  T. F. THISELTON-DYER.


 CHAP.                                                              PAGE

    I. ROYALTY AT PLAY                                                 1

   II. FREAKS OF ROYALTY                                              10

  III. ROYAL REVELRY                                                  37

   IV. ROYAL EPICURES                                                 57

    V. CURIOUS FADS OF ROYALTY                                        85

   VI. DANCING MONARCHS                                               99

  VII. ROYAL HOBBIES                                                 120

 VIII. THE ROYAL HUNT                                                135

   IX. ROYAL MASQUES AND MASQUERADES                                 152

    X. ROYALTY IN DISGUISE                                           168

   XI. ROYAL GAMESTERS                                               184

  XII. ROYALTY ON THE TURF                                           204

 XIII. ROYAL SPORTS AND PASTIMES                                     223

  XIV. COURT DWARFS                                                  239

   XV. ROYAL PETS                                                    247

  XVI. ROYAL JOKES AND HUMOUR                                        264

 XVII. ROYALTY AND FASHION                                           288

XVIII. ROYALTY WHIPT AND MARRIED BY PROXY                            306

  XIX. COURT JESTERS AND FOOLS                                       313

   XX. ROYALTY AND THE DRAMA                                         334

  XXI. ROYAL AUTHORS                                                 357

 XXII. ROYAL MUSICIANS                                               376

XXIII. SUPERSTITIONS OF ROYALTY                                      395

INDEX                                                                433


QUEEN ELIZABETH                                            _Frontispiece_

EDWARD I.                                              _To face page_ 46

EDWARD III.                                                  ”       136

CHARLES II.                                                  ”       210

CHARLES IX., KING OF FRANCE                                  ”       240

LOUIS XIV.                                                   ”       348




The great Mogul Emperor was a chess player, and was generous enough to
rejoice when he was beaten by one of his courtiers, which was the exact
reverse of Philip II. of Spain, who, when a Spanish grandee had won
every game in which he had played against the King, could not conceal
his vexation. Whereupon the skilful but injudicious player, returning
home, said to his family: “My children, we have nothing more to do at
Court. There we must henceforth expect no favour; the King is offended
because I have won of him every game of chess.” Napoleon did not like
defeat even at chess, for, if he perceived his antagonist gaining upon
him, he would with one hasty movement sweep board and pieces off the
table on to the ground.

In some cases, however, if we are to believe the traditions of history,
chess has been responsible for some serious fracas. Thus a story is told
of William the Conqueror, how when a young man he was invited to the
Court of the French king, and during his stay there was one day engaged
at chess with the King’s eldest son, when a dispute arose concerning a
certain move. William, annoyed at a certain remark made by his
antagonist, struck him with the chess-board, which “obliged him to make
a precipitate retreat from France to avoid the consequences of so rash
an act.”

A similar anecdote is told of John, the youngest son of Henry II., who
quarrelled over the chess-board with one Fulco Guarine, a Shropshire
nobleman, receiving such a blow as almost to kill him. John did not
easily forget the affront, and long after his accession to the throne
showed his resentment by keeping him from the possession of Whittington
Castle, to which he was the rightful heir. It is also said that Henry
was engaged at chess when the deputies from Rouen informed him that the
city was besieged by Philip, King of France; but he would not listen to
their news until he had finished his game. A curious accident happened
to Edward I. when he was playing at chess at Windsor, for, on suddenly
rising from the game, the next moment the centre stone of the groined
ceiling fell on the very spot where he had been sitting, an escape which
he attributed to the special protection of Providence. It is further
recorded that Edward I. received from one of the dignitaries of the
Temple, in France, a chess-board and chess-men made of jasper and
crystal, which present he transferred to his queen; hence it has been
concluded that she, too, was skilled in the noble game.

But his son, Edward II., got into disrepute by playing at
chuck-farthing, or cross and pile, which was held to be a very unkingly
diversion, “and sufficient to disgust the warlike peers who had been
accustomed to rally round the victorious banner of his father.” In one
of his wardrobe accounts these entries occur: “Item--paid to Henry, the
King’s barber, for money which he lent to the King to play at cross and
pile, five shillings. Item--paid to Pires Barnard, usher of the King’s
chamber, money which he lent the King, and which he lost at cross and
pile to Monsieur Robert Wattewille, eight-pence.”[1]

De Foix, on hearing that the Queen of Scots had resolved on the marriage
with her cousin Darnley, went to Elizabeth that he might discuss the
matter. He found her at chess, and, profiting by the opportunity of
discussing the matter, he said: “This game is an image of the words and
deeds of men. If, for example, we lose a pawn, it seems but a small
matter; nevertheless, the loss often draws after it that of the whole

The Queen replied, “I understand you. Darnley is but a pawn, but may
well checkmate me if he be promoted.”

Charles I. was occupied, it is said, at chess when he was informed of
the final resolution of the Scots to sell him to the Parliament; but he
was so little discomposed by this intelligence that he continued the
game in no way disconcerted. A similar anecdote is told of John
Frederick, Elector of Saxony, who, having been taken prisoner by Charles
V., was condemned to death--a decree which was intimated to him while
at chess with Ernest of Brunswick, his fellow-prisoner. But after a
short pause he challenged his antagonist to finish the game, played with
his usual attention, and expressed his satisfaction at winning. And
coming down to the reign of her late Majesty, Queen Victoria, it is said
she was fond of most games, enjoying chess or draughts, which in her
later days she exchanged for patience. When more actively inclined she
would play at ball or battledore and shuttle-cock with the ladies of the
Court, a practice which she continued till middle life.

As a warning against the perilous habit of playing chess with a wife, it
is related of Ferrand, Count of Flanders, that, having constantly
defeated the Countess, she conceived a hatred against him, which reached
such a height that when the unfortunate Count was taken prisoner at the
battle of Bouvines, she suffered him to remain a long time in prison,
although, according to common report, she might easily have procured his

It was while playing at chess with a knight, nicknamed the “King of
Love,” that James I. of Scotland referred to a prophecy that a king
should die that year, and remarked to his playmate, “There are no kings
in Scotland but you and I. I shall take good care of myself, and I
counsel you to do the same.”

Don John of Austria had a room in his palace in which there was a
chequered pavement of black and white marble, upon which living men
attired in varied costumes moved under his direction according to the
laws of chess. It is also related of a Duke of Weimar that he had
squares of black and white marble, on which he played at chess with red

Although Louis XIII. firmly prohibited all games of chance at Court, he
had so strong an affection for chess that he rarely lost an opportunity
of playing a game in his coach whenever he went abroad. In this respect
he was very different to Louis IX., who forbade any of his officers to
play at dice or at chess; and report goes that his anger on one
occasion, at finding the Duke of Anjou engaged in a move of chess, knew
no bounds.

Henry III. of France was passionately fond of the childish game
bilboquet or “cup and ball,” which, it is said, he used to play even
when walking in the street; and piquet is commonly reported to have
derived its name from that of its inventor, who contrived it to amuse
Charles VI. of France.

The poor imbecile Charles II. of Spain did his best to amuse his young
wife Marie Louise of Orleans, but not with much effect. He would play
with her at “jouchets,” which appears to have been an amusement of the
nature of that known as “spills,” for three or four hours a day--“a
game,” writes Madame de Villars, “at which one might lose a pistole
during all that time _par malheur extraordinaire_.”

Indeed, sovereigns, like other mortals, have sought recreation and a
rest from the anxieties of life in sometimes what may seem the most
childish amusements. One of Napoleon’s favourite games, for instance,
was blind-man’s-buff, a pastime which, it may be remembered, Canning and
Sir William Scott played with the Princess Caroline whilst at Montagu
House. Napoleon, too, was very fond of children, and would carry the
infant King of Rome in his arms, and standing in front of a mirror, make
all kinds of grimaces in the glass. At breakfast he would take the child
upon his knee, “dip his fingers in the sauce, and daub his face with it;
the child’s governess scolded, the Emperor laughed, and the child,
always pleased, seemed to take delight in the rough caresses of his

Henry IV. of France also delighted in a romp with his children. The
story goes that one day, when trotting round the room on his hands and
knees, with the Dauphin on his back, and the other children urging him
on to gallop in imitation of a horse, an ambassador suddenly entered and
surprised the royal family in the midst of their play. Henry, rising,
inquired, “Have you children, M. l’Ambassadeur.” “Yes, sire.” “In that
case I proceed with the sport.” An anecdote which reminds us of one told
by Ælian of Agesilaus, who, on being found by a friend riding on a stick
for the amusement of his son, he bade his visitor not speak of it to any
one until he was a father himself.

George III. was on one occasion discovered on all-fours, with one of his
children riding astride his back; and most readers are acquainted with
the well-known painting of “George III. playing at Ball with the
Princess Amelia.” His Majesty also took pleasure in a game of
backgammon, a source of recreation of which Louis XIV. was fond. One day
when playing at this game, a dispute arose about a doubtful throw, the
surrounding courtiers remaining silent. The Count de Grammont happening
to come in, the King asked him to decide the matter. He instantly
answered, “Your Majesty is in the wrong.” “How,” said Louis, “can you
decide before you know the question?”

“Because,” replied the Count, “had there been any fault, all these
gentlemen would have given it in favour of your Majesty.”

The King submitted to his decision.

Queen Victoria, too, was fond of children, with whom she enjoyed a romp;
and Catherine II. of Russia would spend her leisure time in affording
infinite delight to the young folk, for whose amusement she would invent
all kinds of impromptu games.

Billiards became very popular during the reign of Louis XIV., to whom it
was recommended by his physicians as an exercise after meals. It is said
that Chamillard, who played with the King, entirely owed his political
fortune to the amount of skill which he displayed in this game. In the
_Mémoires Complets et Authentiques du Duc de Saint Simon_, par M.
Chernel (1872, vol. ii. p. 29), we read that Louis XIV. during the
winter evenings played billiards with M. le Vendôme or M. le Grand,
occasionally with Le Maréchal de Villeroy, and sometimes with the Duc de

Cards have always been popular playthings with royalty--incidents
connected with which will be found in our chapter on gambling. Primero
was the fashionable game at the English Court during the Tudor dynasty,
and Shakespeare represents Henry VIII. playing at it with the Duke of
Suffolk. It was succeeded by a game called “maw,” which appears to have
been the favourite diversion of James I. Weldon, alluding to the
poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury in his “Court and Character of King
James,” says: “The next that came on the stage was Sir Thomas Monson,
but the night before he was come to his trial, the King, being at the
game of maw, said, ‘To-morrow comes Thomas Monson to his trial.’ ‘Yes,’
said the King’s card-holder, ‘when, if he does not play his master’s
prize, your Majesty shall never trust me.’” This remark, it is said, so
ran in the King’s mind that at the next game he excused himself from
playing as he was sleepy, remarking that he would play out that set the
next night.

And occasionally, it would seem, the play-hours of monarchs have proved
almost if not quite fatal. Thus it was in the winter of 1521 that the
Count of St. Pol, being elected King of the Bean, Francis I. of France
challenged him and his party to a combat with snowballs. Amidst them a
brand was flung, which struck the King on the head, and for some days
placed his life in jeopardy.

It was on Easter Eve 1498 that Charles VIII. of France proceeded to the
battlements of the Castle of Amboise with his queen to watch some of the
courtiers playing ball in the fosses below. But traversing a narrow
passage, Charles struck his head against the archway of a low door,
which, it is said, brought on a kind of fit. He was carried into a
little chamber near, recovered his speech once or twice, and after nine
hours of agony he died.



It is impossible to account, in many cases, for the strange and
extraordinary freaks of bygone sovereigns on any other ground than
eccentricity or madness. It is true that Charles the Fat used to excuse
himself for the atrocities into which he plunged, by asserting that he
was possessed of a devil, but this, of course, was in banter rather than
sincerity. But, whatever the motives which prompted such peculiar
vagaries on the part of certain monarchs, foibles of this kind, if not
instructive, are certainly amusing.

Thus it is related of Marie Casimire, wife of Sobieski, King of Poland,
that one of her amusements was to let herself be drenched by the rain,
although at the time she might be magnificently dressed. On one
occasion, when Monsieur le Comte de Teil, Conseiller du Parlement de
Paris, who had been sent to Poland by the King of England, happened to
be near the Queen when it rained very heavily, she said to him,
“Monsieur l’Envoi, let us take a walk”--a request which he did not dare
to refuse. He wore on that day a fine wig; nevertheless he endured the
rain for some time, and then said to her, “Madam, your Majesty is
getting wet.” “Say, rather,” answered the Queen, “that you are learning
how to spoil your fine wig,” and she continued walking in the rain
maliciously a full half-hour.

This, however, was a comparatively trivial and harmless amusement
compared with the cruel and outrageous freaks of the Russian Emperor,
Ivan IV., who has been described as “one of the most savage, yet one of
the most enlightened monarchs that ever reigned.” He was only in his
teens when he had one of his attendants worried to death by dogs on the
public highway; and in one of the so-called frolicsome moods he would
let slip wild bears among the affrighted citizens in the streets, and
would calmly say his prayers whilst gazing at the slaughter, making
compensation “for any irregularity in the matter by flinging a few coins
to the wounded after he rose from his knees.” It is even said that Ivan
went so far in his insane freaks as to compel parents to slay their
children, and children one another; and where there was a survivor, “the
amiable monarch, if he was not too weary, would slay him himself, and
would laugh at this conclusion to so excellent a joke.” It is not
surprising that partial madness eventually overtook him, for what can be
said of a ruler who is reported to have sent to the city of Moscow “to
provide for him a measure full of fleas for a medicine.” They answered
it was impossible; and if they could get them, yet they could not
measure them, because of their leaping out. Upon which he set a mulct
upon the city of 7000 roubles.

But Ivan IV. was not the only Russian monarch who indulged in freaks of
an irrational nature, although his successors did not stoop to the same
cruelty. In the case of Peter III. intemperance has been assigned as the
probable cause of some of the absurd actions with which his name has
been associated in contemporary memoirs. Rulhière, for instance, who was
an eye-witness of the Revolution of the year 1762, tells us that his
military mania knew no bounds; he wished that a perpetual noise of
cannon should give him in representation a foretaste of war.
Accordingly, he one day gave orders that one hundred large pieces of
cannon should be fired simultaneously, so that he might have some idea
of the noise of battle. And it was necessary, in order to prevent the
execution of this whim, to represent to him that such an act would shake
the city to the centre. Oftentimes he would rise from table to prostrate
himself on his knees, with a glass in his hand, before a portrait of
Frederick of Prussia, exclaiming, “My brother, we will conquer the
universe together.”

In some instances the conduct of the Russian Emperor Paul was most
eccentric, and his vagaries were so extraordinary that they have been
explained on the theory of madness. One of the most curious stories
about him is related by Kotzebue. He was summoned into the presence of
the Emperor, who said to him in German, “You know the world too well not
to be adequately informed about political occurrences, and must,
therefore, have learned how I have figured in it. I have often made
rather a foolish exhibition of myself, and,” continued he, laughing,
“it’s right that I should be punished, and I have imposed on myself a
chastisement. I want this”--he held a paper in his hand--“to be inserted
in the _Hamburg Gazette_ and other newspapers.” He then took him
confidentially by the arm, and read to him the following paper which he
had written in French:--

“On apprend de Petersbourg que l’Empereur de Russie voyant que les
puissances de l’Europe ne pouvoit s’accorder entre elle et voulant
mettre fin à une guerre qui la desoloit depuis onse ans vouloit proposer
un lieu ou il inviteroit touts les autres souverains de se rendre et y
combattre en champ clos ayant avec eux pour ecuyer juge de camp, et
héros d’armes leurs ministres les plus éclairés et les generaux les plus
habiles tels que Messrs. Thugust, Pitt, Bernstoff, lui même se proposant
de prendre avec lui les generaux C. de Palen et Kutusof, on ne sçait si
on doit y ajouter foi, toute fois la chose ne paroit pas destituée de
fondement en portant l’empreinte de ce dont il a souvent été taxé.”[3]

We may compare this eccentricity with that of Charles I. of England, who
would bind himself to a particular line of conduct by a secret
obligation. One day he drew aside Dr. Sheldon, afterwards Archbishop of
Canterbury, and placed in his hands a paper which detailed certain
measures he proposed to adopt for the glory of God and for the
advancement of the Church, intimating that he “had privately bound
himself by the most awful vow to ensure their accomplishment.” And one
particular obligation which the document contained was to perform public
penance for the injustice he had been guilty of to Lord Strafford, in
consenting to his death. In delivering this paper to Dr. Sheldon,
Charles solemnly conjured him to remind him of his contract, should he
hereafter ever find him in a condition to perform any one of the
articles which it contained.

In his moments of irritation Peter the Great, like William III. of
England, would not hesitate to strike the person who had given him
offence, whatever might be his rank; and, as his Majesty was easily
upset, he was at times very lavish of his blows. His subjects, it is
said, did not consider a blow from the Emperor an affront, and thought
themselves honoured by an apology. But this was not the case with
foreigners, for Le Blond, a French architect whom the Czar had invited
into his dominions, having received the stroke of a cane in the first
transport of imperial anger, took it so much to heart that he sickened
of a fever and died.

The Czar Nicholas was fond of frightening or fascinating people by his
eyes, and it is said that one of his terrible glances once terrified a
Swedish admiral into the Russian service. On another occasion, we are
told how happening to encounter a poor fellow who had strolled into the
private part of the Imperial Park, Nicholas gazed at him with so fierce
a glance that the trespasser was stricken with brain-fever. This strange
peculiarity of the Czar reminds us of Augustus, who, according to
Suetonius, was always well pleased with those persons who, when
addressing him, looked upon the ground, as though there were a divine
splendour in his eyes, too dazzling for them to gaze upon.

Eric XIV. of Sweden in early life was stunned by a violent fall, a
circumstance which, it is said, in after years accounted for his lack of
judgment, and occasional eccentricity of conduct. His highly suspicious
turn of mind made him at times morose, and almost maniacal, causing him
to interpret “the most natural and insignificant of gestures as some
dreadful telegraphing of hideous treason. At such seasons his violence
was frantic, and, after a day marked by acts of frightful outrage, he
would make record against himself in his journal that he had sinned, and
would then start to commit further crime.” By a terrible irony of fate,
when deposed by his brother John, he was thrown into a horrible dungeon,
and “there were placed over him men whom he had offended, and who
claimed to be avenged. The vengeance which they exacted was diabolical,
for they aggravated as far as in them lay the horrors of his
position--one of them fastening to his crippled limbs a mass of iron
which may yet be seen in the museum at Abo.”[4] But can this be wondered
at, when it is remembered how Eric when possessed of power had in his
moments of frenzy and freaks of passion sent innocent men to the
scaffold, and like a lunatic had, after the performance of some
diabolical act, wandered about the fields likening himself to Nero, and
heaping execration upon his own head. He was his own enemy, and as such
incurred his own destruction.

Some of the characteristics of one of his successors on the throne--the
celebrated Christina--were uncommon, for having been educated by men,
and brought up under the guardianship of men, she gradually imbibed a
dislike of all that was womanly. Her ambition seems to have been to be
as much like a man as possible, and nothing seems to have pleased her
more than to don male attire. For womanly refinements, too, she had the
most profound contempt, and it only coincided with this trait of
character that she expressed her conviction of the utter disability of
woman to conduct the affairs of a nation. In short, it is said that
there was nothing of the woman in her save her sex, and that her
presence, voice, and manners, were altogether masculine. Many of her
strange freaks of conduct were attributable to this peculiar whim, in
accordance with which she not only swore like a dragoon, but encouraged
conversation of a by no means refined character. Thus a writer states
that one of his friends used to entertain her with stories of a very
unseemly nature, with which she was abundantly delighted, and adds, “Yet
because there were some of his narrations which did sometimes require
more modest expressions than the genuine or natural, chiefly before a
Royal Majesty and in a maid’s presence, as she saw him going about his
circumlocutions and seeking civil terms, she would boldly speak out the
words, though they were never so filthy, which modesty forbids me to
write here.” Indeed, her own acknowledgment that she was never nice of
speech more or less corresponded with her personal habits, inasmuch as
Manneschied, the confessor of Pimentelli, the Spanish ambassador at the
Swedish Court, and a great admirer of the Queen, thus wrote of her: “She
never combs her hair but once a week, and sometimes lets it go untouched
for a fortnight. On Sundays her toilet takes about half-an-hour, but on
other days it is despatched in a quarter.” Manneschied then adds, “Her
linen was ragged and much torn.” And occasionally, when a bold person
would hint at the salubrity of cleanliness she would reply, “Wash!
that’s all very well for people who have nothing else to do!”

Nothing, again, pleased Christina more than to indulge in some
outrageous freak whereby she would astonish and horrify those around
her. When visiting, for instance, the French Court, she startled the
stately ladies there by her strange conduct; and according to Madame de
Motteville, “In presence of the King, Queen, and the whole Court, she
flung her legs up on a chair as high as that on which she was seated,
and she altogether exhibited them a great deal too freely.” Then, again,
her impatience and irreverence at church were not infrequently matter of
public comment. She would use two chairs, one of purple velvet in which
she was seated, and one in front of her, “over the back of which she
would lean her head or arms, thinking of divers matters.” If the sermon
was a trifle long and somewhat prosy, she would begin playing with the
two spaniels which usually accompanied her, or she would chat with some
gentleman-in-waiting; and, if the sermon did not come to a close, she
would rattle her fan on the back of the chair before her, and distract
the attention of the congregation, if she could not stop the preacher.
But she was perfectly indifferent as to what the public thought of her
conduct, and almost up to the end of her life she adhered to the same
freedom and laxity of manners. It was towards the close of the year 1688
that she received an anonymous letter intimating that her death was not
far off, and that she would do well to set her house in order, which she
could commence by destroying the indecent paintings and statues with
which her mansion was crowded.

But this note of warning had no effect on Christina, and with a smile
she put it in the fire, little anticipating that the prediction would be
fulfilled the following year. Despite her many foibles and follies,
Christina was a great and remarkable woman, a riddle indeed to many who
have read her history. She had a masterful character, and, however much
her various eccentricities and habits of life may have created disgust,
her intellectual powers, on the other hand, were of no mean order. But
one reason, perhaps, which induced her to indulge in such extraordinary
freaks of conduct was her supreme contempt for the parade and symbols of
worldly power, and the conventionalities of society.

It was no matter of surprise that Gustavus IV. proved an incapable and
unreliable monarch, developing eccentricity of character bordering on
insanity. What could be expected of one who in his young life was so
overdone with religious teaching that “he pored over the Book of
Revelations till he became nearly insane, recognised himself as one
mysteriously alluded to in Scripture, and hailed in his own person that
‘coming man’ who as prophet, priest, and king was to rule the world”?
Thus on his wedding-day, at the completion of the marriage ceremony, he
took his bride, Princess Frederica of Baden, to her apartment, and
opening the Book of Esther, bade her read aloud the first chapter.

She obeyed, and then wonderingly asked for an explanation of his strange
conduct. Gustavus at once expounded the passage, warning the Queen that
should she ever disobey her lord and master she would be punished as
Vashti had been, and her dignity would be given to another. This was not
a happy inauguration of married life, and the young Queen soon found to
her bitter disappointment what a miserable existence was enforced upon
her. On one occasion, when Gustavus discovered his young wife having a
romp with her German maids, he immediately dismissed her playful
attendants, and introduced in their place cold and formal aged Swedish
ladies, who would have scorned even the idea of such frivolities. But it
was in his public as well as his private life that Gustavus indulged in
these strange freaks, alienating by his conduct the sympathies of the
aristocracy, many of whom, “to mark their indignation, threw up their
patents of nobility,” while the people generally did not shrink from
showing in an unmistakable manner their annoyance and disgust. The
climax of his follies and freaks was reached when he absented himself
from his kingdom--from 1803 to 1806--so that he was advertised for on
the walls of Stockholm as a stray king, a suitable recompense being
promised to any who should restore him to his “disconsolate subjects.”
Ultimately, as is well known, he was deposed--his uncle, the Duke of
Sudermania, ascending the throne as Charles XIII.--and imprisoned in the
Castle of Gripsholm, where he amused himself by drawing “a portrait of
himself seated on a white horse, trampling upon the Beast”![5]

The Duke d’Alençon, afterwards Duke of Anjou, and his brother Henry III.
regarded each other with puerile hatred, a circumstance which led to the
most absurd rivalry between themselves. Each bestowed his favour and
time, and lavished his resources, on a band of young, handsome,
swaggering gallants, to whom the King especially set the example of
great extravagance, and, at the same time, effeminacy of dress. The
freaks of folly they committed seem scarcely credible, for it is
reported that they painted their cheeks, adorned their necks with the
most outrageous frills of enormous dimensions, and curled their hair
with a nicety and care which exceeded male pretensions. Indeed, Henry
III. carried this absurdity so far as actually to appear accoutred in a
female garb. “These acts of idiotcy,” writes Crowe,[6] “the people
construed to be indicative not merely of perverted taste, but of
degrading crime; and the King’s _mignons_ were the object of such
universal execration that when they perished by the hands of each other,
or of more invidious foes, and when Henry III. consoled himself for
their loss by the performance of splendid funeral rites, and the
erection of superb mausoleums, the public applauded the acts of
vengeance by which these base parasites were slain.” But, contemptible
as such conduct was, it certainly lacked the brutality of his
predecessor, Charles IX., who, when engaged in the chase, is said to
have pursued wild beasts more with the fury of their species than the
excitement of man. Thus it is recorded that he would cut off the heads
of donkeys, embowel pigs, and would take a pleasure in arranging their
entrails butcher-fashion.

Another of the freaks of Charles IX. consisted in his hiring ten young
thieves, whom he brought to the Louvre, where he set them to rob the
guests of their swords and jewellery, laughing heartily “as he witnessed
their success, or saw the unconsciousness of the victims, or beheld
their surprise and indignation after they had been despoiled.” These
young thieves, says Dr. Doran, who were amply rewarded for the exercise
of their ability, “rank among the most singular of hirelings paid to
excite laughter in a gloomy king.”

The Comte d’Artois, a brother of Louis XVI., was noted for his frivolous
pursuits and his unbecoming follies. One anecdote about him shows the
levity of his conduct; and, as it has been observed, a royal duke “who
had tried the same jest in England would have been summoned before the
next Justice of the Peace”:--

“The Comte d’Artois has taken it into his head to pull down a country
house in the Bois de Boulogne, and to rebuild it from top to bottom. It
is to be newly furnished, and a fête is to be given there to the Queen.
Everybody thought it absurd to attempt to finish such a piece of work in
six or seven weeks; yet it has been done--nine hundred workmen having
been employed day and night. The most extraordinary part of the case is
that, as there was a deficiency of materials, especially of stones,
lime, and plaister, and that time was not to be lost in procuring them
elsewhere, M. le Comte d’Artois gave orders that patrols of the Swiss
Guards should search the main roads, and seize every cart containing
materials of this kind which they came across.”

At sixty years of age, Louis I., or Ludwig, King of Bavaria, took under
his protection the notorious dancing-woman, Lola Montes, under whose
wretched influence the misguided monarch was guilty of the most
inconceivable follies. She so outraged every idea of propriety, that on
one occasion the mob threatened to pull her house to the ground. But she
treated the matter with a high hand; and, to show her contempt for the
crowd, flung a dog among them, and she is even said to have thrust her
tongue in her cheek at the people. And, when it is remembered that there
was scarcely a freak of folly which Ludwig did not do at her bidding, it
is not surprising that the public indignation was unbounded. She
succeeded, however, in dragging the weak-minded King with her in her
fall, whose position, after the terrible scandal and disgrace, had
become so unbearable that he found himself forced to abdicate, which
took place in the year 1848. In his time of retirement one of the
pleasantest associations of his past was the velvet-covered mattress
stuffed with beards and moustaches, which the soldiers of his father’s
regiment had cut off for the express purpose, and presented to him.

But one of the strangest and most eccentric of modern kings was Ludwig
II., known as the “Mad King” of Bavaria, who from his earliest youth
appears to have been a dreamer and a visionary. The romantic legends
which charmed him as a boy retained their influence over him in after
years, and he grew up with the most morbid propensities, never taught to
control himself, or to keep his nerves in check. He disliked physical
exertion, and an aversion to anything disagreeable became in him a
monomania, for he could not endure even the sight of a cripple or of an
ill-formed person.[7]

As a boy, we are told, the Castle of Hohenschwangau in the Bavarian Alps
fascinated his imagination, for “knights in armour spoke to him; Rhine
maidens drew him into their arms; he saw his ancestors, the old
Wittelsbach heroes, seated upon their war-horses, their swords drawn,
fighting their way into Rome, or resting under the palms by the banks of
the Nile.” At two and twenty he betrothed himself to his cousin, Sophie
Charlotte--daughter of Maximilian of Bavaria and sister of the Empress
of Austria--who afterwards became Duchesse d’Alençon, and perished in
the fire at the Bazar de la Charité. But for some reason the match was
broken off, and henceforth he became “more melancholy and more enamoured
of solitude,” dwelling “in pathetic loneliness, with little society save
his brooding dreams--his days, or rather his nights, for he had already
begun to invert the division of the twenty-four hours, peopled with the
heroes and legends of myth.”

Once only, it is said, did he really rouse himself, when he threw in his
lot with Prussia in 1870. But after all it was only a fictitious
enthusiasm, for he would not accompany his army, backing out on the plea
that he had strained a sinew. He grew tired of life and disgusted with
everything, and there seems to have been in his unbalanced mind some
jealousy of the Crown Prince Frederick, who had performed the deeds
which had ever been the subject of his dreams. And his extraordinary
eccentricities got gradually worse, and he acquired the habit of
drinking a mixture of champagne and Rhenish wine in which violets
floated, consorting only with his servants. Finally, when it was
announced to him that his deposition had been decided, he exclaimed,
“Let the traitors be thrown into the deepest dungeon, loaded with
chains, and leave them to die of starvation.” But not very long
afterwards he was removed to the Château of Berg, where he was
mysteriously drowned in the Starnberg Lake.

At an early age Alfonso VI. of Portugal had the misfortune to have his
limbs and his reason partially paralysed by fever--a circumstance which
must account for his wicked and vicious life in after years. On any
other ground it is impossible to excuse his conduct, which was infamous
and contemptible. But some of his freaks were so outrageous as to be
attributable only to insanity, and it is surprising that they should
have been tolerated for any length of time. What would be said of a
monarch at the present day who, with a set of ruffianly companions,
roamed the streets at night, “assaulted passengers, fired into the
coaches of the nobles, and routed religious processions at the point of
the sword.” We nowadays can scarcely realise a responsible ruler
attending midnight orgies of the most disreputable and repulsive kind,
and afterwards returning to his palace with flaunting females of the
most dissolute and repulsive character. On one occasion, however, in one
of his mad freaks he encountered two passengers, and drawing his sword
attacked them; but they drew in return, and, after giving his Majesty
far more than he bargained for, they left him to be picked up by his
followers, who carried him home to bed. A humiliation of this kind was
lost on a monarch who was too depraved to have any feeling of
self-respect; for, when he was summoned to the bedside of his dying
mother, he tarried so long on the way to amuse himself, that when he
arrived she had lost the power of sight and speech.

Despite his natural gifts, which were great, there can be no doubt that
the texture of Don Sebastian’s mind was inwoven with the threads of that
hereditary insanity which broke out so tragically in his cousin, Don
Carlos. One of his eccentric freaks was to have the body of John II.
lifted from its quiet resting-place in the Abbey of Batalha, where it
had lain three-quarters of a century; and which, being found entire and
uncorrupted, was placed erect on its feet, clad in kingly robes, and was
armed with the rusty sword it had once wielded. Whereupon the Duke of
Aveiro was commanded as a token of homage to kiss the withered hand of
the corpse, and Sebastian, exclaiming, “Behold the best officer of our
kingly office!” turned away to pursue his sepulchral visitations

Not long before his death, Charles II. of Spain had one of those strange
funereal yearnings, so distinctive of the last days of nearly every
member of the Austrian House of Spain. Thus, Juana la Loca would not
surrender the embalmed body of her husband, and Philip II., shortly
before he died, called for a skull and placed a crown upon it. Philip
IV. went and lay in the niche destined for him in the Pantheon. And
similarly, a weird sepulchral fancy animated the decaying brain of
Charles II. To indulge his morbid and diseased feelings, he would
descend into the royal mausoleum, open the coffins, and look face to
face on the chiefs of his race who had worn his crown before him. He
went down by the light of torches into the dark vault of the Pantheon,
the huge _candelabrum_ was lit, and all the coffins, beginning with that
of Charles V., were opened for him in order. Charles V. was much
decayed; the features of Philip II. were distorted; Philip III. was
nearly perfectly preserved in form, but crumbled into dust as soon as
his body was touched. After the kings he passed to the queens, and when
that of his first queen was opened, and he saw the form and still
charming features of her who had glorified his dark life and brain for a
while, his throat was convulsed, tears streamed from his eyes, and he
fell with outstretched arms on the bier, crying, “My queen, my queen,
before a year is past I will come and join you.”[8] This visit of the
last descendant of the House of Austria to view the corpses of his race
is one of the strangest scenes in history.

Charles V. had his funeral rites celebrated before him, but, as Dr.
Doran writes, the spectacle of the ex-Emperor celebrating his own
funeral service has been divested of much of its apparent absurdity by
the simple statements of eye-witnesses and modern writers who have
reproduced their statements. It was a ceremony, however, on which even
Charles did not venture till he had received ecclesiastical permission.
He did not attend it in his shroud, nor lie down in his own coffin.
There were the ordinary ornaments which the Romish Church uses at the
usual services for the dead, and nothing more. The only exception to the
ordinary service was when Charles, extinguishing the light which he
held, surrendered it into the hands of a priest, in token of yielding up
his life to the will of God.

And similarly, we are reminded how Maria Theresa, who survived her
husband fifteen years, lived amid the emblems of perpetual mourning. She
shut herself up on the 18th of every month, and the whole of every
August, the day and month of his death. As her life drew near its end,
she spent many days at times in the funeral chapel before the picture of
her husband, taken as he lay in his coffin, and her last words, well
understood by those around her, were, “I come to thee.”

Queen Victoria was not altogether free from the morbid tendency of mind
“which comes of excessive study of incidents of sorrow and suffering,”
and her habit of accumulating sepulchral memorials of relations and
friends was one manifestation of it.

Her Majesty, too, was a strong believer in the reality and near presence
of the spirit world. A writer in the _Quiver_ (March, 1898) states that
Mrs. Oliphant’s “Little Pilgrim in the Unseen” was of great interest to
her, as, since the death of the Prince Consort, she had manifested a
special liking for writings dealing with the mystic and unseen. And to
quote from this article:--

“She believes that it is given to our departed loved ones to watch over
those who still struggle with the temptations and sorrows of the earthly
life. It has been the real consolation of her bereaved years that she
felt that the Prince was watching over the events of her life. During
her retirement at Osborne, immediately after the Prince Consort’s death,
the Queen found ‘her only comfort in the belief that her husband’s
spirit was close beside her, for he had promised that it should be so.’
This was told to Dean Stanley by the Queen’s half-sister, the Princess

The belief of this kind, it may be added, in the spiritual world, was
one of the links which bound together her Majesty and the late
Poet-Laureate in affectionate sympathy. In one of his published letters
to the Queen the poet wrote: “If the dead, as I have often felt, though
silent, be more living than the living, and linger about the planet in
which their earth-life was passed, then _they_, while we are lamenting
that they are not at our side, may still be with us; and the husband,
the daughter, and the son, lost by your Majesty, may rejoice when the
people shout the name of your Majesty.”

That sentiments such as these found an echo in the heart of her Majesty
may be gathered from what she wrote to Lord Tennyson on one of the
anniversaries of her wedding-day, which she described as a day that she
could never allow to be considered sad: “The reflected light of the sun
which has set still remains. It is full of pathos, but also full of
joyful gratitude, and he who has left me nearly fifty years ago surely
blesses me still.”

And in connection with spiritualism associated with royalty, we may
incidentally mention the many stories told of the White Lady of the
House of Hapsburg and other weird visitants. Napoleon, as is well known,
was haunted by the spirit known as “the little red man,” invariably seen
a short time before, it is said, some great disaster befell the Emperor;
and among the curious stories of the kind current in this country we are
told how George II., when walking on the balcony at Windsor Castle with
some of his courtiers, suddenly drew their attention to a singular
spectacle in the clouds, where an armed Highlander was clearly seen
fighting with a British Grenadier. Several times the Grenadier appeared
as if getting the worst of the encounter, but at last it was vanquished,
and the picture faded from the sky.

“Thank God,” exclaimed the King, “my kingdom is saved.” Not many days
afterwards despatches were received from the Duke of Cumberland,
announcing that the Highlanders had been completely routed at Culloden.

And like Henry III., Louis XV. endeavoured to associate profligacy with
devotional practices; for he would read sermons to his mistresses, and
go down on his knees and pray with his victims in the _Parc aux Cerfs_.
He was fond of talking about maladies, death-bed scenes, and graves, and
worms, and epitaphs; he professed to have the gift of reading death in a
courtier’s face, and several of them he terrified with a notice of this

The short and tragic life of Don Carlos, son of Philip II., must in a
measure be attributed to the vein of insanity in his nature. He behaved
in so reckless and violent a manner, that some excuse has been made for
the acts of severity which cut short his eccentric career. But his wild
follies were such as to bring contempt and discredit on the throne, for
he gave blows to one of his attendant gentlemen, called another by
opprobrious names, drew his dagger upon another, caused children to be
beaten, and, according to the historian Cabrera, he wanted to burn a
house down because some water had fallen from one of the windows.

His violence, too, extended itself even to animals; he maimed the horses
in his own stables, and he so ill-treated one which his father held in
particular affection, that the unfortunate animal died in a few days.
And yet his cruelties and eccentricities were not unaccompanied with
kindness, for he paid the charges of the education of children thrown on
the world without resources, although at the time he was himself much
embarrassed with debt.

Many anecdotes are told of Edward I. of England and his strange doings,
and of his merry pranks in the royal household. One day, when the Queen
went to her palace at Waltham, the King, so runs the story, espied her
laundress, Matilda of Waltham, among the lookers-on in the courtyard
while the hounds were coupling and the hunters were mounting. Thereupon,
in a mischievous mood, he made a wager that Matilda could not ride
hunting with them, and be in at the death of the stag. To his surprise
she accepted the challenge, mounted the horse, and rode with such
success that Edward was fain to pay his fine of forty shillings. In the
earlier part of his life Edward appears to have been subject to violent
fits of rage; and at the nuptials of his daughter Margaret, having given
one of his esquires a rap with his wand without just cause, he
afterwards paid him as compensation £13, 6s. 8d. He is also said on more
than one occasion to have thrown coronets behind the fire.

But among the merry scenes which took place between Edward and the
Queen’s ladies, with whom he now and then indulged in romping, was his
being “heaved” on Easter Monday, 1290. It is recorded how seven of Queen
Eleanora’s ladies unceremoniously invaded the chamber of the King, and
seizing their majestic master, proceeded to “heave” him in his chair,
till he was glad to pay a fine of £14 to enjoy “his own peace,” and be
set at liberty.

Levity of deportment has been laid to the charge of Edward II., and in
one of his freaks he is accused of having made a party on the Thames in
a returned fagot-barge, and of buying cabbages of the gardeners on the
banks of the river to make his soup. On one occasion, when he was
keeping his Court with his queen at Westminster during the Whitsuntide
festival of 1317, as they were dining in public in the great
banqueting-hall, a masked woman entered on horseback, and riding up to
the royal table, delivered a letter to King Edward, who, thinking it
contained some elegant compliment, ordered it to be opened and read
aloud for the amusement of his courtiers; but, to his great disgust and
mortification, it was a cutting satire on his unkingly propensities,
setting forth the various calamities which his misgovernment had brought
on the country.

But Edward’s frolics were nothing compared with the wild dissipation and
mad pranks of Henry V. when Prince of Wales. His poverty, it has been
urged, made him reckless, and forced him into company below his rank.
Thus one of his freaks caused him to see the inside of a London prison.
In one of the street uproars common at the period, the Lord Mayor
arrested his favourite servant and carried him before Judge Gascoigne.
As soon as the Prince of Wales heard of the detention of his servant, he
rushed into the court of justice, where the man stood arraigned at the
bar, and endeavoured there and then with his own hands to free him from
his fetters, and on the judge interposing he struck him. Gascoigne
fearlessly reproved the Prince, and committed him to the prison of the
King’s Bench--a punishment to which he submitted with so good a grace
that Henry IV. made the well-known remark: “He was proud of having a son
who would thus submit himself to the laws, and that he had a judge who
could so fearlessly enforce them.”

On another occasion his mad frolic made him an inmate of Coventry gaol,
for some of his most outrageous acts were done at a manor of his close
to Coventry, called Cheylesmore, a residence appertaining to his Duchy
of Cornwall. But John Hornesby, the Mayor of Coventry, disregarding his
royal position, took him and some of his friends into custody for
raising a riot.

As long as the world lasts the strange marriage freaks of Henry VIII.
will be matter of comment. And a peculiarity of Elizabeth, which gave
rise to many amusing scenes, was her indecision--a trait of character
which occasioned considerable inconvenience, her ministers not even
knowing what freak her Majesty’s fickleness of will would next take. The
story goes that a carter was once ordered to go with his cart to Windsor
to remove a portion of the royal wardrobe. But on his arrival he
ascertained that her Majesty had altered the day, causing him to make
the second journey in vain; and when on a third summons he attended, and
was informed, after waiting a considerable time, that “the remove did
not hold,” he clapped his hands and exclaimed, “Now I see that the Queen
is a woman as well as my wife!” Elizabeth, as she stood at an open
window, overheard this remark and inquired, “What villain is this?”
afterwards sending him three angels as a compensation for the
inconvenience she had caused him.

A bit of mischief her successor, James I., much enjoyed was to listen to
personal allusions in the pulpit. Among those who pandered to this freak
was Neile, Bishop of Lincoln, and afterwards Archbishop of York. On one
occasion one of the royal chaplains selected for his text St. Matt. iv.
8: “And the devil took Jesus to the top of a mountain, and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world, saying, All these will I give thee,” &c.
He first proceeded “to demonstrate the power of the devil at that
period; he then brought his kingdom down to the present time, expressing
his belief that as the devil was in possession of such large dominions,
there could be no doubt but that he had his viceroys, councillors of
state, treasurers, &c. This gave him an opportunity of attributing the
several vices of which James’s advisers were accused to the ministers of
his Satanic majesty, and portraying their characters accordingly. At
last he came to the devil’s treasurer, when he fixed his eyes on the
Earl of Cranfield, and pointing at him, he exclaimed: ‘That man who
makes himself rich and his master poor is a fit treasurer for the
devil.’ Cranfield kept his hat over his eyes, while James sat smiling at
his minister’s discomfiture.”[10]

William III. behaved in a strange fashion at church. If ever he happened
to be uncovered during the recital of the liturgy, he assumed his hat
directly the sermon began. His partisans observed that such was the
custom among the Dutch congregations, and pleaded that Jews did the
same. But members of the Church of England considered the King’s
behaviour irreverent, and were in no way pacified by the examples he

In speaking of his Majesty’s religious freaks, we are reminded of Queen
Anne, who was in the habit of dressing herself while her chaplain
prayed. On one occasion, when decency compelled the attendants to close
the door while the Queen put on some of her under garments, the chaplain
suddenly stopped; and on her Majesty’s inquiry as to the reason of this
pause, he replied, “Because I will not whistle the Word of God through a

Similarly, it was Queen Caroline’s custom while she dressed herself to
have prayers read in an outer room, where there hung a picture of a
naked Venus. Dr. Maddox, afterwards Bishop of Worcester, was one day the
chaplain on duty, when the bed-chamber woman-in-waiting conveyed to him
the Queen’s command to begin the service, at which he looked up archly
at the picture and said, “And a very pretty altar-piece is here!”



Perhaps no chapter in the social history of royalty has given us a more
vivid insight into the merry doings of the sovereigns of the past, in
our own and other countries, than that which deals with their drinking
and revelry. Indeed, moralists, at one time or another, have been more
or less severe in their strictures on what they regarded as the undue
freedom displayed at Court festivities, when not infrequently king as
well as courtiers were in a state of deplorable incapacity.

The orgies, for instance, in which Peter the Great revelled were, it is
said, as reckless and abandoned as those of his contemporary the Regent
d’Orleans; but probably no one save Peter would have employed them to
ascertain the hidden thoughts of his courtiers. According to De
Villebois,[11] he was in the habit of inviting men whom he secretly
disliked, in order that he might carefully note down the words which
escaped them when drunk, and sometimes even for the purpose of getting
rid of them by inducing them to drink themselves to death. The immediate
cause of his own death was the aggravation of a loathsome disease,
under which he had long been labouring, by a debauch at one of his
conclaves--those travesties of the election of a Pope which, “amidst the
most outrageous drunkenness and the grossest buffoonery, he held yearly,
partly in order to keep up the contempt of his subjects for the Latin
Church, and partly also to ridicule the office of Patriarch, which he
had abolished.”[12] And, similarly, Frederick William I. of Prussia, who
himself was a hard drinker, loved to make his guests drunk; his daughter
even states that he did so to her bridegroom, the hereditary Prince of
Bayreuth, on his wedding-day. Carlyle has fully described the royal
tap-rooms which were established in Berlin, at Potsdam, and during
summer at Wusterhausen, as a source of recreation at the Court of
Frederick William I. That at Berlin, furnished in the Dutch fashion, has
been kept unaltered, with the large silver beer can from which the malt
liquor was drawn by means of a tap into the jugs and tankards. The
visitor is shown, too, the strangers’ book, in which the autographs of
Frederick the Great and the Czar Peter are preserved.

But perhaps one of the most drunken and dissolute monarchs that ever
disgraced a throne was one of Peter’s predecessors, Ivan IV., of whom it
has been said that he was “ever exemplarily devout when he was most
stupidly drunk.” His habitual intemperance, however, made him cruel,
prompting him to commit all kinds of diabolical crimes--his indulgence
in strong drink eventually rendering him hopelessly insane; for what
other excuse could be made for his conduct as exemplified in his smiting
his own son dead by blows from an iron bar in a fit of fury.

The merits of French wines were long ago appreciated by royalty, and in
early times our own wine trade with France was very considerable when
English kings were proprietors of the French wine districts. But it
would seem that even royalty has cracked legions of bottles in
discussing the divers deserts of Burgundy and champagne, although it is
said imperial authority is in favour of the latter. When the Emperor
Wenceslaus visited France in the fourteenth century to negotiate with
Charles VI., it was impossible ever to get him sober to a conference.
“It was no matter,” he said; “they might decide as they liked, and he
would drink as he liked, and then both parties would be on an equality.”

In the midst of the distress with which France was harassed in the reign
of Charles VII., and while the English were in possession of Paris, his
Majesty amused himself with balls, entertainments, and revelry. The
brave La Hire, coming to the King one day for the purpose of discussing
with him some important business, found him actively occupied in
arranging one of his pleasure parties, who asked what he thought of his
preparations. “I think, sire,” he said, “that it is impossible for any
one to lose his kingdom more pleasantly than your Majesty.”

And another French king who brought into more or less contempt the
throne was Francis I., by giving himself up to his pleasures. It is said
that he framed a Court of which licentiousness was the custom, and from
which justice, temperance, and every Christian as well as chivalric
virtue was banished.[13]

The King of Hungary was in the habit of sending yearly to the abdicated
Polish king, Stanislaus Leczinski, at Nancy, a little cask of imperial
Tokay, which was received at the gates of his palace under an escort of
grenadiers. But, as it has been observed, “Little casks will soon run
dry if the spigot be often turned,” and when the Tokay was out,
Stanislaus would sigh for more. He was not able to purchase it, for the
produce was small and imperial property. He resolved to imitate it, and
after various trials he succeeded, by mixing Burgundy with ingredients
only known to himself, in composing what he thought might pass for
Tokay. He kept his secret, and when the annual imperial cask arrived--it
contained but a hundred bottles--he made presents of his own Tokay to
his courtiers, and kept the genuine wine for himself. The lords of the
Court were “delighted at the favour conferred on them, but when they
discovered that his ex-Majesty had distributed no less than six hundred
bottles, they thought of the readiness of his concocting hand, and
laughed at the trick he had played them. The Stanislaus Tokay was not
consumed so quickly as the imported wine, but it rose in value with its
years, a single bottle having fetched the exorbitant price of forty-two
francs. It was indifferent wine, but an ex-king made it, and the price
was paid not merely for the liquor, but for the name of the composer.”
But this is only one of the many amusing anecdotes related of
Stanislaus, who was famed for being the most courteous of hosts,
entertaining not only nobles but artists, and philosophers, at his
well-laden table. Indeed, after his abdication, Stanislaus kept a
princely establishment, the splendour and cost of which was not
infrequently the subject of comment. On one occasion, when he heard that
the daughters of Louis--Adelaide and Victoria--had set out from Metz to
Luneville to visit their grandfather, the ex-king ordered magnificent
preparations for their reception, which prompted his steward to remark
that so much splendour was not needed for his “petites filles”; but
Stanislaus, with a smile, replied: “Mes petites filles sont plus grandes
que moi.”

The dissolute and extravagant habits of the Court of Gustavus III. of
Sweden were most severely condemned, and rightly so, for we are told
that whilst revelry and pageantry in constantly varying shapes
distinguished his effeminate and luxurious Court, misery and famine
extended themselves rapidly amongst the labouring poor, from one
extremity of Sweden to another. The groans of the wretched who perished
of want, the curses of the degraded paupers who were reduced to seek
for such food as the King’s well-fed hounds would have turned from with
loathing, produced not the least retrenchment. Meanwhile Gustavus
continued his guilty magnificence, heedless of, and indifferent to, the
misery around him; and which, it is said, was greatly aggravated, if not
actually caused, by his wasteful magnificence and profligacy. It is not
surprising that the excessive taxation necessary to support the King’s
expenditure and extravagances found vent in dangerous disturbances.

It would have been well had he taken a lesson from the great Christina,
who, it is said, occasionally passed days without drinking, detesting
wine and beer, and having no special taste for any other liquid, with
the exception of rose-water, of which she was extremely fond. Oftentimes
when young she would repair to the Dowager’s toilet-table, and there
refresh herself with her favourite cosmetic, until she was one day
caught in the act, when “the dowager lady administered to her such a
whipping that Christina could never think of it, to her latest hour,
without a feeling of uneasiness.”

The able ruler of Denmark for sixty years, the defender of the Reformed
religion--Christian IV.--was not above enjoying a carouse, and on his
visit to this country in 1606 he was invited with his brother-in-law,
James I., to a festival at Theobalds, the seat of the Prime Minister
Cecil, Lord Salisbury, when it appears that the revels were marked by
scenes of intemperance, an amusing account of which has been left by Sir
John Harrington. He tells us that “the sports began each day in such
manner and sort as well-nigh persuaded me of Mahomet’s Paradise. We had
women, and indeed wine too, of such plenty as would have astonished each
beholder. Our feasts were magnificent, and the royal guests did most
lovingly embrace each other at table. I think the Dane had strangely
wrought on our good English nobles, for those whom I could never get to
take good liquor now follow the fashion, and wallow in beastly delights.
The ladies abandon their sobriety, and are seen to roll about in
intoxication. In good sooth, the Parliament did kindly to provide his
Majesty so seasonably with money, for there have been no lack of good
living, shows, sights, and banquetings from morn to eve.” From this and
similar accounts, the Danish and English monarchs seem to have had a
good time, and not to have spared the costly liquor put before them,
abandoning themselves to unrestrained excess. But some excuse must be
made for the royal delinquents on this occasion, when it is remembered
that it was a special gala time in honour of the Danish sovereign.

Charles V., Emperor of Germany, drank in proportion as he ate, excess in
each case having hastened the termination of his failing health. Iced
beer was one of his favourite drinks, which was often administered as
soon as he rose in the morning. When Roger Ascham saw his Majesty on one
occasion in Germany, on St. Andrew’s Day, sitting at dinner at the feast
of the Golden Fleece, he writes: “He drank the best that I ever saw. He
had his head in the glass five times as long as any of us, and never
drank less than a good quart at once of Rhenish”--a no mean performance.

But suffering, caused by chalk-stones and gout, did not induce him to
moderate his mode of living, and to be more sparing in his tankards of
ale and flasks of wine. And, unfortunately, his medical men had not the
moral courage to dissuade him from drinking what was daily aggravating
his gout, but allowed him to satisfy every appetite by providing
palliations. And so he went on in his excesses, till his frame, worn out
by disease, sank from exhaustion. It would appear that this monarch’s
drinking proclivities were at the time well known in this country, as
may be gathered from a return which was made by order on the occasion of
his visit to Henry VIII. The city authorities appear “to have been
afraid of being drunk dry by the swarming Flemings in the Emperor’s
train. To avoid such a calamity, a return was made of all the wine to be
found at the eleven wine merchants and the twenty-eight principal
taverns then in London; the sum total of which was 800 pipes.”

In alluding to Henry VIII., it may be noted that history has given many
anecdotes of the drinking habits of his predecessors on the English
throne. Thus Rapin observes that William I. balanced his faults by “a
religious outside, a great chastity, and a commendable temperance, but
that his son was neither religious, nor chaste, nor temperate; whilst
Malmesbury adds that he met with his tragical end in the New Forest
after he had soothed his cares with a more than usual quantity of

The tragedy of Henry I.’s reign was the loss of the ill-fated _White
Ship_ with Prince William, only one out of its 300 passengers surviving
to tell the tale--a poor butcher of Rouen, named Berthould, who climbed
to the top of the mast, and was rescued by some fishermen. To quote an
oft-told story, King Henry and his heir embarked at Barfleur for England
in separate vessels, when the Prince, to make the passage pleasant, not
only took with him a number of the young nobility, but ordered three
casks of wine to be given to the crew, with the result that the sailors
were for the most part intoxicated when they put to sea at nightfall,
and allowed the vessel to strike upon a rock. It is recorded that Henry
was never again seen to smile, although he survived this terrible event
fifteen years, having hastened his end by a surfeit of lampreys.

Unlike their father Henry II., Geoffrey, Richard, and John were far from
abstemious. According to Giraldus, so dissolute and hot was Geoffrey in
his youth, that “he was equally ensnared by allurements, and driven on
to action by stimulants;” whilst one of the metrical romances of the
period has left a graphic picture of the royal Yuletide revelry at this
period, which lasted for twelve days, during which time excess rather
than sobriety was the rule. D’Aubigné, quoting from Matthew Paris,
declares that John died of drunkenness and fright--a statement endorsed
by Sir Walter Scott in his “Ivanhoe,” where he writes: “It is well known
that his death was occasioned by a surfeit upon peaches and new ale.” An
amusing anecdote tells how, when King John made his last visit to
Nottingham, he called at the Mayor’s residence, and at the house of the
priest of St. Mary’s. But, finding neither ale in the cellar of the one
nor bread in the cupboard of the other, he ordered every publican in the
town to contribute sixpenny-worth of ale to the Mayor yearly, and every
baker to provide the priest with a halfpenny loaf weekly.

Edward I. found little pleasure in the pleasures of the table; but his
successor, Edward II., is said to have given way to intemperance, and it
has been suggested that “had not the banqueting-room been oftener
employed than the council-chamber, opportunities might not have occurred
for the rebellion of favourites, for which the festal board was
answerable.” The mad dissipation of Henry V. when Prince of Wales has
been immortalised by Shakespeare, but, to his credit, the responsibility
of the crown made him an altered man, and among his troops at Agincourt
drunkenness was counted a disgrace. Indeed, so impressed was Henry with
the bane of intemperance that it is said he would gladly have cut down
all the vines in France. The last years of Edward IV.’s life were spent
in luxurious and intemperate habits, which had most fatal effects on his
health; and some idea of the lavish expenditure at this period may be
gathered from the Paston Letters, where an account is given of an

[Illustration: EDWARD I.]

intended _progress_ of his Majesty, wherein Sir John Paston is urged to
warn William Gogney and his fellows “to purvey them of wine enough, for
every man beareth me in hand that the town shall be drank dry, as York
was when the King was there.”

And coming down to Henry VIII. again, it appears that he was often
intoxicated, and found pleasure in keeping the lowest company. And, as
it has been observed, “his right hand, Wolsey, was actually put in the
stocks by Sir Amias Powlett, when he was rector of Lymington, for
drunkenness at a neighbouring fair.”

The consort of Queen Mary soon found out the favourite English drink,
and for the first time he drank some ale at a public dinner, remarking
that he had come to England to live like an Englishman. Elizabeth seldom
drank anything but common beer, “fearing the use of wine, lest it should
cloud her faculties.” And Leicester writes to Burleigh that at a certain
place in her Majesty’s travels “there was not one drop of good drink for
her, ... he were fain to send forthwith to London, and to Kenilworth,
and divers other places where ale was; her own ale was so strong as
there was no man able to drink it.” But, abstemious and temperate as her
Majesty was, exception has been taken to the costly extravagance
displayed at the Kenilworth pageant, when, it is stated, no less than
365 hogsheads of beer were drunk, in addition to the daily complement of
16 hogsheads of wine.

James I. was fond of drink, and reference has already been made to the
visit of his jovial brother-in-law, which led to one more scene of
inebriety. His partiality was for “sweet rich wines,” and Coke tells us
that he indulged “not in ordinary French and Spanish wines, but in
strong Greek wines.” Even when hunting he was attended by a special
officer, who constantly supplied him with his favourite beverages. On
one such occasion Coke’s father managed to obtain a draught of the royal
wine, which, writes his son, “not only produced intoxication, and
spoiled his day’s sport, but disordered him for three days
afterwards.”[15] It is said, however, that James would next day remember
his excesses, “and repent with tears;” and as Mr. Jesse adds, “the
maudlin monarch weeping over the recollections of the last night’s
debauch must have been an edifying sight to his courtiers.”

Whatever the failings of Charles I. might be, he could not be accused of
that indulgence in strong drinks which had caused so much scandal in
previous reigns. Thus Lord Clarendon writes: “As he excelled in all
other virtues, so in temperance he was so strict, that he abhorred all
debauchery to that degree, that at a great festival solemnity where he
once was, being told by one who withdrew from thence, what vast draughts
of wine they drank, and that there was one earl who had drunk most of
the rest down and was not himself moved or altered, the King said that
he deserved to be hanged; and that earl coming shortly after into the
room where his Majesty was, in some gaiety, to show how unhurt he was
from that battle, the King sent one to bid him withdraw from his
Majesty’s presence; nor did he in some days after appear before him.”

But the same could not be said of Charles II., concerning whose revels
many curious anecdotes have been told. At a supper given by the Duke of
Buckingham he tried to make his nephew, the Prince of Orange, drunk. The
Prince was somewhat averse to wine, and at the period in question was
paying his addresses to his future consort, the Princess Mary. However,
having been induced to join in the evening’s debauch, he became the
gayest and most frolicsome of the party. On their breaking up, the
Prince even commenced smashing the windows of the maids-of-honour, and
“would have forced himself into their rooms had he not been timely

An account of one of Charles’s debauches after a hunting party in 1667
is amusingly told by Pepys,[17] who heard it from Sir Hugh Cholmely, an
eye-witness. “They came,” he says, “to Sir G. Carteret’s house at
Cranbourne, and there were entertained, and all made drunk; and being
all drunk, Armerer did come to the King and swear to him: ‘By G--, sir,’
says he, ‘you are not so kind to the Duke of York of late as you used to
be.’ ‘Not I?’ says the King; ‘why not?’ ‘Why,’ says he, ‘if you are, let
us drink his health.’ ‘Why, let us,’ says the King. Then he (Armerer)
fell on his knees and drank it; and having done, the King began to drink
it. ‘Nay, sir,’ says Armerer, ‘by G--, you must do it on your knees.’ So
he did, and then all the company: and having done it, all fell a-crying
for joy, being all maudlin and kissing one another; the King the Duke of
York, and the Duke of York the King, and in such a maudlin pickle as
never people were.”

On another occasion Charles was dining with Sir Robert Viner, during his
mayoralty, when he rose to depart. The good Mayor, however, had indulged
rather too freely in his own wines, and taking hold of the King, he
swore that he should remain and have another bottle. Charles, it is
said, “looked kindly at him over the shoulder, and repeating with a
smile a line of the old song--

    ‘He that’s drunk is as great as a king’--

remained as long as he wished.”[18]

And it is worthy of record that when Ford erected waterworks on the
Thames in front of Somerset House, the queen of Charles II.--after the
manner of the Princess Borghese, who pulled down a church next to her
palace because the incense made her feel sick and the organ produced
headache--ordered the works to be demolished since they obstructed a
clear view on the river. It may be mentioned, too, that at this period
tea as a beverage was in favour at the Court of Charles II. owing to
Queen Catherine, who had been used to drink it in Portugal.

James II., on the other hand, was most averse to hard drinking, and a
contemporary writes how “the King, going to mass, told his attendants he
had been informed that since his declaring against the disorder of the
household, some had the impudence to appear drunk in the Queen’s
presence; ... but he advised them at their peril to observe his order,
which he would see obeyed.”

The drinking habits of William III. are well known, and the
banqueting-house at Hampton Court, which was used by him as a smoking
and drinking room, has been described as a royal gin-temple. Among his
drinking companions were Lord Wharton and the Earl of Pembroke. In one
of his moments of hilarity he said to the former: “I know, Tom, what you
wish for: you wish for a republic. I shall bring over King James’s son.”
To which Lord Wharton replied, “That is as your Majesty pleases.”
William, having been warned that the Earl of Pembroke was quarrelsome
over his cups, said, “I will defy any one to quarrel with me, as long as
I can make the bottle go round.” But the King was mistaken, for that
night Pembroke used language personally offensive to him, and was
carried drunk from the apartment to bed. The next morning, alarmed at
his conduct, he hastened to the palace to ask forgiveness.

“Make no apologies,” replied the King. “I was told you had no fault in
the world but one, and I am glad to find it is true, for I dislike
people who have no faults.”[19]

The scandal of the time, too, accused the Queen of fondness for drink,
but it is certain that her physicians warned her against a strong
spiritual cordial which, when ill, she was in the habit of taking in
large quantities.

One of the failings laid to the charge of Queen Anne was a love of
strong drink; but, as it has been remarked, “the supposition that she
was in the habit of having secret recourse to the bottle, as affording
the means of adventitious excitement, seems to rest on the widespread
scandal of the period and a few contemporary lampoons.” In some verses,
“On Queen Anne’s Statue in St. Paul’s Churchyard,” this allusion is

    “Here mighty Anna’s statue placed we find,
     Betwixt the darling passions of her mind;
     A brandy-shop before, a church behind.
     But why the back turned to that sacred place,
     As thy unhappy father’s was--to Grace?
     Why here, like Tantalus, in torments placed,
     To view those waters which thou canst not taste;
     Though, by thy proffered Globe, we may perceive,
     That for a dram thou the whole world wouldst give.”[20]

And again:--

    “When brandy Nan became our queen,
       ’Twas all a drunken story;
     From noon to night I drank and smoked,
       And so was thought a Tory.
     Brimful of wine, all sober folk
       We damned, and moderation;
     And for right Nantes we pawned to France
       Our goods and reputation.”[21]

But the Duchess of Marlborough, despite her hostility to the Queen’s
memory, defends her character from this aspersion: “I know,” says she,
“that in some libels she has been reproached as one who indulged herself
in drinking strong liquors, but I believe this was utterly groundless,
and that she never went beyond such a quantity of strong wines as her
physicians judged to be necessary for her.”

Coming to the Hanoverian period, if George II. reflected little dignity
on the throne, he is said to have been over his punch a cheerful and
sometimes an amusing companion. Despite his inordinate love of women, he
was always temperate, whereby, says Lord Waldegrave, he was preserved
from many of the infirmities of old age. George III., too, was most
abstemious, and a story is told that, on his visit to Worcester in 1788,
the Mayor, knowing that his Majesty never took drink before dinner,
asked him if he would be pleased to take a jelly; whereupon the King
replied, “I do not recollect drinking a glass of wine before dinner in
my life, yet upon this pleasing occasion I will venture.” A glass of
rich old _Mountain_ was served, when his Majesty immediately drank
“Prosperity to the Corporation and Citizens of Worcester.” That the King
continued to adhere to his rigid habit may be illustrated by an
incident which happened twelve years afterwards. One morning, when
visiting his stables, he heard this conversation between the grooms: “I
don’t care what you say, Robert, but every one agrees that the man at
the Three Tuns makes the best purl in Windsor.”

“Purl, purl!” said the King promptly. “Robert, what’s purl?” Which on
his Majesty being informed was warm beer with a glass of gin, caused him
to add, “I daresay, very good drink, but too strong for the morning;
never drink in the morning.”

But George IV. was the opposite of his predecessor, for intemperance, as
it has been said, was a feature of his moral career, a proclivity which
Huish informs us very nearly cost him dear while yet a youth.[22] At a
dinner-party at Lord Chesterfield’s house at Blackheath, the guests
drank to excess and engaged in riotous frolic. One of the company “let
loose a big fierce dog, which at once flew at a footman, tore one of his
arms terribly, and nearly strangled a horse. The whole party now formed
themselves into a compact body and assailed Towzer, who had just caught
hold of the skirts of the coat of his Royal Highness, when one of the
guests felled the dog to the ground. In the confusion the Earl of
Chesterfield tumbled down the steps leading to his house, and severely
injured the back of his head. The Prince, who scarcely knew whether he
had been fighting a dog or a man, jumped into his phaeton and there fell
asleep, leaving the reins to his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, who
drove him safely to town.”

One of the strangest acts of his life was his conduct upon the arrival
of his bride-elect, Caroline of Brunswick, which Lord Malmesbury thus
tells: “I introduced the Princess Caroline to him. She very properly
attempted to kneel to him. He raised her (gracefully enough) and
embraced her, said barely one word, turned round, retired to a distant
part of the apartment, and calling me to him, said, ‘Harris, I am not
well; pray get me a glass of brandy.’ I said, ‘Sir, had you not better
have a glass of water?’ Upon which he, much out of humour, said with an
oath: ‘No; I will go directly to the Queen.’” No wonder the Princess
remarked to Malmesbury, “Mon Dieu, est-ce que le Prince est toujours
comme cela?” According to Lord Holland, on his wedding-day the Prince
had drunk so much brandy that he could scarcely be kept upright between
two dukes.

Another bacchanalian story is associated with the Pavilion at Brighton.
It seems that the Duke of Norfolk--now a very old man, and celebrated
for his table exploits--had been invited by the Prince to dine at the
Pavilion, who had concocted with his royal brothers a scheme for making
the old man drunk. Every person at table was enjoined to drink wine with
the Duke--a challenge which the old toper did not refuse. But “he soon
began to see that there was a conspiracy against him; he drank glass for
glass; he overthrew many of the brave. At last the first gentleman of
the empire proposed bumpers in brandy. One of the royal brothers filled
a glass for the Duke. He stood up and tossed off the drink. ‘Now,’ said
he, ‘I will have my carriage and go home.’ The Prince urged him to
remain, but he said ‘No,’ for he had had enough of such hospitality.”
The carriage was called, and he staggered in as best as he could, and
bade the postillions drive to Arundel. They drove him for half-an-hour
round and round the Pavilion lawn; the poor old man fancied he was going
home: the liquor had proved too potent for him. And when he awoke that
morning he was in bed at the Pavilion.[23]

The King’s successor, William IV., was a strong advocate for temperance,
although he enjoyed his wine and entered heartily into the merriment of
the social board. It is related how, on the death of the keeper of
Bushey Park, William, then Duke of Clarence, appointed the keeper’s son
to succeed him. This young man broke his leg, a circumstance which
elicited the practical sympathy of the Duke. But on his recovery the
young man took to drinking, to check which propensity the Duke required
his attendance every night at eight, when, if he appeared the worse for
drink, he reprimanded him the following morning. The Prince’s efforts
were fruitless, for the keeper died of intemperance soon afterwards.



Royalty in times past has had many an accomplished epicure, as learned
in culinary lore as in the practice of the cuisine. Charlemagne took a
warm personal interest in the management of his table, and Hardicanute,
one of our Danish kings, was so great a gourmand that he was designated
“Swine’s Mouth”--his table, it is said, having been covered four times a
day with the most costly viands that the air, sea, or land could
produce. It was Henry de Valois who brought into fashion aromatic sauces
and various spicy dainties, inheriting his taste for cooking from
Catherine de Medicis, who introduced into France not only ices, but much
of the culinary art from Italy; while the Prince de Soubise,
immortalised by the sauce named after him, was a connoisseur of no mean
order. He could boast of an excellent cook, but a man with princely
notions of expenditure. One day the Prince announced his intention to
him of giving a supper, and demanded an estimate. The first article on
which the Prince cast his eyes was this: “Fifty hams;” whereupon he
inquired, “Are you going to feast my whole regiment?”

“My lord,” replied the cook, “you do not understand our resources; give
the word, and these fifty hams which confound you, I will put them all
into a glass bottle no bigger than my thumb.” Accordingly the Prince
nodded, and the article passed.

Charlemagne once ate cheese mixed with parsley seeds at a bishop’s
palace, and liked it so much that ever after he had two cases of such
cheese sent yearly to Aix-la-Chapelle--a device which Gay has noted:--

    “Marbled with sage, the hardened cheese she press’d.”

Charles the Great ate venison with special pleasure, and Henry IV. of
France ate melons and oysters whenever possible--a taste which reminds
us of that of Frederick, son of Ernest “the Iron,” who on recovering
from amputation of the leg one day resolved on dining on melons, his
favourite dish. He was told that such a diet would be fatal to him, as
it had already been to one Austrian archduke of his house; but he took
no heed of the advice. “I will have melons,” said he, “betide what may!”
Of melons, accordingly, he ate to his heart’s content, and death
followed shortly afterwards.

Louis XIII. was fond of early fruit, and he had strawberries in March,
and figs in June. Fagon, physician to Louis XIV., was a famous expert in
the culinary art, and in the declining days of his illustrious master
devised for him the _cotelette à la Maintenon_. It appears that the
mutton cutlets of Madame de Maintenon were enveloped in curl papers,
but Fagon arranged a more artistic and nourishing dish, in which unboned
cutlets were spread with nourishing sauce, minced vegetables, and
seasoning. The appetite of Louis XIV. in the prime of life had been
prodigious, and the Duchess of Orleans tells us in her Memoirs that she
had often seen him eat four plates full of soup, a whole pheasant, a
partridge, a plate of salad, mutton hashed with garlic, two slices of
ham, a dish of pastry, in addition to fruit and sweetmeats. Hence it is
not surprising that in this monarch’s reign cooking made the most rapid
advances, being at one time employed to give a zest to his glories, and
at another to console him in their decline.

It is fortunate for royalty that the history of gastronomy can boast of
few such rash acts as that committed by the ex-Emperor Wenceslaus, who,
when residing at Prague, where he reigned as King of Bohemia, after his
ejection from the imperial throne, once punished a cook who had sent up
to him an ill-dressed capon by roasting him on a spit before his own
fire. The story, as Dr. Doran says,[24] “might be held to be groundless,
were it not that of petty German potentates there are similar stories
told which are well authenticated.” But a tragic occurrence of a
different character happened in the reign of Louis XIV., who was devoted
to gastronomy, and for whose use liqueurs were invented in his old age
when, it is said, he could scarcely endure existence without a
succession of artificial stimulants. The closing scene of Vatel has
often been told, who, to quote the words of the _Almanach des
Gourmands_, “immolated himself with his own hands because the sea-fish
had not arrived some hours before it was to be served. So noble a death
ensures you, venerable shade, the most glorious immortality. You have
proved that the fanaticism of honour can exist in the kitchen as well as
in the camp, and that the spit and the saucepan have also their Catos
and Deciuses.” Madame de Sévigny, narrating this pathetic instance of
self-devotion, thus writes:--

“I wrote you yesterday that Vatel had killed himself. I here give you
the affair in detail. The King arrived on the evening of the Thursday;
the collation was served in a room hung with jonquils; all was as could
be wished. At supper there were some tables where the roast was wanting,
on account of several parties which had not been expected. This affected
Vatel. He said several times, ‘I am dishonoured; this is a disgrace that
I cannot endure.’ He said to Gourville, ‘My head is dizzy; I have not
slept for twelve nights; assist me in giving orders.’ Gourville assisted
him as much as he could. The roast which had been wanting, not at the
table of the King, but at the inferior tables, was constantly present to
his mind. Gourville mentioned it to the Prince; the Prince even went to
the chamber of Vatel and said to him, ‘Vatel, all is going well; nothing
could equal the supper of the King.’ He replied, ‘Monseigneur, your
goodness overpowers me; I know that the roast was wanting at two
tables.’ ‘Nothing of the sort,’ said the Prince; ‘do not distress
yourself, all is going on well.’ Night came; the fireworks failed; they
had cost sixteen thousand francs. He rose at four the next morning,
determined to attend to everything in person. He found everybody asleep.
He meets one of the inferior purveyors, who brought only two packages of
sea-fish; he asks, ‘Is that all?’ ‘Yes, sir.’ The man was not aware that
Vatel had sent to all the seaports. Vatel waits some time; the other
purveyors did not arrive; his brain began to burn; he believed that
there would be no more fish. He finds Gourville; he says to him,
‘Monsieur, I shall never survive this disgrace.’ Gourville made light of
it. Vatel goes upstairs to his room, places his sword against the door,
and stabs himself to the heart; but it was not until the third blow,
after giving himself two not mortal, that he fell dead. The fish,
however, arrives from all quarters; they seek Vatel to distribute it;
they go to his room, they knock, they force open the door; he is found
bathed in his blood. They hasten to tell the Prince, who is in despair.
The Duke wept; it was on Vatel that his journey from Burgundy hinged.
The Prince related what had passed to the King with marks of the deepest

Amidst his other luxuries, Louis XV. was not unmindful of the pleasures
of the table, and it is generally understood that _tables volantes_ were
invented under his eye. “At the _petits soupers_ of Choisy,” says the
poet Rogers, “were first introduced those admirable pieces of
mechanism--a table and a sideboard which descended and rose again
covered with viands and wines. And thus the most luxurious Court in
Europe, after all its boastful refinements, was glad to return at last,
by its singular contrivance, to the quiet and privacy of humble life.”
Louis XVI., on the other hand, is said to have been somewhat neglectful
of his table, a circumstance which, it has been remarked, “was utterly
inexcusable, since for a time the great Ude was a member of his

But Louis XVIII. was an epicure of the first water, and was nicknamed
“Des-huitres” (a pun on _dix-huit_), because like all the Bourbons he
was a great feeder, and especially fond of oysters. One day, when his
physician reproached his cook with “ruining the royal health by savoury
juices, the dignitary of the kitchen remarked that it was the office of
the cook to supply his Majesty with pleasant dishes, and that it was the
duty of the doctor to enable the King to digest them.”[26] He had the
Duc d’Escars for his _grand maître d’hôtel_, a disappointed man,
however, as he died inconsolable at not having given his name to a
single dish after having devoted his whole life to the culinary art. He
did not lose the confidence of his royal master, with whom, when he was
closeted to discuss some new dish, the ministers were kept waiting in
the antechamber, and the next day the following announcement regularly
appeared in the official journals: “M. le Duc d’Escars a travaillé dans
le Cabinet.” The fate of M. d’Escars was the harder because he died a
victim to gastronomy. It appears that Louis XVIII. had invented the
_truffes à la purée d’ortolans_, and, reluctant to disclose the secret
to an unreliable menial, he invariably prepared the dish with his own
hands, assisted by the Duc. On one occasion they had conjointly prepared
a dish of more than ordinary dimensions, and duly consumed the whole of
it. In the middle of the night the Duc was seized with a fit of
indigestion, and his case was declared hopeless. Loyal to the last, he
ordered an attendant to awake and inform the King, who might be exposed
to a similar attack. His Majesty was roused and told that the Duc was
dying of his invention. “Dying!” exclaimed Louis; “dying of my _truffes
à la purée_? I was right then. I always said that I had the better
stomach of the two!”

The _petits soupers_ of the Regent Duke of Orleans were famous, and
conferred a celebrity on the scene of them sufficient to justify the
reply of the Frenchman who, on being asked by a stranger in a remote
part of Europe if he could tell him the direction of Paris, made answer:
“Monsieur, ce chemin-là vous conduira au Palais Royal.” There is a vague
tradition that the chef of the Regent was pre-eminent in a _dinde aux

The Revolution in France bade fair to seriously check the progress of
the culinary art, and “the destruction of the pre-existing races of
Amphitryons and diners-out was actually and most efficiently
accomplished by it.” But eventually the upstart chiefs of the Republic
and the plundering marshals and parvenu nobles of Napoleon proved, as
far as gastronomy was concerned, no bad substitutes for the old feudal
nobility. When Napoleon was in good humour at the result of a diplomatic
conference, he was in the habit of taking leave of the plenipotentiaries
with, “Go and dine with Cambacérès,” who was second consul under the
Republic and arch-chancellor under the Empire--a man who never allowed
the cares of government to distract his attention from what he conceived
to be the great object of life. His table was, in fact, an important
state-engine, as appears from the anecdote of the Genevese trout sent to
him by the municipality of Geneva, and charged 300 francs in their
accounts. The imperial _Cour des Comptes_, having disallowed the item,
was interdicted from meddling with municipal affairs in future. Among
the many stories told of Cambacérès, it is said that on one occasion,
being detained in consultation with Napoleon beyond the appointed hour
of dinner, when the fate of the Duc d’Enghien was the topic under
discussion, he was observed to grow restless and impatient. At last he
wrote a note, the contents of which Napoleon suspecting, nodded to an
aide-de-camp to intercept the despatch, which he found to be a note to
the cook, conveying this message: “Gardez les entremets--les rôtis sont

Napoleon himself was a very fast eater, and at a _grand couvert_ at the
Tuileries, from the moment he and his guests sat down till coffee was
served, not more than forty-three minutes elapsed. They were then bowed
out. It was a rule, too, with Napoleon that the moment appetite was
felt, it should be satisfied; and his establishment was so arranged that
at all hours chicken, cutlets, and coffee might be forthcoming at a
word. But this habit of eating fast and carelessly is commonly supposed
to have paralysed him “on two of the most critical occasions of his
life--the battles of Borodino and Leipsic, which he might have converted
into decisive victories by pushing his advantages as he was wont. On
each of these occasions he is known to have been suffering from
indigestion.” On the third day of Dresden, too, the German novelist,
Hoffman, who was present in the town, asserts that the Emperor would
have done much more than he did, but for the effects of a shoulder of
mutton stuffed with onions.

The general order to his household was to have cutlets and roast chicken
ready at all hours, night and day, a rule which was carefully observed
by his _maître d’hôtel_, Dunand, who had been a celebrated cook. One day
when Napoleon returned from the Conseil d’Etat in one of his worst
tempers, a _déjeuner à la fourchette_, comprising his favourite dishes,
was served up, and Napoleon, who had fasted since daybreak, took his
seat. But he had scarcely partaken of a mouthful when “apparently some
inopportune thought or recollection stung his brain to madness,” and,
receding from the table without rising from his chair, he uplifted his
foot--dash! went the table, crash! went the _déjeuner_, and the Emperor
springing up paced the room with rapid strides. Dunand looked on, and
quick as thought the wreck was cleared away, an exact duplicate of the
_déjeuner_ appeared as if by magic, and its presence was quietly
announced by the customary, “Sa Majesté est servie.” Napoleon felt the
delicacy, and “Merci bien, mon cher Dunand,” with one of his inimitable
smiles, showed that the hurricane had blown over.

Prince Henry of Condé, in addition to his many other faults, was accused
of being too fond of his ease, and when he was reproached with his
immoderate taste for the pleasures of the table, he was wont to say, in
a dull way, “They affirm that I am always at eating-houses since I left
Paris; I have been there only twice.”

Another epicure of a high order was Frederick the Great, who was
extremely fond of highly seasoned meats and French or Italian made
dishes. Every morning, and sometimes the evening before, the bill of
fare was presented to him, which he often altered himself; and during
dinner he would make pencil marks against the different items of the
bill of fare, which he discussed afterwards with the _maître d’hôtel_.
In a kitchen account of the year 1784, it was stated that the extra
consumption amounted to 25 dollars, 10 groschen, 1⅕ pfennig; but
Frederick wrote under it: “Robbery, for there were about one hundred
oysters on the table, price 4 dollars; cakes, 2 dollars; liver, 1
dollar; fish, 2 dollars; Russian cakes, 2 dollars--total, 11 dollars. As
there has been an extra dish to-day, herrings and peas, which may cost 1
dollar, everything beyond 12 dollars is barefaced robbery.”[27]

The King kept at all times a sharp look out, and one day he remarked to
his Minister of State, Von Herder, after reprimanding a servant who had
put a bottle of wine in his pocket: “Have I not every reason to knock
these ragamuffins on the head? Don’t you see that if I let them have
their own rascally way I should soon not have a penny left to assist my
distressed subjects.” His table was generally served with eight
dishes--four French, two Italian, and two prepared according to his
peculiar fancy, and from his own receipts. And it was one of his
favourite maxims that “he who is not content with eight dishes will not
be satisfied with eighty.” One of the last bills of fare--August 5,
1786--twelve days before his death, was as follows:--


    Name of the

    _Henaunt_      1 Soupe aux choux à la Fouqué.^{+}

    _Pfund_        1 Du bœuf aux pandis et carottes.^{+}

    _Voigt_        1 Des poulets en cannelon au concombres farcis
                           au blanc à l’Anglaise (was struck out; the King
                           substituted, Des cotelettes dans du papier).

    _Dionisius_    Petits patés à la Romaine.
                        1  Young pigeon, roasted.

    _Pfund_        1 Du saumon à la Dessau.

    _Blesson_      1 De filets de volaille à la Pompadour avec langue
                           de bœuf et croquets.

    _Dionisius_    Portuguese cake (struck out; Des gaufres put instead).

    _Pfund_        Green peas.^{+}
                        Fresh herrings.^{+}
                        Pickled gherkins.

    (The crosses indicated his Majesty’s approval of the dish.)

On the other hand, Frederick William I. was served in the plainest
manner, partly with the coarsest food, such as bacon and peas, or ham
and green kale--his favourite dish. His two special fish were lobsters
and oysters. There is still the draught of a bill of fare in existence
which Frederick William gave as an example to the Crown Prince, when the
latter was at Cüstrin:--

    Soup of veal with force meat balls of river pike, sorrel and chevril.
    Beef with white kale.
    Mutton-carbonade with green peas.
    River carp from the Spree, with cherry fool.
    Craw-fish with butter.
    Fricassee of young chicken.
    Pickled ox cheek and cow heel.
    Roast mutton with cucumber sauce.

But the pertinacity with which Charles V. of Spain gratified his
appetite, under all circumstances, rivalled even that of Frederick the
Great. It is said that before rising in the morning, potted capon was
usually served to him, prepared with sugar, milk, and spices, after
partaking of which he would turn to sleep again. At noon he dined on a
variety of dishes, soon after vespers he partook of another meal, and
later in the evening he supped heartily on anchovies, or some other
savoury food; and after his abdication the same propensity accompanied
him to his monastic retreat at Yuste. Fish of every kind was his
taste--eels, frogs, and oysters occupying an important place in the
royal bill of fare. Potted fish, especially anchovies, found special
favour with him, and on an eel pasty he particularly doted. Soles,
lampreys, and flounders were sent in large quantities from Seville and
Portugal. The nobles in the neighbourhood, who knew his weakness for the
pleasures of the table, constantly sent him presents of game and
vegetables, and the churchmen were equally attentive. The Prior of our
Lady of Guadalupe, the Archbishop of Saragossa, the Bishop of Plasencia,
and the Archbishop of Toledo were liberal in their contributions. To
wash down this extraordinary quantity of food, Charles drank in
proportion. And Sastrow, who saw Charles V. at the Diet of Augsburg in
the year 1546, states in his “Pomeranian Chronicle”: “His dinner was
served by young princes and counts, four courses always of six dishes
each. The dishes being placed before him, the covers were removed, and
he shook his head at those of which he did not wish to partake; but if
he fancied one he nodded, and drew it towards him. Goodly pasties,
venison, and savoury-made dishes were sometimes taken away, while he
kept back a sucking pig, calf’s head, or such like. He had no one to
carve for him, nor did he use the knife much himself; but he first cut
his bread in small pieces, then stuck his knife into the joint where he
fancied a piece, scooped it out, or otherwise tore it with his

He was just turned thirty when his confessor, Cardinal Loaysa, wrote to
him to urge him to leave off eating fish, which always disagreed with
him, and he added, “I am told that your chest can often be heard farther
off than your tongue.” Subsequent letters from the same honest
counsellor contain many similar warnings, one of which closes with these
words: “If your Majesty will give the reins to your appetite, I tell you
that your conscience and bodily health must go down-hill.”

But these gastronomic excesses brought on intense suffering, nor did
experience teach him moderation. With few teeth and impaired digestion,
he “continued to eat from as many dishes, and to empty as many flasks,
as in the days when his powers were great, his health flourishing, and
his exercise regular. His medical men were his abettors, for they
allowed him to satisfy every appetite, without attempting to restrain
him.”[29] And it was by a strange irony of fate that when Death began
to close his jaws upon the Emperor, there were those in his vicinity
“who were suffering from a worse vertigo than that which springs from
old age and an abused stomach--the vertigo of famine. In their
sufferings the hungry peasantry forgot their respect for him. They
stripped his kitchen-garden, plundered his orchards, impounded his
cattle, drew the fish from his ponds, and waylaid and rifled his mules
which traversed the hunger-district laden with dainties.”

Peter the Great was another very decided epicure, and one of his
favourite dinners was the following: A soup with four cabbages in it,
gruel, pig, with sour cream for sauce, cold roast meat, with pickled
cucumbers or salad, lemons and lamprey, salt meat, ham, and Limburg
cheese. And, it may be added, there is preserved in Ballard’s Collection
in the Bodleian Library the bill of fare of a breakfast and dinner,
which the Czar and his party--twenty-one in number--partook of at
Godalming on his return from a visit to Portsmouth, consisting at
breakfast of half a sheep, a quarter of lamb, ten pullets, twelve
chickens, seven dozen of eggs, and salad in proportion, three quarts of
brandy and six quarts of mulled wine; at dinner, five ribs of beef,
weight three stone; one sheep, fifty-six pounds; three quarters of lamb,
a shoulder and loin of veal boiled, eight pullets, eight rabbits; two
dozen and a half of sack, and one dozen of claret. But, as it has been
remarked, some of our own countrymen have almost rivalled the Czar and
his companions. At Godalming--probably at the same inn that Peter the
Great patronised--two nobles, dukes, are reported to have stopped, as
they intended, for a few minutes, while sitting in their carriages, to
eat a mutton chop, which they found so good that they devoured eighteen
chops, and drank five bottles of claret.

Catherine II. of Russia did not care for elaborate cookery: her
favourite dish was boiled beef with salted cucumber; her drink, water
with gooseberry syrup. Among her cooks there was one who cooked
abominably; but, when this was pointed out to her, “she refused to
dismiss the man, as he had been in her service too long.” She merely
inquired when his turn came, and on sitting down to table would say,
“Ladies and gentlemen, we must exercise our patience, we have a week’s
fast before us.”[30]

An enthusiastic epicure was the Polish King, Stanislaus Leczinski, who
invented many a new dish, and succeeded in vastly improving the style of
cooking, astonishing the Lorrainers, amongst other things, by having
served up at his table dishes of meat with fruits, both of which had
been cooked together. Geese which had been plucked when alive, then
whipped to death, and _marinées_ were set down in his bill of fare as
foreign birds; and after a similar fashion turkeys were metamorphosed
into _coqs de bruyères_, and were served at table buried under the
strong-smelling herbs of Lorraine. One year was remarkable for the
entire failure of the fruit crop, but Stanislaus would not be deprived
of his dessert; for, turning his attention to confectionery, he made
delicate compositions of sugared vegetables, especially turnips, and
even now the Lorrainers dip their _babas_--cakes in which there are
_raisins de caisse_ and saffron--into their wine, and think of the royal

The story goes that on one occasion there appeared on the table of
Stanislaus a large pie, and the guests were admiring its dimensions,
beauty, and odour, when all of a sudden the almond cakes which covered
it flew in all directions, and from beneath them leaped up Bébé, the
ex-king’s favourite dwarf, armed like a knight. The whole table was in a
roar of laughter, with the exception of one noble guest, whose nose the
dwarf had pricked with his lance, and who vowed vengeance for the two or
three drops of blood which fell. But, it is said, Stanislaus loved his
dwarf so well that he provided for his security by placing him under the
care of two soldiers of his bodyguard.

Then again, Ferdinand I. of Naples was an epicure in fruit, and was wont
to pride himself on the excellent varieties which were produced in his
royal gardens, one of which was designated “Paradise.” Many years ago,
too, Prince Metternich first tasted rhubarb in this country, and was so
delighted with it that he had some plants sent to his Austrian garden.
On the occasion of a large party in the following year, the Prince
ordered rhubarb to be served up dressed as it was in this country. But
the cook knew nothing of the English mode of cooking it, and selecting
the large leaves served them up as spinach. As might be expected, the
guests made wry faces at this unsavoury dish, and henceforth rhubarb was
discarded from the Prince’s table. And, it may remembered, Ludovico, the
Duke of Milan, carried this kind of epicurean luxury so far that he
actually had a travelling fruit garden, the trees being brought to his
table that he might gratify his taste by gathering the fruit with his
own hands. Charles XII. of Sweden was often satisfied with simple bread
and butter, and Joseph II. of Austria with omelets and hard bread.

Don Sebastian of Portugal, being no epicure himself, determined to train
his people by issuing a sumptuary edict that none of his subjects might
have more than two dishes, and those of the simplest character, for
their meals; but he forgot that no decree could alter the daily life of
his people.

Bianca of Milan, whom Maximilian the “Moneyless” married for her dowry,
died of indigestion brought on by eating too freely of snails--“the
large and lively sort,” reared for the market in the fierce heat below.
Royal fatalities of this kind have been numerous. Thus in 1740 Charles,
the brother and successor of Joseph I., not only went out hunting in the
wet when he had the gout, but persisted in eating voraciously of
mushrooms stewed in oil. Like Louis Philippe, he would not believe his
medical advisers as they stood at his bedside “disputing as to whether
mushrooms were a digestible diet or the contrary;” but, dismissing them
from his presence, he ordered his favourite delicacy, the penalty for
eating which was his death.

Among our early kings who in some measure patronised the culinary art
may be mentioned Richard Cœur de Lion, who loved venison, “the stealers
of which he punished by the most horrible of mutilations;” while his
brother John, who was equally fond of venison, is reported to have given
great offence to certain clerical gentlemen by a joke at dinner upon a
fat haunch, which, he said, “had come from a noble hart that had never
heard mass,” which was regarded as a reflection on their corpulency.

Edward III. paid every attention to good cheer; and as many as two
thousand cooks are said to have been employed in the royal kitchen of
Richard II., his chief _cuisinier_ having been known by the initials C.
S. S., under which he wrote a culinary work, “On the Forme of Cury,” in
which Richard II. is spoken of as his royal master, “the best and
royallest viander of all Christian kynges.”

A porpoise was a fashionable dish in the time of Henry V., who first had
it at the royal table, and England, it is said, had never seen a king
who gave dinners on so extravagantly profuse a scale as Edward IV.[31]

Henry VIII. was an epicure, and a liberal rewarder “of that sort of
merit which ministered to the gratification” of his palate, on one
occasion having been so well pleased with the flavour of a new pudding
that he gave a manor to the inventor. It may be added that Cardinal
Campeggio--one of the legates charged to treat with Henry VIII.
concerning his divorce from Catherine--drew up a report on the state of
the English cookery, as compared with that of Italy and France, for the
special use of the Pope.

Anne Boleyn appears to have been very much of an epicure, and when
staying, in the year 1527, at Windsor, Henry sent her by Heneage, who
was the gentleman-in-waiting, a dish from his own table for supper; and
yet even that did not content her, for all the time, it is said, she was
hankering after Wolsey’s dainties, and expressing her wish “for some of
his good meat, as carpes, shrimpes, and other delicacies.” And when in
the year 1535 Viscountess Lisle, who was ambitious of obtaining
appointments for two of her daughters in the royal household, sent her
some dotterels, which were at that time esteemed a dainty dish, and
calculated to tickle the palate of an epicure queen, she received from a
friend the following note: “The Queen did appoint six of your dotterels
for her supper, six for Monday dinner, and six for supper. My Lord of
Rochford presented them himself, and showed her how they were killed new
at twelve of the clock in Dover, of the which she was glad, and spake
many good words towards your ladyship’s good report, as I was informed
by them that stood by.”[32]

As for the royal table of Elizabeth, nothing could surpass the solemn
order in which it was laid out, or the number of triple genuflections
which accompanied every movement of the noble waiters; but all this was
only for show, as the meat was finally taken off the table into an inner
room, where the Queen herself dined in the utmost privacy and
simplicity.[33] Her Sunday’s dinner on the 19th of November 1576
consisted of beef, mutton, veal, swan, goose, capons, conies, friants,
custards, and fritters for the first course. For the second, lamb, kid,
herons, pheasant, fowls, godwits, peacocks, larks, tarts, and fritters.

Her average dinner was varied with plovers, veal pies, custards, boiled
partridges, boiled beef, snipes, pheasants, chicken pies, and tarts, and
cost on an average £4 a dinner.

Her fish dinners were of great variety. The first course included long
pike, salmon, haddock, whiting, gurnet, tench, and brill; the second,
sturgeon, conger, carp, eels, lamperns, chine of salmon, perch, lobster,
tarts, and creams; the side dishes were sturgeon, porpoise, fish collops
and eggs, dories, soles and lampern pies, cod, boiled conger, bream, and
red fish; the second course occasionally included warden pie, smelts,
boiled veal, boiled mutton, pullets, partridges, and panado.

In the succeeding reign feasting was carried to a riotous extent, and it
has been computed that the household expenditure of James I. was twice
as much as that of Queen Elizabeth, amounting to £100,000 a year. A pig
was an animal of which James had an abhorrence, and in his “Counterblast
to Tobacco” he says, that were he to invite the devil to dinner he
would place three dishes before him--first, a pig; secondly, a poll of
ling and mustard; and thirdly, a pipe of tobacco to assist digestion.
The state of cookery under Charles II. is indicated by the names of
Chiffinch and Chaubert, to whose skill Sir Walter Scott has borne
testimony in his “Peveril of the Peak.” But it is questionable whether
epicures of the present day would appreciate the Duke of York’s taste,
who, when instructed by the Spanish ambassador to prepare a sauce,
recommended one consisting of parsley, dried toast pounded in a mortar,
with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Charles II., however, if not a decided
epicure, was fond of gastronomy, and in a ballad of the “New Sir John
Barleycorn,” the knighting of the loin of beef has been ascribed to

    “Our Second Charles of fame facéte,
       On loin of beef did dine;
     He held his sword, pleased, o’er the meat,
       Arise, thou fam’d Sir Loin.”

But Fuller, in his “Ecclesiastical History,” relates of Henry VIII. at
the Abbey of Reading, how “a sirloin of beef was set before him, so
knighted, saith tradition, by this King Henry;” and, according to
another account, James I., on his return from a hunting excursion, so
much enjoyed his dinner, consisting of a loin of roast beef, that he
laid his sword across it and dubbed it Sir Loin. And at Chingford, in
Essex, is a house called “Friday Hill House,” in one of the rooms of
which is an oak table with a brass plate thus inscribed: “All lovers of
roast beef will like to know that on this table a loin was knighted by
King James I. on his return from hunting in Epping Forest.”

When Cosmo III., the Grand Duke of Tuscany, was in England, Charles II.,
on the evening before his departure, supped with him at the house of his
Highness, when a singular adventure occurred, which the Grand Duke thus

“The entertainment was most superb, both as to the quantity and quality
of the dishes. The supper was served up in eighty magnificent dishes,
many of which were decorated with other smaller ones, filled with
various delicious meats. To the service of fruit succeeded a most
excellent course of confectionery, both those of Portugal and other
countries famous for the choiceness of their sweetmeats. But scarcely
was it set upon the table when the whole was carried off and plundered
by the people who came to see the spectacle of the entertainment; nor
was the presence of the King sufficient to restrain them from the
pillage of these very delicate viands, much less his Majesty’s soldiers,
armed with carbines, who guarded the entrance of the saloon, to prevent
all ingress into the inside, lest the confinement and too great heat
should prove annoying; so that his Majesty, to avoid the crowd, was
obliged to rise from the table and retire to his Highness’s apartment.”

An amusing little anecdote is told by Lady Marlborough of William III.,
who thus writes: “I give an instance of his worse than vulgar behaviour
at his own table when the Princess dined with him. It was the beginning
of his reign, and some weeks before the birth of the Duke of Gloucester.
There happened to be just before her a plate of green peas, the first
that had been seen that year. The King, without offering the Princess
the least share of them, drew the plate before him, and devoured them
all. The Princess Anne confessed when she came home, that she had so
much mind for the peas that she was afraid to look at them, and yet
could hardly keep her eyes off them.”

Prince George of Denmark, consort of Queen Anne, was renowned for his
appetite, and for the bent of it towards pastry, which reminds us of the
readiness with which Charles XII. was wont to swallow raspberry tarts,
and Frederick II. Savoy cakes.

Under Queen Anne, who had Lister, one of the editors of the _Apicius_,
for her pet physician, and who “achieved the highest honour of
gastronomy by giving her name to a pudding,” cookery did not suffer from
any lack of encouragement; but soon after the accession of the House of
Brunswick a fashion was introduced which somewhat threatened to retard
the progress of cookery. “The last branch of our fashion,” says Horace
Walpole, “into which the close observation of nature has been
introduced, is our desserts.” Jellies, biscuits, sugar-plums, and creams
have long since given way to harlequins, gondoliers, Turks, Chinese, and
shepherdesses of Saxon China. But these, unconnected, and only seeming
to wander among groves of curled paper and silk flowers, were soon
discovered to be too insipid and unmeaning. By degrees, meadows of
cattle, of the same brittle materials, spread themselves over the table;
cottages rose in sugar, and temples in barley-sugar; pigmy Neptunes in
cars of cockle-shells triumphed over oceans of looking-glass, or seas of
silver-tissue.... The Intendant of Gascony, on the birth of the Duke of
Burgundy, amidst many other magnificent festivities, treated the
noblesse of the province with a dinner and a dessert, the latter of
which concluded with a representation, by wax figures moved by
clock-work, of the whole labour of the Dauphiness, and the happy birth
of an heir to the monarchy.”[34]

George I. was fond of good living, and was indiscreet, it is said, in
what he ate. His too free indulgence in sturgeon and other strong food,
and his custom of partaking of hearty suppers at late hours of the
night, counteracted the exertions made by nature in his behalf. On the
3rd of June 1727 the King left Greenwich for Holland, and on reaching
Delden, and taking supper with the Count de Twittel, he indulged too
freely in melons, an act of imprudence to which was ascribed the
disorder that caused his death.

A characteristic anecdote is told of George II., to the effect that the
House of Commons having gratified him on some point in which the
interests of Hanover were concerned, he sent for his German cook, and
said to him: “Get me a very good supper, get me all the varieties;” and
he added, “I don’t mind expense.”[35] The mention of his German cook
reminds us of the poor opinion he had of our own cooks, insisting that
“no English cooks knew how to roast.”

George III. lived like an ascetic, for fear of corpulence and gout; and
light diet was one of the grand fundamentals in his idea of health. In
“A Sketch of their Majesties’ Domestic Life at Kew during the Summer
Season” of 1775, in the _Annual Register_, it is said: “His Majesty
feeds chiefly on vegetables, and drinks but little wine. The Queen is
what many private gentlewomen would call whimsically abstemious; for, at
a table covered with dainties, she prefers the plainest and simplest
dish, and seldom eats of more than two things at a meal.”

The excellent health which George III. long enjoyed, as well as his
exemption from the obesity which was constitutional in his family was
once, in the course of a conversation with Lord Mansfield, attributed by
him to the following circumstance. He happened to pay a visit to his
uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, when the conversation turned on the
Duke’s increased corpulency. “It was a constitutional malady,” remarked
his Royal Highness, from which on reaching middle age he could scarcely
be absolved. But temperance and abstinence, he said, were the best
remedies, and if neglected, he added, “depend upon it that nothing can
prevent your Majesty arising to my size.” Such was the impression made
upon the King’s mind that, as he assured Lord Mansfield, from that
moment he resolved to check his tendency to obesity by inuring himself
to habits of the strictest temperance.[36] And many years afterwards,
congratulating himself on his excellent health, he remarked: “The fault
of his constitution was a tendency to excessive fat, which, however, he
kept in order by the most vigorous exercise and by the strictest
attention to a simple diet.” Mrs. Delaney, one of the company,
commending him for his remarkable forbearance, he exclaimed, “No, no; I
only prefer eating plain and little to growing diseased and infirm.”[37]
It would seem the pet potage of George III. was a rich vermicelli soup,
with a very few green chevril leaves in it--a preparation which with his
more epicurean successor was also equally a favourite.

Carème, a lineal descendant of the celebrated _chef_ of Leo X., who
received the name of Jean de Carème--Jack of Lent--for a _soup-maigre_
which he invented for the Pope, was induced, by persevering
solicitations and the promise of a salary of £1000 a year, to become
_chef_ to George IV., then Regent, but he left him at the end of a few
months. The Emperors of Russia and Austria then made new advances to
him, but in vain, for Carème accepted an engagement with Baron
Rothschild of Paris. But, however great an epicure George IV. might be,
he was of opinion that a roast neck of mutton is a dinner fit for a
prince. When Prince of Wales he happened on one occasion to partake of
bubble-and-squeak at a bachelor’s table in Shropshire, this homely dish
so pleasing him that it was afterwards very often seen at Carlton House.
A roast fowl was the favourite dish of William IV., a black bottle of
sherry being uniformly placed on the table near his Majesty.

It is evident that the gastronomic tastes of royalty, at one time or
another, have been diverse and numerous. The late Duke of Cambridge,
being on a visit to Belvoir Castle for the celebration of its owner’s
birthday, was shown the bill of fare for the day, skilfully arranged by
an admirable _chef_, and on being asked whether there was anything else
that he fancied, replied, “Yes, a roast pig and an apple dumpling.”
Messengers were at once despatched in all directions, and at length a
pig was happily found, notwithstanding the season.

A wild boar’s head from the Black Forest would elevate the plainest
dinner into dignity, and the late King of Hanover was clearly of this
opinion, for he used to send one to each of his most esteemed friends in
England every Christmas; and it was a test of political consistency to
remain long upon his list, for “all who abandoned his Majesty’s somewhat
rigid creed of orthodoxy in Church and State were periodically weeded

Queen Victoria was most simple in her diet, luncheon being her favourite
meal, at which we are told a sirloin of beef and a boiled chicken
generally appeared on the bill of fare. Of Scotch cookery she was very
fond, and was even known to partake of the national dish of “haggis.”



It is recorded how a certain Spaniard, who once attempted to assassinate
a king, Ferdinand of Spain, on being put on the rack could give no other
reason for his strange conduct but an inveterate antipathy which he had
taken to the King as soon as he saw him:--

    “The cause which to that impelled him
     Was, he ne’er loved him since he first beheld him.”

Although, happily, such an exceptional case as this is almost unique,
yet in a minor degree it illustrates a phase of character which is of
almost universal application. Thus, for instance, going back to an early
period, the Emperor Heraclius at the age of fifty-nine was seized with
an unconquerable terror at the sight of the sea. On his return from his
Syrian expedition he sojourned in the palace of Herea, on the shore of
the Hellespont, and the story goes that the princes of Constantinople
were compelled to span the strait with a bridge of boats, and protect it
on both sides with planks and branches of trees, so that one could pass
over it without seeing the water. Likewise, the Emperor Augustus was
terribly afraid of lightning, and as a safeguard not only carried about
his person a seal’s skin, but on the approach of a storm took shelter
in an underground chamber.

But coming to later times, Henry III. of France could not remain in the
same room with a cat, a fact which reminds us of the Duke d’Epernay, who
swooned on seeing a leveret, although, curious to say, the sight of a
hare did not produce a similar result. And it was the sight of an apple
that always put Vladislaus, King of Poland, into fits. Queen Elizabeth
detested as ominous all dwarfs and monsters, and seldom could be
prevailed upon to bestow an appointment--either civil or
ecclesiastical--on an ugly man. She liked to be surrounded by the young
and handsome, and she studiously shunned all crippled or deformed
persons. She carried this fad to such an extreme that she refused the
post of a gentleman usher to an unexceptional person, for no other
reason than the lack of one tooth; and “whenever she went abroad, all
ugly, deformed, and diseased persons were thrust out of her way by
certain officers, whose duty it was to preserve her Majesty from the
displeasure of looking on objects offensive to her taste.” Aubrey
relates the following story as an illustration of Elizabeth’s
peculiarity on this point: “There came a country gentleman up to town
who had several sons, but one an extraordinary handsome fellow, whom he
did hope to have preferred to be a yeoman of the Guard. ‘Had you spoken
for yourself,’ quoth Sir Walter Raleigh, ‘I should have readily granted
your desire, but I put in no boys.’ Then said the father, ‘Boy, come
in,’ and the son enters--about eighteen or nineteen years of age--but
such a goodly proper youth as Sir Walter had not seen the like, for he
was the tallest of all the Guard. Sir Walter not only swore him in, but
ordered him to carry up the first dish at dinner, when the Queen beheld
him with admiration, as if a beautiful quaint young giant had stalked in
with the service.” And Lord Bacon, speaking of this whim of Elizabeth,
writes: “She always made sedulous inquiries regarding the moral
qualifications of any candidate for preferment, and then considered his
mien and appearance. Upon one such occasion she observed to me, ‘How can
the magistrate maintain his authority, if the man be despised.’”

Elizabeth’s strong aversion to unpleasant smells was well known at
Court. One day the stout Sir Roger Williams, kneeling to her to beg a
suit, which she was unwilling to grant, and yet ashamed to deny, she
exclaimed, “Sir Roger, your boots stink”--hoping to divert the
conversation. “No, no, your Majesty,” replied the brave Welshman, “it’s
not my boots, it’s my suit.” We are reminded of Louis XI., who had a
conceit, says Burton, “that everything did stink about him; all the
odoriferous perfumes they could get would not ease him, but still he
smelt a filthy stink.”

According to common report, James I. shuddered at the sight of a drawn
sword, and Sir Kenelm Digby, in his “Powder of Sympathy,” says that when
James knighted him he very narrowly escaped having the sword thrust into
his eyes, his Majesty turning away his face to avoid the sight of the
naked weapon--a peculiarity which he attributes to the fright occasioned
to his unhappy mother by the assassination of Rizzio in her presence. In
a caricature of the time King James was exhibited with an empty
scabbard, and in another as having his sword so firmly fixed in the
scabbard that it was impossible to draw it out.

William III. had an intense hatred of mourning. When the King of Denmark
died, September 4, 1698, Prince George expressed a wish that on this
account his Majesty would allow the Princess and himself to congratulate
him on his birthday, November 4, without doffing their sable weeds,
under the impression that the favour would be granted, as “the late
kings, Charles II. and James II., never wished any persons in recent
mourning for their relatives to change it for coloured clothes on such
occasions.” King William’s ideas, however, respecting mourning were more
consonant with those of Henry VIII.; and his Majesty, although Christian
V. of Denmark was a near relative of his own, “signified his pleasure
that their Royal Highnesses were to visit him in gay Court dresses, or
to keep away.”[38]

To such an extent did George II. carry his love of exactness, even in
the minutest affairs of life, that it is said he never even allowed his
pleasures to interfere with it. For some years after he had ascended the
throne, writes Mr. Jesse,[39] his custom was to visit his mistress,
Lady Suffolk, every evening at nine o’clock. Sometimes he was dressed
and in readiness before the prescribed time, and “on these occasions he
used to pace his apartment for ten minutes together with his watch in
his hand, waiting till the moment of departure had arrived.”

George II., too, in moments of fretfulness and impatience would vent his
feelings by kicking his hat about the room. “When incensed either with
his Ministers or his attendants,” writes Wraxall, “he was sometimes not
master of his actions, nor attentive to preserve his dignity. On these
occasions his hat, and it is asserted his wig, became frequently the
objects on which he expended his anger.”

But the fads and eccentricities of royalty have been illustrated in a
variety of ways. A notable instance having been Ferdinand II., Grand
Duke of Tuscany, who died in 1670, and who was known as the “Fool of his
Health,” from the anxiety with which he attended to his health. “I have
frequently seen him,” writes the Abbé Arnauld, “pacing up and down his
chamber between two large thermometers, upon which he would keep his
eyes constantly fixed, unceasingly employed in taking off and putting on
a variety of skull-caps of different degrees of warmth, of which he had
always five or six in his hand, according to the degree of heat or cold
registered by the instruments.” This, he adds, “was a mighty pleasant
sight to behold, for there was not a conjurer in all his dominions more
dexterous in handling his cups and balls than was this prince in
shifting his caps.”

Strange, again, was the behaviour of Charles II. of Spain, who was
sometimes sunk in listless melancholy, and was occasionally a prey to
the wildest and most extravagant fancies. At one time he was weak-minded
enough to be induced to believe that his malady was the same as that of
the wretched individuals in the New Testament who dwelt among the tombs.
At another time a sorceress who lived in the mountains of the Asturias
was consulted about his malady. Several persons were accused of having
bewitched him, and at last the rite of exorcism was recommended, which
was actually performed. Nor was this all, for his Majesty had terrible
visions of demons, and kept monks and priests by his side to exorcise
them. He believed himself to be the cruel victim of sorcery, and to have
been charmed with a portion of the brains of a corpse administered in a
cup of chocolate, to counteract the malignant influences of which it was
proposed to diet him on hens fed with vipers’ flesh. Even the people,
too, believed that he was enchanted, and called him the “bewitched
king”--a name which is traditionally preserved to the present day.[40]
Instances of a kindred nature are noted elsewhere in the chapter which
deals with the superstitions of royalty, where it will be seen how at
one time or another the credulity of crowned heads has been responsible
for many foolish acts, and in some cases it has been productive of
immense harm.

The early period of female domination through the regency of the
Queen-mother, Marie Anne of Austria, had made such an impression on
Charles II. when young that he felt a horror at the sight of a
petticoat, and turned aside when he met a lady. His former governess,
the Marquesa de los Velez, had to wait six months to get a word from
him. With such antipathy to women, it seemed improbable that he would
regard with any favour the mention of marriage, but during the
negotiations for an alliance with Marie Louise, this aversion suddenly
changed, and, when the miniature of the Princess was sent to him, “he
wore the picture on his heart, addressed fine speeches to it,” and as
soon as he was informed that she was _en route_ for Spain, he set out to
meet her.

When Isabella, mother of Philip II., was, writes D’Israeli,[41] “ready
to be delivered of him, she commanded that all the lights should be
extinguished: that, if the violence of her pain should occasion her face
to change colour, no one might perceive it. And when the midwife said,
‘Madam, cry out, that will give you ease,’ she answered, ‘How dare you
give me such advice? I would rather die than cry out.’”

In truth, the fads of sovereigns, with their royal etiquette, were
frequently carried to such lengths as to make martyrs of them. According
to another absurd story from the same source, Philip III., when seated
by the fireside, was once nearly suffocated with heat from the large
quantity of wood that the fire-maker had kindled; but “his grandeur
would not suffer him to rise from the chair, and the domestics could not
presume to enter the apartment, because it was against the etiquette. At
length the Marquis de Potat appeared, and the King ordered him to damp
the fire; but he excused himself, alleging that he was forbidden by the
etiquette to perform such a function, for which the Duke d’Ussada ought
to be called upon, as it was his business. The Duke was gone out, the
fire burnt fiercer, and the King actually endured it rather than
derogate from his dignity.” But, it is said, his blood was heated to
such a degree that an erysipelas of the head appeared the next day,
which, succeeded by a violent fever, carried him off in the
twenty-fourth year of his reign. And what can be more ludicrous than the
following: The palace was once on fire; a soldier who knew the King’s
sister was in her apartment, and must inevitably have been consumed in a
few minutes by the flames, rushed in at the risk of his life, and
brought her out. But Spanish etiquette was wofully broken, and the loyal
soldier was brought to trial and condemned to death. The Spanish
princess, however, in consideration of the circumstance, condescended to
pardon the soldier, and saved his life.[42] Churchill might indeed well

    “Spain gives us pride--which Spain to all the earth
     May largely give, nor fear herself a dearth.”

Leopold the “Angel,” second son of the Emperor Ferdinand, would rear the
most odoriferous plants, but inflicted on himself the mortification of
never going near enough to smell them, imagining that by this act of
self-denial he was thereby adding a step to a ladder of good works, “by
which he hoped to scale heaven!”

Peter the Great had a strong aversion to being looked at in public, a
peculiarity which when visiting this country kept him almost entirely
aloof from the gaieties of the Court. On the birthday of the Princess
Anne, when a grand ball was given by William III. at Kensington,
curiosity so far prevailed over his diffidence as to induce him to
express a wish to be present. But he contented himself with occupying a
small apartment where, without being seen himself, he could be a
spectator of the festive scene. On another occasion, writes Lord
Dartmouth, Peter had a mind to see the King in Parliament, “in order to
which he was placed in a gutter upon the house-top, to peep in at the
window, where he made so ridiculous a figure that neither King nor
people could forbear laughing, which obliged him to retire sooner than
he intended.” It was probably from what was styled “the lantern” in the
roof of the old House of Commons that the Czar witnessed the proceedings
below. And many other anecdotes illustrative of this peculiar fad are to
be found in the biographies of his Majesty.

Immediately on ascending the throne of Prussia, Frederick William’s
mania for crimping and recruiting giants broke out with such force as
to be the talk of Europe, “and the terror of every mother of a stalwart
youth, not only in his own dominions, but in the neighbouring
principalities.” So violently had his agents gone to work, that before
the year 1713 was ended he issued a proclamation “not to stop the
passengers on the post, as had been done several times.” Indeed, a
regular man-hunt was instituted throughout all the villages, even during
divine service. Once a rural pastor died of the shock occasioned by
seeing his taller sacramental communicants carried off _en masse_ by a
recruiting party, “who thought that the Sunday congregation would spare
them all further trouble in hunting through the cottages.” In 1720 this
was repeated, but so violent was the indignation that an insurrection
ensued.[43] From 1713 to 1735 it is said that Frederick William sent
12,000,000 of dollars for recruiting purposes into foreign countries, in
connection with which may be quoted the following humorous but tragic
occurrence: “In the duchy of Juliers, a Baron Hompesch, who was
crimp-in-chief, once bespoke by way of strategy of a very tall
master-joiner, who did not know him, a cupboard as long and as broad as
the artisan himself. After some days the Baron called to take away the
cupboard, but complained that it was of insufficient length. In a fit of
alacrity the long-legged joiner laid himself full length within the
cupboard as a proof that Hompesch was mistaken; but suddenly the door
was fastened by the people whom Hompesch had in waiting, and the
unfortunate joiner was carried off as a recruit. On opening the cupboard
afterwards he was found dead. Hompesch, however, was condemned to death,
but the King commuted his sentence to imprisonment for life.”[44]

Numerous anecdotes have been told illustrative of Frederick William’s
other fads and eccentricities. Sometimes he would signify his rejection
of what he considered an absurd petition by drawing on the margin an
ass’s head and ears. One day a baron of ancient patent having complained
of another baron taking precedence of him, the King wrote on the
petition: “Mere folly; whether a man sits above me or below me, my birth
remains the same.” Oftentimes he would ask people in the streets who
they were, a peculiarity which made nervous people evade the royal
presence. One day when a Jew saw the King approaching he took to his
heels and ran; but Frederick William pursued him in hot haste, and when
he overtook him, asked, “Why did you run away from me?” “From fear,”
answered the Jew, whereupon his Majesty gave him a heavy thwack with his
cane, and said that he “wished himself to be loved, and not to be

And even while distracted with the gout, his eccentricity showed itself;
for, as a hymn was being sung to him, at the passage, “Naked shall I go
hence,” he interrupted the singers and said, “No--I shall be buried in
my uniform.”

Gregory of Tours, speaking of the “Do-nothing kings” of France, says
that they sat at home “and gormandized like brute beasts,” showing
themselves, as Dr. Doran writes, “once a year perhaps to the people, in
state robes.” Such conduct was not to be commended, and so little was
Childeric III. ever seen that he was known as the “Phantom King,” his
chief amusement having consisted in curling his hair and dressing his
beard. Equally apathetic and indifferent to his duties was Ferdinand I.
of Austria. And, as an instance of his weak mind, one day he remarked in
the imperial palace at Vienna, “I once very readily paid a visit to one
of the theatres in the suburbs; but I don’t know--I can’t make out
whether they wanted me or not.” It seems he thought he was there to put
his signature to some document, “and he was puzzled as to whether he had
been asked to do so or not.”

Frederick III. often fell asleep whilst the most important affairs of
the State were being discussed, which acquired for him the nickname of
“Emperor Night Cap.” When the Turks were destroying the villages and
harvests of his people, he amused himself in his garden picking
caterpillars out of his roses, and catching slugs with buttered cabbage

His indolence so exasperated his wife Eleanor, that she said to her son
Maximilian in a fit of anger, “On my word, if I thought you would be
like your father, I should be ashamed of being the mother of such a
king.” Frederick was too lazy, it is said, to turn the handle of a
door, but kicked till some one came to open it, or he burst it in. He
paid the penalty of his stupidity, for by so doing he one day hurt his
foot, and as mortification threatened the surgeons cut it off. “Ah me!”
said Frederick, “a healthy boot is better than a sick Emperor.” His
exact opposite was Frederick the Great, who was wont to exclaim,
“Nothing is nearer akin to death than idleness. It is not necessary that
I should live, but it is necessary that whilst I live I be busy.”

Of the many despicable traits of character of Louis XV., not one,
perhaps, was more odious than his mania for speculating in corn. He
became the chief partner of a company which forestalled corn. From the
exceptional advantages this company enjoyed, “it created local and
artificial famine in the different provinces for purposes of private
gain. The King thus traded on the hunger of his people,” and, as it is
added, “the most abject courtier of Versailles could not avoid feeling a
twinge of shame when he noted on his bureau day by day the lists of the
prices of grain in the different provinces as a guide for speculation.”
From such shameful dealings arose the legend of the _Pacte de famine_,
which lingered in the memories of the people, and the spectre of which
arose in terrible form during the most horrible scenes of the

And Louis XI. in a capricious mood once promoted a poor priest whom he
found sleeping in the porch of a church, that the proverb might be
verified, that to lucky men good fortune will come even when they are

Lastly, it has been said that the restlessness of Don Sebastian was the
despair of his attendants. From one end to the other of his little
kingdom there was a perpetual shifting of the royal quarters, “as the
royal vagrant hurried in search of novelty and excitement, from Coimbra
to Cape St. Vincent, from Almeirim to Alcobaça, to Salvaterra.”
Impenetrable to fatigue or hardship, the day afforded too scanty a scope
for his activity, and the dead of night often found him exhausting his
feverish impatience of repose in long hours of solitary pacing on the
sandy shores of the Tagus, or under the dense gloom of the forest
arcades of Cintra. And in Sebastian we are reminded of Charles XII. of
Sweden, who, determined to brave the seasons as he had done his enemies,
ventured to make long marches during the cold of the memorable winter of
1709, in one of which 2000 of his men died from the cold, in allusion to
which Campbell, in “The Pleasures of Hope,” writes:--

    “Or learn the fate that bleeding thousands bore,
     Marched by their Charles to Dnieper’s swampy shore;
     Faint in his wounds, and shivering in the blast,
     The Swedish soldier sank, and groaned his last.”



It is recorded that Nero, during a dangerous illness, made a vow that if
he recovered he would dance the story of Turnus in Virgil; and the great
Scipio Africanus amused himself with dancing, “not,” writes Seneca,
“those effeminate dances which announce voluptuousness and corruption of
manners, but those manly, animated dances in use among their ancestors,
which even their enemies might witness without abating their respect.”
Indeed, dancing has always been a favourite amusement amongst all
classes of society, having from an early period been countenanced by the
example of the Court. Thus it is said that Edward II. paid one Jack of
St. Albans, his painter, for dancing on the table before him, and making
him laugh excessively.

After the coronation dinner of Richard II., the remainder of the day was
spent in rejoicings, and we are told how the King, the prelates, the
nobles, the knights, and the rest of the company danced in Westminster
Hall to the music of the minstrels. Several of our English monarchs were
noted for their skill in dancing, and none, perhaps, more than Henry
VIII., who was particularly partial to this mode of diversion. At this
period, when masques and pageants were much in vogue, the King himself
was occasionally “a frequent performer as well as spectator,” and
numerous anecdotes have been handed down of his dancing feats. Thus, at
the festivities held at Westminster in honour of the birth of a prince
on New Year’s Day 1511, the King and a selected company danced before
Catherine’s throne, executing their stately pavons and “corantos high”
with the utmost success; at the conclusion of which the young King bade
the lady spectators come forward and pluck the golden letters and
devices from his dress, and that of his company. An unlooked-for
incident followed, for a vast crowd of the London populace, who were the
constant witnesses of the Court ceremonials in the middle ages, rushed
forth and plucked off with startling rapidity the glittering ornaments
from himself, and his noble guests. Not only were the ladies despoiled
of their jewels, but the King himself was stripped to his doublet and
drawers. The King, laughing heartily, took the matter in good part, and
treated the whole scramble as a frolic, remarking that “they must
consider their losses as _largess_ to the commonalty.”[46]

Catherine of Aragon excelled in Spanish dances, and at the festivities
in honour of her marriage with Prince Arthur--her short-lived
bridegroom--apparelled in Spanish garb, she gave an exhibition of her
high proficiency in this mode of dancing. On this occasion, too, the
dancing of Henry Duke of York and his sister, Lady Margaret, the young
Queen of Scots, gave such satisfaction that it was renewed, when the
young Duke, finding himself encumbered with his dress, “suddenly threw
off his robe and danced in his jacket with the said Lady Margaret, in so
good and pleasant a manner that it was to King Henry and Queen Elizabeth
great and singular pleasure.”

Again, on New Year’s Day 1515, Henry VIII. performed a ballet with the
Duke of Suffolk and two noblemen and four ladies, the young Duchess of
Savoy being supposed to be in love with Suffolk. After dancing had been
continued for some time, the company took off their vizors, and when
they were known, “the Queen heartily thanked the King’s grace for her
good pastime, and kissed him.” But on the very day this ballet was
performed the King of France died, and his fair bride was left a widow,
after having been married less than three months.

Another interesting instance of Court dances at this time is given by
Hall, who tells how, on the King’s visit to France with Anne
Boleyn--lately made Marchioness of Pembroke--a magnificent reception was
given by him at Calais in honour of the French sovereign, at which,
after supper, “came in the Marchioness of Pembroke, with seven ladies,
in masking apparel of strange fashion, made of cloth of gold, slashed
with crimson tinsel satin puffed with cloth of silver and knit with
laces of gold. These ladies were led into the state chamber by four
damsels dressed in crimson satin, with tabards of pine cypress. Then
the lady marchioness took the French king, the Countess of Derby the
King of Navarre, and every lady took a lord. In dancing, King Henry
removed the ladies’ vizors, so that their beauties were shown.” It was
then discovered by the French king that he had been dancing with an old
acquaintance--no other than the lovely English maid-of-honour of his
first queen; and having conversed with her some time apart, he sent her
a present on the next morning of a jewel valued at 15,000 crowns.

Queen Elizabeth was a great patroness of the dance, which accounts for
its having flourished in her reign. It is said that she bestowed the
office of Lord Chancellor on Sir Christopher Hatton, not so much for his
knowledge of the law, but because he wore green bows on his shoes, and
danced the pavon to perfection, to whom mention is made in Gray’s
humorous lines:--

    “Full oft within the spacious walls,
     When he had fifty winters over him,
     My grave Lord Keeper led the brawls,
     The seals and maces danced before him.

     His bushy head, and shoe strings green,
     His high-crown’d hat and satin doublet,
     Moved the stout heart of England’s queen,
     Tho’ Pope and Spaniard could not trouble it.”

Many notices occur, too, of Queen Mary’s participation in the revelry of
her father’s court, and we find her figuring, in her young days, as a
dancer in Court ballets. Some courtly adulator, who had been present at
a ball at which many danced with her royal father, appears to have been
much struck with her charms, making her appearance the subject of a
poetic effusion, wherein he tells us:--

    “Ravished I was, that well was me
       O Lord! to me so fain [willing]
     To see that sight that I did see,
       I long full sore again.

     I saw a king and a princess
       Dancing before my face,
     Most like a god and a goddess;
       I pray Christ save their grace.”

Charles II. was specially fond of dancing. Writing from Cologne to Henry
Bennett on the 18th of August 1655, he says: “Pray, get me pricked down
as many new corrants and farrabands, and ‘other little dances’ as you
can, and bring them with you, for I have got a small fiddler that does
not play ill on the fiddle.”

The last day of the year 1662 concluded with a grand ball at the palace
of Whitehall, and Pepys tells us that he got into the room where the
dancing was to take place, which was crowded with fine ladies.
“By-and-by comes the King and Queen and all the great ones. After
seating themselves, all rose again; the King took out the Duchess of
York, the Duke the Duchess of Buckingham, the Duke of Monmouth my Lady
Castlemaine, other lords other ladies, and they danced ‘the brantle.’
Afterwards the King led a lady a single coranto, and then the lords, one
after another, other ladies; very noble it was, and pleasant to see.
Then to country-dances, the King leading the first, which he called for
by name as ‘Cuckolds all awry,’ the old dance of England. The manner
was, when the King dances, all the ladies in the room, and the Queen
herself, stand up; and, indeed, he dances rarely, and much better than
the Duke of York.” Pepys adds that it was reported the King reprimanded
Lady Gerard as he was leading her down the dance, for having spoken
against Lady Castlemaine to the Queen, and forbade her to attend her
Majesty any more.

Pepys, too, gives a graphic account of a ball given at Whitehall, in the
year 1666, to celebrate the Queen’s birthday, on which occasion he
contrived to climb up to a loft, where he obtained a view of the festive
scene, which he thus describes: “It was indeed a glorious sight to see
Mrs. Stuart in black and white lace, and her head and shoulders dressed
with diamonds, only the Queen none (as she was in mourning for her
mother), and the King in his rich vest of some rich silk and silver
trimming; the Duke of York and all the other dancers wore cloth of
silver. Presently, after the King was come in he took the Queen, and
about fourteen more couple there were, and began the brantle. After the
brantles a corant, and now and then a French dance: but that so rare,
that the corants grew tiresome, and I wished it done, only Mrs. Stuart
danced mighty fine; and many French dances, especially one the King
called ‘the new dance,’ which was very pretty. But, upon the whole, the
business of the dancing itself was not extraordinary pleasing. About
twelve at night it broke up.” Indeed, Queen Catherine is said to have
been childishly attached to dancing, and in some verses, entitled “The
Queen’s Ball,” published in the State Poems, she is styled:--

    “Ill-natured little goblin, and designed
     For nothing but to dance and vex mankind.”

Pepys further tells us how he was admitted by his acquaintance, Lady
Peterborough, into the apartments of the Duchess of York at Whitehall
when the young Mary Stuart was taking her dancing lesson, which incident
he thus describes: “Stepping to the Duchess of York’s side to speak to
my Lady Peterborough, I did see the young Duchess, a little child in
hanging sleeves, dance most finely, so as almost to ravish me, her ear
is so good, taught by a Frenchman that did heretofore teach King Charles
II. and all the royal family, and the Queen-mother herself, who do still
dance well.”

It may be added that the first introduction of the royal sisters, Mary
and Anne, was their performance of a ballet, written for them by the
poet Crowne, called “Calista, or the Chaste Nymph,” acted December 2,
1674. They were trained for this performance by Mrs. Betterton, the
principal actress at the King’s Theatre, the ballet being remarkable for
the future historical parts of the performers. The Lady Mary of York was
the heroine, Calista; her sister the Lady Anne, Nyphe; Lady Harriet
Wentworth performed Jupiter. The epilogue was written by Dryden, and
addressed to Charles II.

In after years, when Mary assumed the burden of regal dignity, she was
exposed to the malevolent misinterpretation of a Court to which she was
almost as much a stranger as was her husband himself. She was considered
too fond of the frivolous gaieties from which in truth she shrank, and
she writes: “The world who cannot see the heart ... began to take notice
of the change that was in my life, and comparing my way of living in
Holland to that here, were much scandalised to see me grown so remiss.”
But this kind of criticism, which was unjust, did not prevent her
pursuing the course she considered right; and although on the King’s
birthday in 1689 a ball was given at her desire, she tells us:--

“I really thought it no proper time, when war was round about, and my
father himself engaged against us.... Yet such is the depravation of
this age and place where I live, none seems to think of such things, and
so, ill-custom prevailing, there was a ball, but by my writings may be
seen how I endeavoured to spend that day as also the next, which was
Gunpowder Treason, God be praised for it.”

The following particulars of a grand ball given at Marli in July 1705,
at which the royal exiles of St. Germains were present, is a proof of
the respectful consideration with which they were treated by Louis XIV.
At the upper end of the saloon in which the ball took place were placed
three fauteuils for the King of France, the widowed Queen of England,
and her son--Mary Beatrice, as in the lifetime of her royal consort,
occupying the centre seat. The titular King of England opened the ball
with his sister, the King of France standing all the time they were
dancing. This mark of respect, it is said, he would have done every time
the young royal pair danced together, had not Mary Beatrice induced him
to be seated; and even then it was not till he had paid them this token
of regard twice or thrice that he would consent to sit down.

The introduction in the Russian Court of foreign dances coincided with
the adoption of foreign dress and other customs; hence in the time of
Peter the Great ignorance of the minuet, or of Polish and English
dances, was looked upon as a serious defect in education. During the
latter part of her life the Empress Anne was fond of listening to the
jests of her buffoons. At the conclusion of these exhibitions her maids
of honour would sing to her, and occasionally she would watch them
dance. One day, according to the “Memoirs of the Princess Daschkov,” she
commanded four of the principal beauties of St. Petersburg to perform a
Russian dance before her. But they became so nervous at the stern glance
of the Empress that, losing all presence of mind, they forgot the figure
of the dance, and amidst the general confusion were electrified by the
approach of her Majesty, who, advancing towards them in a fit of rage,
gave each a sound box on the ear, and ordered them instantly to begin
over again, which they did, half dead with fear.[47] The Empress
Elizabeth was an accomplished dancer, and in order to see the minuet
danced to perfection it was commonly said one should go to the Russian
Court. Catherine II. was very fond of the ballet, and gave it every
possible encouragement, taking an active pleasure in most kinds of
pantomimic ballet. Amongst some of the many anecdotes told of this
sovereign, it is related how she treated her maids of honour almost as
if they were her own daughters. Noticing one day that Freiline Potocka,
who had lately come to the Court, had no pearls, she immediately seized
the opportunity of a fancy dress ball, to which the girl came in the
disguise of a milkmaid, in order to slip a superb necklace into the pail
that she had put down whilst dancing. “It is you, madame, ... it is your
Majesty,” she stammered on discovering the present. “No!” replied the
Empress, “the milk has curdled.”[48]

In the year 1798 a curious and most imposing ballet was given at Court
in honour of the Czarina and the Grand Duke. It was called “The
Conquered Prejudice,” and was of a most elaborate character, the most
imposing stage effects being introduced. And, coming down to recent
years, Théophile Gautier, describing the opening of a Court ball in
1866, tells how the spectators in the ball-room of the Winter Palace
separated so as to leave free a pathway of which they formed the
hedges. Every one in position, the orchestra played a majestic air, and
with slow steps the promenade began, led by the Emperor giving his hand
to some lady whom he was desirous of honouring. They were followed by
the rest of the Court, all according to precedence, and gradually “the
cortège of brilliant uniforms goes on increasing: a nobleman leaves the
hedge and takes a lady by the hand, and this new couple take their place
in the procession, keeping step by step with the leader. And what adds
to the originality of the Russian Court is, that from time to time a
young Circassian prince in his fastidious Oriental dress, or a Mongolian
officer, will join the cortège.”

Portuguese dances having long been famous, it is not surprising that at
most Court festivals dancing was in high repute. King Dom Pedro I. is
reported to have been a great votary of the dance, and the Portuguese
historian, Ferñao Lopes, tells how, mad with sorrow at the loss of his
wife, Inez de Castro, he would in the weary hours of nighttime, as he
lay sleepless, order a troop of soldiers “to form a hedge from his
palace, and to hold lighted torches that he might dance between them,
and thus give bodily expression to the vehemence of his grief.”[49] But
a monarch who degraded and brought dancing into the lowest repute was
Alfonso VI.--a wicked and unscrupulous sovereign, whose conduct, as
already noted, seemed to savour of insanity. Thus, when his country was
in the greatest peril, he indulged in every kind of infamy. While his
soldiers and his English allies[50] were spilling their blood in defence
of his dominions, he devoted his time to ruin himself and his country.
His palace, it is said, “particularly his residence at Alcantara,
afforded a scene at which the most immodest might blush.” He violated
the nunneries, assailed the affrighted sisters with rough wooing, and at
once terrified and disgusted them by fitting up a stage in the choir of
the church at Alcantara, on which he not only had theatrical
performances and unseemly dances, “but compelled the unhappy nuns to
honour them with their presence.” This was a pleasing spectacle for a
responsible ruler, and one well worthy of the days of a Nero. But one of
his successors on the throne--John V.--was of a very different turn of
mind; for although a munificent patron of literature and the fine
arts--founding the Academy of History at Lisbon--he was a great lover of
music and the theatre, and spent large sums in importing singers and
dancers from Italy, and actors from France.

Dancing was a monomania with Philip III. of Spain and Portugal, and his
Prime Minister distinguished himself as the best dancer of his time--the
result being that the whole aristocracy of Spain and Portugal became
affected by the dancing rage, which was ridiculed by Manuel de Mello.

The wife of Ferdinand VI. of Spain, the Infanta of Portugal, was haunted
by the fear of death and of poverty--apprehensions which she tried to
conquer by the extravagant indulgence of a passion for music and
dancing. With this melancholy, and oppressed by asthma and unwieldy
corpulency, she could scarcely have been a very graceful dancer, for M.
de Noailles said of her, “Son visage est tel qu’on ne peut la regarder
sans peine.”

A romantic tale is told of Queen Joan of Naples, who, at a magnificent
feast given in her castle of Gaeta, gave her hand to Galeazzo of Mantua
for the purpose of opening the ball. At the conclusion of the dance the
gallant knight knelt down before his royal partner, and, as an
acknowledgment of the honour conferred upon him, he made a solemn vow
not to rest until he had subdued two valiant knights, and had presented
them prisoners at her royal footstool, to be disposed of at her
pleasure. Accordingly, after a year spent in visiting various scenes of
action in Brittany, England, France, Burgundy, and elsewhere, he
returned and offered his two prisoners of rank to Queen Joan. The Queen
received the gift very graciously, but, declining to avail herself of
the right she had to impose rigorous conditions on the captives, she
gave them liberty without ransom, in addition to bestowing on them
several marks of liberality.

An early Danish ballad tells how one of the ancient kings of Denmark,
dancing at a wake with a fair peasant girl, requested her to sing to
him, which she did in tones so clear and thrilling that she woke the
Queen Sophie, who had retired to bed. Her Royal Highness’s curiosity
being aroused, she got up, put on her purple mantle, and went out to
see what sort of girl the songstress might be. On seeing her husband
dance with the peasant girl, the Queen’s jealousy was excited, and she
exclaimed that it was “a monstrous thing that Signellile”--the peasant
girl--“should dance with Denmark’s king.” So she ordered one of her
attendants to bring her “the richly moulded horn” filled with wine,
giving instructions for an edder-corn to be first dropped in. Then, when
the King asked his royal consort if she would not dance with him, Queen
Sophie replied--

    “Before a place in the dance I fill,
     Must drink to my health fair Signellile.”

Whereupon Signellile took the horn, and though she

    “Drank but a sip to quench her thirst,
     Her guileless heart in her bosom burst.”

In China dancing has from a remote period held a conspicuous place in
Court ceremonies. At the present day it takes the form of an act of
homage to the sovereign, for which performance special mandarins are
appointed. This dance is performed by the greatest in the land, and at
stated times an imposing sight may be witnessed at the imperial palace,
when men coming from all parts of Asia render tribute to the Emperor by
songs and dances. On one occasion, when the dance was at its glory in
China, “the Emperor showed the appreciation he felt for his Viceroys by
the number of the dances with which he received them when they came
into his presence. If he was displeased with their administration, he
would reprove them silently by allowing only a few dances, performed by
a small number of coryphées.” It would seem, too, that emperors “did not
disdain the study of the dance, or its performance in public; they
generally devoted the autumn to the former, and the spring to the
latter, and the feast of ancestors was the greatest occasion for the
dance. In 1719 the son of the Emperor danced before his father and the
whole assembled Court.”

At the French Court dancing from an early period was in high repute, and
the intermezzi or entremets--from which sprang dances--performances held
at banquets to entertain the guests whilst waiting for the courses, can
be traced back to the year 1237, when St. Louis gave a wedding feast to
his brother Robert at Compiègne. It is related that at this feast a
knight rode across the hall on horseback over a large tight-rope
stretched above the heads of the guests.[51] With the Medicis the
splendid dance entertainments were introduced into France; and we read
how Catherine de’ Medicis, while plotting the massacre of St.
Bartholomew, amused herself by witnessing the antics of a troupe of
Italian players, called “I Gelosi,” which consisted of mimic acting
varied with comic dances.

It is said that Jacques Coetier, a French physician, was the only person
who could curb the uneven spirit of Louis IX., which he did by making
an artful use of that dread of death to which the King was subject. Thus
Coetier, trading on this peculiarity, would often say to his Majesty, “I
suppose one of these days you will dismiss me, as you have done many
other servants; but mark my words, if you do, you will not live eight
days after it.” By repeating this menace from time to time, Coetier not
only kept himself in his station, but actually succeeded in persuading
the King to bestow upon him valuable presents. He paid, however,
considerable attention to the mind of his royal master, and to divert
his attention and to amuse him during his indisposition, he would
arrange to have rural dances performed under his window.

Henry IV. and his great minister, Sully, were lovers of the ballet, and
Louis XIII. danced on the stage with all his Court.

Louis XIV. enjoyed performing various characters in the ballet, a
recreation he pursued till he became too corpulent, when he abandoned it
for fear of making himself an object of ridicule. Some idea of the
importance of dancing at the Court of Louis XIV. can be gained from
Molière, who goes so far as to say in the _Bourgeois Gentilhomme_ “that
the destiny of nations depends on the art of dancing.” Monsieur de
Lauzun, the favourite of Louis XIV., owed his fortune to his grace in
dancing in the King’s quadrille. And, as Dumas writes, “many more than
one nobleman owed the favour he enjoyed at Court to the way he pointed
his toe, or moved his leg.” Indeed, Louis XIV. not only busied himself
with the composition of ballets, but danced in them, and took dancing
lessons from Beauchamps for twenty years.[52] Until he was thirty-two he
danced with professional ballet-dancers, a fad which, it has been said,
suggested itself to him from some lines in Racine’s _Britannicus_,
wherein Nero’s dramatic proclivities are ridiculed. His last appearance
was on February 13, 1669, in the Ballet of Flora. Indeed, so devoted was
Louis to the pastime, that in one ballet he actually played no less than
five successive characters, those of Apollo, Mars, a Fury, a Dryad, and
a Courtier; and actually submitted to the fatigue of assuming the
several costumes, frequently as often as three times during the
week.[53] Benserade had the exclusive privilege of composing the
_libretti_ of these ballets, which, it is said, “were one continued
ovation to the young monarch, who was not in his own person exempted
from the delivery of the most exaggerated and fulsome self-praise.” But
such was the taste of the time.

The Allemande Française--a mediæval German dance introduced into France
about the year 1600--was a favourite of Louis XIV. and of Napoleon.
Louis XIV. was also specially fond of the courante, which he is said to
have performed better than any one else. And it may be added that on the
21st of January 1681, when the then Dauphiness, the Princess de Conti,
and some other ladies of the first distinction in the Court of Louis
XIV., performed a ballet with the opera, called _Le Triomphe de
l’Amour_, it was received with so much applause, that on the 16th of the
following May, when the same opera was acted in Paris, at the Theatre of
the Palais Royal, it was thought indispensable for the success of this
kind of entertainment to introduce female dancers, who have ever since
been a support of the opera.

Among the many amusing anecdotes told of Louis XIV. when still in his
minority, it is related that one evening, in 1655, Queen Henrietta and
her daughter were invited to see the King dance at a ball, which Anne of
Austria gave in her private apartments. The party was of rather a
juvenile character; the dancers were from the age of the Princess of
England, who was about eleven, to the age of Louis XIV., who was just
sixteen. At this time Louis was in love with Marie de Mancini--niece of
Mazarin--and as she was not at the party, he chose to dance with her
sister, the Duchess de Mercœur, and led her out as his partner in the
brawl. But the Queen-Regent observing his action, at once stepped forth,
took the niece of Mazarin from him, and commanded him to dance with the
young Princess of England. Queen Henrietta, alarmed at the contretemps,
assured the King “that her daughter would not dance--she was too young;
besides she had hurt her foot, and could not be his partner.” The result
was that neither Louis nor the Princess Henrietta danced that evening,
the youthful King remarking later on in a sullen mood that “he did not
like little girls.”

In 1640 the Duc d’Enghien, son of Prince Henry of Condé, was affianced
to Claire Clémence, a niece of Richelieu, and the account given by the
Duc d’Aumale of the marriage and the behaviour of the Prince at the
accident which befell his bride whilst dancing, gives far from a
pleasing idea of Court refinement at that period: “The marriage was
celebrated at the palace of the Cardinal, and was followed by brilliant
festivities.... _Mirame_ had received the plaudits of an illustrious
assembly, at which--a memento of the military processions of
Rome--several general officers appeared who were prisoners of war. After
a representation had been given, followed by new comic pieces, the
theatre was transformed, as it were by enchantment, and the Duc
d’Enghien, leading in the Queen, opened the ball with her. It was
remarked that the young Duchess, embarrassed in a coranto by the
high-heeled shoes she wore to increase her low stature, fell; the Court
laughed, and her husband joined in the laughter. The pallor and
disordered appearance of the Duc were also noticed.”[54]

Marie Antoinette was fond of dancing, and was a great admirer and
patroness of Augustus Vestris, the god of dance, as he was styled. She
was instrumental in bringing back the “gavotte” into fashion as a Court
and society dance, which had been originally a peasant’s diversion,
taking its name from Gap, in Dauphiné. It appears to have been
introduced at Court in the sixteenth century, “when, to amuse the royal
circles, entertainments were given consisting of dances in national
costume, performed by natives of the various provinces, and to the sound
of appropriate instruments.” Numerous accounts have been given of the
brilliant part Marie Antoinette so often played in the festive scenes of
the Court of Versailles, the following conveying a faint notion of the
grace and popularity which marked her early but ill-fated life: “The
ball opened with four quadrilles; in the first the dress was the old
costume of France, the second represented a set of morris-dancers, the
third was that of the Queen--Tyrolese peasants, the fourth wild
Indians.... In the interval between the dances the Queen took occasion
to say a kind word to every one. She particularly noticed foreign
ladies, among them Lady Ailesbury and three English ladies. They were
treated by the Queen with a grace and a courtesy which was much remarked
and approved. I shall only add that the Queen every day brings the
elegance of the Court to a higher degree of perfection.”[55]

It was owing to a tumble sustained by a royal princess at a Court ball
some twenty years ago that waltzing has been forbidden at the State
balls at Berlin or Potsdam. And that the polka is not considered
altogether free from danger is shown by the fact that the German
Emperor one day summoned the generals commanding the various troops
stationed in and around Berlin, and directed them to instruct those
officers who were not able to dance properly to abstain from attempting
to do so at imperial receptions.

Indeed, the history of most countries is full of incidents illustrative
of dancing customs at Court, and on certain special occasions it would
seem that feats in dancing formed one of the many attractions to amuse
royalty. When Isabel of Bavaria, queen of Charles VI. of France, made
her public entry into Paris, among other extraordinary exhibitions
prepared for her reception was the marvellous performance, according to
St. Foix, of a rope-dancer.



Whether it be Nero constructing his hydraulic clocks, or Prince Rupert
experimenting in his laboratory, or Philip of Burgundy contriving houses
full of _diableries_, such as hidden trap-doors, undermined floors, and
the like, we find the same habit illustrated among rulers of every age
and country. When it was suggested to Dr. Johnson that kings must be
unhappy because they are deprived of the greatest of all satisfactions,
easy and unreserved society, he observed that this was an ill-formed
notion. “Being a king does not exclude a man from such society. Great
kings have always been social. The King of Prussia, the only great king
at present”--this was the Great Frederick--“is very social; Charles the
Second, the last King of England who was a man of parts, was social; our
Henries and Edwards were all social.”

And this is specially the case with the amusements of royalty, which
have oftentimes been of the most rough and arduous nature. But, as Lord
Brougham once remarked, “Blessed is the man who has a hobby-horse;” and
Cæsar wrote, “Under my tent, in the fiercest struggles of war, I have
always found time to think of many other things”--a habit which has
been recognised as a secret of strength.

A hobby which was destined to have an unforeseen result was that of
Peter the Great for boat-building, which manifested itself when he was
sixteen years of age, and was accidental. When wandering one day about
one of his country estates near the village of Ismaílovo with his
companion Timmermann, he espied an old storehouse, on ransacking which
with boyish curiosity his eye fell on a boat that lay in a corner,
turned bottom upward.

“What is that?” he inquired.

“That is an English boat,” replied Timmermann; “and if you had sails in
it, it would go not only with the wind, but against the wind.”

But the boat was too rotten for use, and some time necessarily had to
elapse before the little craft was put in working order with a mast and
sails. The difficulty, however, was soon overcome by Carsten Brandt, who
some years previously had been brought from Holland by the Tsar Alexis
for the purpose of constructing vessels on the Caspian Sea, and under
his superintendence it was launched on the river Yaúza; “And mighty
pleasant it was to me,” writes Peter in the preface to the “Maritime
Regulations,” where he describes the beginning of the Russian navy.
Henceforth his mind was intent upon boat-building and navigation, and in
the year 1691 he went to Lake Plestcheief, where he remained for a
fortnight in a small palace built for him on the shore of the lake. “It
was,” according to Eugene Schuyler,[56] “a small, one-storey wooden
house, with windows of mica, engraved with different ornaments, the
doors covered for warmth with white felt;” and here he occupied himself
with building a ship, and worked so zealously that he was “unwilling to
return to Moscow for the reception of the Persian ambassador, and it was
necessary for Leo Naŕyshkin and Prince Boris Golitsyn to go expressly to
Pereyaslávl to show him the importance of returning for the reception,
in order not to offend the Shah.” The boat which he found at Ismaílovo
has ever since borne the name of the “Grandsire of the Russian Fleet,”
and is preserved with the greatest care in a small brick building near
the cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul within the fortress of St.
Petersburg. In the year 1870, on the celebration of the two hundredth
anniversary of his birth, it was one of the chief objects of interest in
the great parade of St. Petersburg; and in 1872 it was conveyed with
much pomp and ceremony to Moscow, where for a time it formed a part of
the Polytechnic Exposition.

But, as it has been observed, “perhaps one of the most interesting and
extraordinary circumstances in the history of mankind is that the
despotic monarch of a mighty dominion should descend from his throne and
travel as a private person in the train of his own ambassador sent to
Holland. On arriving there, he first took up his abode in the Admiralty
at Amsterdam, and afterwards enrolled himself among the ship-carpenters,
and went to the village of Sardam, where he wrought as a common
carpenter and blacksmith with unusual assiduity, under the name of
Master Peter. He was clad and fed as his fellow-workmen, for he would
not allow of vain distinctions.”

In the following year he passed over to England, where, in the space of
four months, he completed his knowledge of shipbuilding. After receiving
every mark of respect from William III., he left this country
accompanied by several English shipbuilders and carpenters, whom he
treated with great liberality in his naval dockyards, and subsequently
he is said to have written several essays on naval matters.

John Evelyn, in his Diary, alludes to the Emperor’s visit, and under
January 1698 makes this entry: “The Czar of Muscovy being come to
England, and having a mind to see the building of ships, hired my house
at Say’s Court, and made it his Court and palace, new furnished for him
by the King.”

And while the Emperor was in his house one of Evelyn’s servants thus
wrote to him: “There is a house full of people, and right nasty. The
Czar lies next your library and dines in the parlour next your study. He
dines at ten o’clock and six at night, is very seldom at home a whole
day, very often in the King’s yard or by water, dressed in several
dresses. The King is expected here this day; the best parlour is pretty
clean for him to be entertained in. The King pays for all he has.”

Peter the Great was also in the habit of frequenting the different
workshops and manufactories, and among the places he frequently visited
were the forges of Müller at Istia. It was here that he employed himself
in learning a blacksmith’s business, succeeding so well that on one
occasion he forged eighteen poods of iron, putting his own particular
mark on each bar, one of which is preserved at St. Petersburg. One of
his predecessors, Feodor, son of Ivan IV., exercised his strength by
ringing church bells, which was one of his favourite hobbies.

Alexander III. of Russia also took great delight in manual labour, and
one of his favourite pastimes was to fell huge trees, saw them into
planks, plane them, and generally prepare them for the cabinet-maker.
His physique, which was exceptionally powerful, enabled him to indulge
in this hobby. Some idea of his strength may be gathered from the fact
that he could twist and break thick iron pokers and bars with his hand,
render pewter tankards into bouquet holders, whereby he justified his
title of the “Russian Samson.” In his younger days he was able to bend a
bar of iron across his knees, or to burst in a strong door with his
shoulder. In this respect he was not unlike William the Conqueror, of
whom it is said that no one but himself could bend his bow, and that he
could, when riding at full speed, discharge a long-bow with unerring
aim. And Edward I., it is reported, was so adroit and active, that he
could leap into his saddle by merely putting his hand on it. Charlemagne
is reputed to have been so strong as to be able to take a horse-shoe in
his hands and snap it. Augustus the Strong of Saxony was a man of
herculean muscular powers, who could lift weights, straighten
horse-shoes with his two hands, and go through other exercises which
astonished his subjects. And such was the muscular strength of Don
Sebastian that, by the mere pressure of his knees, he could make his
charger groan and sweat; and it may be added that all manly exercises
which required vigour and agility were favourite hobbies of Don
Sebastian. When the “wind blew hurricanes and the waves dashed wildly
over the bar of Lisbon, the inhabitants of the capital watched often
with eager suspense the progress of a small vessel, having at the main
the royal standard, as it ploughed its way through the foaming waters,
for on board that frail ship was the hope of the nation, King Don
Sebastiaõ. ‘There is no bravery, nor merit, nor profit to be gained by
going on board in a calm,’ replied the King to the expostulation of his
Council.”[57] It may be added, too, that Cymburga of Poland, who was
married to Ernest the “Iron,” cracked her nuts with her fingers, and
when she trained her fruit trees, she hammered the nails into the wall
with her clenched knuckles.

The Albanian Prince, George Castriot, better known as Scanderbeg, was a
strong man, for he could cut off a bull’s head at a single stroke.
Mahomed II. invited him to send the sword which had performed so
remarkable an exploit. It was sent, but the Sultan, finding that it
differed not from any other weapon of the kind, expressed his
dissatisfaction. Scanderbeg retorted that he had sent him his sword as
desired, but could not send the arm which had wielded it.

Charles V. of Spain had a decided taste, and, as it would seem, talent
for mechanical pursuits, and when in Germany had invented a carriage for
his own accommodation. After his abdication he would often amuse
himself, with his companion Torriano, in making little puppets--soldiers
performing their exercises, girls dancing with their tambourines, and if
the account be true, wooden birds that could fly in and out of the
window.[58] When he entered Nuremberg, of the many forms of welcome
which he there encountered, none pleased him more than the artificial
eagle which flew to meet him.[59]

He had also a turn for the mathematical sciences, and, like Louis XVI.,
a passion for timepieces; and the difficulty which he found in adjusting
his clocks and watches is said to have drawn from the monarch a
philosophical reflection on the absurdity of his having attempted to
bring men to anything like uniformity of belief in matters of faith,
when he could not make any two of his timepieces agree with each other.
On one occasion the _maître d’hôtel_, much perplexed how to devise a
daily supply of rich and high-seasoned dishes to suit his palate, told
his royal master--knowing his passion for timepieces--that “he really
did not know what he could do, unless it were to serve up his Majesty a
fricassee of watches.” And like her illustrious relative, Charles V.,
Queen Mary had a decided taste for clocks, for they form a prominent
article in her yearly expenditure.

And among the many great and useful problems which Charles discussed
with Torriano, mention is made of a bold and gigantic project, which was
duly accomplished after his death by Gianello, and consisted in raising
the waters of the low-lying Tagus to the heights of Toledo. According to
Bourgoing, the remains of this ingenious machine are still to be seen on
the high rocky peninsula occupied by the city; and, near them, “ruins
still more ancient, which must have formed part of an aqueduct designed
to convey water to the height of Alcazar, from springs seven or eight
leagues distant--a legacy at once useful and magnificent, by which the
Romans have marked their residence in more than one place in Spain.”

Speaking of Louis XVI.’s taste for mechanics, we are told how over his
private library were a forge, two anvils, and a vast number of iron
tools, various common locks, as well as some of a secret and elaborate
kind. It was here that “the infamous Gamin, who afterwards accused the
King of having tried to poison him, and was rewarded for his calumny
with a pension of twelve hundred livres, taught him the art of
lock-making. When teaching the King his trade, Gamin took upon himself
the tone and authority of a master.” The King, according to Gamin, “was
good, forbearing, timid, inquisitive, and addicted to sleep; he was fond
to excess of lock-making, and he concealed himself from the Queen and
the Court to file and forge with me. In order to convey his anvil and my
own backwards and forwards, we were obliged to use a thousand
stratagems, the history of which would never end.”[60]

In his private apartments were his collection of instruments, charts,
spheres, globes, and also his geographical cabinet. And, in addition to
these, there were to be seen drawings of maps which he had begun, and
others that he had finished. He inherited some from Louis XV., and he
often busied himself in keeping them clean and bright.[61]

We may note that amongst the earliest pieces of modern mechanism
associated with royalty was a curious water-clock presented to
Charlemagne by the Kaliph Haroun al Raschid. In the dial-plate there
were twelve small windows, corresponding with the divisions of the
hours. The hours were indicated by the opening of the windows, which let
out little metallic balls which struck the hour by falling on a brazen
bell. The doors continued open till twelve o’clock, when twelve little
knights, mounted on horseback, came out at the same instant, and, after
parading the dial, shut all the windows, and returned to their

Another automaton was that of the philosopher John Müller, and most
elaborate, consisting of an artificial eagle which flew to meet the
Emperor Maximilian when he arrived at Nuremberg on the 7th of June 1470.
After soaring aloft in the air, the eagle is stated to have met the
Emperor at some distance from the city, and to have returned and perched
upon the town gate, where it waited his approach. On the Emperor’s
arrival the eagle stretched out its wings, and saluted him by an
inclination of its body.

A piece of mechanism of an elaborate nature was made by M. Camus for the
special amusement of Louis XIV. when a child. It consisted of a small
coach, which was drawn by two horses, and contained the figure of a lady
within, with a footman and page behind. When this machine was placed at
the extremity of a table of the proper size, “the coachman smacked his
whip, and the horses instantly set off, moving their legs in a natural
manner, and drawing the coach after them. When the coach reached the
opposite edge of the table, it turned sharply at a right angle, and
proceeded along the adjacent edge. As soon as it arrived opposite the
place where the King sat it stopped, the page descended and opened the
coach door, the lady alighted, and with a curtsey presented a petition,
which she held in her hand, to the King. After waiting some time, she
again curtsied and re-entered the carriage. The page closed the door,
and having resumed his place behind, the coachman whipped his horses and
drove on. The footman, who had previously alighted, ran after the
carriage and jumped up behind into his former place.”[62]

Louis XIV. had an inordinate passion for jewels. His most costly
possession was the famous crown of Agrippina, a work of consummate art,
composed of eight tiers of immense brilliants in a transparent setting.
In his private cabinet Louis XIV. “had two immense pedestals of
rosewood, in the interior with shifting shelves, in which he kept the
most precious of the crown jewels, in order that he might examine and
admire them at his ease, an occupation in which he took great delight,
nor did he ever hear of a gem of price, either in Asia or Europe,
without making strenuous efforts to secure the prize.”

But this crown was the cause of a tragic and apparently mysterious
occurrence. When the Princess of Modena passed through France on her way
to England, where she was about to become the wife of the Duke of York,
Louis gave her a costly reception, nothing on his part being left undone
to make her brief sojourn at his Court as enjoyable as possible. It
happened that the conversation turned on the forms and fashions of
jewellery, which prompted the Marquis de Dangeau, who prided himself on
his antiquarian knowledge, to observe that it was in the time of Nero
the imperial crown was first arched, whereupon Louis added that he
possessed one himself, and which the Marchioness de Montespan would
produce. In due time the glittering circlet was brought forth to excite
universal admiration; but when Louis obtained a close view of it, he
exclaimed to the Marchioness, “How is this, madam? This is no longer my
crown of Agrippina; all the stones have been changed.” The setting was
intact, but the brilliants had been replaced by paste.

The mystery was before long solved, it being proved that the maker of
the casket had affected an attachment for one of the waiting-women of
the Marchioness de Montespan, who during his visits, having free access
to where the crown of Agrippina was kept, had substituted the mock for
the true diamonds. He was convicted and hanged, upon which occasion
Louis XIV. remarked to the Duchess, “He has at least left us the
setting, but Cromwell would have seized it whole.”[63]

The Elector Frederick, surnamed “the Wise,” was an indefatigable
collector of relics. After his death one of the monks employed by him
solicited payment for several parcels he had purchased for “the wise
Elector; but the times had changed. He was advised to give over this
business. The relics for which he desired payment, it was argued, they
were willing to return; that the price had fallen considerably since the
Reformation of Luther; and that they would be more esteemed and find a
better market in Italy than in Germany.”[64]

The only expensive personal fancy, it is said, of Frederick the Great
was for collecting snuff-boxes, of which he left as many as one hundred
and thirty, valued at one million three hundred thousand dollars. Lord
Malmesbury says that “one could hardly approach the King without
sneezing.” Two thousand pounds weight of Spanish snuff had always to be
kept in store. Smoking, on the other hand, says Vehse,[65] “was an
abomination to Frederick ever since the tobacco in his father’s time.” A
female sovereign who indulged in this habit was Catherine II. of Russia.

And in the reign of Alexis the penalty for a man who smoked a pipe of
tobacco was to have his nose cut off. This sovereign seems to have had a
great dislike of tobacco, but times were to change, and a well-known
portrait of Peter the Great represents him sitting in a sailor’s dress
enjoying a pipe.

Augustus the Strong of Saxony was a great china fancier, and his
credulity in the transmutation of metals was accidentally the cause of
the discovery of the celebrated Dresden ware. An apothecary’s lad, named
Böttiger, composed a tincture that was supposed to be capable of being
transformed into gold. But the reputation of a successful alchemist was
fatal to his liberty, and the lad of seventeen was by order of Augustus
placed under lock and key, with a complete laboratory at his disposal--a
restraint which almost made him mad. The Governor of Konigstein reported
on the 12th of April 1702 that “he foamed at the mouth like a horse,
roared like a bull, knocked his head against the wall, and trembled so
violently that two soldiers could not hold him. He considered the
commandant to be the Archangel Gabriel; he blasphemed, and drank twelve
cans of beer a day without getting drunk.”

Accordingly, the lad was removed to Dresden, where he was allowed a
certain liberty, and owing to his flow of animal spirits he had the art
of enchanting every one he met. Augustus himself sought his
acquaintance, without giving him full liberty. It was whilst pursuing
his experiments that Böttiger discovered the Meissen porcelain--commonly
called Dresden china--which to Augustus, who, as already stated, was a
great china fancier, was as welcome as gold itself, for he had expended
vast sums on what is known as the Japan Palace. Many workmen were
engaged from Delft to work the new ware, and in 1710 the manufactory of
Meissen commenced the supply of the demand, which soon became European.

Böttiger’s fortune and reputation were made, for henceforth he had
access to the King as often as he chose, who gave him a ring with his
effigy, a young bear, two apes, and credit with the royal banker. And in
1715 he not only obtained his full liberty, but the profits of the
porcelain manufactory for life. But he proved himself unequal to
success, and he died of his excesses at the early age of

Ludwig II. of Bavaria was a most inveterate builder, and in the course
of a few years he built the castle of Neuschwanstein, and the palaces of
Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee, the last intended by him to be a monument
to Louis Quatorze, “who was the supreme God of his mad Olympus.” True to
his love of nocturnal expeditions, Ludwig arrived at Chiemsee at
midnight, but in spite of all its splendour he failed to find much
comfort there, set down as this gorgeous castle was in a wilderness far
away from everywhere, and at last he only spent nine days in every year

Another sovereign who became a great builder was Stanislaus Leczinski,
who, to gratify his hobby, demolished churches, chapels, ducal palaces,
castles, towers, and town-houses. According to some, his greatest glory
is the Church of Notre Dame de Bon Secours, in which he and his consort,
Caroline Opzinska, were entombed. But, writes Dr. Doran, “antiquaries
see in this building the ex-king’s greatest crime; for in order to
construct it, he demolished the famous old church of the same name,
erected by René II., Duke of Lorraine, in gratitude for his victory over
Charles, Duke of Burgundy, in 1477, won on the very spot.” The story
goes that an honest plasterer, who lived in sight of the old church, was
so indignant at the profanation that he walled up his windows that his
eyes might not be offended by the continual sight of what was going on.
Then there was Henry IV. of France, whose taste for building conduced
much to the improvement of his capital.



It is said that before Alfred the Great was twelve years of age, “he was
a most expert and active hunter, and excelled in all the branches of
that most noble art, to which he applied with incessant labour and
amazing success;” and Harold is represented in the famous Bayeux
tapestry with his hounds by his side when brought before William, Duke
of Normandy. Early accounts tell us how the privileges of hunting in the
royal forests were confined to the King and his favourites, and history
records how the New Forest in Hampshire was made by William, and how the
park at Woodstock, seven miles in circumference, was walled round by
Henry, his son.

But, apart from having been one of the most popular of our royal sports,
hunting has not only been associated with many an important crisis in
our history, but has had a romantic past. Thus it was when Henry was in
the hunting-field, and the glancing aside of Wat Tyrrel’s arrow made him
King of England, that an old woman in weird language addressed him

    “Hasty news to thee I bring,
     Henry, thou art now a king;
     Mark the words and heed them well,
     Which to thee in sooth I tell,
     And recall them in the hour,
     Of thy regal state and power.”

King John was much attached to the chase, and in Cranbourne Chase, in
the parish of Tollard Royal, is an ancient farmhouse known as King
John’s Hunting-seat, with which a legendary story is told. One day, it
is said, King John, being equipped for hunting, issued forth with the
gay pageantry and state of his day. As he rode along he heard a gallant
youth address a lady nearly in these words:--

    “We will, fair queen, up to the mountain’s top,
     And mark the musical confusion,
     Of hounds and echo in conjunction.”

The happy couple left Tollard Royal on horseback, and as they took leave
of the King the moon was sinking below the horizon. They were missing
for several days, until the King, while hunting with his courtiers,
found their lifeless remains. It appeared that when the moon set they
must have mistaken their road, and have fallen “into a hideous pit,
where both were killed.”

Marguerite, second wife of Edward I., was so keen a huntress that she
was eagerly following the chase, when symptoms occurred which forced her
to seek in haste the first roof she could reach. It was in a house at
Brotherton, a village in Yorkshire, traditionally pointed out for
centuries, that her firstborn son, Thomas, afterwards Duke of Norfolk
and Grand Marshal of England, first saw the light.

Edward III., at the time he was engaged at war with France, and resident
in that country, had with him in his army sixty couples of stag-hounds,

[Illustration: EDWARD III.]

as many hare-hounds, rarely allowing a day to pass without gratifying
his favourite taste for hunting.

Tradition, too, long identified “the Queen’s oak” at Grafton as where
Elizabeth Woodville waylaid Edward IV. in the forest of Whittlebury,
with a fatherless boy in either hand. She threw herself at his feet, and
pleaded for the restoration of Bradgate, the inheritance of her
children. Her downcast looks and mournful beauty not only gained her
suit, but reached the heart of Edward, who on making certain proposals
received the memorable answer, “I know I am not good enough to be your
queen, but I am too good to become your mistress.”

But what shall be said of Henry VIII., who on that eventful morning--the
19th of May 1536--attired for the chase, with his huntsmen and hounds
around him, stood under the spreading oak in Richmond Park, breathlessly
awaiting the signal-gun from the Tower which was to announce the
execution of his once “entirely beloved Anne Boleyn.” At last, when the
sullen sound of the death-gun was heard, he joyously cried, “Ha, ha! the
deed is done, uncouple the hounds and away!”

How different were Henry’s feelings on this day to what they had been in
1532, when Cardinal du Bellai, ambassador from Francis I., gave this
pleasant picture of another hunting scene in which the ill-fated Anne
Boleyn took part: “I am alone every day with the King when we are
hunting; he chats familiarly with me, and sometimes Madame Anne joins
our party. Each of them is equipped with bow and arrows, which is, as
you know, their mode of following the chase. Sometimes he places us in
a station to see him shoot the deer; and whenever he arrives near any
house belonging to his courtiers, he alights to tell them of the feats
he has accomplished. Madame Anne has presented me a complete set of
hunting-gear, consisting of a cap, a bow and arrows, and a greyhound. I
do not tell you this as a boast of the lady’s favour, but to show how
much King Henry prizes me as the representative of our monarch, for
whatever that lady does is directed by him.”

Elizabeth was fond of hunting, and the nobility who entertained her in
her different progresses made large hunting-parties, which she usually
joined if the weather was favourable. “Her Majesty,” says a courtier,
writing to Sir Robert Sidney,[67] “is well and excellently disposed to
hunting, for every second day she is on horseback, and continues the
sport long.” At this time her Majesty had just entered her
seventy-seventh year, and she was then at her palace at Oatlands. And
oftentimes, when she was not disposed to hunt herself, she was
entertained with the sight of the pastime. At Cowdray in Sussex--the
seat of Lord Montacute--one day after dinner, we read in Nichols’s
“Progresses,” how her Grace saw from a turret “sixteen bucks, all having
fayre lawe, pulled down with greyhounds in a laund or lawn.” And many
other accounts have been left us of the interest Elizabeth always took
in the chase.

James I. found much enjoyment in hunting, and it was a common
expression of our ancestors on taking leave of their friends, “God’s
peace be with you, as King James said to his hounds.”

Scaliger observed of him, “The King of England is merciful except in
hunting, where he appears cruel. When he finds himself unable to take
the beast, he frets and cries, ‘God is angry with me, but I will have
him for all that.’” “His favourite pastime once nearly cost him his
life, for he was thrown headlong into a pond, and very narrowly escaped
drowning. On another occasion his bad horsemanship nearly proved fatal
to him, for Mr. Joseph Meade writes to Sir Martin Stuteville, 11th
January 1622: ‘The same day his Majesty rode by coach to Theobald’s to
dinner, ... and after dinner, riding on horseback abroad, his horse
stumbled, and cast his Majesty into the New River, where the ice brake;
he fell in so that nothing but his boots were seen. Sir Richard Young
went into the water and lifted him out.’” Indeed, Sir Richard Baker
informs us the King’s riding was so remarkable that it could not with so
much propriety be said that he rode, as that his horse carried him. He
often hunted in Cranbourne Chase, and in a copy of Barker’s Bible,
printed in 1594, which formerly belonged to the family of the Cokers of
Woodcotes, in the Chase, are entries of the King’s visits: “The 24th day
of August, our King James was in Mr. Butler’s Walke, and found the
bucke, and killed him in Vernedich, in Sir Walter Vahen’s Walk.”

In the painting of Queen Anne of Denmark in her hunting costume, her
dogs are introduced by Van Somers; they wear ornamental collars, round
which are embossed in gold the letters, A. R.; they are dwarf
greyhounds. The Queen holds a crimson cord in her hand in which two of
these dogs are linked, and it is long enough to allow them to run in the
leash by her side when on horseback. A very small greyhound is begging,
by putting its paws against her green cut-velvet farthingale, as if
jealous of her attention.

Catherine of Braganza, Queen-Consort of Charles II., loved sport, and
from all accounts her hunting establishment was carried on in an
elaborate manner, for mention is made of “the master of her Majesty’s
bows,” with a salary of £61 attached to his office; “a yeoman of her
Majesty’s bows,” “a master of her Majesty’s bucks,” &c. At Oxnead a
venerable oak was long pointed out, beneath which, according to local
tradition, King Charles and his Queen stood when they shot at the butts.
In the year 1676 a silver badge for the marshal of the fraternity of
bowmen, of which she was the patroness, was made, weighing twenty-five
ounces, with the figure of an archer drawing the long English bow to his
ear, with the inscription, “Reginæ Catharinæ Sagitarii,” having also the
arms of England and Portugal, with two bowmen for supporters.

James II. oftentimes hunted two or three times a week, and a
contemporary thus writes: “His Majesty to-day, God bless him! underwent
the fatigue of a long fox-chase. I saw him and his followers return, as
like drowned rats as ever appendixes to royalty did.” In the year 1686,
when pursuing the dangerous designs which led to his expulsion, he still
indulged in the chase, and Sir John Bramston in his Autobiography tells
us how on the 3rd of May James hunted the red deer near Chelmsford with
the Duke of Albemarle, Prince George of Denmark, and some of the lords
of his Court. After a long chase, the King was in at the death between
Romford and Brentwood. The same night he supped at Newhall with his
fellow-hunters; and on the next day he hunted another stag which lay in
Newhall Park, and a famous run they had, for “the gallant creature
leaped the paling, swam the river, ran through Brampfield, Pleshie, and
the Roothings, and was at last killed at Hatfield.” On this occasion,
too, James was in at the death, although most of the lords, including
the Duke of Albemarle, were thrown out, much to his delight. But as his
horse was spent, and royalty in some need of a dinner, Lord Dartmouth
advised to make for Copthall, the seat of the Earl of Dorset, and
accordingly he sent a groom to apprise his Lordship that his Majesty
would take family fare with him that day. It happened that the Earl was
dining out at Rockholts, and the Countess about to pay some visits in
the neighbourhood, when the messenger met them, stopped the coach, and
announced the royal intent. As her cook and butler were gone to Waltham
fair, she would have excused herself on the plea that her lord and
servants were out, but a second messenger following close on the heels
of the first, she drove home, and sent her carriage to meet his Majesty.

She exerted her energies to excellent purpose, and on his Majesty’s
arrival a handsome collation was prepared for him. Well pleased, the
King set forth for London, and on the road met the Earl of Dorset
returning from Rockholts, who, alighting from his coach, offered his
regrets that he had not been at home to entertain his Majesty.

“Make no excuse, my lord,” replied the King, “all was exceedingly well
done, and very handsome.”

King William’s favourite diversion was hunting, or rather coursing. In a
letter to Lord Portland, dated from Windsor, 1701, his Majesty displays
the keen relish he took in this sport: “I am hunting the hare every day
in the park with your dogs and mine. The rabbits are almost all killed,
and their burrows will soon be stopped up. The day before yesterday I
took a stag in the forest with the Prince of Denmark’s hounds, and had a
pretty good run as far as this villainous country permits.” It may be
remarked that King William’s uncomplimentary epithets touching England
and the English have been made the subject of strong comment; but, as it
has been observed, the abhorrence of the land he ruled “was not founded
on moral detestation of its vilest diversions, in the worst of which he
partook.” As shown elsewhere, he was a desperate gambler, and Count
Tallard, the French ambassador, mentioning some of his doings, thus
writes: “On leaving the palace King William went to the cock-fight,
whither I accompanied him. He made me sit beside him.”

Queen Anne’s principal amusement was hunting. On the 31st of July 1711
Swift writes to Stella from Windsor: “The Queen was abroad to-day in
order to hunt, but finding it disposed to rain, she kept in her coach.
She hunts in a chaise with one horse, which she drives herself, and
drives furiously, like Jehu, and is a mighty hunter, like Nimrod.”

On the 7th of the following month Swift writes to Stella: “I dined
to-day with the gentlemen Ushers, among scurvy company; but the Queen
was hunting the stag till four this afternoon, and she drove in her
chaise above forty miles, and it was five before we went to dinner.”

Her Majesty must have had some skill in driving, or she would probably
have met with a series of disasters similar to one which befell her
friend the Duchess of Somerset, who was overturned.

Prior to ascending the throne she purchased a cottage lodge in the
neighbourhood of Windsor, and every summer she hunted the stag in
Windsor Forest. A noble oak with a glass plate affixed to it, intimating
that it was called “Queen Anne’s oak,” as beneath its branches she was
accustomed to mount her horse for the chase, was long a place of

George II. was often to be found in the hunting-field, and was on such
an occasion usually attended by the Queen, one or more of the
princesses, the maids of honour, and a number of the courtiers of both
sexes. The sport was not unfrequently attended by accident, and one day
the Princess Amelia had a narrow escape with her life. This princess was
devoted to the pleasures of the field, and in the pursuit of her
favourite amusement adopted a costume which more nearly resembled that
of the male than the female sex. In the gallery at Hardwicke there is a
curious portrait of her--in a round hunting cap and laced coat--which,
says Mr. Jesse, “those who are unacquainted with her peculiarities would
hardly persuade themselves could be intended for a woman.”

It is recorded of Charlemagne that he was passionately devoted to the
chase, and arranged his hunting appointments with every show of luxury,
it having been his special delight to show the splendour of his hunting
establishment to foreign princes. When hunting, it is said, the
organisation was like that “of a military expedition, and resembled the
immense battues which the sovereigns of Germany delighted in during the
last century. Armies of men beat the woods, and many packs of dogs drove
all the animals of a large district into enclosures of nets and snares,
when the hunters of the highest rank attacked them on horseback with the
lance and the javelin.”

Many of the French monarchs made hunting their favourite pastime. The
coronation of Philip Augustus was postponed by the illness of the young
prince. He was benighted whilst hunting in the forest of Compiègne,
brought home by a peasant, but was so terrified that a very long illness
was the result. The chase was the only sport that Louis XI. cared for,
and it is commonly said that he was as selfish and cruel in protecting
his preserves as William Rufus himself. It is related that Louis at a
later period cut off a Norman gentleman’s ear for shooting a hare on his
own grounds. Basin goes so far as to say that Montauban--one of the
favourites of Louis XI.--being appointed Chief of Forests and
Rivers--showed himself so severe and rapacious in the granting of
licences and the punishment of offences connected with the chase, that
the entire gentry of the country were filled with rage![68]

The Bois de Boulogne was formed by Francis I., that he might hunt close
to his capital, and the Château de Madrid was built in it for his
night’s rest. Fontainebleau, with its forty acres of forest, often
resounded with the fanfares of the huntsmen, as the King’s gay train
galloped through the wooded glades. More than once his life was in
danger whilst fighting hand to hand with the wild boars caught in the
nets; and one day he was dragged from his saddle by a stag which threw
him to the ground. Chambord, once the Versailles of the south, owes its
castle to him, which he built, after his imprisonment in Spain, for a
hunting lodge.

Louis XIII. was fond of the chase, and Versailles owed its grandeur to
his love for hunting. Tired of sleeping in a windmill, or a cabaret,
when wearied with his long rides through the forest of St. Leger, he
built a small pavilion, which was replaced in 1627 by an elegant
château, which under Louis XIV. assumed its later proportions. The
latter monarch made his début in boar-hunting at the age of four, and
his daily journal betrays the large portion of time given up to it in
the midst of events which precipitated the French monarchy to ruin.

The only passion, it is said, ever shown by Louis XVI. was for hunting.
On one occasion, writes Soulavie,[69] “he was so much occupied by it
that when I went up into his private closets at Versailles, I saw upon
the staircase six frames, in which were seen statements of all his hunts
when dauphin and when king. In them was detailed the number, kind, and
quality of the game he had killed at each hunting-party during every
month, every season, and every year of his reign.”

The story goes that when Gustavus reached Paris on June 7, 1784, he went
on the same evening to Versailles. But Louis had been hunting, and was
at supper at Rambouillet when a courier from Vergennes brought him the
news. The King at once retired to Versailles, but not being expected,
could find neither _valets-de-chambre_ nor keys. Accordingly, he was
compelled to dress as best he could, and finally made his appearance
before his royal guest in two odd shoes--one with a red, the other with
a black heel--with odd buckles--one gold, one silver--and the rest of
his dress in similar confusion.

The indifference paid by Marie Antoinette to conventional rules
observed by those in high station exposed her to censure; but even her
opponents have been forced to admit that one of her charms was the
genuine kindness she often displayed to persons in a humble sphere of
life. Thus, on one occasion, a strange accident happened. The stag,
being closely pursued by the hounds during the royal hunt, leaped into
an enclosure in which the owner was at work. The animal not seeing any
means of escape became furious, ran at the peasant, and struck him two
blows with its antlers, inflicting a dangerous wound. His wife, in a
state of despair, rushed towards a group of sportsmen she saw at a
distance--it was the King and his suite. She cried out for help, telling
what had happened to her husband, and then fell down in a swoon. The
King gave orders that she should be attended to, and after speaking
kindly and compassionately rode away; but the Dauphiness, who had come
up, stepped out of her carriage, ran to the woman, made her smell
essenced water, which gave her relief, and presented her with all the
money she had on her person.

On July 25, 1830, Charles X. of France signed the decrees which
abolished the liberty of the press, and on the following day--although
it was summertime--he went with the Dauphin to hunt the stag in the
forest of Rambouillet. It proved to be an historic hunt, for “it seemed
as if he had come to gaze at the scene whence his royalty was to be
carried out to be buried.” By half-past nine the following night eight
royal carriages and some hired coaches deposited at the gates of
Rambouillet the fugitive King and a part of his terrified family; and
thus came to pass the deposition of the last of the Bourbon kings who
had reigned in France.

Frederick William I. of Prussia was an enthusiastic huntsman, and
attached to the royal household were twelve huntsmen, who, besides their
services in the chase, likewise waited at table. During several of his
illnesses they had to sit up with him, and to amuse him during his
sleepless nights with hunters’ stories. On the other hand, Frederick the
Great denounced hunting as cruel, and he used frequently to say, “The
butcher does not kill animals for his pleasure, but merely because human
society requires them for food; whereas the hunter kills them only for
his pleasure, which is detestable. The hunter, therefore, should be
placed in the scale of society below the butcher.” Frederick William
III., too, never had any taste for hunting, which he called “a cruel
miserable pleasure”; and he even gave it as his opinion that his
ancestor, Frederick William I., of whom he loved to speak, had been made
so harsh and cruel by it.

Ferdinand V., the Catholic, who united the kingdoms of Castile and
Aragon by his marriage with Isabella, cared for no other amusement save
that of hunting, especially falconry; and Charles V. was fond of the
chase. Maximilian II. found his chief pleasure in hunting, and he
acquired the celebrated Prater--the Hyde Park of Vienna--which was
originally a forest park with preserved game. In one of his letters to
his brother-in-law, Albert of Bavaria, dated September 28, 1568, he
writes: “I have several times wished from all my heart that you were
with us in the Prater, where lots of fine stags have shown themselves,
and particularly on Tuesday last, when I had a boar-hunt there, at which
I bagged thirty head of game.”

Hunting the boar in the forests which surrounded the royal residence of
Cintra was the great delight of Don Sebastian. We are told that he
always dismounted to give the _coup de grâce_ to the boar. Sometimes the
wounded beast turned upon his assailant, but none of the cavaliers
presumed, however desperate the struggle, to interfere between the King
and his savage foe.

A Portuguese monarch who devoted much time to hunting was Alfonso IV., a
pursuit he indulged in to the detriment of the State. But his presence
one day being essential at Lisbon, he entered the council-chamber full
of the adventures of the chase, with which he entertained the nobles
present. After concluding his narrative, a nobleman of the first rank
thus addressed him:--

“Courts and camps are allowed for kings, not woods and deserts. Even the
affairs of private men suffer when recreation is preferred to business;
but when the phantasies of pleasure engross the thoughts of a king, a
whole nation is consigned to ruin. If your Majesty will attend to the
wants and remove the grievances of your people, you will find them
obedient subjects; if not, they will look out for another and a better

Alfonso, in the transport of passion, retired, but soon returned, and
said: “I perceive the truth of your remarks. He who will not execute the
duties of a king cannot long have good subjects. Remember, from this day
forward I am no longer Alfonso the Sportsman, but Alfonso, King of
Portugal”--a resolve which he kept with the most rigid determination,
becoming one of the greatest of the Portuguese monarchs.

The only accomplishment, it is said, in which Alfonso VI. was a
proficient was horsemanship. He once rode full-tilt at a savage bull in
a meadow, but the brute so galled his royal assailant with his horns,
that “he was unhorsed and nearly lost his life.” Amongst the wild acts
of this wretched monarch, we are told how one night, returning from the
chase, he charged two inoffensive citizens, sword in hand, and after
riding over them would have despatched them, had not the grand huntsman

Charles III. of Spain was more attached to the sports of the field than
the splendour of the monarchy; and it is said that no weather, however
bad, could keep him at home. In addition to a most numerous retinue of
persons belonging to his hunting establishment, several times a year all
the idle fellows in the neighbourhood of Madrid were hired to scour the
country, far and wide, and drive the wild boars, hares, and deer into a
ring, where they passed before the royal family. Charles also kept in a
diary a regular account of the victims to his skill. A short time before
his death he boasted to a foreign ambassador that he had killed with his
own hand 539 wolves and 5323 foxes. “So that, you see,” he said, with a
smile, “my diversion has not been useless to my country.” And it is
further said that so devoted was his Majesty to hunting that there were
only three days in the year when he did not attend the chase.

Charles IV. was equally fond of hunting, and the first feeling he had of
his uncrowned condition was on hearing that the new king had ordered all
the wolves and foxes to be destroyed. It was not his son’s policy which
disconcerted him, but the suppression of his hunting establishment,
which had been his only pleasure for many years.

Amongst the fatalities on the hunting-field may be mentioned the death
of Casimir IV., King of Poland, who was thrown from his horse near
Cracow, November 3, 1370. During the years that Stanislaus Leczinski
reigned, he paid every regard to his preserves, chases, and forests. He
took great pride in his deer, which were often so numerous that the
harvests were occasionally ruined by them--so destructive were they to
the crops. But this monarch, says Dr. Doran, is praised “for having
reduced his hunting establishment, and opened his preserves for
cultivation.” He certainly did this, but it was not till he was too old
to mount a horse, or hold a gun. Before that, if a hungry man snared a
hare he was sent to the gallows. But whatever his inconsistencies may
have been, Stanislaus continued to win popular affection, than which,
says Grimm, he could not have had a more touching funeral oration at the
time of his death.



At Court in bygone years, on occasions of festivity, it was customary
for the whole company to appear in borrowed characters, a practice which
may be traced back as early as the reign of Edward III. Pageants of this
kind were exhibited with great splendour, and at a costly outlay. The
magnificent disguisings which took place in the reign of Henry VIII.
have long been proverbial. The chief aim seems to have been to surprise
the spectators “by the ridiculous and exaggerated oddity of the visors,
and by the singularity and splendour of the dresses, everything being
out of nature and propriety. Frequently the masque was attended with an
exhibition of gorgeous machinery, resembling the wonders of a modern
pantomime,”[70] the preparation of which occupied a considerable time.

It was at the Christmas festivities in the year 1509 that Henry VIII.
appeared in the disguise of a strange knight, astonishing the Court
circle with the grace and vigour of his tilting. Henry was specially
fond of disguisings and masquings, and on another occasion he presented
himself with his cousin, the Earl of Essex, and other nobles, in the
disguise of Robin Hood and his men, “Whereat,” writes Holinshed, “the
Queen and her ladies were greatly amazed, as well for the strange sight
as for their sudden appearance.”

At Shrovetide soon afterwards, in a grand banquet given at Westminster,
Henry, with the Earls of Essex, Wiltshire, and Fitzwalter, appeared in
Russian costume, “with furred hats of grey, each of them having a
hatchet in hand, and wearing boots with peaks turned up.” The King’s
sister, the Princess Mary, danced a masquing ballet, hiding her face
under a black gauze mask, as “she had assumed the character of an Ethiop

In the early part of the year 1510 a royal masque was given to celebrate
the birth of Prince Henry, on which occasion Sir Charles Brandon,
afterwards Duke of Suffolk, introduced himself before Queen Catherine in
the garb of a “hermit poor,” craving permission to tilt in her honour.
In the evening, when her Majesty sat in state at Westminster, a nobleman
entered to inform her “how that in a garden of pleasure was an arbour of
gold, full of ladies, who were very desirous of showing pastime for the
Queen’s diversion.”

Catherine graciously replied, “I and my ladies will be happy to behold
them and their pastime.”

Then a curtain was drawn aside, and the pageant moved forwards. It was
an arbour, covered with gold, above which were twined branches of
hawthorn, roses, and eglantines, all made of silk and satin to resemble
the natural colours of the flowers. In the arbour were six ladies,
dressed in gowns of white and green satin, covered with gold letters of
H and K. Near the bower stood the King himself and five lords, dressed
in purple satin, likewise covered with the same monograms in solid
bullion, and every one had his name in letters of bullion. Then the King
and his company danced before Catherine’s throne.

In honour of the marriage of Arthur, Prince of Wales, with Catherine of
Aragon, three pageants were exhibited in Westminster Hall. The first was
a castle with ladies; the second, a ship in full sail, that cast anchor
near the castle; and the third, a mountain with several armed knights
upon it, who stormed the castle and obliged the ladies to surrender. The
pageant terminated with a dance.

But these Court spectacles were, perhaps, at no period more cultivated
in this country than by Henry VIII. and his favourite, Wolsey, in whose
strangely contrived shows a moving mountain would sometimes “enter the
great hall, adorned with trees, flowers, and herbage, and studded with
wild beasts and savage men, which, opening suddenly, would send forth a
gay throng of knights and ladies, or allegorical personages, who, having
sung and danced before the guests, retired again to their place of
concealment.”[71] Such performances, as may be imagined, by their
novelty and grotesqueness, rarely failed to create as much fun and
amusement among the royal circle as among the privileged persons invited
to see them.

When an inventory was taken after the death of Henry VIII. of all the
tapestry, pictures, plate, jewels, and other goods of which he died
possessed, it was found that he had no less than ninety-nine vizors, or
“masks of sondry sorts,” besides many sets of “maskings heads” at
Greenwich, which he and his courtiers were in the habit of wearing.

In her youthful days Queen Mary made her appearance at a pantomimic
ballet, when she wore a black crape mask as an Ethiopian princess. In
the year 1527 she exhibited herself before the French ambassadors at
Greenwich Palace, with five of her ladies, dressed in Icelandic costume;
and with six lords, in the costume of the same country, the party
“daunced lustily about the hall.”

At another masque, before the same ambassadors, in May of that year, the
Princess Mary issued out of a cave with her seven ladies, dressed after
the Roman fashion in rich cloth of gold and crimson tinsel, and they
danced a ballet with eight lords. It is said that the young Princess
soon became emboldened and at her ease when engaged in such royal
pageantry; although, as it has been remarked, it seems strange to us
nowadays that one so young should have been allowed or encouraged, so
attired, to challenge the gaze and criticism of strangers. The only
instance, says Payne Collier, in which Queen Mary called on the Master
of the Revels to provide for entertainments at Court during her reign
was in 1557. On St. Mark’s Day she commanded, for her “regal disport,
recreation, and comfort,” a “notorious maske of Almaynes, Pilgrymes,
and Irishemen.”

A continual series of pageantry and masquing welcomed Queen Elizabeth’s
reception at Kenilworth; and on Shrove Tuesday, 1594, the members of
Gray’s Inn got up a burlesque masque for her amusement, with which she
was so much pleased that the courtiers, fired with emulation, as soon as
the masque was over began to dance a measure, which caused her Majesty
to utter this reproof: “What, shall we have bread and cheese after a

The Earl of Essex, who took good care to propitiate his royal mistress
by all sorts of flattery, on the 17th of November 1596--the anniversary
of her accession to the throne--caused a sort of masque to be
represented which was thus described by an eye-witness: “My lord of
Essex’s device is much commended in these late triumphs. Some pretty
while before he came in himself to the tilt, he sent his page with some
speech to the Queen, who returned with her Majesty’s glove; and when he
came himself, he was met by an old hermit, a secretary of state, a brave
soldier, and an esquire. The first presented him with a book of
meditations, the second with political discourses, the third with
orations of brave-fought battles, the fourth was but his own follower,
to whom the other three imparted much of their purpose before their
coming in. Another devised with him, persuading him to this and that
course of life, according to their own inclinations. Then comes into
the tilt-yard, unthought upon, the ordinary post-boy of London, a ragged
villain, all bemired, upon a poor lean jade, galloping and blowing for
life, and delivered the secretary a packet of letters, which he
presently offered to my lord of Essex; and with this dumb show our eyes
were fed for that time.”

In the after-supper before the Queen, “they first delivered a
well-penned speech to move this worthy knight to leave his vain
following of love, and to betake him to heavenly meditation, the
secretaries all tending to have him follow matters of state, the
soldiers persuading him to war;” but the esquire answered them all in
plain English: “That this knight would never forsake his mistress’s
love, whose virtue made all his thoughts divine, whose wisdom taught him
all true policy, whose beauty and worth were at all times able to make
him fit to command armies. He showed all the defects and imperfections
of the times, and therefore thought his course of life the best in
serving his mistress.” The Queen said, “If she had thought there had
been so much said of her, she would not have been there that night.”

A Court masque was the accompaniment of Darnley’s murder, probably
arranged, it has been suggested, as one of the episodes of that cruel
tragedy. Much has been written on the beauty and romance of the
Elizabethan masques, which it was required should be something more than
a ballet, or a fancy ball. According to Mr. Thornbury, in his
“Shakspere’s England” (vol. ii. p. 371), “the poetry was such as Jonson
could write--tender as Anacreon, vigorous as Æschylus; though
occasionally tedious, laboured, dull, and rugged, mythology, history,
and romance were ransacked to furnish new materials for these plays; the
poetry and costume were all but perfect, and the scenery was left to
fancy, so well able to realise it. The amusement that delighted such
minds as Bacon’s and Jonson’s is not to be sneered at in the nineteenth
century.” The sympathy and support, too, which Elizabeth gave to this
class of diversion had a more or less lasting effect; but there was an
inclination as time went on to introduce many innovations which were not
always in good taste.

One of the chief amusements of James I. and his Court were masques and
emblematic pageants, and it appears by what is entitled “A Briefe
Collection of the Extraordinarie Payments” of the Court of James I.,
from 1603 to the end of 1609, that the “charges for masks” amounted to
£4215.[72] An imposing instance occurred in the year 1610, to
commemorate the Queen’s eldest son, Henry, being created Prince of
Wales. On this occasion the “whole Court of England, the Queen, the
Princess-Royal, and all the aristocratic beauties of the day were busy
devising robes, arranging jewels, and practising steps and movements for
this beautiful poem of action, in which music, painting, dancing, and
decoration, guided by the taste of Inigo Jones, were all called into
employment to make the palace of Whitehall a scene of enchantment. In
this masque the Court ladies personated the nymphs of the principal
rivers, the Queen represented the Empress of Streams, and the little
Prince Charles, in the character of Zephyr, attended by twelve little
ladies, was to deliver the Queen’s presents to his elder brother, the
newly created Prince of Wales, the presentation being the ostensible
business of the masque. One of the chief attractions of this
entertainment was a ballet, which was so arranged that Prince Charles
always danced encircled by his little ladies, all of whom had been so
carefully trained that they were rapturously applauded by the whole
Court. This festive scene was perhaps one of the brightest and happiest
in the Queen’s life, for when in after days some one accidentally
recalled it to her memory after the death of Prince Henry, she gave way
to the most acute grief.[73]

But some of these magnificent masques appear to have been conducted with
but little attention to decorum. The Countess of Dorset mentions in her
Memoirs that there was “much talk of a mask which the Queen held at
Winchester, and how all the ladies about the Court had gotten such ill
names, that it was grown a scandalous place; and the Queen herself was
much fallen from her former greatness and reputation she had in the
world.” Peyton’s censure is even stronger. “The masks,” he says, “and
plays at Whitehall were used only as incentives for lust; therefore the
courtiers invited the citizens’ wives to those shows on purpose to
defile them. There is not a chamber nor lobby, if it could speak, but
would verify this.”

In the following reign the masque became a highly beautiful and
exquisite entertainment, encouraged by the fine taste of Charles I., and
aided by such cultured men as Buckingham, Jonson, Lawes the musician,
and Inigo Jones. The masque at this period was produced at an enormous
outlay, and one presented at Whitehall by the Inns of Court in the year
1633 cost the prodigious sum of £21,000. In the masque of “The Night and
the Hours,” the first scene represented a double valley, one side with
dark clouds hanging before it, on the other a green vale, with trees,
nine of which were covered with gold, and were fifteen feet high. From
this grove towards the “state,” or seat of the King, extended a
dancing-place, with the bower of Flora on the right, and the house of
Night on the left. The bower of Flora was decorated with flowers and
leafy branches, whilst Night appears in her house, “her long black hair
spangled with gold, amidst her hours, their faces black, and each
bearing a lighted black torch.”

On another occasion the Lords’ masque was performed, which was also
divided into two parts, the lower being first discovered, in which there
was seen a wood in perspective; and on the sudden fall of a curtain
there appeared a heaven of clouds of all hues, whilst from a bright and
transparent cloud eight maskers descended with the music of a full
song. On reaching the ground the cloud broke in twain, and, after the
manner of a transformation scene, a series of changes took place. With
these gorgeous entertainments was usually presented the anti-masque, a
humorous parody of the more solemn show. And to the popularity of this
species of exhibition we owe Milton’s “Comus and Arcades.”[74]

During the reign of Charles II. masquerading was the rage, and it is
recorded how the King and Queen and all the courtiers went about masked,
and so completely disguised that no one, unless in the secret, could
distinguish them. They were carried about in hackney-chairs, entered
houses where merry-makings were going on, and danced about with the
wildest frolic. On one occasion the Queen got separated from her party,
and her chairmen, not knowing her, went away. Much frightened, she
returned to Whitehall in a hackney-coach, or, according to some
authorities, in a cart. The Earl of Manchester--the Lord
Chamberlain--well aware that she was surrounded by spies who were ready
to make the most of the slightest indiscretion on her part, did not
hesitate to tell her that “it was neither decent nor safe for her to go
about as she had done of late.” The Duke of Buckingham seriously
proposed to Charles that in some nocturnal frolic they should carry the
Queen off, and send her to the plantations, to which, according to
Burnet, the King would have had no objection had she retired voluntarily
into a convent.

A harmless feature of the frolic and fun of the exiled Court at St.
Germains were the balls and receptions given by Mary Beatrice. A lively
description, too, has been given of the Shrove Tuesday masquerade at St.
Germains, to which the whole town was admitted, the barriers being
thrown open by her Majesty’s command, in order that all classes, high
and low, young and old, English and French, might join in the carnival.
Etiquette, however, forbade the Prince and Princess from wearing masks,
or assuming any particular characters on these occasions; yet they are
represented as dancing merrily in the midst of the motley crowd.

On one occasion some indignation was caused when it was discovered that,
at a masked ball, the son of the Court apothecary, Bondin, had found
admittance, at which the Duchess of Burgundy was present. The
apothecary’s son, concealed under his mask, had the audacity to pass for
a marquis, and was bold enough to dance with a princess who was not very
remote from the throne. At these balls not only James and his Queen, but
the young Prince of Wales, were often present. At one of these riotous
gatherings the crowd was so great that the little Duke de Berri, son of
the Dauphin, nearly lost his life in the pressure by suffocation.
Happily he was rescued, but not without some difficulty. It may be noted
that the “pretended Prince of Wales,” as the son of James is invariably
called by the English papers of the period, is described as being
present at these masked balls, “masked,” to save him from being “tied
to ceremonials.”

And it is recorded that whilst this kind of merriment was going on, the
ears of James were deafened by solicitations from his starving disbanded
soldiers, whose distress was appalling. Indeed, their condition became
so desperate that Louis was petitioned to enrol one hundred of them in
the French army; and, when this request was refused, an honest captain
of gendarmes, expressing himself too freely, was punished with the loss
of his personal freedom, and was flung into the Bastille. It is said
that James would have had sympathy with the bold speaker thus cruelly
punished, but that his attention was, through the force of
circumstances, attracted in different directions.[75]

Masquerading was general in Scotland as far back as the days of James I.
At the celebration of the marriage of James IV. and the Lady Margaret, a
company of English comedians, under the management of John English,
enlivened the festivities of the Court with a dramatic representation.
“After dinnar a moralite was played by the said Master Englishe and his
companions, in the presence of the Kyng and Qwene, and then daunces were

During the regency of Mary of Guise, and the reign of Mary Queen of
Scots, “when masques became more and more splendid and extravagant, and
when the Queen pirouetted in newly introduced French dances which were
anything but models of decorum, no wonder the more sober-minded were
disgusted, and all amusement of the kind was brought into
disrepute.”[76] But it would appear that, however much such frivolities
grated on the feelings of the sober-minded Scotsman, royalty was not
disposed on that account to dispense with a mode of diversion which had
never been so severely censured elsewhere.

In the year 1681 there were gay doings at Edinburgh, when the Duke and
Duchess of York and the Lady Anne--afterwards Queen of England--were
present. Balls, plays, and masquerades were introduced; but the last
were soon laid aside, “the taste of the times being opposed to such
ungodly innovations,” and there were substituted poetic and dramatic
masques and pastorals, in which the Princess Anne, with other young
ladies of quality, personated some of the mythological characters. These
entertainments included the “Comus” of Milton, and similar pieces by Ben
Jonson, Shirley, Davenant, and other dramatic poets of the last century,
and they were interspersed with music, and were set off with splendid
dresses and decorations.

And coming down to later times, a practical joke which was played by the
Duke of Montagu on Heidegger, a celebrated conductor of operas and
masquerades, is said to have been much enjoyed by George II. A few days
previous to one of Heidegger’s famous masquerades, at which the King had
promised to be present, the Duke of Montagu invited the German to sup
with him at the Devil’s Tavern in Fleet Street, and plied him with wine
till he became helplessly intoxicated. Whilst in this condition, Mrs.
Salmon was commissioned to take a cast of his face, which was afterwards
painted “to the very image of life.” The Duke then procured a suit of
clothes exactly like Heidegger’s ordinary costume, and having procured a
person whose voice and figure resembled those of the German, he managed
to create an excellent counterpart of his unfortunate victim. On the
evening of the masquerade Heidegger ordered the band to play the
National Anthem as soon as the King and his suite arrived; whereupon the
counterfeit Heidegger commanded them to play the Jacobite tune of “Over
the water to Charley.” The King and the players were in the secret of
the joke, for the former laughed immoderately, and the latter followed
the orders of the fictitious manager. Heidegger was in a state of fury,
and when informed by the Duke of Montagu of his Majesty’s displeasure at
the insolence of the band, repaired to the royal box to vindicate his
character. The King kept up the joke for a time, and terminated it by
ordering the counterfeit Heidegger to remove his mask.

On New Year’s Eve 1745 Frederick the Great, in celebration of the peace
with Silesia, gave at the Opera House a masked ball, to which every one,
without distinction, was admitted. The Court and the nobility were
entertained at six large tables, in addition to which people of every
rank and station found on all sides richly furnished buffets. On the
square before the Opera House a temple of Janus was erected, behind
which a grand display of fireworks took place. The ball lasted till
morning, the maskers giving only too manifest proof that they had found
the wines most excellent. But the King, who made the round of the
tables, where he saw a good deal of his plate finding its way into the
pockets of his guests, and discovered many persons lying hopelessly
drunk in the lobbies of the house, remarked, “I shall never repeat this

On the 13th of March 1799 the Opera House of Berlin was the scene of a
masquerade which contemporary reports describe as well worthy of the
days of Louis XIV., or of Augustus the Strong of Saxony. It represented
the marriage of the English Queen Mary with Philip of Spain, the
character of the bride being supported by Queen Louisa, and that of the
bridegroom by the Duke of Sussex. A minuet of these two royal personages
was followed by a quadrille between Queen Elizabeth, Don John of
Austria, Margaret of Parma, and the Duke of Savoy.

On the evening of March 16, 1792, Gustavus III. was mortally wounded at
a masked ball at the Opera House at Stockholm, and died, after great
suffering, on the 29th. The pistol-shot was fired by a man of noble
family, Ankarström, formerly a captain in the Guards, who, having
retired from active service, and still holding a half-civil command in
the island of Gothland, had been--rightly or wrongly--accused of a
traitorous understanding with the Finland mutineers in 1788. He had,
therefore, been sentenced by the King to a term of imprisonment. This
sentence, it has been suggested, and the wrongs his order had sustained
in the constitutional changes of 1789, may have wrought a mind naturally
gloomy into madness; in addition to which he is said to have lost
heavily by a sudden depreciation of paper money to an extent of 30 per
cent. Hence the King, in his eyes, was a tyrant and a robber, and he
vowed vengeance. With him were joined several other discontented and
angry nobles, who had suffered arrest in 1789, and had real or fancied
wrongs to avenge; and it may be added that the King’s secretary, Bjelke,
who enjoyed much of his Majesty’s confidence, persuaded him to go to the
ball, taking care to give timely notice to the conspirators.

At night, after Christina had taken the most solemn step of abandoning
the community of Luther for the Church of Rome, at Innsbruck, in Tyrol,
the Archduke entertained her with a masque and dancing. Nor was this
all, for there was a play represented before her that evening, the moral
of which, it is said, was not of the cleanest, and upon which the
illustrious convert made this comment: “Well, gentlemen, it is but
proper that you should entertain me with a comedy to-night, since I
amused you with a farce this morning”--a profane remark, concerning
which the great Leibnitz remarks that, if it was really uttered, it
proved that “Christina was not mindful of--decorum!”



To avoid the dangers inseparable from war, or to seek a temporary
concealment in political troubles, has caused many a monarch in times
past to assume the most varied disguises, the circumstances connected
with which forming some of the most romantic episodes in history. In
“Candide, or the Optimist,” Voltaire tells in an admirable manner how
eight travellers meet in an obscure inn, and some of them with not even
sufficient money to pay for a scurvy dinner; but in the course of
conversation they are discovered to be eight monarchs in Europe, who had
been deprived of their crowns. And what gave point to this satire was
that these eight monarchs were not the fictitious majesties of the
poetic brain--“imperial shadows like those that appeared to Macbeth,”
but living monarchs who were wandering at that moment about the world.
If tradition be true, there is Alfred the disguised minstrel in the
Danish camp; and, later on, romance tells how the last of the Saxon
kings lived and died disguised as a hermit in a cell at Chester. Another
traditionary story informs us that the Emperor Henry V., husband of
Matilda of England, did not die at the time he was said to have done
so; but fled, disguised “in a woollen garment,” to England, where, at
Westchester, he lived for ten years as the hermit “God’s Call.” And it
is further told how the Empress Matilda, when hotly pursued by Stephen’s
troops at Devizes, made her escape by personating a corpse when wrapped
in grave clothes, and placed in a coffin. She was borne on the shoulders
of some of her trusty partisans to Gloucester, where, it is said, she
arrived “faint and weary with long fasting and mortal terror.” It is
not, however, with disguise as associated with the vicissitudes of
royalty that we are concerned, but rather as adopted by sovereigns for
some freak, or fancy.

Thus Charles VI. of France spent large sums of money in the pursuit of
pleasure, and, amidst other excesses, he was fond of disguising himself.
In the first week of the year 1393 there were festive doings at Court,
in consequence of the nuptials of the Queen’s favourite, a German lady.
It was her third marriage, and the event was considered to give occasion
for more than usual licence. As a novel diversion, it was proposed to
the King and his companions by one named Guisay to attire themselves as
satyrs, and, under cover of their masks, to taunt and tease the wedding
party. Accordingly, the disguise was effected by means of linen dresses,
to which tow was fixed with pitch. Dressed in this manner, five of the
party joined the wedding company at the Hôtel St. Pol, and indulged in
the most extravagant cries, dances, and gestures, when the mad idea
seized the Duke of Orleans of setting fire to the dresses of the
masqueraders. Instantly they were in flames, with the exception of the
King, whom the Duchess of Berri covered with her robe. But the others
perished, except one, who managed to save himself by leaping into a butt
of water. The accident, it is said,[77] might have become more serious,
by reason of the anger of the people, who, “when they learned it,
attributed all to the dissolute folly of the Court, and were for taking
vengeance on those present for the danger which had befallen the King.”

It is also recorded of the same monarch that his treasurer, Noujant, was
most desirous to lay by a certain sum for any urgent necessity that
might arise; and in order to secure the King’s approval, he proposed to
frame with it a golden stag which should be marvellous as a work of
wealth and art. But more than the neck and head of this stag was never
completed, for the King found another which pleased him better--a gilded
stag which could hold a sword and shake it. And, in order to exhibit
this, “he imagined the public entrance of the Queen into Paris. He
himself went to see the procession in disguise, mounted behind one of
his servitors, his eagerness to enjoy his own spectacle bringing upon
his back many a blow from the serjeants who cleared the way for the
pageant. The King boasted of having received these blows in a good

Some of the habits and predilections of Louis XI. were not only
distasteful to his nobles, but even incomprehensible to his people.
Occasionally he would set forth with half-a-dozen companions, clad like
himself in coarse grey cloth, with wooden paternosters about their
necks, under the pretext of forming some pilgrimage--his real aim being
to visit the marches and confines of his kingdom, and to become
acquainted with all things, and all men, through the evidence of his own
eyes. In similar guise Louis journeyed along the sea-coast to Bordeaux,
being nearly captured by an English boat which fired upon him. The
King’s staff lay concealed in some high reeds till there was an
opportunity of escaping.

We hear, too, of Charles IX. figuring at a tournament, with a party of
gay and festive followers, all of whom, King and courtiers, fought in
the lists attired as women.

Christina of Sweden, after she had resigned the throne, travelled in the
guise of a foreign knight, habited as a cavalier, with a red scarf,
according to the Spanish fashion. In this attire she rode into Hamburg,
where the inhabitants had prepared a residence for her, but she
preferred lodging with a Jewish physician named Texeira. “That action,”
says a contemporary writer, “much amazed both the Senate, whose
honourable entertainment and reception she refused, and the priests of
the town, who, inflamed with the zeal of God’s house, could not forbear
to speak in public against her for her ridiculous and scandalous choice
of the house of a man who is professedly a sworn enemy of Jesus
Christ.” In answer to such objections, Christina urged that Jesus Christ
had all His life conversed with the Jews, that He was one of their seed,
and that He had preferred their company to that of all other nations.

When travelling in male attire, and under the name of “the son of the
Count of Dohna,” Madame du Noyer, in her _Lettres Galantes_, tells how
Christina, when staying at an inn, was visited by the Queen of Denmark,
who disguised herself as a servant, and in that character waited on the
ex-queen. So cleverly did she act her part that Christina had not the
slightest suspicion, and, putting no restraint upon her tongue, she
occasionally spoke with entire unreserve of the King of Denmark in terms
of a not very complimentary kind. But, on her leaving the inn, the Queen
of Denmark commanded a page to inform his errant mistress that she had
done great injustice to the King. The page hastened to deliver the
message, at hearing which Christina laughed aloud, and exclaimed, “What!
that servant-girl who was standing there all dinner-time was the Queen
of Denmark! Well, there has happened to her what often happens to
curious people--they make discovery of more things than are agreeable to
them. It is her own fault, for as I have not the gift of divination, I
did not look for her under such a dress as that.”

The vacillating fortunes of the Polish monarchy seem to have convinced
more than one king that a crown is not always the most enviable of
possessions. Thus it is recorded that one sovereign--probably Boleslaus
II.--having quitted his companions in the hunting-field, was discovered
some days afterwards in the market-place of the capital disguised as a
porter, and lending out the use of his shoulders for a few pence. At
first there was some doubt as to whether the porter could be his
Majesty; but when this was removed, there was some indignation that so
great and exalted a personage should debase himself by so vile an
employment. He was then entreated to return to his vacant throne, but
his Majesty replied, “Upon my honour, gentlemen, the load which I
quitted is by far heavier than the one you see me carry here: the
weightiest is but a straw when compared to that world under which I
laboured. I have slept more in four nights than I have during all my
reign. I begin to live, and to be a king of myself. Elect whom you
choose. For me, who am so well, it were madness to return to Court.” The
story goes that when search was made for this philosophic ex-monarch he
was found only with extreme difficulty. He was elected against his will,
and when the sceptre was placed in his hand as he was seated on the
throne, he exclaimed, with some emotion, “I had rather tug at the oar
than occupy such a place.” But, as it has been justly remarked, “few are
the kings of the Poles who might not have given utterance to the same
sentiment, whether they were of the country, or as was often the case
after Casimir, obtained from foreign countries,” it having been the
boast of the Polish nobility that they held their kings, and were not
holden by them.[79]

The marriage of Ulrica, sister of Frederick the Great, with Adolphus
Frederick of Sweden was the fruit of a stratagem rather unfairly played
off on her sister. The Court and Senate of Sweden sent an ambassador
incognito to Berlin to watch and report upon the characters and
dispositions of Frederick’s two unmarried sisters, Ulrica and Amelia,
the former of whom had the reputation of being very haughty, crafty,
satirical, and capricious; and the Swedish Court had already determined
in favour of Amelia, who was remarkable for her personal beauty, and
sweetness of character. It so happened that Amelia was much disquieted
in her mind on account of her insuperable objection to renounce the
tenets of Calvin for those of Luther. In her perplexity she sought the
assistance of her sister’s counsels to prevent a union so repugnant to
her happiness. The wary Ulrica--only too anxious to hold her
place--advised her to assume by way of disguise the most insolent and
repulsive deportment to every one in the presence of the Swedish
ambassador--whose arrival had soon been buzzed abroad--which advice she
followed; whilst her sister adopted all those attractive and amiable
qualities which Amelia had for the time being laid aside. Every one,
ignorant of the cause, was astonished at the unaccountable change in the
conduct of the two sisters; and the ambassador on his return to Berlin
informed his Court that fame had completely reversed their reciprocal
good and bad qualities. The result of this stratagem was that Ulrica was
preferred, and mounted the throne of Sweden.

And with this ruse we may compare one practised by Catherine II. of
Russia on Joseph II., Emperor of Germany. At the village of Zarsko-Zelo,
at which is situated the magnificent imperial country palace, there were
no inns, an inconvenience which the hospitality of Mr. Bush, the English
gardener, prevented being felt by visitors properly introduced to him.
Accordingly, when Joseph II., to whom every appearance of show was
highly distasteful, expressed his intention of visiting Catherine, she
offered him apartments in her palace, which he declined. Her Majesty,
fully aware of his dislike to parade, had Mr. Bush’s house fitted up as
an inn, with the sign of a Catherine wheel, below which appeared in
German characters, “The Falkenstein Arms”--Falkenstein being the name
which the Emperor assumed. His Majesty knew nothing of the ingenious and
attentive deception till after he had quitted Russia.

On one occasion, when the Emperor visited Moscow, he is said to have
preceded the royal carriage as an _avant-coureur_, in order to avoid
what he felt to be the obnoxious pomp and ceremony which an
acknowledgment of his rank would have awakened. And when at Paris he
amused himself by frequenting the cafés incognito, one day being asked
to play a game of chess. He lost the game and wished to play another,
but his opponent excused himself, as he was anxious to visit the opera
to see the Emperor. “What do you expect to see in the Emperor?” he
inquired, “for he is just like any other man.” “No matter,” said the
stranger, “he is a very great man, and I will not be disappointed.”
Whereupon the Emperor rejoined, “If that is your only motive for going
to the opera, we may as well play another game, for you see him before

When in London Peter the Great attended a masked ball at the Temple in
the costume of a butcher; and Dr. Doran quotes an amusing incident in
connection with a Christmas custom in his own country. Formerly, it
appears, there was a masquerading ceremony in Russia consisting of a
sledge procession, which took place between Christmas and the New Year,
in which the clergy, gorgeously attired, stopped at certain houses, sang
a carol, and “received in return donations from those who wished to be
considered peculiarly orthodox Christians. Peter once witnessed this
procession, and was so edified by the amount of the contributions, that
he placed himself, suitably attired, at the head of the sledges and the
Church, sang his own carols, and pocketed the contributions of the loyal
and faithful” with the most marked satisfaction.

An amusing and familiar story is told of Charles V., who, being curious
to know the sentiments of his meanest subjects concerning himself, would
often go incognito and mix in such companies as he felt inclined. One
night, at Brussels, his boot requiring immediate attention, he was
directed to a cobbler. It happened to be St. Crispin’s day, and the
cobbler was in the height of his jollity among his acquaintances. The
Emperor acquainted him with what he wanted, and offered him a handsome

“What, friend?” said the cobbler, “do you know no better than to ask one
of our craft to work on St. Crispin? Was it Charles himself, I’d not do
a stitch for him now, but if you’ll come in and drink St. Crispin, do,
and welcome; we are as merry as the Emperor can be.”

The Emperor accepted the offer, and ere he had sat down the jovial host
thus accosted him: “What, I suppose you are some courtier politician or
other by that contemplative phiz; but be you who, or what you will, you
are heartily welcome; drink about, here’s Charles V.’s health.”

“Then you love Charles V.,” replied the Emperor.

“Love him!” exclaimed the cobbler; “aye, aye, I love his long-noseship
well enough, but I should love him much better would he but tax us a
little less. But what have we to do with politics? Round with the
glasses, and merry be our hearts.”

Shortly afterwards the Emperor took his leave, and Charles, pleased with
the good nature and humour of the man, sent for him next morning to
Court. But great was his surprise and alarm when he found that his late
guest was no other than the Emperor--fearing the joke upon his long nose
might be punished with death. The Emperor, however, thanked him for his
hospitality, and as a reward bade him ask for what he most desired. Next
day he appeared, and requested that for the future the cobblers of
Flanders might bear for their arms “a boot with the Emperor’s crown upon
it.” That request was granted, and as his ambition was so moderate, the
Emperor bade him make another. “If,” said he, “I am to have my utmost
wishes, command that henceforth the Company of Cobblers shall take place
of the Company of Shoemakers.” It was permitted, and there may be seen a
chapel in Flanders adorned with a boot and imperial crown upon it; and
in all processions it was customary for the Company of Cobblers to take
precedence of the Company of Shoemakers.

James IV. of Scotland occasionally amused himself in wandering about the
country in different disguises. One night he was overtaken by a violent
storm, and was obliged to take shelter in a cavern near Wemyss in
Scotland. Having advanced some way in it, the King discovered a number
of men and women preparing to roast a sheep. From their appearance he at
once saw that he had not fallen into the best company, for they were a
band of robbers and cut-throats; but, as it was too late to retreat, he
asked their hospitality. This was granted, and James sat down to supper,
at the conclusion of which one of them placed before him a plate, upon
which two daggers were laid in the form of a St. Andrew’s cross, at the
same time informing the King that this was the dessert they always
served to strangers; that he must choose one of the daggers, and fight
him whom the company might select to attack him. Thereupon the King
instantly seized the two daggers, one in each hand, and plunged them
into the two robbers who were next him, and running to the mouth of the
cave he escaped through the darkness of the night. On the following
morning, however, the King ordered the whole of the band of outlaws to
be seized and hanged.

The father of the last Duke of Mantua, Charles III., loved to go abroad
in the dirtiest of disguises, and “accompanied by an escort of equally
ill-clad bullies for his defence.” It was his sport, when so engaged,
“to assail all he met in the coarsest terms, and when some person
assaulted, more impatient than others, fell upon him in return with
tongue or cudgel, he would laugh till he was sore, and then his escort
came to the rescue. On other occasions he would enter the shops of
vendors of very breakable materials, and taking up mirror or drinking
glass, or any other fragile matter that came to hand, he would let it
fall to the ground, and find double provocation to laughter in the ruin
he had committed, and in the expressions of unrestrained abuse which
were showered on him in consequence.”[80]

Gustavus III. in his incognito travels assumed the name of Count Haga,
and one of his adventures, on his way to Italy in 1783, was amusing. It
appears that he had long promised a visit to the little Court of
Schwerin. Accordingly, as soon as the Duchess of Mecklenburg heard of
his landing in Germany, she prepared two fêtes in his honour--one in her
capital, the other at Ludwigslust; but Gustavus, who “rather disdained
these petty German Courts, thought it a good joke, instead of going
himself to Schwerin, to send two of his attendants--a page named Peyron,
and Desvouges, a _valet-de-chambre_, who had formerly been an actor.
These two personated Count Haga and his minister, Baron Sparre, and
sustained the characters throughout; accepted all the homage meant for
their master, danced with all the Mecklenburg ladies who were presented
to them, and Peyron went even so far as to ask one of them for her
portrait. Meantime Gustavus was taking his pleasure at Ludwigslust, and
the mistake lasted long enough for him fully to enjoy the

The disguise adopted by Anne of Warwick, the sad and unfortunate
girl-widow of Edward, Prince of Wales, who fell beneath the Yorkist
daggers after the fatal field of Tewkesbury, to elude Richard, Duke of
Gloucester, was one of the most romantic incidents in our history.
Richard was anxious to make her his wife, but, in order to conceal from
him her whereabouts, she put up with every privation, and, with the
privity of her brother-in-law, Clarence, she went so far as to descend
from the rank of Princess of Wales to the disguise of a servant--a
scullery-maid--in a mean house in London, under which servile condition
the future Queen-Consort was eventually discovered. The incident, as
told by the Latin chronicler, is thus recorded: “Richard, Duke of
Gloucester, wished to discover Anne, the youngest daughter of the Earl
of Warwick, in order to marry her; this was much disapproved by his
brother, the Duke of Clarence, who did not wish to divide his wife’s
inheritance; he therefore hid the young lady.”

Many amusing details have been given of the adventurous journey of
Prince Charles when he set out with the Duke of Buckingham in disguise
for Spain, in order to see the Infanta. In crossing the river at
Gravesend, for want of silver, they had given the ferryman a gold piece,
who, imagining that his benefactors were crossing the Channel to fight a
duel, hinted his suspicions to the authorities. At Canterbury they were
summoned before the Mayor, and the Duke, finding concealment impossible,
divested himself of his beard, and after satisfying that functionary as
to who he was, informed him that in his capacity of Lord High Admiral he
was about to acquaint himself secretly with the condition of the fleet.
On reaching Boulogne they posted to Paris, and on the way fell in with
two Germans who had recently seen the Prince at Newmarket, and fancied
they recognised him. The improbability, however, of their being right,
added to the cool denial of their conjecture, convinced them they were
mistaken. At Paris the Prince and Buckingham, in order to disguise their
features still more, provided themselves with periwigs, and the same
evening they were present at a Court masked ball, where Buckingham
first beheld the princess whom he afterwards married. Nothing of
importance occurred till they had almost set foot on Spanish soil, when
their progress was on the point of being interrupted, and Howell writes
from Madrid: “The Prince’s journey was like to be spoiled in France, for
if he had stayed but a little longer at Bayonne he had been discovered,
for Monsieur Grammont, the governor, had notice of him not long after he
had taken post.” Another escape was from the hospitality of the Duke
d’Epernon, who invited them to his château. But he was informed that
they were persons of such low degree as to be “unfit for such splendid
society, and thus they eluded the invitation.” The people of Madrid were
much struck with the romance and gallantry of their visit, and the city
soon became a constant scene of magnificence and rejoicing in honour of
the Prince and the Duke of Buckingham, who in their disguise had styled
themselves Mr. John Smith and Mr. Thomas Smith.

One of the most notable frolics of Catherine of Braganza occurred
towards the close of September 1671, when the Court was at Audley End,
the residence of the Earl and Countess of Suffolk, where she and Charles
II. were with much magnificence entertained for several days. While
there she took it into her head to visit, disguised, Saffron Walden fair
with Frances, Duchess of Richmond, and the Duchess of Buckingham. For
this purpose they set forth in the costumes of country girls, in short
red petticoats and waistcoats, but it seems that they had so overdone
their disguise, that they were apparently taken for a strolling company
of comedians, until the Queen, going into a booth to “buy a pair of
yellow stockings for her sweetheart,” was discovered to be a foreigner.
It was not very long, however, before the mystery was solved, as a
person in the crowd, who had seen the Queen at a public State dinner,
recognised her, and forthwith proclaimed his knowledge. This soon
brought a crowd to get a glimpse of her Majesty and those accompanying
her, with the result that the Court party, finding themselves
discovered, at once took to their horses as quickly as they could; but
“as many of the country people as had horses straightway mounted, with
their wives or sweethearts behind them, to get as much gape as they
could, and so attended the Queen and her company to the gates of Audley
End, greatly to her confusion.”

In the same way Queen Mary and her ladies, disguised by their black
masks, often made excursions to St. James’s fair--a practice mentioned
in a letter of Lady Cavendish to her lord: “I went but once to the fair;
Sir James gallanted us thither, and in so generous a humour, that he
presented us all with fairings; the Queen’s fairing almost cost him
twenty guineas. On our return we met my lord chamberlain, Lord
Nottingham, in the cloisters of St. James’s Palace.”



Gambling, under one form or another, has always been a fashionable
diversion at Court. Plutarch tells a story of Parysatis, mother of
Cyrus, who played with the King, her husband, for the slave who had
slain her son, and, as she excelled at playing a certain game with dice,
she won him. History abounds in anecdotes of this kind, and we know how
popular gambling was in the old days of the Roman Empire. Augustus, for
instance, had the reputation of being fond of gambling, and Domitian,
indeed, like most of the emperors, rarely passed a day without indulging
in some gambling game.

Coming down to modern times, we find the practice more or less prevalent
in most European Courts, having naturally met with greater patronage
from some monarchs than others. Thus Alfonso of Castille tried to
prevent gambling by founding orders of chivalry in which it was
forbidden; and later, John of Castille, attempted to do the same by

In spite of several lukewarm attempts to prevent it, gambling ever
throve in France. Charles VI. lost one day five thousand livres to his
brother, and in the reign of that monarch flourished the Hôtel de
Nesle, which was notorious for its terrible gambling scandals, where--

    “Maint gentilshommes tres haulx
     Ont perdu armes et cheveaux,
     Argent, honeuret seignourie.”

It is recorded how Philibert de Chalon, Prince d’Orange, who was in
command at the siege of Florence, under the Emperor Charles V., actually
gambled away the money which had been confided to him for the pay of the
soldiers, and “was compelled, after a struggle of eleven months, to
capitulate with those whom he might have forced to surrender.” But when
so much encouragement was given to gambling by royalty, it is by no
means surprising that the vice prevailed almost everywhere, and was not
confined to any one country, especially when many of the French kings
were said to patronise and applaud well-known cheats at the

The so-called cards of Charles VI., which are now in the Bibliothèque du
Roi of Paris, are in all probability the most ancient of any that are
preserved in the various public collections of Europe. They are but
seventeen, painted on a gold ground, and surrounded by a silver border,
in which is a ribbon rolled spirally round done in points.

It was at Bourges, in the Château du Berri, that the game of piquet was
invented, as tradition tells us, by Lahire, as a pastime for Charles

In an old account-book of the monarchs of France, we find that in 1392
there was paid about £8 of our present money for three packs; and the
accounts of the jeweller to Queen Marie of Anjou contain this entry: “On
the 1st of October, 1454, to William Bouchier, merchant, two games of
cards and two hundred pins, delivered to Monsieur Charles of France, to
play with, and amuse himself, five sals tournois.”

Henry IV. was an inveterate gambler, and, although not a skilful player,
he is said to have been “greedy of gain, timid in high stakes, and
ill-tempered when he lost.” In his reign gambling became the rage, and
it appears from his Majesty’s letters to Sully that he sometimes played
on credit, _e.g._ “I have lost at play 22,000 pistoles (220,000 livres);
I beg you to pay them directly to Faideau, that he may distribute them
to the persons to whom I owe them.”

“_August 20, 1609._--Pay M. Edouard, Portuguese, 51,000 livres on
account of what I owe him at play.”[83]

L’Estoile, referring to this period, says that an Italian named
Pimentello gained more than a hundred thousand crowns in the Court
circle, to which the King contributed 340,000 livres. It was this
Pimentello who one day boasted to Sully of having frequently played with
Henry IV., whereupon Sully indignantly replied: “By heavens! so you are
the Italian blood-sucker who is every day winning the King’s money! You
have fallen into the wrong box, for I neither like nor wish to have
anything to do with such fellows.”

At this remark Pimentello got warm, but Sully, giving him a push, added,
“Go about your business, your infernal gibberish will not alter my
resolve. Go!” There can be no doubt that this Pimentello was a
discreditable character, for, in order to aid his dishonesty, he is said
to have induced the dice-sellers in Paris to substitute loaded dice
instead of fair ones.

But, as Henry disliked losing, those who played with him had either to
lose their money, or to offend his Majesty by beating him. On one
occasion the Duke of Savoy, in order to humour Henry, dissimulated his
game, thus sacrificing about £28,000. And so great was this king’s
passion for the gaming-table that once when it was whispered to him that
a certain princess whom he loved was in danger of falling into other
arms, he said to Bassompierre, one of his courtiers, “Take care of my
money, and keep up the game, whilst I am absent on particular business.”

One day when Henry IV. was dining with Sully, the latter had brought in
at the close of the repast cards and dice, together with two purses of
4000 pistoles each, one for the King, the other to lend to the lords of
his suite. Whereupon his Majesty exclaimed: “Great master, come and let
me embrace you, for I love you as you deserve. I feel so comfortable
here that I shall sup and stay the night.” But it has been suggested
that the whole affair was by the King’s order. At last, if we are to
believe the following anecdote, he was cured of gambling. After losing
a large sum of money, he requested Sully to send him the amount, who
hesitated for some time. Eventually, spreading it out before the King,
he exclaimed, “There’s the sum.”

Henry fixed his eyes on the vast amount--sufficient to purchase Amiens
from the Spaniards, who then held it--and then he sorrowfully said, “I
am corrected; I will never again lose my money at gaming.”

A gaming quarrel was the cause of a slap in the face given by the Duc
René to Louis XII., then Duc d’Orleans. This slap was the origin of a
_ligue_ which was termed “the mad war.” The resentment of the outraged
prince was not appeased till he mounted the throne, when he uttered
these memorable words: “A King of France does not avenge insults offered
to a Duke of Orleans.” Similarly, on one occasion Casimir II., King of
Poland, received a blow from a Polish subject, named Konarski, who had
lost all he possessed in play. Thereupon he took to flight, and on being
captured he was condemned to lose his head. But when brought before
Casimir, his Majesty thus addressed him: “You, I perceive, are sorry for
your fault; that is sufficient. Take your money again, and let us
renounce gaming for ever.” And turning to his courtiers, the King added,
“I am the only one to blame in this matter, for I ought not by my
example to encourage a pernicious practice which may be the ruin of my

Louis XIII. was adverse to gambling in any form, but Louis XIV. gave it
every encouragement. Madame de Sevigné thus describes a gaming party at
which she was present: “I went on Saturday with Villars to Versailles. I
need not tell you of the Queen’s toilette, the mass, the dinner--you
know it all; but at three o’clock the King rose from table, and he, the
Queen, monsieur, madame, mademoiselle, all the princes and princesses,
Madame de Montespan, all her suite, all the courtiers, all the ladies,
in short, what we call the Court of France, were assembled in that
beautiful apartment which you know.” She then describes how “a table of
reversi (a compound of loo and commerce) gives a form to the crowd, and
a place to every one. The King is next to Madame de Montespan, who
deals; the Duke of Orleans, the Queen, and Madame de Soubise; Dangeau &
Co., Langée & Co.; a thousand louis are poured out on the cloth--there
are no such other counters.... There is always music going on, which has
a very good effect; the King listens to the music, and chats to the
ladies about him. At last, at six o’clock, they stop playing; they have
no trouble in settling their reckonings; there are no counters--the
lowest pools are five, six, seven hundred louis, the great ones a
thousand, or twelve hundred. They put in five each at first, that makes
one hundred, and the dealer puts in ten more--then they give four louis
each to whoever has Quinola (the knave of hearts). Some pass, others
play; but whenever you play without winning the pool, you must pay in
sixteen to teach you how to play rashly; they talk altogether, and
forever, and of everything.”

This was the kind of amusement which characterised what Madame de
Sevigné has termed “the iniquitous Court,” and well she might tremble at
the idea of her son joining such a company. She says, “He tells me he is
going to play with his young master--the Dauphin. I shudder at the
thought. Four hundred pistoles are very easily lost.”

Numerous anecdotes have been handed down of the disputes which arose at
Court owing to the high play. On one occasion, when excessive gambling
was going on at Cardinal Mazarin’s, the Chevalier de Rohan lost a large
sum to the King. It had been arranged that the money was to be paid only
in _louis d’ors_, and the Chevalier, after counting out seven or eight
hundred, proposed to pay the remainder in Spanish pistoles.

“But you promised me _louis d’ors_, and not pistoles,” said the King.

“Since your Majesty refuses them,” replied the Chevalier, “I don’t want
them either,” and thereupon he flung them out of the window.

The King, annoyed, complained to the Cardinal, who promptly answered,
“The Chevalier de Rohan has played the King, and you the Chevalier de

Quite recently at Paris a _jeu de Loye_, made for the amusement of Louis
XIV., in marqueterie of ivory, ebony, and coloured woods, fetched £9;
the Grand Monarque’s game of chance having realised a higher price than
the curls sold at the same auction, and which had once adorned the
mistress of his predecessor on the throne.

At the death of Louis XIV., it is said that three-fourths of the nation
thought of nothing but gambling, and incidentally may be noticed a
little Court occurrence associated with Louis XV. At the royal
card-table M. de Chauvelin was seized with a fit of apoplexy, of which
he died. On seeing him fall, some one exclaimed, “M. de Chauvelin is

“Ill?” said the King, coldly turning round and looking at him; “he is
dead. Take him away; spades are trumps, gentlemen!”

During the reign of Louis XVI. gambling “kept pace if it did not
outstrip every other licentiousness of that epoch.” But Louis XVI. hated
high play, and very often showed displeasure when the loss of large sums
was mentioned. Bachaumont, in his Memoirs (tom. xii. p. 189), speaks of
the singular precautions taken at play at his Court: “The bankers at the
Queen’s table, in order to prevent the mistakes which daily happen, have
obtained permission from his Majesty that, before beginning to play, the
table shall be bordered by a ribbon entirely round it, and that no other
money than that upon the cards beyond the ribbon shall be considered as

But Marie Antoinette’s love of high play was almost a vice, and her
gaming-table often witnessed scenes far from creditable to her sex or
rank. Le Comte de Mercy informs us that the Emperor Joseph II.--not too
severe a moralist--once sent a message to the Queen to the effect that
“the play at the Queen’s table at Fontainebleau was like that in a
common gambling-house; people of all kinds were there, and mingled
without decorum; the Comte d’Artois and the Duc de Chartres displayed
there every day some fresh trait of folly, and great scandal was caused
by the fact that several ladies cheated.... Those who held the bank
arrived on the 30th of October; they acted as tellers all night and
during the morning of the 31st in the apartments of the Princess de
Lamballe. The Queen remained till five o’clock in the morning. In the
evening the Queen directed the play to begin again, and continued
playing until late in the morning of the 1st of November--All Saints’
Day.” It is not surprising that frivolity and dissipation of this kind
were much commented upon, and gave to slanderers much scope for their
attacks on her conduct. In order, also, to manage the high play at the
Queen’s faro tables, it was necessary to have a banker provided with
large sums of money.

Charles X. was an habitual whist-player, and on the eve of his
deposition enjoyed his “rubber”; and when as an exile the ex-king was
the guest of Cardinal Weld at Lulworth Castle, near Wareham, his
principal occupation was whist. Later on, during his sojourn at Prague,
at eight, after dinner, the whist-table was prepared, “where the
tranquillity of the evening was not disturbed unless Charles found
himself with an indifferent partner. He could lose a crown by his own
fault with great reluctance, but to lose a trick by the stupidity of his
partner was beyond his patience.” But his equanimity was only
temporarily ruffled, and then he was full of redundant apology.

Strange and pathetic is a well-known anecdote told of the great
Napoleon. As “the prisoner of Europe” he arrived at his last
dwelling-place on the 15th of October, and exactly one year before he
had been playing at cards with his mother in his little saloon in the
island of Elba; and as the illustrious lady was about to rise after
losing the game, her imperial son said to her laughingly, “Pay your
debts, madam, pay your debts!” Since that time, as Dr. Doran writes,
“Napoleon had played a most serious game against a host of adversaries,
and had been defeated. The winners called upon him to pay the penalty.”

But although Napoleon gambled with kingdoms, he did not do so with
cards. Indeed, he despised gamblers, and it is said that when Las Casas
in exile admitted that he had played, Napoleon declared that he was glad
he had not known it, as gamblers were always ruined in his estimation. A
story, however, has been told of his having sent Junot in 1796 to play
in order to accumulate funds for the Italian campaign, a statement which
there is every reason to disbelieve.

Catherine II. of Russia enjoyed a game of whist at ten roubles the
rubber. And at one period she would admit the Chamberlain Tchertkof to
make up the party, whose presence generally afforded some amusement.
This individual, it is said, generally got into a rage, reproached her
imperial majesty with not playing fair, and sometimes in vexation he
threw the cards in her face, an outburst of temper which she invariably
took good-humouredly.

An amusing story is told of one of the German sovereigns. A stranger,
plainly dressed, took his seat at a faro-table when the bank was richer
than usual. After looking on for a short time he challenged the bank,
and tossed his pocket-book to the banker that he might be satisfied of
his financial position. It was found to contain bills to a large amount,
and on the banker showing reluctance to accept the challenge, the
stranger sternly demanded that he should comply with the laws of the
game. The card soon turned up which decided the ruin of the banker.

“Heavens!” exclaimed an old infirm Austrian officer who had sat next to
the stranger, “the twentieth part of your gains would make me the
happiest man in the universe!” Whereupon the stranger answered, “You
shall have it then,” and quitted the room. A servant speedily returned,
and presented the officer with the twentieth part of the bank, adding,
“My master, sir, requires no answer.” The successful stranger was soon
discovered to be no other than the King of Prussia in disguise.

Henry VIII.’s losses at cards and dice are said to have been enormous,
but Anne Boleyn appears to have been a more fortunate gamester. A game
much played at Court was Pope Julius’s game, or as it is sometimes
called in the Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VIII., “Pope July’s game.”
On the 20th of November 1532 we find this entry in the Privy Purse
Expenses:--“Delivered to the King’s grace at Stone, £9, 6s. 8d., which
his grace lost at ‘Pope Julius’s game’ to my lady marques [Anne Boleyn],
Mr. Bryan, and Maister Weston.” On the 25th Henry lost twenty crowns to
the same party at the same game, and the following day £18, 13s. 4d. On
the 28th Anne wins £11, 13s. 4d. in a single-handed game of cards with
her royal lover, and on the next day Henry loses £4 at Pope Julius’s
game. Henry was an inveterate gamester, and Erasmus in some emphatic
words addressed to him bears witness that his queen, Catherine of
Aragon, did not suffer such vain pursuits to divert her mind from
duties. “Your noble wife,” says he, “spends that time in reading the
sacred volume which other princesses occupy in cards and dice.” Henry
VIII. gambled away the famous Jesus Campanile bell at St. Paul’s with
the great folk-mote bell which summoned the assemblies of the citizens
with a throw of the dice at hazard to Sir Miles Patridge, who pulled it
down. “But,” adds Spelman in his “History of Sacrilege,” “in the fifth
year of King Edward VI. the gamester had worse fortune when he lost his
life, being executed on Tower Hill.”

Queen Mary in her young days was fond of betting and wagers, and many
items of high play and of money lost by her have been preserved. She
lost a frontlet, for instance, in a wager with her cousin, Lady Margaret
Douglas, for which she paid four pounds. It is said that the Princess
Mary not only pledged caps but lost breakfasts at bowls, which was then
a fashionable amusement; “and to counterbalance these vanities she paid
for the education of a poor child and the expense of binding him
apprentice.”[85] The frontlets referred to above were the ornamented
edges of coifs or caps, some of which were edged with gold lace and
others with pearls and diamonds. Hence they were occasionally very
expensive and cost a high price, and on this account they might easily
be given in payment of wagers, or losses incurred through high play.

Through the evil influence of the Duchesses of Portsmouth and Mazarine,
excessive gambling became one of the prevailing vices of the Court of
Charles II., although his Majesty was not addicted to deep playing, or
pursued cards otherwise than as an amusement. Queen Catherine was fond
of ombre--which was probably introduced by her into this country--and
quadrille, and if she played it was for the sake of the diversion rather
than the stake. But the Duchess of Portsmouth had been known to lose
five thousand guineas at a sitting, and on the evening of February 1,
1685--the last Sunday that Charles II. was permitted to spend on
earth--“the great courtiers and other dissolute persons were playing at
basset round a large table, with a bank of at least two thousand pounds
before them. The king though not engaged in the game was to the full as
scandalously occupied,”[86] “sitting,” writes Evelyn, “in open
dalliance with three of the shameless women of the Court, the Duchesses
of Portsmouth, Morland, and Mazarine, and others of the same stamp,
while a French boy was singing love-songs in that glorious gallery. Six
days after,” he adds, “all was in the dust.”

Pepys, too, alludes to the practice of card-playing on Sunday initiated
by Catherine into the English Court, and writes: “This evening, going to
the queen’s side to see the ladies, I did find the queen, the Duchess of
York, and another at cards, with the room full of ladies and great men,
which I was amazed to see on a Sunday, having not believed, but
contrarily flatly denied the same a little while to my cousin.”

In the ensuing reign, basset and other gambling games were in high vogue
in Court and fashionable society. Mary Beatrice, consort of James II.,
disliked cards, and was frightened at the idea of high play; but, it
seems, her ladies told her she must do as others did, or she would
become unpopular. Accordingly her reluctance was overcome by their
importunities, and soon she was to be seen at the card-table, losing,
time after time, large sums of money at a game in playing which she
found no pleasure. In after years she was apt to say: “I suffered great
pain from my losses at play, and all for the want of a little firmness
in not positively refusing to comply with a custom which those who were
so much older than myself told me I was not at liberty to decline. I
shall always regret my weakness, since it deprived me of the means of
doing the good I ought to have done at that time.” Such was the
acknowledgment made nearly forty years afterwards of what she always
regarded as an inexcusable error on her part.

Like her sister Anne, Mary II. was in her early life a constant
card-player, and, not satisfied with devoting her week-day evenings to
this diversion, she played on the Sabbath. In after years she maintained
her love for cards, and we find her playing at basset, a game much in
request throughout the Courts of Europe, and at which vast sums were won
and lost. After the peace of Mimeguen, the Marquis d’Avaux, the
ambassador from Louis XIV., sent word on the morning of December 3,
1680, to Monsieur Odyke--an official in the household of the
princess--that he would wait on her that evening. But he forgot to give
the notice, so that when the French Ambassador arrived he found the
princess had commenced her gambling. She rose and asked him if he would
play; he made no answer, and she resumed her game, the ambassador
sitting down and looking on. After a while he joined in the game, and
the Prince of Orange, who arrived shortly afterwards, did the same.
According to strict etiquette, however, as the visit of the ambassador
had been previously announced, the basset tables should not have been
set till his arrival.

William III., too, was much given to gambling. He passed whole days on
the race-ground, and in the evenings he gambled, losing at one sitting,
it is said, four thousand guineas at basset. The following morning, in
a state of exasperated temper, he gave a gentleman a stroke with his
horsewhip for riding in front of him on the race-ground. The proceeding
was the subject of much comment, and was satirised by a _bon-mot_,
declaring “that it was the only blow he had struck for supremacy in his
kingdoms.” William appears to have lost enormous sums at the
basset-table, and his inveterate habit of gambling, added to the passion
of his princess for cards, caused, as might be expected, the
scandalmongers of the period to scatter broadcast the most derogatory
stories respecting their Sunday gambling parties, a practice which
brought down the most unsparing remonstrances of the Church of England
clergymen, and caused Mary’s old tutor, Dr. Lake, the greatest concern.

It would seem that the game of basset occupied a considerable portion of
Queen Anne’s time, “breaking into her hours by day as well as by night.”
At the basset-table the players so closely crowded her Majesty that she
could scarcely “put her hand in her pocket,” an obligation, it is said,
not infrequent, since she was usually unfortunate at play. Allusions to
the game occur in her correspondence, as, for instance, in a letter to
the Duchess of Marlborough, written in 1703, dated “Monday night,” and
which runs thus: “Just as I came from basset I received my dear Mrs.
Freeman’s letter, and though it is very late, I cannot be content with
myself without thanking you for it.” It is not surprising that there was
a great and constant drain on the privy-purse when so much was drawn
out of it to meet the demands for play-money.

At the period of George II.’s reign there were cards everywhere. “Gaming
has become so much the fashion,” writes Seymour, the author of the
“Court Gamester,” “that he who in company should be ignorant of the
games in vogue, would be reckoned low-bred and hardly fit for
conversation.” On Twelfth Day it was customary for the Court to play in
state. “This being Twelfth-day his Majesty, the Prince of Wales, and the
Knights Companions of the Garter, Thistle, and Bath appeared in the
collars of their respective orders. Their Majesties, the Prince of
Wales, and three eldest Princesses went to the Chapel Royal, preceded by
the heralds. The Duke of Manchester carried the Sword of State. The King
and Prince made offerings at the altar of gold, frankincense, and myrrh,
according to the annual custom. At night their Majesties played at
hazard with the nobility, for the benefit of the groom-porter; and ’twas
said the King won 600 guineas; the Queen, 360; Princess Amelia, twenty;
Princess Caroline, ten; the Duke of Grafton and the Earl of Portmore,
several thousands.”

George II. was once seated at a card-table, when the Countess of
Deloraine, who usually formed one of his intimate society, happened to
be one of the party at the game. In the midst of the play one of the
Princesses quietly glided behind Lady Deloraine, and suddenly drawing
the chair from under her caused her to fall on the ground. The King, by
his excessive laughter, showed himself highly amused at the occurrence,
which so enraged Lady Deloraine that, some time afterwards seizing the
King’s chair, she occasioned him the same mishap which she had
experienced herself.

But George, says Horace Walpole, “like Louis XIV., was mortal in the
part which touched the ground.” Diverted as he had been when the
misfortune occurred to another, he regarded the insult as unpardonable
when offered to himself, and henceforth Lady Deloraine was banished the

The Princess Amelia Sophia, daughter of George II., was fond of the
card-table, and Horace Walpole, who was frequently invited to her
card-parties, has given many a graphic picture of the Princess on these
occasions. She was a great snuff-taker, and on one occasion, when
playing at cards in the public rooms at Bath, a general officer took a
pinch from her box, the Princess showing her sense of the liberty he had
taken by ordering an attendant to throw the contents of the box into the

But the Princess’s addiction to play was the cause of comment even in
the royal circle. Doddington was once conversing with the widow of
Frederick Prince of Wales respecting the tastes of her eldest
son--afterwards George III.--when “she began by saying that she liked
the Prince should now and then amuse himself at small play, but that
princes should never play deep, both for example, and because it did not
become them to win great sums.” From thence, says Doddington, she told
me that “it was highly improper the manner in which the Princess ----
behaved at Bath; that she played publicly all the evening very deep.” I
asked, with whom? She said, “With the Duke and Duchess of Bedford; that
it was prodigious what work she made with Lord Chesterfield; that when
his lordship was at Court she would speak to him; but that now at Bath
she sent to inquire of his coming before he arrived; and when he came
she sent her compliments to him, expecting him at all her parties at
play, and that he should always sit by her in the public rooms that he
might be sure of a warm place.” Numerous anecdotes of this kind have
been recorded illustrative of the gambling tastes of the Princess; and
yet notwithstanding the prosecution of her favourite occupation, which
frequently kept her from rest till a very late hour, she continued an
early riser throughout her life.[88]

George IV., when Prince of Wales, surpassed all his predecessors in his
gambling propensities, having lost, it is said, not much less than
£800,000 before he was twenty-one years of age--a habit which he
probably contracted through his intimacy with Fox. “It was with the
view,” it is said, “and in the hope that marriage would cure his love of
the gaming table, that his father was so anxious to see him united to
Caroline; and it was solely on account of his marriage with that
princess constituting the only condition of his debts being paid by the
country that he agreed to marry her.” Indeed, George IV. was, as
Thackeray says,[89] “a famous pigeon for the play-men;” they lived upon
him. Egalité Orleans, it was believed, punished him severely. A noble
lord is said to have mulcted him in immense sums. He frequented the
clubs where play was almost universal, and, as it was known his debts of
honour were sacred, whilst he was gambling, Jews waited outside to
purchase his notes of hand.

Wraxall, in the “Memoirs of his own Time,” describing the royal
residence at Luneville, of the ex-Polish monarch, Stanislaus Leczinski,
says that during the last years of his life he withdrew every night at
nine o’clock, when his departure constituted the signal for commencing
faro. All the persons of both sexes, comprising his Court and household,
joined in the game, which was continued to a late hour. But, as Dr.
Doran says, “a circumstance seemingly incredible is that the rage for it
became such as to attract by degrees to the table all the domestics of
the palace, down to the very turnspits or scullions, who, crowding
round, staked their _écus_ on the cards over the heads of the company.”
Such a fact, according to Wraxall, proves the relaxation of manners
which prevailed at the Court of Lorraine under Stanislaus.



That horse-racing was in vogue, and practised to some extent by the
Saxons, may be deduced from the fact of King Athelstan having received
as a present from Hugh the Great--father of Hugh Capet of
France--several German running-horses, which, it may be presumed, was
considered the most worthy present that could be offered, as it was
accompanied by a proposal for the hand of Athelstan’s sister in
marriage. This monarch’s estimation of the horse was evidently widely
known, and it is recorded how sundry princes sought his alliance and
friendship, sending him “rich presents, precious stones, perfumes, and
the finest horses, with golden furniture.”[90]

A more distinct indication of horse-racing occurs in Fitz-Stephen’s
description of London, where we learn how, in Henry II.’s reign, horses
were exposed for sale in Smithfield, when, to prove their excellence,
they were usually matched against each other. In the reign of Richard I.
horse-racing would seem to have been a common diversion during the
Easter and Whitsuntide holidays, as in the old metrical romance of Sir
Bevis of Southampton, it is thus alluded to:--

    “In somer time, at Whitsontyde,
     When knights most on horsebacke ryde;
     A cours let they make on a daye,
     Steedes and palfraye, for to assaye;
     Which horse that best may ren,
     Three myles the cours was then,
     Who that might ryde him shoulde,
     Have forty pounds of redy gold.”

In the register of the royal expenditure of King John running-horses are
frequently mentioned--this monarch having been a renowned sportsman,
although there is no evidence to show that he used his running-horses
otherwise than in the sports of the field. Edward II. was a breeder of
horses, and the word “courser,” which is made use of in the Issue Roll
of 37 Edward III., would seem to indicate the race-horse: “To William de
Manton, keeper of the King’s wardrobe, by the hands of Thomas
Spigurnell, keeper of the King’s great horses, in discharge of £119, 6s.
8d., paid to the same Thomas for the purchase of divers horses from the
executors of the will of John, late Bishop of Lincoln, viz., one free
sorrel courser, price 20 marks; one courser spotted with white, price 20
marks; one courser of a roan colour, from Pappenworth, price 20 marks;
one roan-coloured courser, from Tolney, price 20 marks; one brown bay
courser, price 25 marks; one roan courser, from Cranbourn, price £10,
13s. 4d.; one brown bay courser, price £11.”[91]

Henry VIII. was a lover of horses, and it would seem that he obliged men
of position to keep a certain number of them. Thus “archbishops, and
every duke were enjoined in this reign to keep seven trotting stone
horses of fourteen hands in height for the saddle. Clergymen, also, who
possessed a benefice of £100 per annum, or laymen whose wives wore
French hoods, or a bonnet of velvet, were ordered to keep one trotting
stone horse under a penalty of twenty pounds.”[92] And Henry VIII. no
doubt did his best to improve the breed of horses, for he imported some
from Turkey, Naples, Spain, and Flanders. During Queen Elizabeth’s reign
horse-racing was in considerable vogue, although it was not much
patronised by her Majesty, otherwise races would undoubtedly have formed
a part of the pastimes at Kenilworth.

But it is to James I. that horse-racing is principally indebted, for he
not only patronised it, but made it a general and national amusement. To
him is due the credit for attempting the improvement of the English
racer by the crossing of foreign blood, which, although considered at
the time a failure, has proved a success. For this purpose he purchased
for £500--an enormous price in those days--an Arabian, which, according
to the Duke of Newcastle, was of little value, having been easily beaten
by our native horses.[93] It was in this reign that private matches
between gentlemen--then their own jockeys--became very common in
England; and the first public race-meetings appear at Garterley, in
Yorkshire; Croydon, in Surrey; and Theobald’s, on Enfield Chace; the
prize being a golden bell.[94] Although he did not originate the races
at Newmarket, yet the patronage he accorded them led to their being
established permanently there. On the 26th February 1605, James visited
Newmarket, where on that and the following day he knighted several
gentlemen;[95] and the popularity of Newmarket was further enhanced by
his building a house there which was long known as the “King’s House.”

In Nichol’s “Progresses of James I.” will be found some interesting
particulars respecting this monarch’s interest in the turf; from which
it appears that on Thursday, April 3, 1617, he was at Lincoln, where
“was a great horse-race on the Heath for a cupp, where his Majesty was
present, and stood on a scaffold the citie had caused to be set up, and
withall caused the race a quarter of a mile long to be raled and corded
with ropes and hoopes on both sides, whereby the people were kept out,
and the horses that ronned were seen faire.” A few days later the King
was at Durham, and from the same source we learn[96] how “he travelled
from the Castle to Woodham Moor to a horse-race, which was run by the
horses of William Salvin and Master Maddocks, for a gold purse, which
was intended to have been on the 8th of April, but on account of the
King’s coming was put off till the 21st, which match the King saw.” And
again, about two years after this, we are informed how on the 19th March
1619, “there was a horse-race at Newmarket, at which the King tarrying
too long, in his return from Newmarket was forced to put in at an inn at
Whichfordbridge by reason of his being indisposed, and came very late in
the night to Royston.” Prince Henry had a strong attachment to racing as
well as hunting, but he was cut off at an early age.

Charles I. was well inclined towards sports of this kind, but, owing to
the unsettled nature of his reign, horse-racing seems to have fallen
somewhat into abeyance. In the early part of Charles’s reign, however,
horse-races were held in several parts of the country, at some of which
he was present; and that they were no uncommon occurrence at Epsom may
be gathered from Clarendon’s “History of the Rebellion”: “Soon after the
meeting which was held at Guildford, May 18, 1648, to address the two
Houses of Parliament ... a meeting of the Royalists was held on Banstead
Downs, under the pretence of a horse-race, and six hundred horses were
collected and marched off to Reigate.” But we find Sir Edward Harwood
lamenting the scarcity of able horses in the kingdom, “not more than two
thousand being to be found equal to the like number of French horses,”
for which he blames principally racing.

After the Restoration horse-racing was revived and much encouraged by
Charles II., who frequently honoured this pastime with his presence.[97]
Thus, when at Windsor, he appointed races to be run in Datchet Mead, as
also at Newmarket, where his horses were entered in his own name, and
where he rebuilt the decayed palace of his grandfather, James I. Another
popular locality was Burford Downs--since known as Bibury race-course,
so often frequented by George IV. when regent, and to which old
Baskerville alludes in the subjoined doggerel--

    “Next for the glory of the place,
     Here has been rode many a race;
     King Charles the Second I saw here,
     But I’ve forgotten in what year;
     The Duke of Monmouth here also,
     Made his horse to sweat and blow;
     Lovelace, Pembroke, and other gallants
     Have been venturing here their talents;
     And Nicholas Bainton, or black sloven,
     Got silver plate by labour and drudging.”

But Newmarket was Charles II.’s favourite racing centre, and at one time
there might be seen on Newmarket Heath what was known as the “King’s
Chair,” from which the King was wont to enjoy a view of the horses as
they took their exercise. Charles often took members of the Court there
with him, including many of the ladies belonging to it, conspicuous
amongst whom was Nell Gwynn; and under October 21, 1671, Evelyn makes
this entry: “I lodged this night at Newmarket, where I found the jolly
blades racing, dancing, feasting, and revelling, more resembling a
luxurious and abandoned rout than a Christian court.”

A journey to Newmarket, however, was not the short run of the present
day, and Pepys, under March 8, 1669, tells us how the King set out for
the races at a somewhat early hour: “To Whitehall, from whence the King
and the Duke of York went by three in the morning, and had the
misfortune to be overset with the Duke of York, the Duke of Monmouth,
and the Prince Rupert, at the King’s Gate, in Holborne; and the King all
dirty, but no hurt. How it came to pass I know not, but only it was
dark, and the torches did not, they say, light the coach as they should
do.” A few weeks after this mishap, Pepys informs us that on the 26th
April, “the King and Court went out of town to Newmarket this morning
betimes, for a week.” And Evelyn, under the 9th and 10th October, 1671,
makes this entry in his “Diary”: “I went after evening service to
London, in order to take a journey of refreshment with Mr. Treasurer, to
Newmarket, where the King then was, in his coach with six brave horses,
which we changed thrice, first at Bishop Stortford, and last at
Chesterford; so, by night, we got to Newmarket, where Mr. Henry
Jermain--nephew to the Earl of St. Alban’s--lodged me very civilly. We
proceeded immediately to Court, the King and all the English gallants
being there at their annual sports. Supped at the Lord Chamberlain’s;
and the next day, after dinner, I was on the heath, where I saw the
great match run between Woodcock and Flatfoot, belonging to the

[Illustration: CHARLES II.]

King, and to Mr. Elliot of the Bedchamber, many thousands being
spectators; a more signal race had not been run for many years.”

On Thursday, March 22, 1683, Charles II. was burnt out when at
Newmarket. It appears that about nine o’clock in the evening “a great
fire broke out where the King, the Queen, and the Duke of York were
residing in the King’s house, situate on the Cambridgeshire side of the
town. The fire originated on the Suffolk side, but the other one being
in danger, it was resolved that the King and his Court should that night
come to Cambridge, and accordingly word came to the Vice-Chancellor
about one of the clock on the Friday morning, who immediately gave
orders for great St. Mary’s Bells to jangle, to give notice to the
Towne, and candles, &c., to be in all places alight, and accordingly the
bells did jangle, and candles in abundance in all parts of the public
streets on both sides in their windows lighted, and the King and Court
accordingly expected. But between two and three that morning, there came
the Lord Grandison to the Dolphin and acquainted Mr. Mayor that his
Majesty would go, or was gone, to Cheavely, and not come to Cambridge;
but his Majesty did not stir from Newmarket, but continued there all
night, and went away from thence not till Monday following, being the
26th March 1683.”[98] This fire which destroyed property to the value of
£20,000, is said to have defeated the Rye House Plot, which is generally
supposed to have meditated the death of Charles II. and his brother the
Duke of York, at a spot called Rye House, on the road to London from
Newmarket, and which was to have been carried out eight days after the
royal party thus unexpectedly left Newmarket for London. Evelyn has not
omitted to mention this occurrence in his “Diary,” and under September
23, 1683, he writes: “There was this day a collection for rebuilding
Newmarket, consumed by an accidental fire, which removing his Majesty
thence sooner than was intended, put by the assassins, who were
disappointed of their rendezvous and expectation by a wonderful
Providence. This made the King more earnest to render Winchester the
seat of his autumnal field diversions for the future, designing a palace
there where the ancient palace stood; infinitely, indeed, preferable to
Newmarket for prospects, air, pleasure, and provisions. The surveyor has
already begun the foundation for a palace, estimated to cost £35,000,
and his Majesty is purchasing ground about it to make a park.” But
Charles II. died in February 1685. It should be added that Charles II.
was a breeder of race-horses, having imported mares from Barbary and
other parts, selected by his Master of the Horse sent abroad for that
purpose, and called Royal Mares, appearing as such in the Stud-book to
this day. One of these mares was the dam of Dodsworth, bred by the King,
and said to be the earliest race-horse we have on record, whose pedigree
can be properly authenticated.[99]

James II. was a horseman, but he did not reign long enough over his
people to enable them to judge of his inclinations respecting the
pleasures of the turf. When he retired to France, however, he devoted
himself to hunting, and had several first-rate English horses always in
his stud. William III. and his Queen were patrons of racing, not only
continuing the bounty of their predecessors, but adding several plates
to the former donations. In Queen Anne the turf found a warm supporter,
her consort, Prince George of Denmark, keeping a fine stud, the Curwen
Bay Barb and the celebrated Darley Arabian appearing in this reign. It
was Queen Anne who first started the Gold Cups in the north, and entered
and ran her own horses for them. Thus, at York, in the year 1712, her
Majesty’s grey gelding, Pepper, ran for the Royal Cup of £100; and in
the following year another of her horses named Mustard, ran for the
Royal Cup again, but neither was good enough to win his royal mistress a
Gold Cup. She was destined, however, at last, to win a triumph at York,
though it was one of which she never was conscious, for on the very
morning of which her brown horse, Star, won for her Majesty her first
great victory on the turf, July 30, 1714, the Queen was seized with
apoplexy, and remained in a state of insensibility until Sunday, August
1, when she died.

George I. was no racer, but he discontinued silver plates as prizes, and
instituted the King’s Plates, as they have been since termed, being one
hundred guineas paid in cash, an alteration which “probably the turf
owes more to judicious advisers than to his Majesty’s individual
inclination.”[100] George II. neither understood nor appreciated the
attractions of horse-racing; but, to encourage the breed of horses, as
well as to suppress low gambling, he made some good regulations for the
suppression of pony races, and running for any sum under fifty
pounds.[101] And among the curiosities of Ascot records is the fact that
on one occasion Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of George II., threw a
bottle at a winner as it was coming in.

Although George III. was fond of hunting, and kept two packs of hounds,
he was no great lover of the turf; his annual visit with his family to
Ascot Heath being all the encouragement he gave the sport, if we except
a plate of a hundred guineas to be run for by horses that had been
regularly hunted with the royal hounds during the preceding winter.

But his son George IV. atoned for all the shortcomings of his
predecessors in his love of racing, and in the interest he displayed in
everything connected with it. It was in the year 1784 that as Prince of
Wales he made his first appearance on the course as the owner of
race-horses. For seven seasons he was an enthusiastic patron of the
turf, amongst other successes winning the Derby in the year 1788 with
Sir Thomas, until the year 1791 when the notorious Escape scandal caused
him abruptly to sever his connection with racing--an unfortunate
occurrence which was keenly regretted by every lover of sport throughout
the kingdom. It appears that on the 20th October 1791 a horse named
Escape, the property of the Prince, ran in a race at Newmarket for which
it was first favourite, but finished last. On the following day, with
six to one betted against him, Escape won easily a race in which two of
the horses which had distanced him on the previous day also ran. In both
cases Sam Chifney had ridden Escape, and a rumour at once spread that
with or without the connivance of his master he had “pulled” the horse
for the first race, and had thereby netted several hundreds of pounds.
The Jockey Club took the matter up, Sir Charles Bunbury and Messrs.
Ralph Dutton and Thomas Panton being the stewards appointed to
investigate the affair. The result of their inquiries was an acquittal
of the Prince, but they were not satisfied with Chifney’s explanation,
and Sir Charles Bunbury went so far as to say that, if Chifney were
allowed to ride the Prince’s horses, no gentleman would start against
him. But, to the honour of the Prince be it said, rather than sacrifice
his servant he gave up his favourite amusement. At the same time, his
Royal Highness told Chifney that he should not be likely to keep horses
again, but he added, “If ever I do you shall train and manage them. You
shall have your two hundred guineas a year just the same. I cannot give
it you for your life; I can only give it for my own. You have been an
honest and good servant to me.”

Early in the year 1792 the Prince’s stud was brought to the hammer; but,
although he ceased to run horses of his own, he did not by any means
lose his zest for the sport, and continued largely to patronise and
support country races. Thus, the well-known Tom Raikes in his diary has
left us a graphic picture of Brighton on a race morning, when the Prince
was in one of his best moods, and the ground was covered with “tandems,
beautiful women, and light hussars.” “In those days,” writes the
diarist, “the Prince made Brighton and Lewes Races the gayest scene of
the year in England. The Pavilion was full of guests, and the Steyne was
crowded with all the rank and fashion from London. The ‘legs’ and
bettors who had arrived in shoals used to assemble on the Steyne at an
early hour to commence their operations on the first day, and the buzz
was tremendous, till Lord Foley and Mellish, the two great confederates
of that day, would approach the ring, and then a sudden silence ensued
to await the opening of their books.... About half-an-hour before the
departure for the hill, the Prince himself would make his appearance in
the crowd. I think I see him now in a green jacket, a white hat, and
light nankeen pantaloons and shoes, distinguished by his high-bred
manner and handsome person. He was generally accompanied by the Duke of
Bedford, Lord Jersey, Charles Wyndham, Shelley, Brummell, M. Day,
Churchill, and the little old Jew Travis.... At dinner-time the Pavilion
was resplendent with lights, and a sumptuous banquet was furnished to a
large party; while those who were not included in that invitation found
a dinner with every luxury at the club-house on the Steyne, kept by
Raggett during the season for the different members of White’s and
Brooke’s who chose to frequent it, and where the cards and dice from St.
James’ were not forgotten.”

After a time the Jockey Club seems to have regretted their line of
action; and at a meeting, held at Brighton in the year 1805, they
addressed the following letter to the Prince:--

“May it please your Royal Highness, the members of the Jockey Club,
deeply regretting your absence from Newmarket, earnestly entreat the
affair may be buried in oblivion, and sincerely hope that the different
meetings may again be honoured by your Highness’s condescending

The Prince, it is said, consented to overlook the past, but his horses
were never sent to Newmarket after the year 1808, and then only to
complete engagements. In addition to Brighton and Lewes, Bibury was his
favourite race-ground, where he “appeared as a private gentleman for
several years in succession, an inmate of Lord Sherborne’s family, and
with the Duke of Dorset, then Lord Sackville, for his jockey. During the
last ten years of his Majesty’s life racing interested him more than it
had ever done before, and by the encouragement he then gave to Ascot and
Goodwood, he contributed towards making them the most fashionable
meetings in the world; and perhaps the day on which his three favourite
horses--Fleur-de-lis, Zinganee, and the Colonel--came in first, second,
and third for the cup at the latter place was one of the proudest of his
life.”[102] The love of the turf was with him to the very last, and
when the Ascot Cup was run for in the year 1830 under the royal colours
he was on his death-bed; and “so strong was the ‘ruling passion’ in this
awful hour--and his Majesty was well aware his hour was come--that an
express was sent to him after every race.”[103]

His brother, the Duke of York, was almost as keen a lover of the turf as
his Majesty himself, “jolly, cursing, courageous Frederick,” as
Thackeray calls him. In the year 1816 he was the winner of the Derby
with Prince Leopold, and in 1822 with Moses. But the “Duke of York was
on the turf what he was everywhere--good-humoured, unsuspecting, and
confiding; qualifications, however creditable to human nature,
ill-fitted for a race-course.” Hence His Royal Highness was no winner by
his horses, and his heavy speculations were the cause of his pecuniary
embarrassments. On February 5, 1827, just one month from the date of his
death, the Duke’s stud of thirty-two animals, including seven hacks and
ten grey ponies, was brought to the hammer. The Duke of Richmond gave
1100 guineas for Moses, while Mr. Payne bought Figaro, that had run
Moses in the Derby, at 200 guineas more. The King also gave 560 guineas
for Rachel; but, writes “The Druid,” “racers, hacks, carriages, and dogs
only produced 8804 guineas--a mere mole-hill compared with the
Skiddaw-like pile of debts which he left behind him. Rundell and Bridge,
his jewellers, had such an account that Cape Breton was ceded to them
in lieu of it by the Government of the day, and his taste in their line
may be judged of by the fact that his rifle, which brought 50 guineas,
had a gold pan and touch-hole.”

Brought up to the sea, it was not to be expected that William IV. should
have any strong predilection for horse-racing. But he so far interested
himself in the sport as to take up his brother’s stud and run out his
engagements; in connection with which some amusing anecdotes are told
illustrative of his simplicity in sporting matters. It seems that
previously to the appearance of the royal stud in his Majesty’s name,
the trainer sought an audience, and requested to know what horses it was
the Royal pleasure to have sent down. “Send down the whole squad,” said
the King; “some of them, I suppose, will win!”

And yet his Majesty was fully sensible of the importance of the
race-horse as a means of keeping up the English breed of horses, for
when at Egham Races, in August 1836, an address was presented to him for
giving a Royal Purse of 100 guineas to be annually run for there, he
said that he regarded horse-racing as a national sport--“the manly and
noble sport of a free people; and that he deeply felt the pride of being
able to encourage those pastimes so intimately connected with the habits
and feelings of this free country.” And to this end he maintained a stud
of about twenty-five blood-mares for the purpose of breeding from the
best sires, and sold the produce annually as yearlings--a plan he
carried out to the last. But shortly after his death the entire stud was
broken up and disposed of, despite the remonstrances of certain members
of the Legislature, and the subjoined memorial from the Jockey Club,
signed by twenty-three of its leading members:--

“We, the undersigned, have heard with great concern of the probability
of a dissolution of the Royal Stud at Hampton Court. We think that the
great and permanent attraction of the annual stud sale, by producing
competition, enhances the value of thorough-bred horses, and thus
promotes the improvement of the breed throughout the kingdom. We trust,
therefore, that her Majesty’s Government may be induced to advise the
Queen to retain the establishment; and we have the less scruple in
expressing this hope, because we are persuaded that under judicious
management the proceeds of the sale would be found upon an average to
cover all the expenses of maintaining the stud.”

This remonstrance, however, was ineffectual, and the stud was sold by
Messrs. Tattersall at Hampton Court on 25th October 1837, the sale
realising a total of 15,692 guineas.

And, like many of her royal predecessors, her late Majesty, Queen
Victoria, occasionally favoured in the early part of her reign the
race-course with her presence, particularly Royal Ascot. And, on one
occasion, it is said, she was so pleased with the performance of a very
tiny jockey that she sent for him, and presented him with a ten-pound
note, at the same time asking him his weight. To the great amusement of
the royal circle, he replied, “Please, ma’am, master says as how I must
never tell my weight.”

Although horse-racing has been much patronised by foreign sovereigns, as
a sport it has never acquired abroad the immense popularity it has so
long secured with us as a great national institution. Perhaps one of the
most curious incidents associated with royalty was that recorded in the
history of Poland. On the death of one of their sovereigns, who ruled
under the name of Lesko I., the Poles were so perplexed upon the
selection of a successor, that they at last agreed to settle the
difficulty by allowing it to be determined by a horse-race.

Many of the French kings patronised horse-racing, and found in it a
pleasant and exciting diversion from the cares and anxieties of the
state, although it does not always seem to have been free from censure.
Thus, for instance, the levity of Marie Antoinette in disregarding
conventional rules observed by those in high station, exposed her to
blame; and Le Comte de Mercy speaking of her attending horse-races,
says: “It is a matter for extreme regret that the Queen habituates
herself entirely to forget all that relates to outward dignity.... The
horse-races gave occasion to much that was unfortunate and, I will say,
unbecoming, as regards the position held by the Queen.... I went to the
course in full dress and in my carriage. On reaching the royal tent I
found there a large table spread with an ample collation, which was, so
to speak, fought for by a crowd of young men unfittingly dressed, who
made wild confusion and all kinds of unintelligible noises. In the midst
of this mob were the Queen, Madame d’Artois, Madame Elizabeth, and M. le
Comte d’Artois. This last personage kept running about, betting, and
complaining whenever he lost, pitiably excited if he won, and rushing
among the people outside to encourage his jockeys. He actually presented
to the Queen a jockey who had won a race.”



In this country sports and pastimes of most kinds have generally had the
patronage of royalty, many of our sovereigns having excelled in such
modes of recreation. According to a story told by the old annalists, one
of the most interesting events in connection with this game happened
when Henry V. was meditating war against England. “The Dauphin,” says
Hall, “thinking King Henry to be given still to such play and light
follies as he exercised and used before the time that he was exalted to
the Crown, sent him a ton of tennis-balls to play with, as he had better
skill of tennis than of war.” On this incident, Shakespeare has
constructed his fine scene of the French Ambassador’s audience in “King
Henry V.,” wherein the English King speaks--

    “When we have matched our rackets to these balls,
     We will, in France, by God’s grace, play a set
     Shall strike his father’s crown into the hazard.”

Like his father, Henry VIII. was much attached to tennis, and it is
recorded that his “propensity being perceived by certayne craftie
persons about him, they brought in Frenchmen and Lombards to make
wagers with him, and so he lost much money; but when he perceived their
craft, he eschewed the company and let them go.” But Henry did not give
up the game, for from the same source we learn that twelve years
afterwards he played at tennis with the Emperor Maximilian for his
partner against the Prince of Orange and the Marquis of Brandenborow;
and among the additions that he made to Whitehall were “divers fair
tennis-courts, bowling-allies, and a cockpit.”

When Philip, Archduke of Austria, became King of Castile, he set out
from the Netherlands in 1506 to take possession of his new kingdom.
Stress of weather compelled him to seek shelter in Falmouth, on hearing
of which Henry sent the Earl of Arundel to bring him to Windsor, where
for many days he was entertained. During the festivities the two kings
looked on, while the Marquis of Dorset, Lord Howard, and two other
gentlemen played tennis. Then the King of Castile played with Dorset,
“but,” says the chronicler, “the Kyng of Castille played with the
rackett, and gave the Lord Marques xv.”

And when Queen Elizabeth was entertained in 1591 at Elvetham in
Hampshire by the Earl of Hertford, after dinner ten of his lordship’s
servants “did haul up lines, squaring out the form of a tennis court.”

James I., if not himself a tennis-player, often speaks of the pastime
with commendation, and recommends it to his son Prince Henry as an
exercise becoming a prince, who seems to have been very fond of the
game. But on more than one occasion he appears to have lost his temper,
and to have struck his father’s infamous favourite, Carr, Earl of
Somerset, with his racket.

At another time, when he and the young Earl of Essex were playing, a
dispute arose, whereupon Prince Henry in his anger called Essex the “son
of a traitor,” alluding to the execution of his father, Elizabeth’s
favourite. The young Earl in retaliation struck the Prince so hard a
blow as to draw blood, but the King, on hearing all the circumstances of
the case, refused to punish the high-spirited lad. Prince Henry’s
illness is supposed to have been caused by a chill caught one evening
when playing tennis without his coat.

The Scottish King James I., too, is said to have forfeited his life
through his love for tennis. At Yuletide 1436-37 the Court kept the
festival at Perth, in the Blackfriars Monastery; and here one night,
after the royal party had broken up, and, as James stood before the fire
of the reception-room, chatting with the Queen and her ladies, ominous
sounds were heard without. The great bolt of the door was discovered to
be wanting, but a lady, a Douglas, thrust her arm through the staples,
and held the door till the conspirators snapped this frail defence. By
her brave and noble devotion she gave James time to tear up a plank of
the flooring and to drop into a small vault beneath. “As fate would have
it,” writes Dr. Hill Burton, “there had been an opening to it by which
he might have escaped, but this had a few days earlier been closed by
his own order, because the balls by which he played at tennis were apt
to fall into it.” Then the conspirators jumped into the vault, and, as
Adamson the seventeenth century historian of Perth tells us,

    “King James the First, of everlasting name,
     Killed by that mischant traitor, Robert Grahame,
     Intending of his crown for to have rob’d him,
     With twenty-eight wounds in the breast he stob’d him.”

Both James IV. and V. of Scotland were tennis-players, and it seems that
they lost considerable sums at it with their courtiers. Thus, in the
accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, we find these items under June 7th,
1496: “To Wat of Lesly that he wan at the cach frae the King, £23, 8s.”;
and on 23rd September 1497 the king again loses at tennis in Stirling,
this time “with Peter Crechtoune and Patrick Hammiltoune, three
unicorns”--that is, £2, 13s.

With the Restoration, tennis became fashionable at Court again, and
Pepys, under December 1603, makes this entry:--“Walking along Whitehall,
I heard the King was gone to play at tennis. So I drove down to the new
tennis court, and saw him and Sir Arthur Slingsby play against my Lord
of Suffolk and my Lord Chesterfield. The King beat three, and lost two

When Frederick, Prince of Wales, died suddenly in 1751 many causes of
death were assigned, one being that it was the result of a blow of a
tennis ball three years before. But Nathaniel Wraxall makes it an
accident at cricket, and says: “Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of
George II., expired suddenly in 1751 at Leicester House, in the arms of
Desnoyers, the celebrated dancing-master. His end was caused by an
internal abscess, in consequence of a blow which he received in the side
from a cricket ball while he was engaged in playing at that game on the
lawn at Cliefden House, Buckinghamshire, where he then principally
resided. It was of this prince that it was written, by way of epitaph:--

    “‘He was alive and is dead,
     And, as it is only Fred,
     Why, there’s no more to be said.’”

Tennis was also played at foreign courts. Thus during the reign of
Charles V. of France hand-tennis was very fashionable,[104] being played
by the nobility for large sums of money, and, when they had lost all
that they had about them, they would sometimes pledge part of their
wearing apparel rather than give up the pursuit of the game. The Duke of
Burgundy is said to have lost sixty francs in this manner “with the Duke
of Bourbon, Messire William de Lyon, and Messire Guy de la Trimouille;
and not having money enough to pay them he gave his girdle as a pledge
for the remainder, and shortly afterwards he left the same girdle with
the Comte d’Eu for eighty francs, which he also lost at tennis.”

It would seem that golf was a fashionable game among the nobility at
the commencement of the seventeenth century, and, from an anecdote
recorded in one of the Harleian manuscripts, it was one of the exercises
with which Prince Henry, eldest son of James I., occasionally amused
himself: “At another time playing at golf, a play not unlike to _pale
maille_, whilst his schoolmaster stood talking with another, and marked
not his Highness warning him to stand further off, the Prince, thinking
he had gone aside, lifted up his golf club to strike the ball, meantyme
one standing by said to him, ‘Beware that you hit not Master Newton,’
wherewith he, drawing back his hand, said, ‘Had I done so, I had but
paid my debts.’”

Tradition, for whatever it may be worth, says that Charles I. was
playing on Leith Links when a courier arrived with tidings of Sir Phelim
O’Neal’s rising in Ireland in 1641; and when the Duke of York resided at
Holyrood in 1679 he was frequently to be seen at a golf party on the
Leith Links. “I remember in my youth,” writes Mr. William Tytler, “to
have conversed with an old man named Andrew Dickson, a golf club-maker,
who said that when a boy he used to carry the Duke’s golf clubs, and to
run before him and announce where the balls fell.”

According to a Scottish story, during the Duke’s visit, he had on one
occasion a discussion with two English noblemen as to the native country
of golf, his Royal Highness asserting that it was peculiar to Scotland,
while “they insisted that it was an English game as well.” The two
English nobles good-humouredly proposed to prove its English character
by taking up the Duke to a match, to be played on Leith Links. James
accepted the challenge, and sought for the best partner he could find.
It so happened the heir-presumptive of the British throne played with a
poor shoemaker named John Patersone, the worthy descendant of a long
line of illustrious golfers. If the “two Southerners were, as might be
expected, inexperienced in the game, they had no chance against a pair,
one member of which was a good player. So the Duke got the best of the
practical argument, and Patersone’s merits were rewarded by a gift of
the sum played for,” with which he was enabled to build a somewhat
stylish house for himself in the Canongate.

But with the Stuarts went out for a time royal countenance of the game,
till William IV. became patron of the Royal and Ancient Club of St.
Andrews, and presented to it for annual competition that coveted golfing
trophy--the gold medal, the blue ribbon of golf.

A game which has of late years been revived is bowls, a pastime which
was once the favourite amusement of all classes, most pleasure gardens
having in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had their
bowling-greens. Of all the English kings, Charles I. was the greatest
enthusiast in this game. Many anecdotes are told “of his great love for
it, a love that survived through all his troubles, for we find him alike
devoting himself to it while in power, and solacing himself with it
while a captive.”[105] According to a correspondent of _Notes and
Queries_, in a secluded part of the Oxfordshire hills, at a place called
Collins’ End, situated between Hardwicke House and Goring Heath, is a
neat little rustic inn, having for its sign a portrait of Charles I.
There is a tradition that this unfortunate monarch, whilst residing as a
prisoner at Caversham, hearing that there was a bowling-green at this
inn, rode down to it, and endeavoured to forget his sorrows in a game of
bowls; an incident which is written beneath the sign-board:--

    “Stop, traveller, stop! in yonder peaceful glade,
     His favourite game the royal martyr played;
     Here, stripped of honours, children, freedom, rank,
     Drank from the bowl, and bowl’d for what he drank;
     Sought in a cheerful glass his cares to drown,
     And changed his guinea ere he lost a crown.”

In Herbert’s “Memoirs of the Last Two Years of Charles I.” there are
several allusions to his Majesty’s love of bowls. As there was no
bowling green at Holmby, he constantly rode over either to Althorpe or
Harrowden--the latter a house of Lord Vaux--where he might divert
himself with his favourite amusement. Charles was at the Althorpe
bowling-green when Cornet Joyce arrived at Holmby to take him away.

With the Restoration bowls became a fashionable Court recreation, and in
the Grammont “Memoirs” we are told that when the Court was at Tonbridge
Wells “the company are accommodated with lodgings in little clean and
convenient habitations that lie straggling and separated from each other
a mile and a half all round the Wells, where the company meet in the
morning.... As soon as the evening comes every one quits his little
palace to assemble on the bowling-green.”

Another game once countenanced by royalty was skittles or nine-pins, a
pastime, it is said, in which Elizabeth, Queen Consort of Edward IV.,
and her ladies indulged in 1472. And later on we find it among the
amusements of the exiled courtiers, for in the “Grammont Memoirs” the
Earl of Arran writes of his sister-in-law, the Countess of Ossory, Miss
Hyde, and Jermyn playing at nine-pins to pass the time. At this period,
too, a popular game was pall-mall, being one of the “fair and pleasant
games” that James I. recommended to Prince Henry, and which seem to have
been much played at Court in the early part of the seventeenth century.
On April 2, 1661, Pepys walks to “St. James’s Park, where he witnessed
the Duke of York playing at pall-mall, the first time he ever saw the
sport;” and Evelyn speaks of King Charles’s fondness for this game.

Then there was the running at the quintain, a pastime practised at most
rural festive gatherings, and one of which Laneham, in his “Progresses
of Queen Elizabeth,” gives an amusing account in his description of “a
country bridal,” at which Queen Elizabeth was present at Kenilworth in
1575; and two years previously, in 1573, on her visit to Sandwich, it is
recorded that “certain wallounds that could well swim,” entertained her
with a water tilting, in which one of the combatants “did overthrow
another, at which the Queen had good sport.” Randolph, in a letter to
Sir William Cecil, December 7, 1561, describes this pastime as
celebrated at the Scottish Court of Queen Mary, and narrating part of a
conversation he had with De Foix, the French Ambassador, he writes:
“From this purpose we fell in talk of the pastimes that were the Sunday
before, when the Lord Robert, the Lord John, and others ran at the
ring--six against six--disguised and apparelled, the one half like
women, the other half like strangers, in strange masking garments....
The Queen herself beheld it, and as many others as listed.” When King
James’s brother-in-law, Christian of Denmark, visited England in 1606,
we read how he excelled before all others in running at the ring in the
tilt-yard at Greenwich.

Charles I. is said to have been “perfect in vaulting, riding the great
horse, running at the ring, shooting in cross-bows, muskets, and
sometimes great pieces of ordnance.” And Howell, writing from Madrid,
says that the Prince was fortunate enough to be successful at the ring
before the eyes of his mistress the Infanta.

Charles II. was an indefatigable walker, and nothing pleased him more
than to divest himself of the trappings of state and indulge in this
pastime. Burnet mentions his walking powers, and says that his Majesty
walked so fast that it was a trouble to keep up with him. One day, when
Prince George of Denmark, who had married his niece--afterwards Queen
Anne--complained that he was growing fat, “walk with me,” said Charles,
“hunt with my brother, and do justice to my niece, and you will not long
be distressed by growing fat.”[106] And during his walks his Majesty
would converse freely with those who attended him, oftentimes arresting
“some familiar countenance that encountered him in his walk.”

Among the additions made by Henry VIII. to Whitehall was a cock-pit, the
first of which, according to a correspondent of _Notes and Queries_,
there is any record. And so partial was James I. to this diversion of
cock-fighting that he amused himself by seeing it twice a week. It
appears, too, that on his progress in 1617, James I. being at Lincoln,
“did come in his carriage to the Sign of the George to see a cocking
there, where he appointed four cocks to be put in the pit together,
which made his Majestie very merrie.” Exclusive of the royal cock-pit
there were others in St. James’s Park, Drury Lane, Shoe Lane, and Jermyn
Street. By an Act of Cromwell, in 1654, cock-fighting was prohibited,
but with the Restoration it again flourished. And from this time until
the close of the last century the diversion was practised more or less
throughout the country. William III. patronised this sport, and Count
Tallard, the French Ambassador, writes: “On leaving the palace King
William went to the cock-fight, whither I accompanied him.”

The site of the cock-pit at Whitehall is now occupied by the Privy
Council Office, and a notable occupant of the cock-pit apartments in the
time of Charles II. was the Princess Anne--afterwards Queen Anne--who
was living there at the period of the Revolution. It was from here that,
on the approach of the Prince of Orange, November 26, 1688, “she flew
down the back-stairs at midnight, in nightgown and slippers, with Sarah,
Duchess of Marlborough, as her companion, and drove away in a coach, on
either side of which Lord Dorset and Bishop Compton rode as

George IV. in his early life was a great patron of the ring, as his
grand-uncle, Culloden Cumberland, had been before him; but being present
at a fight at Brighton, where one of the combatants was killed, the
Prince pensioned the boxer’s widow, and declared he never would attend
another battle. But, nevertheless, it is said, “he thought it a manly
and decided English feature, which ought not to be destroyed.” His
Majesty had a drawing of the sporting characters in the Fives’ Court
placed in his boudoir, to remind him of his former attachment and
support of true courage; and, when any fight of note occurred after he
was King, accounts of it were read to him by his desire.

At this period there was a famous boxer, John Jackson, known as
gentleman Jackson, the son of a London builder. He appeared only three
times in the prize-ring. His first public fight took place June 9,
1788, near Croydon, when he defeated a noted Birmingham boxer, in a
contest lasting one hour seven minutes, in the presence of the Prince of

At the coronation of George IV. he was employed with eighteen other
prize-fighters, dressed as pages, to guard the entrance to Westminster
Abbey and Hall. But it is in Continental courts that boxing has been
most favoured. The elder brother of the late Czar of Russia died on the
eve of the day appointed for his marriage from the effects of a blow
received in a boxing encounter with Alexander; and on one occasion, when
a bout took place between the Prince Waldemar and the late Czar, between
the acts in the private tea-room at the Court Theatre at Copenhagen,
Alexander was thoroughly knocked out.

Archery appears to have been a fashionable sport during the reign of
Henry VIII., who, according to Holinshed, shot as well as any of his
guard. Edward VI. and Charles I. are known to have been fond of this
exercise, which retained its attractions during the succeeding reigns,
and was occasionally sustained by the presence and practice of the
sovereign. Mary Queen of Scots was as fond of archery as was her cousin,
Elizabeth of England. One story of Queen Mary’s shooting has often been
cited against her, since the time Sir William Drury wrote to Mr.
Secretary Cecil from Berwick, telling how Mary, a fortnight after
Darnley’s murder, had been shooting with Bothwell at the butts of
Tranent against Huntley and Seton for a dinner, which the latter pair
had to pay--a story proved to be untrue.[108]

In a letter from the Queen of Bohemia, sister of Charles I., written
from Rhenen, her Majesty’s summer residence on the Rhine, in 1649 to
Montrose--who had long been reputed to be a good archer--she says: “We
have nothing to do but to walk and shoot. I am grown a good archer to
shoot with my Lord Kinnoul. If your office will help it, I hope you will
come and help us to shoot.” In 1703 Queen Anne granted a Charter to the
Royal Company of Archers, prohibiting any one “to cause any obstacle or
impediment to the said Royal Company in the lawful exercise of the
Ancient Arms of Bows and Arrows”--a privilege for which they were to pay
to the Sovereign “one pair of barbed arrows, if asked only.” These, it
seems, have twice been delivered to the Sovereign, first to George IV.,
during his visit to Edinburgh in 1822, and when Queen Victoria and the
Prince Consort went to Scotland in 1842. And it was in the reign of the
first James of Scotland that Charles VII. formed from the survivors of
Lord Buchan’s Scots the famous Archer-guard of France, familiar to every
reader of “Quentin Durward,” who, “foreigners though they were, ever
proved themselves the most faithful troops in the service of the French

Hawking, again, was practised with much vigour by many of our
sovereigns, and Alfred the Great, who is commended for his proficiency
in this, as in all other fashionable amusements, is said to have
written a treatise on the subject, which has not come down to us. In the
fields and open country, hawking was followed on horseback; and on foot,
when in the woods and coverts. In the latter case, it was usual for the
sportsman to have a stout pole to assist him in leaping over rivulets
and ditches. It was, according to Hall, when pursuing his hawk on foot,
at Hitchin, in Hertfordshire, that Henry VIII. was plunged into a deep
slough by the breaking of his pole, and would have been stifled but for
the prompt assistance of one of his attendants. But when the
fowling-piece presented a more ready and certain method of procuring
game, while it afforded an equal degree of air and exercise, it is not
surprising that the fall of falconry should have been sudden and

A favourite game of James I. was quoits, and one day when he was so
engaged with the young Earl of Mar, he cried out, “Jonnie Mar has
slaited me!”--the word “slaiting” in the north meaning to take an undue
advantage in a game of this kind. From this incident the young King
always nicknamed Mar “Jonnie Slaites.” It may be compared with a story
told of Louis XVII. when Dauphin, who being beaten in a game of quoits
by an officer of the National Guard, the latter exultingly exclaimed,
“Ah, I have conquered the Dauphin!” Piqued at the expression, the
Dauphin used some uncomplimentary remark, which was reported to the
Queen, who reprimanded him for having so far forgotten himself.

“I feel,” replied the Dauphin, “that I have done wrong. But why did he
not satisfy himself with saying that he had won the match? It was the
word ‘conquered’ which put me beyond myself.”

And, when the exiled Court of England returned at the Restoration,
Charles II. is commonly said to have brought back that popular pastime
skating. For Evelyn, under December 1, 1662, speaks of divers gentlemen
skating in the canal in St. James’s Park “after the manner of the
Hollanders,” and Pepys tells us that he went to see the Duke of York
“slide upon his skates,” which he did very well.



The custom of keeping dwarfs as retainers to ornament the homes of
princes, and to provide amusement--which was much in fashion in the old
days of the Roman Empire--has survived at most Courts until a
comparatively recent period. According to Suetonius, Augustus, in order
to forget the cares of State, would play with his dwarfs for nuts, and
laugh at their childish prattle, whilst for his special amusement
Domitian kept a band of dwarf gladiators.

Charles IX. of France and his mother had a strong partiality for dwarfs,
and in 1573 three were sent to him by the Emperor of Germany; and the
same year a large sum was paid for bringing some dwarfs from Poland for
the King: one of these, Majoski, being given to the Queen-mother, and an
entry in her accounts tells how thirty livres were paid for “little
disbursements for the said Majoski, as well as clothes, books, pens,
paper, and ink.” It may be remembered how the famous dwarf, Joseph
Boruwlaski--who at fifteen years of age was only twenty-five inches
high--was presented to the Empress Maria Theresa by the Countess
Humiecka, who took him on her lap and kissed him. She then asked him
what struck him as most curious at Vienna, to which he replied, “that
which he then beheld.” “And what is that?” inquired her Majesty.

“To see so little a man on the lap of so great a woman,” answered
Boruwlaski. He then besought the permission of the Empress to kiss her
hand, whereupon she took from the finger of Marie Antoinette, then a
child, a ring, and put it on his finger.

Afterwards Boruwlaski visited Luneville, where he was introduced to
Stanislaus Leczinski, the dethroned King of Poland, who kept a dwarf,
nicknamed Bébé, a native of France, his real name being Nicholas Feny,
or Ferry. Bébé quickly became jealous of Boruwlaski, and on the first
opportunity tried to push him into the fire. But the noise occasioned by
the scuffle brought the King on the scene, who ordered Bébé to have
corporal punishment, and never to appear in his presence again.
Boruwlaski won the favour of Stanislaus II., who for a time took him
under his protection, and eventually visited this country, when he was
introduced to the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV.; and on May 23,
1782, he was presented by the Countess of Egremont to the King and Queen
and the junior members of the royal family.

When King Christian II. of Denmark fell into the hands of his enemy
Frederick I., he was imprisoned with his dwarf in the castle of
Söndeborg in Holstein. Having entered his gloomy cell with


the sole companion of his misery, the door was at once walled up; but
after a time the King, according to one account, induced his dwarf to
counterfeit sickness, and to solicit his removal from prison, when, if
he should be successful, he was to try and make his escape from the
Danish dominions to the Court of the Electress. The dwarf feigned
illness and was liberated, but was recaptured on his attempting to leave
the Danish territory.

Peter the Great kept a dwarf whom he used to call his puppet; and in
1710 he celebrated a marriage of two dwarfs at St. Petersburg with great
ceremony, when he invited all his courtiers and the foreign ambassadors,
and ordered that all dwarfs residing within 200 miles of his capital
should be present. But some would not consent to come for fear of
ridicule, an act of disobedience which Peter punished by compelling them
to wait on the rest at dinner. For this miniature company “everything
provided was suitable in size. A low table held small plates, dishes,
glasses, and other necessary articles, diminished to the standard of the
guests”--the banquet being followed by a dance, opened with a minuet by
the bridegroom, who was three feet two inches high.[109]

Marie Anne, wife of Philip IV. of Spain, having laughed once at the
eccentric antics of a dwarf clown, was sternly reproved for her bad
taste in so doing, upon which she sensibly replied that they should take
the clown away if they did not mean her to laugh--so austere was Spanish

A favourite dwarf of Charles V. of Spain was Corneille, a portrait of
whom, by Francesco Torbido, in the Louvre at Paris, represents him
dressed as a knight, with his left hand resting on the back of a large
dog; and Velasquez has painted some dwarfs which were once attached to
the Spanish Court, “where the most ugly of such deformities were most
valued.”[110] At Madrid there is a painting by this artist representing
the Infanta Margarita with her two dwarfs, Maria Borbola and Nicolasico
Pertusano, who are teasing a good-natured dog. Some years ago a dwarf
named Don Francisco Hidalgo held his levees in the Cosmorama Rooms,
Regent Street, having previously for eighteen years, it was stated, been
attached to the Court of Madrid, in the reign of Ferdinand VII.

The first wife of Joachim Frederick, Elector of Brandenburg, assembled
together a number of dwarfs of both sexes, in order to marry them with a
view of multiplying their species--an experiment said to have been
practised also by Catherine de Medicis, but in each case the attempt was
fruitless. And at the castle of Ambras, in the Tyrol, was a wooden
image, “only three spans high, representing a dwarf who lived in the
Archduke Ferdinand’s Court.”

From an early period dwarfs were kept in Turkish palaces, an amusing
reference to this custom being given by Lord Byron, who, describing the
Sultan’s palace in Turkey, says:--

    “This massy portal stood at the wide close
       Of a huge hall, and on its either side
     Two little dwarfs, the least you could suppose,
       Were sate, like ugly imps, as if allied
     In mockery to the enormous gate which rose
       O’er them in almost pyramidic pride;
     The gate so splendid was in all its features,
     You never thought about those little creatures,

     Until you nearly trod on them, and then
       You started back in horror to survey
     The wondrous hideousness of those small men,
       Whose colour was not black, nor white, nor grey,
     But an extraneous mixture, which no pen
       Can trace, although perhaps the pencil may;
     They were misshapen pigmies, deaf and dumb--
     Monsters, who cost a no less monstrous sum,” &c.

Dwarfs formed part of the retinue of William, Duke of Normandy, at which
period it was customary for them to hold the bridle of the King’s horse
in State processions. Although it is commonly said Queen Elizabeth
detested as ominous all dwarfs and monsters, yet among the New Year’s
gifts presented by her on January 1, 1584-85, at Greenwich, was the
following: “To Mrs. Tomysen, the dwarf, two ounces of gilt plate.”

Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of Charles I., had a great fancy for
dwarfs. And on the occasion of a royal progress, during which Charles I.
and herself were entertained by the Duchess of Buckingham, the Queen was
induced to partake of a noble venison pasty in the centre of the table,
when, on the removal of the crust, the dwarf Jeffrey Hudson, only
eighteen inches high, rose out of the pie, entreating to be taken into
her service, a favour she granted. He seems to have proved a valuable
acquisition to the Court household, being sent to France to fetch a
midwife for Queen Henrietta Maria; but the homeward journey was
disastrous, for “a Dunkirk privateer captured both the midwife and
Jeffrey, plundered them of all the rich presents they were bringing to
the Queen from her mother, Marie de Medicis, and what was worse,
detained the midwife till her office was no longer needed by the royal

About 1615 was born Richard Gibson, who became Court dwarf to Charles
I., and married Anne Shepherd, who was Court dwarf to Queen Henrietta
Maria. Her Majesty was present at the marriage, Charles I. giving away
the bride, and the Queen presenting her with a diamond ring as a bridal
present. These married dwarfs both attained celebrity as miniature
painters; they had the honour of teaching Mary II. and Princess Anne
drawing, and they died in the service of the former.

And coming down to modern times, it may be mentioned that the dwarf
Matthew Buchinger was patronised by George I. And the _London Gazette_
for January 10, 1752, records that “on Wednesday evening Mr. John Coan,
the Norfolk dwarf, was sent for to Leicester House by her Royal Highness
the Princess Dowager of Wales, and was immediately introduced before
her, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Prince Edward, Princess
Augusta, and all the other princes and princesses being present, where
he stayed upwards of two hours; and we are assured by the pertinency of
his answers, actions, and behaviour, their Royal Highnesses were most
agreeably entertained the whole time, and made him a very handsome

On March 23, 1844, Charles S. Stratton, popularly known as General Tom
Thumb, visited the Queen, Prince Albert, and the Duchess of Kent at
Buckingham Palace, where he went through his performances, repeating
them again on April 2 before her Majesty, when there also were present
the Queen of the Belgians, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, and
the Princess Alice. At the conclusion of the entertainment her Majesty
presented the General with a souvenir of mother-of-pearl, set with
rubies, and bearing the crown and the initials V.R., and subsequently
she presented him with a gold pencil-case. On April 19 he appeared for
the third time before the Queen, Prince Albert, the King and Queen of
the Belgians, and Prince Leiningen at Buckingham Palace, and sang on
this, as on previous occasions, a comic song to the air of “Yankee
Doodle,” in which he introduced the royal personages.

On May 21, 1846, three Highland dwarfs performed their national dances,
and sang at Buckingham Palace before the Queen, Prince Albert, and the
Duchess of Kent; and in 1848 a dwarf, called Admiral Van Tromp, was
patronised by her Majesty, Prince Albert, the Duchess of Kent, the
Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Prince and
Princess of Parma, the Prince of Orange, and the King and Queen of
Holland. And lastly, in 1853, the two Aztec children appeared before
the Queen, Prince Albert, and the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace;
and subsequently before the Emperor Napoleon and his family at the
Tuileries, the Emperors of Austria and Russia, the Kings and Queens of
Prussia, Bavaria, Holland, Hanover, and Denmark, and other illustrious



It has often been remarked that persons of the most rough and unfeeling
disposition have displayed extraordinary tenderness towards their
favourite animals, illustrations of which are of frequent occurrence in
the pages of history. And perhaps one of the most touching pictures of
animal love is that given by Homer, who tells how, unrecognised by his
wife, the way-worn monarch Ulysses, though disguised in squalid rags, is
at once remembered by his noble hound, even in the last moments of
existence. Cautioned by his guide at the palace entrance of the wrong
and insult he might encounter, Ulysses pauses at the door, but only to
see his faithful dog perishing in want, misery, and neglect, yet still
remembering his long-lost master, and making one final effort of
expiring nature to give a sign of joy at his return:--

    “The dog, whom Fate had granted to behold
     His lord, when twenty tedious years had rolled,
     Takes a last look, and having seen him--dies;
     So clos’d for ever faithful Argus’ eyes.”

It has been remarked that dogs, like men, have their different ranks,
and that “Fortune showers her gifts among them with just as uneven a
hand as she uses when busying herself with their masters:--

    “Some wake to the world’s wine, honey, and corn,
     Whilst others, like Colchester natives, are born
         To its vinegar only, and pepper.”

Thus, during the middle ages the greyhound came in for such stars and
blue ribands as are to be enjoyed in the canine world. A certain breed
of them had the privilege of appearing with their masters whenever they
pleased in the presence of the Emperor Charlemagne; and as a mark of
this privilege the hound’s right paw was closely shaven, “a less
oppressive distinction,” it has been remarked,[111] “than the richly
damasked corselets and back-plates which were fastened about the best
greyhounds when about to take part in the boar-hunt.”

In this country animals have in many cases shared the fame of their
royal owners, and many an interesting anecdote has been handed down of
pets that, through their associations with the Court, have gained a
place in history.

Henry I.’s love of animals induced him to form an extensive menagerie at
Woodstock during the life of his first queen, Matilda of Scotland, who
was in all probability well acquainted with natural history. It was the
first zoological collection ever seen in this country, and it is thus
described by Stowe: “The King craved from other kinges lions, leopards,
lynxes, and camels, and other curious beasts of which England hath none.
Among others there was a strange animal called a stryx or porcupine,
sent him by William of Montpelier, which beast,” he adds, “is among the
Africans counted as a kind of hedgehog, covered with pricking bristles,
which they shoot out naturally on the dogs that pursue them.” But
Henry’s second wife, Adelicia of Louvaine, evidently knew nothing of
zoology previous to her marriage; but in order to adapt herself to his
pursuits, she turned her attention to that study, for Philippe de Thuan
wrote a work on the nature of animals for her special edification, thus
alluding to the personal charms of his royal patroness in his

    “Philippe de Thuan, in plain French,
     Has written an elementary book of animals,
     For the praise and instruction of a good and beauteous woman,
     Who is the crowned Queen of England, and named Alix.”

Richard II. had a favourite greyhound named Math, “beautiful beyond
description,” writes Froissart, “who would not notice or follow any but
the King. Whenever Richard rode abroad the greyhound was loosed by the
person who had the care of him, and that instant he ran to caress his
royal master by placing his two fore-feet on his shoulders. It fell out
that as the King and his cousin Henry Bolingbroke were conversing in the
courtyard of Flint Castle, when their horses were preparing, the
greyhound Math was untied, but, instead of running as usual to King
Richard, he passed him and leaped to Henry’s shoulders, paying him every
court, the same as he used to his own master.

“Henry, not acquainted with this greyhound, asked the King the meaning
of his fondness.

“‘Cousin,’ replied Richard, ‘it means a great deal for you and very
little for me.’

“‘How?’ said Henry, ‘pray explain it.’

“‘I understand by it,’ added the unfortunate king, ‘that this my
favourite greyhound Math fondles and pays his court to you this day as
King of England, which you will be, and I shall be deposed, for that the
natural instinct of the creature perceives. Keep him therefore by your
side, for, lo! he leaveth me, and will ever follow you.’ Henry treasured
up what King Richard had said, and paid attention to the greyhound Math,
who would no more follow Richard of Bordeaux, but kept by the side of
Henry, as was witnessed by thirty thousand men.”

History has many pathetic traditionary stories of this kind, one of
which Southey has painted in poetic colours. Roderick, the last king of
the Visigoths, having escaped from the battlefield in the guise of a
peasant, where he had been defeated by Count Julian and his Moorish
allies, finally returned to his shattered kingdom after a hermit life of
twenty years. His dog Theron alone knew him, yet not even he at once,
but only after eyeing him long and wistfully, did he recognise at length
his master--

    “Changed as he was, and in those sordid weeds,
     His royal master. And he rose and licked
     His withered hand, and earnestly looked up
     With eyes whose human meaning did not need
     The aid of speech; and moaned as if at once
     To court and chide the long withheld caress.”

Queen Mary was a lover of birds and animals, allusions to which occur in
the entries relating to her household expenditure. Thus, in the year
1542, Boxley, a yeoman of the king’s chamber, was given by the princess
15s. for bringing her a present of a little spaniel. Sir Bryan Tuke sent
her “a couple of little fair hounds,” evidently white Italian
greyhounds, which we find frequently introduced in her portrait, and in
those of her contemporaries. Then a woman of London had a present of 5s.
for bringing her a bird in a cage; and the woodman of Hampton Court took
charge of a white pet lark which the Princess had left there, and he was
paid 3d. for bringing it to her at Westminster in April 1543.

Elizabeth, too, was very fond of singing-birds, apes, and little dogs;
and there was the favourite lap-dog of Mary Queen of Scots, connected
with which there is the well-known incident in the last tragic scene at
Fotheringay. After the headsman had done his work, it appeared that the
dog had followed its mistress, and was concealed under her clothes. When
discovered it gave a short cry, and seated itself between the head and
the neck, from which the blood was still flowing.

James I., as is well known, had a miscellaneous taste for all kinds of
pet animals--Virginian spaniels, a cream-coloured fawn, the splendid
white gryfalcon of Ireland, an elephant, five camels, and naturally dogs
of every description forming his menagerie. His Majesty had a favourite
dog Jewel, or Jowler, “his special and most favourite hound.” One day,
seeing his favourite lie dead, no one dared to tell him who had done the
deed. At last one of the Queen’s attendants ventured to break the matter
to him, saying that “the unlucky shaft proceeded from the hand of her
Majesty,” which news at once pacified his Majesty’s anger. He sent word
to her “not to be concerned at the accident, for he should never love
her the worse,” and on the next day he gave her a jewel worth £2000,
intimating that it was a legacy from his deceased dog.

Greyhounds, spaniels, and hounds are classed by Sir Philip Sidney--the
first as the lords, the second the gentlemen, and the last “the yeomen
of dogges.”[112] The gentlemen, in the opinion of Charles I., were the
more courtly, though not for this reason the better companions.
“Methinks,” writes Sir Philip Warwick, who was in attendance on the King
at Newport, “because it shows his disesteem of a common court vice, it
is not unworthy the relating of him that, one evening, his dog scraping
at his door, he commanded me to let in Gipsey, whereupon I took the
boldness to say: “Sir, I perceive you love a greyhound better than you
do a spaniel.” “Yes,” replied the King, “for they equally love their
masters, and yet do not flatter them so much.”

Charles II. was constantly followed by a number of small spaniels
wherever he went. Indeed his fondness for these animals was
extraordinary, for it is said that he even permitted them to litter in
his own apartment; and, according to Evelyn, “neither the room itself,
nor any part of the Court, was rendered more savoury from the King’s
fancy.” His Majesty’s liking for dogs is alluded to in more than one
lampoon of the period, and in a rhyme sung at the Calve’s Head Club we
are told:--

    “His dogs would sit at Council Board,
       Like judges in their furs;
     We question much which had most sense,
       The master or the curs.”

And, in another pasquinade, we read:--

    “His very dog at Council Board
     Sits grave and wise as any lord.”

In the early numbers of the _London Gazette_ we find numerous instances
in which rewards are offered for dogs stolen or strayed from Whitehall,
many of which were undoubtedly the King’s. On the 12th of March 1667 a
dog is notified as having been lost by Charles, the advertisement
running thus:--

“Lost out of the Mews on the 6th of this present month, a little
brindled greyhound bitch, belonging to his Majesty; if any one has taken
her up, they are desired to bring her to the Porter’s Gate at Whitehall,
and they shall have a very good content for their pains.”

And again, on the 17th of May following, a reward is offered for “a
white hound bitch of his Majesty’s, with a reddish head, and red upon
the buttocks, some black spots on the body, and a nick in the right
hip.” Advertisements of this kind were constantly, it is said,
attracting the public gaze, and were from time to time the cause of
considerable excitement.

And one of the favourite hobbies of Charles II. was to saunter into St.
James’s Park, and to feed with his own hand the numerous birds with
which it was stocked; constant allusion to which practice are made by
contemporary writers.

At Oatlands the Duchess of York passed much of her time when the Duke
was in Flanders. Her Royal Highness had an eccentric taste for keeping
pet dogs, and near the grotto might be seen between sixty and seventy
small upright stones inscribed with the names of an equal number of
dogs, which were buried here by her direction. She supplied their
epitaphs, one of which was as follows:--

    “Pepper, near this silent grotto
       Thy fair virtues lie confest;
     Fidelity thy constant motto;
       Warmth of friendship speak the rest.”

The Duchess of York extended her kindness even to the rooks which, when
driven from the neighbouring fields, experienced a sure protection in
this demesne, where, finding themselves in security, they soon
established a flourishing rookery, to which Lord Erskine alludes in his
little poem commemorative of this humane trait in the character of the

    “Where close in the o’ershadowing wood,
       They build new castles for their brood,
     Secure, their fair Protectress nigh,
       Whose bosom swells with sympathy.”

One of the most charming traits in Queen Victoria’s character was her
love for animals, and it is pathetically recorded that when she lay
dying she sent for her favourite little Pomeranian dog, Marco, and
caressed it as it jumped on her bed.[113] She always had a large number
of dogs of different breeds, and she raised the Scotch collie to its
present proud position--her collies, Sharp and Noble, being the daily
companions of her rides among the mountains. At Windsor, we are told
that her dogs, instead of being kept in cold kennels in some sunless
court of the castle, were all housed in a cosy part of the Home Park,
where she could, if so disposed, have them under personal observation.
Among the anecdotes recorded of the Queen’s early domestic life, a
pleasing one is told of Prince Albert, who being delayed for a day by
some formal business when coming to England in 1839--on the visit to
Windsor which ended in his betrothal--sent his greyhound “Eos” in
advance, as a token that he himself would shortly arrive. The effigy of
this faithful companion--which with its two puppies was afterwards
painted by George Morley and by Landseer--is carved on the Prince’s
tomb. Her Majesty’s love for animals prompted her loyal subjects in
distant lands to send her specimens of foreign dogs, whilst Indian
Rajahs and African Chiefs presented her with a large collection of
animals, from lions to Thibetan mastiffs, some of which she kept at the
Windsor farms. There, we are told, she kept the great bull bison
brought over from Canada by the Marquis of Lorne, and the fine zebra
sent by the Emperor Menelek.

But the Queen, it seems, had in early life a dislike of cats, in
connection with which prejudice an amusing story is told of the Princess
Royal as a very little girl, who, in order to attract attention when no
one else would take notice of her, called out, “There’s a cat under the
trees.” Every one looked up, but there was no cat to be seen. She had
achieved her purpose, and remarked demurely, “Cat come out to look at
the Queen, I suppose.” As the Queen did not allow cats, there was
evidently an inner meaning in her remark.

Marie Louise, wife of Charles II. of Spain, had two parrots which talked
French, and these with her spaniels were her chief companions.
Disappointed, as it seemed she was likely to be, in the hope of
children, which, however, the King persisted in looking for, she
concentrated all her affection on these pets. The Duchess of Terra
Nueva, hating all things French, and trusting to the King’s dislike of
things French likewise, one day when the Queen was out for a drive,
twisted the parrots’ necks; but on her return the Queen as usual called
for her birds and her dogs.

At the mention of her birds, the maids of honour look at each other
without speaking, but the truth was told. Accordingly, when the Duchess
of Terra Nueva appeared to kiss the Queen’s hand as customary, the meek
spirit of Marie Louise could endure no longer, and she gave her two or
three slaps on either cheek. The rage of the Duchess was unbounded, and
collecting all her four hundred ladies, she went at the head of them to
the King to ask for redress. Thereupon the King betook himself to the
Queen, and demanded an explanation.

“Señor,” she maliciously replied, “this is a longing of mine--an
_antojo_,” for not only in the case of a royal lady, but in that of the
humblest woman of Spain, the _antojo_ had a prescriptive right to be
satisfied. So Charles II., whose soul was bent on having children, to
save the succession of the crown from passing out of the House of
Austria, was delighted with the _antojo_ and its significance, and
declared to his queen that if she was not satisfied with the two slaps
of face, she should give the Duchess two dozen more; and he checked the
remonstrances of the Duchess, exclaiming, “Hold your tongue, you; these
slaps on the face are daughters of the _antojo_.”

The rigid etiquette of the Spanish Court was carried to such an absurd
extent that whatever the King had used or touched became sacred. Hence a
horse he had once crossed could never be used by any one else, on which
account Philip IV. declined the gift of a fine animal, he had admired,
from a Spanish nobleman, saying it would be a pity so noble a beast
should ever be without a master.

It is impossible to say how much not his master alone, but all Europe,
owed to the spaniel whose marble effigy lies crouched at the feet of
William the Silent, the great founder of the Dutch Republic, on his
tomb in the church at Delft. It was this dog which saved the Prince’s
life by springing forward, barking, and scratching his master’s face
with his paws, when, in the night attack on the camp before Mons, a band
of Spanish arquebusiers were on the point of entering the tent of
William. His guards and himself were in profound sleep, and there was
but just time for the Prince, after the spaniel had roused him, to mount
a horse which was ready saddled, and to make his escape through the
darkness. His servants and attendants lost their lives. To his dying
day, Mr. Motley tells us, “the Prince ever afterwards kept a spaniel of
the same race in his bed-chamber.”

Alfonso VI. of Portugal, despite his wild and savage nature, had an
affection for mastiffs. Hearing, by accident, that the Jesuits kept some
fine specimens of those animals, he once rode over at night to the
convent where the fathers resided. He had alighted from his horse, and
was waiting for torches to be conducted to the kennels, when, impatient
of waiting, he strolled into the streets and almost immediately he got
engaged in a quarrel, whereby, instead of seeing the mastiffs, he was
carried to bed wounded.

Charles XII. of Sweden, when scarcely seven years old, was handing a
piece of bread to his favourite dog, when the hungry animal, snapping at
it too greedily, accidentally bit the Prince’s hand. But the young
Prince, sooner than betray his dog, which he knew intended no mischief,
kept the matter a secret to himself, until an officer who attended at
table perceived what had happened, for the Prince had grown pale with
the pain and loss of blood, and he could not but admire his nobility of

Frederick the Great’s greyhounds had quite a standing at Court, and
supplied the place of the monkeys which, as Crown Prince and for a short
time after his accession, he kept in his room strangely dressed. His
dogs were his constant companions at home, in his walks, in his
journeys, and in the field. Of these animals, Biche and, above all,
Alcmene were the favourites, and with the former he once concealed
himself from the Pandours under a bridge, where she crouched close to
him without betraying him by the least sound. But, alas! “poor Biche
died,” as Frederick said, “because ten doctors were trying to cure her.”

About 1780, when his Majesty went to the review in Silesia, he left
Alcmene very ill at Sans Souci, and every day a courier was sent with
the latest news of its condition. When informed of the poor animal’s
death, Frederick gave orders for the dead body to be placed in a coffin
in the library, and after his return he would for two or three days look
at it “for whole hours, in silent grief, weeping bitterly,” after which
he had it buried.

Frederick’s favourite dogs and their companions had for their attendant
one of the so-called royal “small footmen,” who fed them and led them
for exercise on fine days in the garden, and on wet ones in a large
hall. For their amusement small leather balls were provided, and two
dollars a month were allowed for the keep of each dog. One evening in
1760 the Marquis d’Argens found the King in his winter quarters at
Leipzic, sitting on the floor with a dish of fricassee before him, from
which the dogs made their repast, and holding a small stick in his hand
with which he kept order, and pushed the best bits towards his

In addition to his dogs, his Majesty took great interest in his horses,
one of his favourites being “the long Mollwitz Grey” which had belonged
to his father, on which he retreated from the battlefield, and which he
never afterwards rode, but kept till its death. Then there was Cæsar, a
roan, that walked freely about in the garden of the palace of Potsdam,
and was so accustomed to Frederick that it followed him to the parade,
where his Majesty would occasionally order a different movement rather
than disturb his old steed. Another pet horse was Condé, which was
almost daily brought out before the King, who fed it with melons, sugar,
and figs; other favourites being Choiseul, Kaunitz, Brühl, and Pitt.
Another very fine horse, writes Vehse in his “Memoirs of the Court of
Prussia,” was Lord Bute, and when the English minister had discontinued
the subsidies, revenge was taken on the horse, which had to help the
mules in drawing orange trees.

Peter the Great had a favourite monkey, which was allowed to take all
kinds of liberties. During his Majesty’s stay in this country, William
III. “made the Czar a visit to his lodgings in York Buildings, in which
an odd incident happened. The Czar had his monkey, which sat upon the
back of his chair,” writes Lord Dartmouth, and “as soon as the King was
sat down the monkey jumped upon him in some wrath, which discomposed the
whole ceremonial, and most of the time was spent afterwards in apologies
for the monkey’s behaviour.”[114] Alexander III. was much attached to
animals, and would tramp for miles through forest and marsh with his
favourite setters--Spot and Juno--for sole companions. The imperial
kennels and stables were models of order and propriety.

After children, dogs and animals in general were a great delight to
Catherine II. of Russia, in connection with which many anecdotes have
been recorded. In 1785, we are told how she took a fancy to a white
squirrel, of which she made a pet, and about the same time she became
possessed of a monkey of whose cleverness she would often boast. “You
should have seen,” she writes to Grimm, “the amazement of Prince Henry
one day when Prince Potenkin let loose a monkey in the room, with which
I began to play. He opened his eyes, but he could not resist the tricks
of the monkey.”

Her Majesty also had a favourite cat, which seems to have been a
wonderful animal--“the most tomcat of all tomcats, gay, witty, not
obstinate.” In one of her letters she writes: “You will excuse me if all
the preceding page is very badly written. I am extremely hampered at the
moment by a certain young and fair Zemire, who of all the Thomassins is
the one who will come closest to me, and who pushes her pretensions to
the point of having her paws on my paper.”

Henry III. of France was never happy unless a whole kennel of puppies
yelped at his heels; and Dumas has given an amusing sketch of his
Majesty as he travelled with his fool Chicot in the same litter drawn by
half-a-dozen mules. “The litter,” he writes, “contained Henry, his
physician, his chaplain, the jester, four of the King’s minions, a
couple of huge hounds, and a basketful of puppies, which rested on the
King’s knees, but which was upheld from his neck by a gold chain. From
the roof hung a gilded cage, in which there were white turtle-doves, the
plumage of their necks marked by a sable circlet of feathers.
Occasionally two or three apes were to be seen in this ‘Noah’s Ark,’ as
it was called.”

Henry IV. was fond of dogs, and when King of Navarre, was found one day
in his cabinet by his great minister, Sully, with his sword by his side,
his cloak on his shoulders, carrying in a basket suspended from his neck
two or three little pugs.

Even in his sports, one of the early exploits of Louis XV. gives a
painful impression of his wanton character. He had a pet white doe at
Versailles, at which one day he fired in mere mischievousness. The poor
creature came wounded towards him and licked his Majesty’s hand, but the
young King drove it away from him, and shot it again and again till it

Alfred de Musset’s dislike of dogs was intensified by unfortunate
experience, for more than once a dog had nearly wrecked his prospects,
one occasion being when at a royal hunting-party he blunderingly shot
Louis Philippe’s favourite pointer. To Goethe, too, dogs were an
abhorrence, and a story is told of the poet’s troubles as theatrical
manager at Weimar, when the cabal against him had craftily persuaded the
Duke Carl August--whose fondness for dogs was as remarkable as Goethe’s
aversion to them--to invite to his capital Karsten and his poodle, which
had been performing at Paris the leading part in the melodrama of “The
Dog of Montargis.” But Goethe indignantly replied, “One of our theatre
regulations stands, ‘No dogs admitted on the stage,’” and dismissed the
subject. But the invitation had already gone, and the dog arrived. After
the first rehearsal Goethe gave his Highness the choice between the dog
and his Highness’s then stage manager; whereupon the Duke, angry at his
opposition, sent a most offensive letter of dismissal. He quickly
regretted the act, and wrote to Goethe, whom no entreaty could ever
induce to resume his post.



From the earliest times history records many an amusing anecdote
illustrative of royal wit and humour, and it is related how when
Leonidas, King of Sparta, was informed that the Persian arrows were so
numerous that they obscured the light of the sun, he replied, “Never
mind that, we shall have the advantage of fighting in the shade.” But,
coming down to later times, if monarchs have occasionally indulged in
wit at the expense of their subjects, they have themselves not
infrequently resented a joke when levelled at them, as in the case of
Henry I. of England, who, once being ridiculed in a clever lampoon,
rejoined by having the author’s eyes put out. But to the credit of
royalty, be it said, instances of this kind have been the exception,
despite the sharp retorts it has at times experienced from persons of
low degree. Thus a smart rejoinder was that of Frederick the Great’s
coachman when he had upset the carriage containing his master. Frederick
began to swear like a trooper, but the coachman coolly asked, “And you,
did you never lose a battle?”--to which the King was forced to reply
with a good-natured laugh.

Henry VIII. appointed Sir Thomas More to carry an angry message to
Francis I. of France. Sir Thomas told his Majesty that, if he carried a
message to so violent a king as Francis, it might cost him his head.
“Never fear,” said the King, “if Francis should cut off your head, I
would make every Frenchman now in London a head shorter.” “I am obliged
to your Majesty,” said Sir Thomas, “but I much fear if any of their
heads will fit my shoulders.”

Even Queen Elizabeth could now and then brook a smart rejoinder. It is
reported that she once saw in her garden a certain gentleman to whom she
had held out hopes of advancement, which he discovered were slow of
realisation. Looking out of her window, her Majesty said to him in
Italian, “What does a man think of, Sir Edward, when he thinks of
nothing?” The answer was, “He thinks, madam, of a woman’s promise.”
Whereupon the Queen drew back her head, but she was heard to say, “Well,
Sir Edward, I must not argue with you; anger makes dull men witty, but
it keeps them poor.”

It would seem, too, that Elizabeth had more than once experienced the
folly of sovereigns in allowing persons of more wit than manners the
opportunity of exercising their sharp weapons against royalty. A certain
jester, Pace, having transgressed in this way, she had forbidden him her
presence. One of his patrons, however, undertook to make his peace with
her Majesty, and in his name promised that for the future he would
behave with more discretion if he were allowed to resume his office. The
Queen consented, and, on seeing him, she exclaimed, “Come on, Pace; now
we shall hear of our faults!” To which the incorrigible cynic replied,
“What is the use of speaking of what all the town is talking about?”

But her Majesty was fond of jests herself, and there is the familiar
impromptu couplet she made on the names of the four knights of the
county of Nottingham:--

    “Gervase the gentle, Stanhope the stout,
     Markham the lion, and Sutton the lout.”

And it has generally been supposed that the subjoined rebus on Sir
Walter Raleigh’s name was her composition:--

    “The bane of the stomach, and the word of disgrace,
     Is the name of the gentleman with the bold face.”

James I. was fond of buffoonery, and according to Sir Anthony Weldon was
very witty, and had “as many ready jests as any man living, at which he
would not smile himself, but deliver them in a grave and serious
manner.” A little work entitled “Witty Observations of King James” is
preserved in the British Museum, and another one, “The Witty Aphorisms
of King James,” has often been quoted as a specimen of his Majesty’s
talent in this style of literature. But Walpole was far from
complimentary when he wrote of James: “A prince, who thought puns and
quibbles the perfection of eloquence, would have been charmed with the
monkeys of Hemskirk and the drunken boors of Ostade.”

Asking the Lord-Keeper Bacon one day what he thought of the French
ambassador, he answered that he was a tall and proper man. “Ay,” replied
James, “but what think you of his headpiece? Is he a proper man for an
ambassador?” “Sir,” said Bacon, “tall men are like high houses, wherein
commonly the uppermost rooms are worst furnished.”

James, however, did not escape being ridiculed by the wits of the
period. A lampoon containing some impudent reflections upon the Court
caused him some indignation, but when he came to the two concluding
lines he smiled:--

    “God bless the King, the Queen, the Prince, the peers,
     And grant the author long may wear his ears!”

“By my faith, and so he shall for me,” said his Majesty; “for though he
be an impudent, he is a witty and pleasant rogue.” James was fond of
retorting on others when occasion offered. When one of the Lumleys, for
instance, was boasting of his ancestry, “Stop, man,” he cried, “you need
say no more: now I know that Adam’s name was Lumley.”

Again, one day when a certain courtier, on his death-bed, was full of
penitent remorse for having cheated his Majesty, “Tell him,” he said,
“to be of good courage, for I freely and lovingly forgive him.” And he
added, “I wonder much that all my officers do not go mad with the like
thoughts, for certainly they have as great cause as this poor man

A laughable story is told of an expedient adopted by Buckingham, and his
mother, to divert the royal melancholy at the most dismal part of his
reign. A young lady was introduced, carrying in her arms a pig dressed
as an infant, which the Countess presented to the King in a rich mantle.
One Turpin, robed as a bishop, commenced reading the baptismal service,
while an assistant stood by with a silver ewer filled with water. The
King, for whom the joke was intended as a pleasing surprise, hearing the
pig suddenly squeak, and recognising the face of Buckingham, who
personated the godfather, exclaimed, “Away, for shame, what blasphemy is
this?” indignant at the trick which had been imposed on him. But it is
improbable that Buckingham would have ventured on such a piece of
buffoonery had he not been prompted by the success of former occasions.

Charles II., it is said, enjoyed fun as much as any of the youngest of
his courtiers. On one of his birthdays a pickpocket, in the garb of a
gentleman, obtained admission to the drawing-room, and extracted a gold
snuff-box from a gentleman’s pocket, which he was quietly transferring
to his own when he suddenly caught the King’s eye. But the fellow was in
no way disconcerted, and winked at Charles to hold his tongue. Shortly
afterwards his Majesty was much amused by observing the nobleman feeling
one pocket after another in search of his box. At last he could resist
no longer, and exclaimed, “You need not, my lord, give yourself any more
trouble about it; your box is gone, and I own myself an accomplice: I
could not help it, I was made a confidant.”

One day this facetious monarch, it is said, asked Dr. Stillingfleet how
it happened that he always read his sermons before him, when he was
informed that he preached without a book elsewhere. The doctor told the
King that the awe of so noble an audience, and particularly the royal
presence, made him afraid to trust himself.

“But, in return, will your Majesty give me leave to ask you why you read
your speeches when you can have none of the same reasons?”

“Why, truly, doctor,” replied the King, “your question is a very plain
one, and so will be my answer. I have asked my subjects so often, and
for so much money, that I am ashamed to look them in the face.”

But his Majesty did not always escape himself being made the victim of a
joke. He was reputed to be skilled in naval architecture, and visiting
Chatham to view a ship which had just been completed, he asked the
famous Killigrew “if he did not think he should make an excellent
shipwright?” To which Killigrew replied that “he always thought his
Majesty would have done better at any trade than his own.” Meeting
Shaftesbury, his Majesty one day said to the unprincipled Earl, “I
believe thou art the wickedest fellow in my dominions.” “For a subject,
sir,” said the other, “I believe I am.” The happy retort of Blood is
well known, who, when Charles inquired how he dared to make his bold
attempt on the crown jewels, replied, “My father lost a good estate in
fighting _for_ the crown, and I considered it no harm to recover it _by_
the crown.”

James II., when Duke of York, made a visit to the poet Milton, and asked
him if he did not think the loss of sight was a judgment upon him for
what he had written against his father, Charles I. Milton replied, if
his Highness thought his loss of sight a judgment upon him, he wished to
know what he thought of his father’s losing his head.

Mary II. did not often indulge in badinage or playfulness. But one day
she asked her ladies “what was meant by a squeeze of the hand?” They
forthwith answered, “Love.” Then said her Majesty, laughing,
“Vice-Chamberlain Smith must be in love with me, for he squeezes my hand
very hard.”

George I. was humorous, a trait of character of which many anecdotes
have been told. When on a visit to Hanover, he stopped at a Dutch
village, and, whilst the horses were being got ready, his Majesty asked
for two or three eggs, for which he was charged a hundred florins.

“How is this?” inquired the King. “Eggs must be very scarce here.”

“Pardon me,” said the host, “eggs are plentiful enough, but kings are
scarce”--a story of which there are several versions.

“This is a very odd country,” King George remarked, speaking of England.
“The first morning after my arrival at St. James’s, I looked out of the
window and saw a park with walls and a canal, which they told me were
mine. The next day Lord Chetwynd, the ranger of my park, sent me a brace
of fine carp out of my canal, and I was told I must give five guineas to
my Lord Chetwynd’s man for bringing me my own carp out of my own canal
in my own park.”

Equally did George I. enjoy listening to those who either exposed their
own follies, or retailed those of others. The Duchess of Bolton, for
instance, often made him laugh by reason of her ridiculous blunders.
Having been present when Colley Cibber’s first dramatic performance,
“Love’s Last Shift,” was played, the King asked her the next day what
piece she had seen performed, when she answered, with a serious face,
“La dernière chemise de l’amour.”

Like George I., his successor, George II., had a certain amount of
humour, and his fondness for Hanover occasioned all sorts of rough jokes
among his English subjects. He thought there were no manners out of
Germany, and on one occasion when her Royal Highness “was whipping one
of the roaring royal children,” George, who was standing by, said to
Sarah Marlborough, “Ah, you have no good manners in England, because you
are not properly brought up when you are young.”

A smart retort was that of his Majesty to the French ambassador. The
regiment that principally distinguished itself at the battle of
Dettingen was the Scots Greys, who repulsed the French _gens d’armes_
with much loss. Some years afterwards, when the King was reviewing some
English regiments before the French ambassador, the latter, after
admitting that they were fine troops, remarked disparagingly, “But your
Majesty has never seen the _gens d’armes_.” “No,” replied the King, “but
I can tell you, and so can they, that my Scotch Greys have.”

When George II., too, was once expressing his admiration of General
Wolfe, some one remarked that the general was mad. “Is he, indeed?” said
his Majesty. “Then I wish he would bite some of my other generals.”

Queen Caroline thought she had the foolish talent of playing off people,
and, after Sir Paul Methuen had left the Court, she frequently saw him
when she dined abroad during the King’s absence at Hanover. On one
occasion, when she dined with Lady Walpole at Chelsea, Sir Paul was
there as usual. The Queen still harped upon the same string--her
constant topic for teasing Sir Paul being his passion for romances--and
she addressed him with the remark: “Well, Sir Paul, what romance are you
reading now?”

“None madam! I have gone through them all.”

“Well, what are you reading then?”

“I am got into a very foolish study, madam--the history of the kings and
queens of England.”

Her Majesty was fond of surrounding herself with men of wit, and her
levees, it is said, “were a strange picture of the motley character and
manners of a queen and a learned woman. She received company while she
was at her toilette; prayers and sometimes a sermon were read; the
conversation turned on metaphysical subjects blended with repartees,
sallies of mirth, and the tittle-tattle of a drawing-room.”

Many anecdotes have been handed down of George III. and his love of
humour. When the “Temple Companies” had defiled before him, writes Earl
Stanhope in his “Life of Pitt,” his Majesty inquired of Erskine, who
commanded them as lieutenant-colonel, what was the composition of that
corps. “They are all lawyers, sire,” said Erskine.

“What, what!” exclaimed the King, “all lawyers, all lawyers? Call them
‘The Devil’s Own’; call them ‘The Devil’s Own.’” And “The Devil’s Own”
they were called accordingly.

The Duke of York was one day conversing with his brother, George III.,
when the latter remarked that he seemed in unusually low spirits. “How
can I be otherwise,” said the Duke, “when I am subjected to so many
calls from my creditors, without having sixpence to pay them?” The King,
it is said, immediately gave him a thousand-pound note, every word of
which he read aloud in a tone of mock gravity, and then he marched out
of the room singing the first verse of “God Save the King.”

When one day standing between Lord Eldon and the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Dr. Sutton, his Majesty gravely remarked, “I am now in a
position which probably no European king ever occupied,” for, he
afterwards explained, “I am standing between the head of the Church and
the head of the Law in my kingdom--men who ought to be the patterns of
morality, but who have been guilty of the greatest immorality.” On Lord
Eldon begging to know to what his Majesty alluded, the King humorously
added, “Well, my lords, did you not both run away with your wives?”

When a certain admiral, well known for his gallant spirit, was
introduced to William IV., to return thanks for his promotion, the
cheerful and affable monarch, looking at his hair, which was almost as
white as snow, jocosely remarked, “White at the main, admiral! white at
the main!” But his Majesty was a very moderate joker, preferring to hear
a good joke from others. It is said that when heir-presumptive he one
day said to a secretary of the Admiralty who was at the same dinner
table, “C----, when I am King you shall not be Admiralty Secretary! Eh,
what do you say to that?”

“All that I have to say to that, in such a case, is,” said C----, “God
save the King!”

Dr. Doran quotes an amusing anecdote to the effect that the King never
laughed so heartily as when he was told of a certain parvenu lady who,
dining at Sir John Copley’s, ventured to express her surprise that
“there was no _pilfered_ water on the table.”

In conversation, Queen Victoria appreciated homely wit of a quiet kind,
and laughed without restraint when a jest or anecdote appealed to her.
Subtlety and indelicacy offended her, and sometimes evoked a scornful
censure. Although she naturally expected courtesy of address, she was
not conciliated by obsequiousness. “It is useless to ask ----’s
opinion,” she would say; “he only tries to echo mine.” Her own
conversation had often the charm of naïveté. When told that a very
involved piece of modern German music, to which she was listening with
impatience, was a drinking song by Rubinstein, she remarked, “Why, you
could not drink a cup of tea to that.”[115]

According to Brantôme, Louis XI., wishing one day to have something
written, espied an ecclesiastic with an inkstand hanging at his side,
from which--having opened at the King’s request--a set of dice fell out.

“What kind of sugar-plums are these?” asked his Majesty.

“Sire,” replied the priest, “they are a remedy for the plague.”

“Well said,” exclaimed the King; “you are a fine _paillard_; you are the
man for me,” and he took him into his service, being fond of bon-mots
and sharp wits.

Another amusing anecdote tells how a certain French baron, having lost
everything at play, happening to be in the King’s chamber, secreted a
small clock ornamented with massive gold up his sleeve. A few minutes
afterwards the clock began to strike the hour, much to the consternation
of the baron, and the surprise of those present. The King, who, as it
chanced, had detected the theft, burst out laughing, and the baron,
self-convicted, fell on his knees before the King, saying, “Sire, the
pricks of gaming are so powerful that they have driven me to commit a
dishonest act, for which I beg your mercy.”

But the King cut short his words, exclaiming: “The pastime which you
have contrived for us so far surpasses the injury you have done me that
the clock is yours. I give it you with all my heart.”

In one of his journeys, the story goes that Louis XI. went into the
kitchen of an inn where he was not known, and, seeing a lad turning a
spit, he asked his name and employment. The lad replied that his name
was Berringer, that he “was not a very great man, but that still he got
as much as the King of France.”

“And what, my lad, does the King of France get?” inquired Louis.

“His wages,” replied the boy, “which he holds from God, and I hold mine
from the King”--an answer which so pleased Louis that he gave the lad a
situation to attend on his person.

When called upon one day to give his opinion in some great emergency,
the Duke of Sully observed the favourites of the new king, Louis XIII.,
whispering to one another and sneering at his somewhat rough exterior.
“Whenever your Majesty’s father,” remarked the old statesman, “did me
the honour to consult me, he ordered the buffoons of Court to leave the
audience chamber”--a pointed reproof which at once silenced the
satellites, who forthwith retired in confusion.

One day Marshal Bassompierre, on his release from the Bastille--where
after twelve years’ imprisonment he had grown extremely fat--presented
himself at Court, when the Queen thought it a good joke to ask him how
soon he meant to lie in; to which the Marshal replied, “May it please
your Majesty, I am only waiting for a wise woman.” The King, Louis
XIII., asked him his age, whereupon the Marshal answered that he was
fifty, at which his Majesty looked surprised, as Bassompierre looked
quite sixty. But the latter continued: “Sire, I deduct twelve years
passed in the Bastille, because I did not employ them in your service.”
Before his imprisonment he was one day describing his embassy to Spain,
and relating how he made his solemn entry into Madrid seated on a mule,
when Louis exclaimed, “An ass seated on a mule!” “Yes, sire,” retorted
Bassompierre, “and what made the joke better was that I represented

The Duc de Lauragais, who was a very singular and eccentric person, was
a great _anglomane_, and was the first introducer into France of
horse-races _à l’Anglais_. It was to him that Louis XV.--not pleased at
his insolent _anglomanie_--made an excellent retort. The King had asked
him, after one of his journeys, what he had learned in England.
Lauragais answered, with a kind of republican dignity, “A panser”
(_penser_). “Les chevaux?” inquired the King.

At another time, when Cardinal de Luynes was paying his respects to
Louis XV., his Majesty said: “Cardinal, your great-grandfather died of
an apoplexy, your father and your uncle died of an apoplexy, and you
look as if you would die of an apoplectic stroke.” “Sire,” answered the
Cardinal, “fortunately for us we do not live in the times when kings are

His predecessor, Louis XIV., it is said, often gave flatterers good
pretexts, of which they were not slow to avail themselves. A Capuchin,
for instance, preaching before this monarch at Fontainebleau, began his
discourse with, “My brethren, we shall all die.” Then stopping short,
and turning to his Majesty, he exclaimed, “Yes, sir, almost all of us
shall die.”

A sorry joke was that which the ex-king Charles X. of France made to M.
de Montbel as he rode with him. On leaving Prague, where the new Emperor
of Austria, Ferdinand, was about to be crowned as King of
Bohemia--Charles thinking the spectacle of a deposed monarch a
melancholy sight for an emperor and king--“Montbel,” he said, “do you
know that you accumulate in your person the offices of First Gentleman
of the Chamber, Captain of the Guards, and Chief Ecuyer? I was never
before struck with the inordinate character of your ambition!”

And, as it has been observed, there was something pathetic and yet
humorous in the remark of Louis Philippe. It appears that by the 24th of
August, 1850, his condition had become so serious that the physician
felt it his duty to communicate his fears to the Queen, who expressed a
wish that Louis Philippe himself might be made aware of the peril in
which he lay. Accordingly, as soon as the dread announcement had been
delicately conveyed to the King, his Majesty exclaimed cheerfully, “Oh,
ah! I understand. You come to tell me that it is time to prepare for
leaving. Was it not the Queen who requested you to make this

The doctor answered in the affirmative; whereupon his Majesty added,
“Very well, beg of her to come in.”[116]

An amusing story tells how Charles V. one day fell in with a peasant who
was carrying a pig, the noise of which irritated him. On inquiring of
the peasant if he had not learnt the method of making a pig be quiet, he
was answered in the negative. “Take the pig by the tail,” said the
Emperor, “and you will see that it will soon be silent.” The peasant did
as he was told, and said to the Emperor, “You must have learnt the trade
much better than I, sir, for you understand it a great deal better.”

Two ladies once contended for precedence in the Court of Charles V.
Unable to agree, they appealed to the monarch, who decided the matter by
the command, “Let the elder go first”; which recalls a similar anecdote
told of the Prussian sovereign, who, being told by one of his courtiers
that two ladies of high rank had disputed about precedence, replied,
“Give the precedence to the greatest fool.” Such a dispute, it is
affirmed, was never known afterwards. And speaking of precedence, we are
reminded how, when King William landed, he said to Sir Edward Seymour,
the Speaker, “Sir Edward, I think you are of the Duke of Somerset’s
family?” “No, sir, he is of mine,” was the Speaker’s reply.

The licensed humorist of the Court of Augustus the Strong was General
Kyan, the adjutant of the King, concerning whom many amusing anecdotes
are told. One day at table his Majesty asked him to pour out some rare
Hungarian sweet wine. Kyan placed the King’s glass in the centre, and
those of the other great State and financial officials all round. The
outer glasses were filled to the brim, but in the King’s were only a few
drops. “What does all this represent?” asked the King. “The collection
of the State revenues,” said Kyan.

On another occasion, when Kyan wanted a snug berth for his old age, at
table he asked permission to change position with the King for a few
minutes. This his Majesty granted, on which Kyan sat up in his chair
with the King’s hat on his head, and began a speech to the King, whom he
harangued as General Kyan, eulogising his merits, and granting him a
post of governor of the fortress of Konigstein. The King was so taken
with the fancy that the patent was made out, and he died in his post at
eighty years of age.

Frederick William I. was fond of the broadest practical jokes, and the
“Tobacco College” was his favourite leisure resort, where he was highly
delighted when foreign princes got drunk, or when the unaccustomed weed
made them sick. This Tobacco Club met every day at five or six o’clock,
and a strangers’ book was kept in which the names of visitors were
entered, and among them that of the Czar Peter is still shown. The
ex-King of Poland, Stanislaus, father-in-law of Louis XV., was often
present; and Francis I., when still Duke of Lorraine, smoked his pipe
when canvassing his Prussian Majesty as Elector of the Empire, before
his election to the imperial crown. A singular personage, Jacob Paul von
Gundling, who was elected President of the Academy of Sciences, was the
butt of the most amusing, coarse, and even cruel practical jokes. He was
made to read to the company at the Tobacco Club some of the most
insulting articles against his own person, which his Majesty had sent to
the daily papers for insertion. A monkey in a dress--the exact
counterpart of that worn by Gundling--was placed by his side, and
declared by the King to be a natural son of Gundling, who was then
forced to embrace his alleged offspring before the whole company.
Frederick William caused, too, Gundling to be ridiculed in his death,
for a large wine cask was selected as his resting-place, and in this,
attired in his dress of state, he was buried, notwithstanding the
remonstrances of the clergy.

It seems that when a child his Majesty was noted for his wit, for at a
fancy ball held at Charlottenburg, July 12, 1790, he appeared as a
conjurer, performing his tricks so cleverly as even to be praised for
his wit by the celebrated Leibnitz. A year before, the Duchess of
Orleans had written: “I am always concerned when I see children
prematurely witty, as I take it for a sign that they will not live long;
I therefore tremble for the little Electoral Prince of Brandenburg.”

On one occasion a general, proverbial for his stinginess, excused
himself from entertaining at dinner his Majesty on the plea of not
keeping an establishment. But Frederick William directed him to Nicolai,
the landlord of the King of Portugal Hotel, where he made his appearance
with a large company. The dinner and wines were excellent, and on rising
from the table the general, calling in the landlord, asked him the
charge for each guest. “One florin a head without the wine,” answered

“Well then,” the general said, “here is one florin for myself and
another for his Majesty; as to the other gentlemen whom I have not
invited, they will pay for themselves.”

“Here’s a fine joke,” the King exclaimed good-humouredly; “I thought I
should take in the general, and now I’m taken in myself.” He then
discharged the whole score from his own purse.

His son, Frederick the Great, rarely indulged in any familiarity with
ordinary people, although, as already stated, he did not resent a
repartee from one of his servants. He once asked a physician, “How many
men have you sent into the other world?” when the unexpected reply came,
“Not nearly so many as your Majesty, and with infinitely less glory.”

Inspecting his finance affairs, and questioning the parties interested,
Frederick, writes Thomas Carlyle, notices a certain convent in Cleves
which “appears to have, payable from the forest dues, considerable
revenues bequeathed by the old dukes ‘for masses to be said on their
behalf.’” He goes to look at the place, questions the monks on this
point, who are all drawn out in two rows, and have broken into _Te Deum_
at sight of him. “Husht! you still say those masses, then?”

“Certainly, your Majesty.”

“And what good does any one get of them?”

“Your Majesty, those old sovereigns are to obtain heavenly mercy by
them, to be delivered out of Purgatory by them?”

“Purgatory? It is a sore thing for the forests all this while! And they
are not yet out, those poor souls, after so many hundred years of
praying?” Monks have a fatal apprehension they are not, and reply, “No.”
“When will they be out, and the thing be complete?” Monks cannot say.
“Send me a line whenever it is complete,” sneers the King, and he leaves
them to their _Te Deum_.

One of the severest rebuffs administered to Frederick was that by
General Ziethen, who having been invited to dine with his Majesty on
Good Friday, declined, excusing himself on the plea that “he was in the
habit of taking the Sacrament on that day.” When Ziethen next dined at
the royal table, the King sarcastically said to him, “Well, how did the
Sacrament on Good Friday agree with you--have you digested well the real
body and blood of Christ?”

This question provoked much laughter, but Ziethen, shaking his hoary
head, rose and addressed the King thus: “Your Majesty knows that in war
I have never feared any danger, and that, wherever it was required, I
have resolutely risked my life for you and the country. This feeling
still animates me; and if it is of any use, and you command it, I will
lay my head at your feet. But there is One above us who is more than you
or I--the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. That Holy Saviour I cannot
allow to be ridiculed, for in Him rests my faith, my trust, and my hope
in life and death. In the strength of this faith your brave army has
courageously fought, and conquered. If your Majesty undermines it, you
undermine at the same time the welfare of the State. This is a true
saying indeed.”

A death-like silence prevailed, and Frederick, with evident emotion,
grasping the general’s right hand, said, “Happy Ziethen, I wish I could
believe like you; hold fast to your faith, it shall be done no more.”

Peter the Great, as is well known, loved a bit of fun, and one day
seeing a number of men swarming about the Law Courts at Westminster
Hall, is said to have inquired who they were, and what they were about,
and being informed that they were lawyers, he jocosely exclaimed,
“Lawyers, why I had but four in my whole kingdom, and I design to hang
two of them as soon as I get home.”

Many amusing stories are told of the wit and humour of the ex-Polish
sovereign, Stanislaus Leczinski. Walpole, in a letter to Mann, dated
1764, writes: “I love to tell you an anecdote of any of our old
acquaintance, and I have now a delightful one relating, yet indirectly,
to one of them. You know, to be sure, that Madame de Craon’s daughter,
Madame de Boufflers, has the greatest power with King Stanislaus. Our
old friend, the Princess de Craon, goes seldom to Luneville for this
reason, not enduring to see her daughter on that throne which she so
long filled with absolute empire. But Madame de Boufflers, who from his
Majesty’s age cannot occupy _all_ the places in the palace that her
mother filled, indemnifies herself with his Majesty’s Chancellor. One
day the lively old monarch said, ‘Regardez quel joli petit pied, et la
belle jambe! Mon Chancelier vous dira le reste!’ You know this is the
form when a King of France says a few words to his Parliament, and then
refers them to his Chancellor.”

But Stanislaus, as Dr. Doran says, could be just as well as witty.
Voltaire presented to him his history of Charles XII., expecting to be
overwhelmed with compliments. Stanislaus, after reading the book,
humiliated the philosopher by asking how he dared to present to him, an
actor in the scenes described, a book in which veracity was outraged a
thousand times over. It is related, too, of Charles XII., that at the
battle of Narva, being told that the enemy were as three to one when
compared with his own army, he replied, “I am glad to hear it, for then
there will be enough to kill, enough to take prisoners, and enough to
run away.”

Christina of Sweden was noted for her wit and repartee, and often
astonished persons by her piquant anecdotes. When she visited
Fontainebleau, in 1656, in her half-male attire, it is said she appeared
to some of the ladies like a pretty but rather forward boy, who was
addicted to swearing, flung himself into an arm-chair, and disposed of
his legs in a way which shocked “the not very scrupulous dames of the
Court.” But these same ladies smothered Christina with kisses, which
prompted her to say: “What a rage they have for kissing; I verily
believe they take me for a gentleman!”

Her highly-spiced stories, too, were not confined to her own sex, for
she was as ready “to discuss with gentlemen improper subjects as any
other.” But her collection of 1200 maxims is a proof of her talent in
this direction, a few instances of which we subjoin, which, by-the-bye,
are not always very complimentary. Thus, she says, “Change of ministry,
change of thieves;” and she warns us that “if animals could speak they
would convince men that the latter were as great beasts as themselves.”
Speaking of royalty, she writes, “There are princes whom men compare
with Alexander the Great, and who are not worthy of being compared with
his horse Bucephalus;” and she adds, “There are peasants born with
royal souls, and kings with the souls of flunkeys.” “Sciences,” she
maintains, “are often the pompous titles of human ignorance; one is not
the more knowing for knowing them.” And “the secret of being
ridiculous,” she was wont to affirm, “is by priding yourself on talents
which you do not possess.” And, to give one further instance of her
maxims, she tells us that “princes resemble those tigers and lions whose
keepers make them play a thousand tricks and turns. To look at them you
would fancy they were in complete subjection, but a blow from the paw,
when least expected, shows that you can never tame that sort of animal.”

Charles IV. of Spain had all the spirit and wit of his father. On
requiring the presence of Losada at his toilet, and when told that
Spanish etiquette forbade the presence of any one lower in quality than
a Spanish grandee, he exclaimed, “Very well, I now make him one, so let
him come in and help me on with my shirt.” When Charles ascended the
throne Louis XVI. was about to sign a letter of congratulation to him,
but he remarked, “It is hardly worth signing, for this king is no king,
but a poor cipher, completely governed and henpecked by his wife.”
Charles never forgave the jest, and when news of the execution of Louis
reached him, he remarked that “the gentleman who was so ready to find
fault with others, did not seem to have managed his own affairs very



Some two hundred and fifty years ago, a fashionable colour was a
peculiar shade of brown known as the “couleur Isabelle,” and this was
its origin: Soon after the siege of Ostend commenced at the beginning of
the seventeenth century, Isabella Eugenia, Gouvernante of the
Netherlands, is said to have made a vow that she would not change her
chemise till the town surrendered. Despite the fact that the siege
lasted over three years, the ladies and gentlemen of the Court, in no
way dismayed, resolved to keep their mistress in countenance, and hit
upon the expedient of wearing garments of the presumed colour finally
attained by that which clung to the imperial Archduchess by force of
religious obstinacy.

This is only one of many instances in which royalty has been responsible
for inaugurating silly and eccentric fashions from some circumstance of
an untoward nature. Thus when Francis I., owing to a wound he received
in his head, was obliged to wear his hair short, this became a Court
fashion. Charles V. suffered so intensely from headache that he had his
hair cut close, and thence arose the mode of wearing it short. Charles
VII. of France introduced long coats to hide his ill-made legs, and
full-bottomed wigs were invented by a French barber, named Duviller, to
conceal an elevation in the shoulder of the Dauphin. Tradition, too,
tells how Queen Blanche provided her consort, Louis IX., with a wig to
hide his baldness, for, said she, “our bald kings have never been lucky,
and it ill befits a sovereign that he should not be better provided with
flowing locks than a mendicant at the gates of Notre Dame. It shall
never be said that Louis, our well-beloved consort, went about with as
little hair on his crown as a monarch retired from his vocation, and
shut up in a cloister.” By this incident the perruque was popularised in
France, and Louis became the patron of “artists in hair.”

When Louis XIII. succeeded Henry IV. at the age of nine years, the
courtiers, because “the new king could have no beard, resolved that they
would have none themselves; and every wrinkled face appeared at Court as
beardless as possible,” with the exception of the honest Sully, who,
although jeered at for his old-fashioned appearance, made no change.

Shoes with very long points were invented by Henry Plantagenet, Duke of
Anjou, to conceal a large excrescence on one of his feet, whereas the
charming Isabella of Bavaria introduced the fashion of leaving the
shoulders and part of the neck uncovered to show off her beautiful skin.
The reign of Charles II., it has been remarked, “was the dominion of
French fashions,” and the custom of baring the bosom was made the
subject of frequent comment by the moralists of the day. Catherine of
Braganza, it is said, “exposed her breast and shoulders without even the
gloss of the lightest gauze,” and in one of her portraits “the tucker
instead of standing up on her bosom, is with licentious boldness turned
down, and lies upon her stays.”[117] Anne Boleyn is said to have had on
her throat a large mole, which she carefully concealed with an
ornamental collar-band, a fashion which was imitated by the ladies of
the Court, who had never thought of wearing anything of the kind before.
Nor was this her Majesty’s only defect, for it appears she had a
malformation of the little finger of her left hand, on which there was a
double nail, with something like an indication of a sixth finger. “But
that,” says Wyatt, “which in others might be regarded as a defect, was
to her an occasion of additional grace, by the skilful manner in which
she concealed it from observation.” On account of this peculiarity she
wore the hanging sleeves mentioned as her peculiar fashion when in
France, a practice which was quickly followed by the ladies of the Court
in this country. It may be mentioned, too, that Anne Boleyn had great
taste and skill in dress, and we are told that “she was unrivalled in
the gracefulness of her attire and the fertility of her invention in
devising new patterns, which were imitated by all the Court belles, by
whom she was regarded as the glass of fashion.”

Some sovereigns attended to the dress of their subjects, as the Emperor
Paul of Russia, whose instructions were regulated by the police. It was
ordered that ordinary dress should consist of a cocked hat, or for want
of one a round hat pinned up with three corners, a single-breasted coat
and waistcoat, knee-buckles instead of strings, and buckles in the
shoes. A lady at Court, it is said, wearing her hair rather lower in her
neck than was consistent with the decree, was ordered into close
confinement, to be fed on bread and water.

Similarly, it seems that James regulated the dress of his subjects in
Scotland, for in 1621 he enacted that the fashion of clothes in use be
not changed by man or woman “under the pain of forfeiture of the cloths,
and an hundred pounds to be paid by the wearer, and as much by the maker
of the said cloths.” According to the fashion in use, no person could
wear lawns or cambrics, or cloth trimmed with gold, or feathers on their
heads, or pearls and precious stones, &c. But, to make this law more
arbitrary and invidious, it exempted from its operation “noblemen,
prelates, lords of session, barons of quality, their wives, sons, and
daughters, as also heralds, trumpeters, and minstrels.” And, it may be
remembered, short and tight breeches were so much the rage in France
that Charles V. was compelled to banish this fashion by edict.

Louis XI. greatly disliked finery, and on one occasion dismissed a
_gendarme_ from his service for appearing before him in a velvet
doublet; and his Majesty had an open quarrel with the Duke of Cleves by
showing his disapprobation of his extravagance in dress. Similarly,
Ferdinand V., the Catholic, is reported one day to have turned to a
gallant of the Court noted for his finery, and, laying his hand on his
own doublet, to have exclaimed, “Excellent stuff this; it has lasted me
three pair of sleeves!” But this spirit of economy was carried so far as
to bring on him the reproach of parsimony.[118] Henry IV. of France
curtailed as much as possible his wardrobe expenses, usually wearing a
plain grey habit, with a doublet of either satin or taffeta, without any
ornament. Oftentimes, when he saw a courtier in his costly apparel, he
would humorously remark that he “carried his castle and his wood on his

During the closing years of his life Charles V. was singularly
indifferent to his apparel, and, according to a contemporary account,
“when he rode into the towns, amidst a brilliant escort of courtiers and
cavaliers, the Emperor’s person was easy to be distinguished among the
crowd by the plainness of his attire.” In the latter part of his reign
he dressed wholly in black. Roger Ascham, who was admitted to an
audience by him some years before his abdication, says that his Majesty
“had on a gown of black taffety, and looked somewhat like the parson of
Epurstone.” His natural parsimony came in aid of his taste. It is told
of him that once being overtaken by a storm in the neighbourhood of
Naumburg, he took off his new velvet cap and remained uncovered whilst
he sent into the town for an old one. “Poor Emperor,” thought one of the
company, who tells the anecdote, “spending tons of gold on his wars and
standing bareheaded in the rain for the sake of his velvet bonnet.” But
his Majesty had not always shown this disregard of dress, having been
inordinately fond of finery, especially of jewellery. At one time,
writes Dr. Doran, “his toilet-table was covered with miscellaneous
articles, like that of Charles of Burgundy, and there was as much
variety in its drawers.”

Frederick William I. in his early life ignored fashion, and showed a
great aversion to regal pomp and luxury. One day he threw a
dressing-gown of gold brocade into the fire, and, it is said, he would
often lie for hours in the sun with his face greased to give it a
tanned, soldier-like appearance. Frederick the Great was slovenly in his
person, a defect that increased as he grew older; for he so far
disregarded fashion as to wear ragged linen, dirty shirts, old clothes,
and cracked boots.

Similarly, James I. of England was quite indifferent to his dress, and
is said to have worn his clothes as long as they would hang together. On
one occasion, when a pair of shoes adorned with rosettes were brought to
him, he inquired whether it was intended to make “a ruffe-footed dove”
of him; and at another time when a new-fashioned Spanish hat was shown
him, he pushed it contemptuously away, remarking that he neither liked
the Spanish, nor their fashions. It is even said that on one occasion he
went so far as to borrow a pair of scarlet stockings with gold clocks
from one of his courtiers when he was anxious to make a special
impression on the French Ambassador. According to Walpole, James hunted
“in the most cumbrous and inconvenient of all dresses, a ruff and
trouser breeches,” which must have presented a somewhat quaint

Perhaps one of the greatest sensations made by royalty in the matter of
dress was that of Christina of Sweden, who on passing through France on
her visit to Louis XIV., in her strange dress and uncurled wig, looked,
according to public criticism, “very like a half-tipsy gipsy.” Her coat
has been described as a garment neither of man nor woman, and it fitted
so ill that her higher shoulder appeared above the neck of the dress.
Mesdames de Montpensier and de Motteville describe her chemise, which
was made according to the fashion of a man’s shirt, as appearing and
disappearing through, under, or over, other parts of the royal costume
in a very puzzling way; but what most astonished and horrified the
ladies of fashion, “who wore trains from the moment they rose in bed,
were the short petticoats worn by Christina, which left her ankles
exposed to the sight and criticism of all who chose to look at

But if some sovereigns have been naturally parsimonious in their dress,
some were so from force of circumstances, as in the case of Isabella of
Angoulême, consort of King John, for, although his Majesty never spared
his own personal expenses, he was mean to his queen. Thus we find in one
of his wardrobe rolls an order for a grey cloth pelisson for Isabella,
guarded with nine bars of grey fur. There is another order for cloth to
make two robes for the Queen, each to consist of five ells, one of green
cloth, the other of brunet; also cloth for a pair of purple sandals and
four pairs of women’s boots, one pair to be embroidered round the
ankles. The richness, however, of his own dress and the costly splendour
of his jewellery partly occasioned the demands he made on the purses of
his people.

Edward I., on the other hand, disliked show, and, according to his
chronicler, “he went about in the plain garments of a citizen, excepting
on days of festival.” When remonstrated with by a bishop on his unkingly
attire, his Majesty answered: “What could I do more in royal robes,
father, than in this plain gabardine?” And Catherine of Aragon
apparently was much of the same opinion, for she was accustomed to say
that she considered no part of her time so much wasted as that passed in
dressing and adorning herself. Henry VIII. was fond of show in dress,
and Queen Elizabeth’s excessive love of fashion and finery, like that of
her namesake, queen of Philip II. of Spain, has long been proverbial.
Indeed, it has been said that “her toilet was an altar of devotion, of
which she was the idol, and all her ministers were her votaries: it was
the reign of coquetry and the golden age of milliners.” The list of her
Majesty’s wardrobe in 1600 shows us that she had at that time 99 robes,
126 kirtles, 269 gowns, 136 foreparts, 125 petticoats, and 27 fans, in
addition to 96 cloaks, 83 save-guards, 85 doublets, and 18 lap mantles.
As Elizabeth grew older she tried more and more to hide the
dilapidations of nature by the resources of art; and, if we are to
believe all that has been said of her, “she was the mistress of many
million hearts and full a thousand dresses.” She inaugurated a reign of
extravagance; and, as Mr. Thornbury has remarked, “she seems to have
lost her jewels upon public occasions almost as frequently as Prince
Esterhazy, who used to shake off so many pounds’ worth of diamonds every
time he went to the opera. At Westminster, on one occasion, the Queen
drops a golden acorn and oak leaf; on another, two gold buttons shaped
like tortoises; on another, a diamond clasp given her by the Earl of
Leicester, and which fastened a gown of purple cloth of silver.” Her
Majesty, it is said, was never seen _en déshabille_ by the male sex but
on two occasions. The first time was on “a fair May morning when Gilbert
Talbot, the Earl of Shrewsbury’s son, walking in the tilt-yard about
eight o’clock, chanced to look up, and saw her at the window in her
night-cap. ‘My eye,’ said he, ‘was full towards her, and she showed to
be greatly ashamed thereof, for that she was unready and in her
nightstuff. So when she saw me after dinner as she went to walk, she
gave me a great fillip on the forehead, and told my lord chamberlain,
who was the next to see her, how I had seen her that morning, and how
much she was ashamed thereof.’” Twenty years later the luckless Essex
surprised her in the hands of her tire-woman, and he paid severely for
his blunder.

With the wardrobe of Elizabeth may be compared in size that of Augustus
III., second Saxon King of Poland, which filled two halls of the palace,
there having been for each dress a special watch, snuff-box, sword, and
cane. Every dress was painted in miniature in a book, which every
morning was presented to “his most serene Excellency,” as he caused
himself to be called. He had as many as 1500 wigs, so that when his
palace was occupied by Frederick the Great during the Seven Years’ War,
he exclaimed contemptuously, “So many perrukes for a man who has no

The portraits of Anne of Denmark, queen of James I., indicate, it is
said, a masculine character, and “display a tawdry and tasteless style
of dress.” And it was at this period that the enormous fardingale was
worn at Court, concerning which “unnatural disguisement” Lord Lytton, in
his pedigree of the English gallant, tells the following amusing story:
“When Sir Peter Wych was sent ambassador to the Grand Seignor from James
I., his lady accompanied him to Constantinople, and the Sultaness,
having heard much of her, desired to see her; whereupon Lady Wych,
attended by her waiting-women, all of them dressed in their great
fardingales, which was the Court dress of the English ladies at that
time, waited upon her Highness. The Sultaness received her visitors with
great respect, but, struck with the extraordinary extension of the hips
of the whole party, seriously inquired if that shape was peculiar to
the natural formation of English women, and Lady Wych was obliged to
explain the whole mystery of the dress in order to convince her that she
and her companions were not really so deformed as they appeared to be.”

A pleasant little anecdote would lead us to imply that Henrietta Maria,
consort of Charles I., relied on her own natural charms; for on her
arrival in this country, when Charles seemed surprised to find her
taller than he had expected, and cast his eyes upon her feet, as it
suspecting that she had made use of artificial means to improve her
stature, she immediately raised one of her feet, and pointed to the
shoe. “Sir,” she said, “I stand upon my own feet. I have no helps of
art. Thus high I am, and I am neither higher nor lower.”[120]

This incident reminds us of Catherine of Braganza, who tried to
introduce short skirts, being desirous, as Lady Carteret told Pepys, “to
have the feet seen,” probably, it is said, owing to her having, like
most of her countrywomen, small, well-turned feet; but, despite her
exhibiting herself in this new fashion, she found few imitators, the
ladies of the Court adhering to their long-flowing draperies.

Another queen who had a strong aversion to artificial adjuncts was Mary
Beatrice of Modena, wife of James II. It was the fashion for the ladies
of the Court to paint, and, when the King told her that he wished her to
do the same, she refused not only as a matter of taste, but from a
religious scruple. But at last she consented and put on rouge, which,
when Father Seraphin, a Capuchin friar of great sanctity, to his grief
and surprise saw, he exclaimed, “Madame, I would rather see your Majesty
yellow, or even green, than rouged”--a remark which much amused the

William III. one day asked Peter the Great what he thought of London, to
which he replied “that he had been particularly pleased to see a
simplicity, meekness, and modesty of dress in the richest nation of
Europe.” The Czar was always very plain in his own dress, and a
diplomatic agent who resided many years at his Court says: “I saw him in
1721 give a public audience to the ambassadors of Persia, when he
entered the hall of audience in nothing more that a surtout of coarse
brown cloth. When he was seated on the throne, the attendants brought
him a coat of blue _gros de Naples_, embroidered with silver, which he
discarded as soon as the ambassadors were gone. Catherine, who was
present, was much amused at seeing the Czar in his spangled silk vest.
He introduced the dress of Western Europe among his courtiers, but his
subjects generally, it is said, were not so easily reconciled to the new
fashion, which necessitated his laying tax on long coats, as he had
already done on long beards.

Queen Anne was extremely particular in all matters of dress; and, it may
be remembered, the wig costume of the Court was a source of much
discomfort to Eugene of Savoy, in 1712. When Lord Bolingbroke once
appeared before her in a simple tie-wig instead of a full-bottomed
one--having been summoned in the utmost haste--she exclaimed, “I
suppose that the next time his lordship appears at Court he will come in
his night-cap.” Addison speaks in high praise of the coiffure then in
fashion, which, as may be seen by the later portraits of Queen Anne, was
elegant, the hair clustering in graceful curls down the back of the
neck, “and though hair-powder was worn by some, her Majesty’s chestnut
ringlets are unsullied by that composition.”[121]

An amusing anecdote is told of George I., who was somewhat indifferent
to the fashions of dress. During the war of 1743, a victory gained over
the French was celebrated by an ode written and set to music for the
occasion, and performed several nights before his Majesty in the great
council chamber. On these occasions George appeared in a hat, coat,
sword, and scarf which he had worn at the battle of Oudenarde, and as
after forty years fashion had much changed, it can be easily understood
that the company assembled could with difficulty restrain from laughing
on seeing their King attired in these “antiquated habiliments. And when
the following couplet proclaimed that--

    “‘Sure such a day was never known,
     Such a king, and such a throne!’

there was a general titter, which soon exceeded all the bounds of Court
decorum,” at which one of the lords of the bedchamber clapped his
hands. The company took the hint and joined in a general plaudit, at
which the old king was highly pleased, without knowing the real cause of
the compliment.

“Our tars,” writes Mr. Planché, “are too gallant to feel annoyed by the
fact that their uniform was first worn by a lady. In 1748 George II.
accidentally met the Duchess of Bedford on horseback in a riding-habit
of blue faced with white, and was so pleased with the effect of it, that
a question having been raised as to the propriety of deciding upon some
general dress for the royal navy, he immediately commanded the adoption
of those colours.”[122]

Caroline Matilda, the posthumous child of Frederick, Prince of
Wales--who at the age of fifteen became the wife of Christian VII., King
of Denmark--gave great offence to the graver Danish matrons by riding in
that costume astride like a man. “An abominable riding-habit,” writes
Sir Robert Keith, “with a black slouched hat has been almost universally
introduced here, which gives every woman the air of an awkward
_postillion_. In all the time I have been in Denmark I have never seen
the Queen out in any other garb.”[123] Her horsemanship, however, was
the admiration of the ladies of Denmark.

When Queen Charlotte arrived in England, out of respect for the women
of her adopted country, she appeared in the dress which was then most in
vogue among the English ladies. She was attired in a gold brocade with a
white ground, “had a stomacher ornamented with diamonds, and a fly cap
with richly laced lappets”--a mode of dress which was much appreciated.

As D’Israeli has remarked in his “Anecdotes of Fashion,” “the Court in
all ages and in every country are the modellers of fashions;” but
occasionally, it must be acknowledged, they have incurred their own
ridicule, or discomfort. When Louis VII., for instance--to obey his
bishops--cropped his hair and shaved his beard, his consort, Eleanor,
revenged herself as she thought proper, disgusted at his unusual and
ridiculous appearance. His Majesty obtained a divorce, after which
Eleanor married the Count of Anjou, afterwards our Henry II.

The chief majesty of Louis XIV. lay in his wig, a fact which he
recognised. Every night he allowed his valets to undress his body, but
not his head, and when the disrobing was completed--save the head--he
retired behind the curtains, which were carefully closed. With his own
royal hand he then removed his wig, and thrusting it between the
curtains gave it to a valet. Before the curtains were opened in the
morning the wig was passed back to the monarch, who was never seen
without his wig.

Similarly, Catherine II. of Russia kept her perruquier for more than
three years in an iron cage in her bedchamber, to prevent his telling
people that she wore a wig.[124]

In the reign of Louis XVI. dress was carried to an height, and the story
goes that when M. Roland, on his appointment as Minister for the Home
Department, was presented to his Majesty, the simplicity of his apparel
excited the ridicule of the Court satellites, who derived from etiquette
their sole importance. “Oh dear, sir,” said the master of the
ceremonies, whispering to Dumourier and glancing at Roland, “he has no
buckles in his shoes.” “Oh, shocking,” re-echoed Dumourier, “we shall be
ruined and undone.”

The mention of shoes reminds us that, according to one authority, silk
stockings were first worn by Henry II. of France at the marriage of his
sister in 1559, but before that time Edward VI. had secured a pair from
Sir Thomas Gresham, who imported them from Spain, where they were first
manufactured. The story goes that a loyal-minded grandee thought he
could not do better than present a pair of silk stockings to his queen,
and to that end placed them in the hands of the first minister of the
Crown, who astonished him by returning them, bidding him remember that
the “Queen of Spain had no legs.” Another version tells us how when
Maria Anne, mother of Charles II., was on her way across Spain as the
bride of Philip IV., she stopped at a town famous for the manufacture of
stockings, some of which the Alcáide of the place offered her, when he
was thrust out by the Mayordom with the words, “You must know the Queen
of Spain has no legs.” Upon hearing which the young Queen began to cry,
saying, “I must go back to Vienna; if I had known before I set out that
they would have cut my legs off, I would have died rather than come
here.” This remark made even Philip smile, although he is said to have
laughed only three times in his life.

Before Mademoiselle Bertin became so celebrated as Marie Antoinette’s
milliner, she was not only very plain in her attire, but very
economical, a circumstance which she was wont to say gave great umbrage
to the other princesses of the Court of Versailles, who never showed
themselves from the moment they rose till they returned to bed, except
in full dress, while she herself made all her morning visits in a simple
white cambric gown and straw hat.

Many amusing anecdotes have been recorded in connection with her
Majesty’s toilette. It appears that Mademoiselle Bertin had invented a
new head ornament of gauze, ribbons, flowers, beads, and feathers for
her Majesty; but when the royal hairdresser, according to custom,
attended on her, he had with him some steps of which she did not
perceive the use. “What are these steps for?” exclaimed she to the
tire-woman. The knight of the comb advanced, and making a most profound
bow, humbly represented to her Majesty that Mademoiselle Bertin, having
so enormously increased the height of the head ornaments, it would be
impossible for him to establish them upon a firm foundation unless he
could have a complete command of the head they were to be fixed upon;
and being but of the middle size and her Majesty very tall, he could not
achieve the duty of his office without mounting three or four steps,
which he did to the great amusement of the Queen and the party

According to another anecdote, on the day of the great fête of the
_Cordon Bleu_, when it was the etiquette to wear diamonds and pearls,
her Majesty had omitted putting them on. As there had been a greater
affluence of visitors than usual that morning, writes Princess Lamballe,
and her Majesty’s toilette du chambre was overthronged by princes and
princesses, “I fancied that the omission proceeded from forgetfulness.
Consequently, I sent the tire-woman in the Queen’s hearing to order the
jewels to be brought in. Smilingly her Majesty replied, ‘No, no! I have
not forgotten these gaudy things, but I do not intend that the lustre of
my eyes should be out-done by the one, or the whiteness of my teeth by
the other; however, as you wish art to eclipse nature, I’ll wear them to
satisfy you, _ma belle dame_!’”

Alas! as it has been often remarked, who would have dared on such an
occasion, and among those smiles, to have prognosticated the cruel fate
of the head which then attracted such general admiration.



Few of the old Court customs practised in past years were more curious
than that of “whipping by proxy.” It appears that the office of
whipping-boy doomed its unfortunate occupant to undergo all the corporal
punishment which the heir-apparent to the throne--whose proper person
was, as the Lord’s anointed, considered sacred--might chance to incur
“in the course of travelling through his grammar and prosody.”

One of the most celebrated instances of the observance of this custom
was the appointment of Barnaby Fitzpatrick as King Edward VI.’s
whipping-boy, to which we find numerous allusions. Thus, Burnet[126]
says, “This Fitzpatrick did afterwards fully answer the opinion this
young king had of him. He was bred up with him in learning; and, as it
is said, had been his whipping-boy who, according to the rule of
educating our princes, was always to be whipped for the King’s faults.
He was afterwards made by Queen Elizabeth, Baron of Upper Ossory in
Ireland, which was his native country.”

Strype[127] makes several allusions to Barnaby Fitzpatrick, and relates
how he was “much favoured by King Edward VI., having been bred up with
him from a child. Him the King sent into the French king’s Court,
furnished him with instructions under his own hand for his behaviour
there, appointed him four servants, gave him three hundred French crowns
in his purse, and a letter to the French king in his favour, declaring
that the King had sent him thither to remain in his Court to learn
fashions, for the better serving him at his return.”

Burnet,[128] further speaking of Elizabeth Dysart, who afterwards became
Duchess of Lauderdale, tells us that her father, William Murray, had
been page and whipping-boy to Charles I. But, as it has been pointed
out, we hear nothing of such an office being held by any one in the
household of Prince Henry, the elder brother of Charles I.

It appears, too, that it was customary to have such a substitute in
France, for Fuller says that D’Ossat and Du Perron, afterwards
cardinals, were whipped by Clement VIII. for Henry IV. of France. Louis
XIV., however, on one occasion when he was conscious of his want of
education, exclaimed, “Est ce qu’il n’y avait point de verges dans mon
royaume, pour me forcer à étudier?”--a remark which seems to show that
such a practice was not always observed in France.

It may be remembered how Sir Walter Scott,[129] on introducing Sir Mungo
Malagrowther, of Girnigo Castle, to his readers, gives a graphic account
of this custom. After narrating how he had been early attached to Court
in the capacity of whipping-boy to King James VI., and trained to polite
learning with his Majesty, by his celebrated preceptor, George Buchanan,
he adds: “Under his stern rule--for he did not approve of the vicarious
mode of punishment--James bore the penance of his own faults, and Mungo
Malagrowther enjoyed a sinecure. But James’s other pedagogue, Master
Patrick Young, went more ceremoniously to work, and appalled the very
soul of the youthful king by the floggings which he bestowed on the
whipping-boy when the royal task was not suitably performed. And be it
told to Sir Mungo’s praise that there were points about him in the
highest respect suited to his official situation. He had, even in youth,
a naturally irregular and grotesque set of features which, when
distorted by fear, pain, and anger, looked like one of the whimsical
faces which present themselves in Gothic architecture. His voice was
also high-pitched and querulous, so that when smarting under Master
Peter Young’s unsparing inflictions, the expression of his grotesque
physiognomy, and the superhuman yells which he uttered, were well suited
to produce all the effects on the monarch who deserved the lash, that
could possibly be produced by seeing another and an innocent individual
suffering for his derelict.”

We can easily understand that such a custom would afford our old
dramatists abundant opportunity for enlivening their audience by the
witty introduction of it, as they generally contrived to gain
popularity for their performances by upholding or ridiculing any foolish
usage of the time. In an old play, entitled “When You See Me, You Know
Me,” the custom is thus noticed:--

“_Prince_ (_Edward VI._). Why, how now, Browne! What’s the matter?

“_Browne._ Your grace loiters, and will not ply your book, and your
tutors have whipped me for it.

“_Prince._ Alas, poor Ned! I am sorry for it; I’ll take the more pains,
and entreat my tutors for thee. Yet, in troth, the lectures they read me
last night out of Virgil and Ovid I am perfect in, only I confess I am
behind in my Greek authors.

“_Will_ (_Summers_). And for that speech they have declined it upon his

The custom was perhaps practised in Spain for the improvement of Philip
III. Le Sage has introduced such a mode of correction in his _Gil Blas_,
with the following amusing anecdote. He tells us how Don Raphael was,
when twelve years of age, selected by the Marquis de Leganez to be the
companion of his son of the same age, who hardly knew a letter of his
alphabet. In spite of the patient endeavour of his masters to induce him
to apply himself to his studies, he persisted in frittering away his
time, till at last the head-master resolved to give _le fouet_ to young
Raphael whenever the little Leganez deserved it. This, however, he did
so unsparingly that the boy Raphael made up his mind to run away from
the roof of the Marquis de Leganez; and to revenge for all the cruel and
unjust treatment which he had received, he took with him 150 ducats of
the master.

Once more, in the _Pekin Gazette_ for 1876, we find the appointment of,
among other instructors to the young Emperor, a _hahachutcz_, or
“whipping-boy,” who by reason of his office suffers in his person for
all the sins and shortcomings of his imperial fellow-student.

There were exceptions, however, to this rule, for when Dr. Markham
inquired of George III. “how his Majesty would wish to have the princes
treated,” he replied, “Like the sons of any private English gentleman.
If they deserve it, _let them_ be flogged. Do as you used to do at

Among instances of marriage by proxy may be mentioned that of Joanna of
Navarre with Henry IV., April 3, 1402, Antoine Riczi acting as proxy of
the bride. The act was performed with great solemnity in the presence of
the Archbishop of Canterbury, the King’s half-brothers, the Beaufort
princes, the Earl of Worcester, Lord Chamberlain of England, and other
officers of State, and pronounced in these words:--“I, Antoine Riczi, in
the name of my worshipful lady, Joanna, the daughter of Charles, lately
King of Navarre, Duchess of Bretagne, and Countess of Richmond, take
you, Henry of Lancaster, King of England, and Lord of Ireland, to be my
husband, and thereto I, Antoine, in the spirit of my said lady, plight
you my troth.”

Suffolk espoused the Lady Margaret of Anjou as the proxy of Henry VI.;
and King James I. and the Princess Anne were married by proxy at
Cronenburg. In 1673 the marriage of Mary Beatrice of Modena with the
Duke of York was solemnised by proxy. In 1791 Lord Malmesbury married a
princess of Prussia as proxy for the Duke of York.

And the same practice prevailed from an early period on the Continent.
Thus when Clovis was married to the Princess Clotilde, he offered by his
proxy a sou and a denier, which became by law the usual marriage
offering in France.

The Archduke Maximilian married Anne, Duchess of Bretagne, by proxy; and
he consummated the union by his ambassador attending with a train of
lords and ladies, baring his leg to the knee, and putting it into the
bed of the Duchess, thereby taking possession of her bed and body. The
marriage, however, was annulled, and she afterwards in 1491 became the
wife of Charles VIII. of France. It may be added that Henry II. of
France was killed in a tournament in 1559, in honour of the nuptials of
Philip II. to the Princess Elizabeth of France. It appears that the Duke
of Alva, as proxy for Philip, had espoused Elizabeth on the 20th of
June. The nuptials of the Duke of Savoy with Margaret were to follow. On
the 27th, 28th, and 29th the lists were opened in the Rue St. Antoine.
The King, the Dukes of Guise and Nemours, were the holders, and had
shown their usual prowess and address. The tournament, writes
Crowe,[130] was at an end, when Henry declared he must break another
lance, and ordered Montgomery, one of the captains of the guard, to
tilt with him. The latter declined, but the King forced him. Both lances
were duly broken in the shock, but, as the horses and riders passed on
in their headlong career, the King was struck by the broken end of the
lance which Montgomery, against rules, retained in his hand. On reaching
the end of the course the monarch fell; a splinter had penetrated his
eye, and the King, on being conveyed to the palace, only lingered for
eleven days, expiring on the 10th of July 1559.

Marie Louise in her engagement to Charles II. of Spain looked upon
herself as a victim of State policy, and appealed in vain to Louis XIV.
She had seen the portrait of her future husband, whose character and
imbecility were as well known at Fontainebleau as at Madrid. But her
protestations were in vain. After a marriage by proxy at Fontainebleau,
the Comte d’Harcourt was commissioned to conduct her to the frontier,
where in the famous Isle of Pheasants, on the Bidassoa, the sad-hearted
bride was delivered over to the tender mercies of the Duchess of di
Terra Nueva and the Marquis de Astorgas.



The fashion of keeping Court and household fools, writes Voltaire in his
_Age de Louis XIV._, was for a time the _grande mode_ of all the Courts
of Europe. Some sovereigns, however, discarded the practice, and when
Charles Louis, Electoral Prince of the Rhine, was asked why he did not
keep a Court fool, he replied: “Well, it is easily accounted for. When I
am inclined to laugh, I send for a couple of professors from college,
set them an argument, and laugh at their folly.”

The Emperor Henry III., surnamed the Black, despised the Court fool--“a
licensed scoundrel,” he said, “who obtained for his nonsense rewards
that had never properly been showered on the benefactors of mankind.”
And Christian I. of Denmark once remarked, that if he were in want of
Court fools he had only to give license to his courtiers, who were
capable of exhibiting themselves as the greatest fools in Europe.
Frederick Barbarossa hated Court fools; and in France, Philip Augustus
and Charles VII. had no sympathy for mirth-makers of this description.

On the other hand, few sovereigns extended greater favour to their fools
than Maximilian I.; and yet, as it has been remarked, “he found as much
peril as profit in his intercourse with them.” On one occasion, when he
was loading a fowling-piece, his house fool coming into his presence
with a lighted candle was about to place it on an open cask of powder;
and at another time his Majesty was playing at snowballs with his fool,
when the latter threw one so violently at his right eye, that the
imperial sight was damaged for a month. His principal fool or jester was
Konrad, popularly styled “The Soldier and Wit of Maximilian,” for, on
more than one occasion, he proved himself wiser in his generation than
some of the political advisers who counselled their imperial master.
Sometimes, however, Konrad’s jokes were of so astounding a nature that
he would scarcely have dared to make them on his own responsibility.
Such an instance occurred at a banquet given in honour of the Venetian
ambassadors, and their Government, who had presented to the Emperor a
costly goblet of the purest crystal; when Konrad, in the midst of the
revelry and mirth, contrived to hook his spur in the tablecloth, and
dancing off to pull with him everything on the table, the crystal goblet
lying in fragments on the ground.

The ambassadors demanded the immediate punishment of Konrad, but
Maximilian refused to gratify them, for he remarked, “the thing was only
of glass, and that glass is very fragile. Had it been of gold, it would
not have broken; and, even if it had, its fragments at least would have
been valuable.” A somewhat similar story is told of the French wit
Brusquet, at a banquet given in the house of the Duke of Alva, when the
Cardinal of Lorraine had negotiated the peace of Cateau-Cambresis with
Philip II. of Spain. Brusquet at the close of the dessert jumped on the
table, and, laying himself flat, rolled himself up in the cloth with
plates, spoons, &c., and fell off at the other end of the table. Philip
II. took the matter in good part, and laughed immoderately, ordering
that Brusquet should be allowed to leave the room with what he had
carried off under the cloth. Although oftentimes Konrad was open to
reproach for his extraordinary conduct, there can be no doubt he loved
his imperial master, and in emergency Maximilian had no truer friend.

One of the many fools of his successor, Charles V., was a Pole,
Corneille de Lithuanie, who distinguished himself at a tournament held
in Brussels in 1545, by carrying off the second prize for general
gallantry. Another of his Court fools was Pedro de San Erbas; and it is
related that, after Charles had abdicated, he held a Court at Valladolid
to receive the farewell compliments of the nobles and ladies of the
vicinity. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Pedro drew near to take
leave of his old patron, whereupon Charles raised his hat, at which
Pedro asked if the act was one of courtesy, or as an indication that he
was no longer Emperor.

“Neither, Pedro,” answered Charles; “I do it to signify that all I can
give you now is this simple token of civility.”

An amusing story is told of Nelle, the fool attached to the Court of
Matthias, who not only attended the celebrated meeting of the States,
held at Ratisbon, but he had the effrontery to present to the Emperor an
exquisitely bound volume, containing, as he said, a record of all that
had been accomplished by the statesmen. On opening the book Matthias
found it all blank paper, and exclaimed, “Why, there is nothing hidden

“Exactly,” replied Nelle, “because there was nothing done there, and so
my record is truthful.”

Another humorous anecdote relates how one day, at the Court of Ferdinand
II., a silly courtier fancied he could amuse those present by his
frivolities, which prompted Jonas, Ferdinand’s favourite fool, to answer
him according to his folly. But this so enraged the courtier that he
shouted, “Fellow, be silent; I never stoop to talk with a fool.”

“Well, I do,” retorted Jonas, “and therefore be good enough to listen to
me in your turn.”

Maximilian, son of Frederick III., was taken prisoner when a revolt
broke out at Bruges. His jester formed a scheme for his liberation; he
provided horses for flight, and a rope-ladder by which he might descend
from the window of his prison. Then the jester plunged into the canal
which encircled the castle to swim across. But the town kept swans in
the moat, and when these swans saw the man swimming, they rushed at him
with their great flapping wings and beaks, and so beat, pinched, and
frightened the poor fellow, that he made the best of his retreat.

The smaller German Courts, says Dr. Doran,[131] followed the fashion set
by the emperors, and Lips was so great a favourite that he actually sat
in the council-chamber when the Margrave Philip was presiding. As may be
gathered, however, from the following incident, the position of a fool
was not always an enviable one. Thus when the Duke Ludwig of Bavaria was
murdered on the bridge over the Danube at Kehlheim in 1231, the
perpetrators of the crime laid it on the Duke’s fool, Stich, who was
charged with having stabbed his patron with a bread-knife, because he
had exasperated him by his bad jokes. “Ah,” said the unfortunate man, as
he stood at the gallows, “that some one ought to be hanged for murdering
the Duke I can very well comprehend, but that that some one should be me
I do not comprehend at all.”

It would seem that as late as the sixteenth century the fool could be
bought and sold, for when Louis II. of Hungary visited Erlau in 1520, he
found that the governor possessed one of the best-trained hawks and one
of the merriest fools that he had ever seen, both of which he obtained
for between three and four thousand pounds. Another famous fool was
Jenni von Stocken, who was attached to the household of Leopold the
Pious. And of Killian, the fool of Albert of Austria, it is said that,
when he was asked why, being so wise, he should play the fool, he
replied, “The more thoroughly I play the fool, the wiser do men account
me, and there is my son, who thinks himself wise, and whom everybody
knows to be a fool.”

But, as it has been often remarked, although the fool was mostly in
request for his tricks and his waggery, he was frequently employed as a
political adviser; and when the Elector Frederick was threatened with
invasion, he consulted his fool Klaus as to whether he should treat with
the enemy, who said to him, “Give me your best mantle, and I will tell
you.” Whereupon Klaus tore the mantle in two, and presented himself
before his master with one half hanging from his shoulders. The Elector
inquiring what he meant by so strange an act, Klaus replied, “If you
treat with the foe, you will soon look as ridiculous with half your
dominions as I do with half a cloak.”

The unbridled language of the Court fool was oftentimes as amazing as it
was insulting; for when one morning Philip, Landgrave of Baden,
complained of a headache to his fool Peter after a drinking bout, and
asked him his remedy, the latter replied, “Drink again to-day.” “Then I
shall only suffer more to-morrow,” added the Prince. “Then,” rejoined
Peter, “you must drink still more.” “But how would such a remedy end?”
asked the Landgrave. “Why,” said Peter, “in your being a bigger fool
than I am.”

And, as Dr. Doran tells us, the qualifications for a Court fool were
extraordinary, as may be gathered from the following incident. A
cowherd, Conrad Pocher, was once sent afield with a sickly boy to
attend him, when, out of compassion, he hung him to the branch of a
tree. He was tried for murder, but defended himself with such
humour--arguing that he had greatly helped the little cow-boy--that
Philip the Upright, Elector Palatine, made him official jester. Another
cowherd who gained a similar distinction was Clause Hintze, Court fool
to Duke John Frederick of Stettin, who so gained his patron’s favour as
to be made by him lord of the village of Butterdorf. One of his
successors was Hans Miesko, a wretched imbecile, but who was specially
honoured at his death by a funeral sermon being preached over him.

And among those who were fools in a non-professional capacity may be
mentioned the celebrated Baron von Gundling at the Court of Frederick
William I., and also David Fassman, who, for losing a key entrusted to
him by Frederick, was condemned to carry a heavy wooden one an ell long
round his neck for several days. Incidents of this kind, as Dr. Doran
observes, makes it difficult to decide which was the greater fool, it
being “inconceivable that reasonable creatures should be guilty of the
absurd follies attributed to them.” One day Frederick II. commissioned
Baron von Poelnitz to procure a pair of turkeys. These he sent with the
message, “Here are the turkeys, sire.” Annoyed at the style of note,
Frederick ordered the leanest ox that could be found to be decked
ridiculously with flowers, and the horns to be gilded, after which the
animal was tied up in front of the Baron’s house, with this inscription:
“Here is the ox, Poelnitz.”

Many of the French kings had their fools, and in the Court accounts for
1404 we find an entry of forty-seven pairs of shoes for Hancelin Coc,
fool of Charles VI. And when the fleet of Philip was destroyed by that
of Edward III., no one except a Court fool had the courage to tell the
King. Going into the royal chamber, he kept muttering “Those cowardly
Englishmen! The chicken-hearted Britons!”

“How so, cousin?” asked Philip, “how so?”

“Why, because they have not courage enough to jump into the sea like
your French sailors, who went headlong over from their ships, leaving
those to the enemy, who did not care to follow them!”--by which artful
means the King learnt his defeat.

Louis XI. took into his service the fool of his deceased brother
Charles, Duke de Guyenne; and amongst the many amusing anecdotes told of
the famous “Le Glorieux,” fool to Charles the Bold, who used to compare
himself with Hannibal, it is related how, after the overthrow at
Granson, as the two were riding in search of safety, Le Glorieux
exclaimed to Charles, “This is the prettiest way of being like Hannibal
that I ever saw.”

With Francis I. are associated two of the most famous fools--Caillette
and Triboulet--to whom all kinds of good stories have been attributed.
Thus one day, when the latter complained to Francis that a nobleman had
threatened his life for some impertinent lie, the King exclaimed, “If he
does I will hang him a quarter of an hour afterwards.”

“Ah, sire!” replied Triboulet, “couldn’t you contrive to hang him a
quarter of an hour previously?”

On the death of the Duke of Orleans, Henry II. raised his fool Thony to
the rank of patented buffoon; and a personage who, without being a
professional fool, was the source of much merriment at Henry’s Court,
was Mendoza. It appears that Henry celebrated the obsequies of his
predecessor in a grand manner, and, when the priest in his funeral
oration asserted that the soul of King Francis had gone to Paradise
without passing through Purgatory, he was accused of heresy. But
Mendoza, then a chief officer of the Court, by a witty speech turned
into a humorous ending what might have been just the reverse, remarking,
“Gentlemen, if you had known the good King Francis as well as I did, you
would better have understood the words of the preacher. Francis was not
a man to tarry long anywhere; and if he did take a turn in Purgatory,
believe me, the devil himself could not persuade him to make anything
like a sojourn”--words which were greeted with general laughter.

A jester to three kings--Henry II., Francis II., and Charles IX.--was
Brusquet, originally, as some say, a hard-up lawyer, and, according to
others, a quack doctor. By his wit he managed to gain Court favour,
being made by Henry Posting-Master-General of Paris. When on a visit to
Flanders at the peace of Cateau-Cambresis, Brusquet met the ex-Emperor
Charles V., who, recognising him, said, “Brusquet, do you remember the
day when the Constable de Montmorency wanted to have you hanged?” “Right
well do I remember it,” he replied. “It was the day on which your
Majesty purchased those splendid rubies and carbuncles which now adorn
your imperial hand”--alluding to the inflamed gouty swellings which
disfigured the Emperor’s fingers. Philip II. of Spain was so delighted
with Brusquet that he sent his own fool to France to learn wit from
associating with him; and during this visit Brusquet seems to have used
every opportunity for imposing on and cheating him. But Brusquet in turn
met his match in Strozzi, the son of a Princess de Medicis, his great
antagonist, to whom he probably owed his fall in 1562, when he was
obliged to fly, accused of being a Huguenot, and of suppressing
despatches which contained news unfavourable to the Huguenot cause.

A noted fool of Henri III. was Chicot, who, indeed, was not only his
jester but his friend, and, according to Dumas, his protector. In the
same capacity he entered the service of Henri IV.; and it was his
bravery at the siege of Rouen that cost him his life. It appears that he
made Henri of Lorraine, Count of Chaligny, prisoner, and leading him to
the King, said, “Here I make you a present of the Count, keep what I
took and now give you!” So enraged was the Count at being captured by a
Court fool that he gave Chicot a violent blow on the head with the hilt
of his sword, from the effects of which he died.

Jeanne, Queen of Charles I. of France, maintained a female fool named
Artaude du Puy.

At the Court of Henri IV. there was a Mathurine who held the office of
female fool for the amusement of the Court, and who is said to have
employed her wit in laughing people out of the Huguenot faith into Roman
Catholicism. But this sort of foolery almost cost her her life. It seems
she was present in 1594 when Jean Chastel wounded the King, and almost
shared the fate of the would-be assassin. Henri, well aware of her zeal
for the Roman Catholic Church, and that she only regarded him as half a
Romanist, ordered her arrest as an accomplice, but she proved her
innocence, and was set free.

Much merriment was caused at the Court of Louis XIII. by Maret, who
imitated the Gascon twang of Gascon nobles; and with Louis XIV. we come
to the last of the official jesters, L’Angeli, originally a stable-boy,
and whose memory has been thus immortalised by Boileau:--

    “Un poête à la cour fut jadis à la mode,
     Mais des Fous aujourd’hui c’est le plus incommode,
     Et l’esprit le plus beau, l’auteur le plus poli,
     Ne parviendra jamais au sort de l’angeli.”

Although on the death of L’Angeli in 1640 Louis XIV. appointed no
successor, we occasionally meet with amateur fools who kept the Court
amused. Thus Vardis, “after throwing the whole Court and household of
the King into confusion by his audacious gallantries, was exiled to
Provence for nearly thirty years,” and the Duke de Roquelaure figures
in many jest-books as a buffoon at the Court of Louis XIV.

When Don John of Austria accompanied Pimentel to Paris to negotiate the
marriage of Maria Theresa of Spain with the young Louis XIV., he
introduced at Court Capiton, a Spanish _folle_, whose wit and jokes were
much appreciated. Louis enjoyed her fun and merriment, and she was so
popular that no party was thought complete without her.

According to a Spanish decree, “from ancient times it has been lawful
for mimes or jesters to reside in princes’ households, for the execution
of their office is a provocative to gladness. Wherefore, we will and
ordain that in our Court there shall always be five jesters, of which
five two may be trumpeters, and a third our letter-carrier.” Martin of
Aragon had a favourite jester in the famous Borra, who, however, killed
his royal patron by a joke. The story goes that, as the King lay on his
bed groaning from indigestion through eating an entire goose, Borra
rushed into the room laughing. On his inquiring whence he came, Borra
replied, “Out of the next vineyard, where I saw a young deer hanging by
his tail from a tree, as if some one had so punished him for stealing
figs”--a joke which caused the King to die of laughter. And Luis Lopez,
the fool of Alfonso, King of Aragon, lies buried in the cathedral of

Amongst the fools that figured at the Italian Court may be mentioned
Fagotto, who was officially associated with Alboin, King of the
Lombards; and Bertoldo, of whom, writes Dr. Doran, little mention has
been made by those who have dealt with the subject of Italian jesters.
He is said to have been “hideously ugly,” with “hair as red as carrots,”
but possessed of no ordinary wit. When asked by the King if he could
contrive to bring him water in a sieve without spilling it, he answered,
“In a hard frost I could bring any quantity.” All manner of questions
were put to him to try his wit, and one day the King thought he had
outwitted him by asking him to demonstrate--as he had asserted--that
daylight was whiter than milk. He accepted the challenge, and having
entered the King’s bedchamber at night, and closed the blinds, he placed
a pail of milk in the middle of the room. Alboin rising in the dark,
overturned the pail, and on calling for light, was answered by Bertoldo,
who triumphantly remarked that “if the milk had been clearer than
daylight, he would have seen the former without the aid of the latter.”
Another well-known fool was Gonella, jester of Borso, Duke of Ferrara,
whose post seems to have been a profitable one, from the fact of his
betting a hundred crowns with his master that there were more doctors in
Ferrara than there were members of any other profession.

“Fool,” said Borso, “there are not half-a-dozen to be found in the ‘City

“I will bring you a more correct list in three or four days,” replied
Gonella; whereupon he went with his face bound up and sat at the
church-door, and, as the passers-by learnt he had the toothache, they
severally prescribed “an infallible remedy,” Gonella writing down the
name and address of each instead of the prescription. In this way the
fool managed to get a list of 299 names. And, on his appearing before
his master with his head still bound up, he was informed there was no
remedy but extraction, at which he added his name to the list of Ferrara
doctors, which now numbered 300. But Gonella’s jokes cost him his life.
Having offended his master, he resolved to punish him by fright, and
sentenced him to be put to death. After the usual formalities had been
enacted, Gonella placed his head on the block, and the executioner
stepping forward let fall from a phial a single drop of water on his
neck, which had all the effect of the sharpest instrument, for it was
soon discovered that he was dead, which caused the spectators to
exclaim, “A shocking bad joke, indeed!”

It was a practical joke that almost killed Menicucci, the jester of the
Grand Duke Ferdinand I. One of his follies was conceit, and, to show his
superiority, he once had his dinner served on the top of a high closet
in the stone hall of the palace. But, while engaged in his repast, the
ladder by which he had mounted was removed, and the floor covered with
damp straw, which, being lighted, would have suffocated the terrified
fool but for the timely assistance of the Archduke, who ordered his
immediate release. And when Vincentius, Duke of Mantua, entertained
Frederick, Duke of Wurtemberg, in 1600, he arranged a contest between
his fool and a young wild boar, deprived of its tusks and upper teeth. A
strange mode of diversion, which apparently gave much satisfaction.

But some of the most extraordinary scenes in connection with Court fools
were those witnessed in Russia, where the position of jester was no
sinecure. Thus, when Ivan IV. was depressed, his professional fools were
summoned to amuse him, and they must have had a lively time, for a bad
joke was sure to be strangled in the throat of the utterer. On one
occasion he threw over Prince Gorsdorf, who had failed to be witty, a
tureen of scalding-hot soup, and as the Prince endeavoured to escape the
Czar plunged a knife into his side. The unhappy noble fell dead, and
Ivan, remarking that he had carried the joke far enough, bade his
physician attend to him.

“It is only God and your Majesty,” replied the medical man, “that can
restore the Prince to life. He is quite gone!”

The Czar, somewhat disconcerted, took, writes Dr. Doran,[132] “a
pleasant way of forgetting it. It chanced that a favourite noble came at
this moment, whereupon his Majesty took hold of him by the ear, and,
using his knife, he cut it off and flung it into the face of his old
friend.” And “the noble received the same with many acknowledgments of
his master’s condescension.”

Peter the Great maintained any number of fools, composed of imbeciles
and those who, having been convicted of some grave offence, feigned
madness, and were treated as such. Another class of fools consisted of
those who, having committed some act of folly, were condemned to wear
the dress of a fool. Oftentimes by the side of Peter the Great at table,
and in his cups, was to be seen a personage addressed as the “Patriarch
of Russia,” and sometimes as the “King of Siberia.” He was attired in
sacerdotal robes, covered with loosely hung gold and silver medals. It
was a favourite trick with Peter, when he and the Patriarch were equally
drunk, “to suddenly overturn him, chair and all, and exhibit the
reverend gentleman with his heels in the air.” But there was one
official fool he favoured above all others, and he was Sotoff, a dwarf.
He is said to have been ugly and deformed, the sound of his voice having
been likened to the harsh croakings of frogs. But, although his
appearance was not prepossessing, Peter admired his wit and humour, and
would often grow weak from mere excess of laughter. And the title of
“King of the Samoieds” was generally conferred by Peter on his
occasional fools, as in the case of a Portuguese Jew, whom he saw among
the patients at the “water cure” at Alonaitz in 1719, and whose
“singularities and comic bearing” amused him much.

Like Peter the Great, the Czar Paul was fond of jesters; but on one
occasion, when Fougère the actor abused his privilege by speaking too
freely at supper, he was dragged from his bed at night, placed in a dark
van, and was informed that his destination was Siberia. After
travelling for several weeks he reached his destination, and on quitting
the van found himself in the presence of Paul, who laughed heartily at
the joke, whereby Fougère had believed that he was being conveyed to
Siberia, when he was only being drawn round and round St. Petersburg.

English Court fools seem in many cases to have had a lively time,
besides making themselves occasionally of valuable service in times of
emergency. Thus, going back to early times, it is recorded how Gollet
aroused William the Conqueror when a conspiracy was formed against his
life; and tradition tells how Blondel, “that buffoon of a minstrel,”
discovers his captive master, Richard I., by means of a song. King John
appears to have recompensed his fool in an unusual and a liberal fashion
by giving him a landed estate; and Edward I. kept a joculator in
constant attendance upon him, one of whom is said to have slain an
assassin at Ptolemais, that wounded his patron with a poisoned knife. A
female jester amused the Court of Edward II., and when this monarch was
keeping Whitsuntide at Westminster Hall, “this joculatrix rode into the
hall on a closely clipped horse, and caracolled round about the tables,
to the great amusement of the company.” A noted jester was Scogan, who
was attached to the Court of Edward IV.; and, of the many amusing
stories told respecting him, it is said that he borrowed a sum of money
from the King, which, when he was unable to pay back, he fell sick and
died, requesting his friends to take care that the King encountered the
funeral. His Majesty did so, and, regretting the loss of his merry
follower, he freely forgave Scogan his debt, upon hearing which, to the
astonishment of Edward, he jumped up, exclaiming, “It is so revivifying
that it has called me to life again.”

Patch, fool to Henry VIII., once besought the King to permit him to
exact an egg from every husband who was dissatisfied with his wife. The
King granted him a warrant, the ink of which was scarcely dry when the
jester, with mock gravity, demanded the first egg from the King,
remarking, “Your Grace belongs to the class of husbands on whom I am
entitled to make levy.”

Will Sommers, whose alleged portrait at Hampton Court is familiar to
most persons, was another jester at the Court of Henry VIII., and Will
Saxton, the first Court fool to wear a wig, amused the King up to the
last, and held office under Edward VI.

Many laughable anecdotes are told of John Heywood, named by Henry VIII.
“King’s Jester,” whose wit and humour moved, writes Warton, Mary’s
“rigid muscles” and “her sullen solemnity was not proof against his
songs, his rhymes, and his jests.” Once when the Queen remarked that the
priests must forego their wives, he replied, “Then your Grace must allow
them _lemmans_ (sweethearts), for the clergy cannot live without sauce.”
On another occasion, when Mary asked, “What wind has blown you to
Court?” he familiarly answered, “One that I might see your Majesty, and
the other that your Majesty might see me.” On the death of Mary in 1558
he withdrew to Mechlin, where he passed the closing years of his life.

Queen Elizabeth had her jesters, and a notable personage was Clod, who
occasionally exercised his wit at her expense. Thus, one day when she
reproached him with neglecting his duties, he asked, “How so, in what
have I failed?”

“In this,” answered the Queen, “you are ready enough to point your sharp
satire at the faults of other people, but you never say a word of mine.”

“Ah,” exclaimed Clod, “why should I remind your Majesty of your faults,
seeing that these are in everybody’s mouth, and you may hear of them

Then there was Tarleton, who, writes Fuller, “when Queen Elizabeth was
serious, I dare not say sullen, and out of good humour, he could
undumpish her at his pleasure.” Tarleton wore his fool’s attire when the
Queen dined, and when she dined abroad he attended her “in his clown’s
apparel; being all dinner-while in the presence with her, to make her
merry.” And so great was his popularity, that “the year of Tarleton’s
death” was as common a saying as “the year of the Armada.”

At the Court of James I. both King and Queen maintained a fool; and we
find the latter paying thirteen shillings a week “for the diet and
lodging of Tom Derry,” who seems to have been held of some importance,
since a gallery at Somerset House where he used to loiter and make
jokes was named after him. We find Sir Thomas Jermyn, Sir Ralph Sheldon,
and Thomas Badger mentioned as “fools or buffoons,” and on Sir Edward
Zouch, Sir George Goring, and Sir John Finett was bestowed the honour of
being “the chief and master fools.” Archie Armstrong was a special
favourite of James, and seems to have been on familiar terms with him,
and Howell thus writes of him: “Our cousin Archie hath more privilege
than any; for he often goes with his fool’s coat when the Infanta is
with her _meninas_ and ladies of honour, and keeps a blowing and a
blustering among them, and flirts out what he lists.” After the death of
James he passed into the service of Charles, but his fall came through
his insulting Laud--whom he hated--by saying the following grace in his
presence: “Great praise be to God, and little _laud_ to the devil.”

For this offence Archie was taken before the King, and despite his
pleading his privilege of jester, he was punished, as the following
order, dated March 11, 1637. will show:--

“It is this day ordered by his Majesty that Archibald Armstrong, the
King’s fool, for certain scandalous words of a high nature, spoken by
him against the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, his Grace, and proved to
be uttered by him by two witnesses, shall have his coat pulled over his
head, and be discharged of the King’s service, and banished the Court,
for which the Lord Chamberlain of the King’s household is prayed and
required to give order to be executed.” And immediately the same was
put into force, the King himself being present when Archie’s coat was
stripped from him.

At the Court of Charles II., Tom Killigrew, whom Pepys styles “a merry
droll, but a gentleman of great esteem with the King,” seems to have
been in much requisition as a jester; and under February 13, 1667-68,
the diarist makes this entry: “Mr. Brisband tells me, in discourse, that
Tom Killigrew hath a fee out of the wardrobe for cap and bells, under
the title of the King’s Foole or Jester, and may revile or jeer anybody,
the greatest person without offence, by the privilege of his place.” For
a time he is said to have been the most conspicuous man at Court, and to
have kept up the traditions of his class by his eccentric pranks. One
day he appeared before Charles in the disguise of a pilgrim, whereupon
his Majesty inquired, “Whither away?”

“I am going to hell,” replied Killigrew, “to ask the devil to send back
Oliver Cromwell to take charge of the affairs of England; for, as to his
successor, he is always employed in other business.”

The patronage bestowed by Queen Anne on Tom d’Urfey, the song-writer of
her era, resembled that extended by the sister queens, Mary and
Elizabeth, to their dramatic buffoons, Heywood and Tarleton. After
dinner D’Urfey took his stand by the sideboard at the time of dessert,
to repeat political gibes or doggerel ballads, so framed as to flatter
some of the well-known prejudices of his royal mistress.



It is affirmed that the ex-monarch Dionysius died of excess of joy at
receiving intelligence that a tragedy of his own had been awarded a
poetical prize at a public competition. Whatever the truth of this
story, there can be no doubt that, even in its primitive form, the
monarch, like his subjects, interested himself in the production and
performance of the drama. At an early period in our own history the
courts of our kings and the castles of the great earls and barons “were
crowded with the performers of the secular places, where they were well
received and handsomely rewarded.”[133] Thus Eleanora of Aquitaine,
queen of Henry II., patronised representations nearly allied to the
regular drama, and we find Peter of Blois congratulating his brother
William on his tragedy of Flaura and Marcus played before the Queen.
Richard III., when Duke of Gloucester, entertained a company of players,
and in the reign of Henry VII. dramatic performances seem to have been
frequent throughout England. When Margaret, the King’s eldest daughter,
was sent to Scotland on her marriage with James IV., John English was
the principal member of a company of players forming part of the
retinue of the Princess. Sometime after the birth of Prince Arthur in
1486, there was a company of actors under the name of “The Prince’s
Players” who were required to contribute to the amusement of the Court.
In the household books of Henry, extending from 1492 to 1509, we find
numerous items relating to the theatrical amusements at this period.

During the first four years of his reign, Henry VIII. kept up the
theatrical establishment of his father, but in 1514 he added a new
company of actors to his domestic retinue, and henceforth we find
payments to the “King’s players” and to the “King’s old players.” And
associated with the year 1516 we find an enumeration of the players’
dresses under the title of “Garments for Players,”[134] which is of
considerable value and interest as throwing light on the nature of the
theatrical amusements of the period. It appears that the nobility
continued to patronise plays, and, following the example of the King,
most of them kept theatrical retainers of their own. According to
Collier,[135] one of the earliest indications of anything like a
classical taste in matters connected with the English stage is to be
found in 1520, when, for the entertainment of four French hostages who
had been left in this country for the execution of the treaty relating
to the surrender of Tournay, Henry caused his great chamber at Greenwich
to be staged when, among the performances, “there was a goodly comedy
of Plautus played.”

Princess Mary’s connection with the drama dated from childhood, for
before she had completed her sixth year we read of dramatic
representations held in her presence and for her entertainment; and by
an account in the Chapter House, Westminster, of the household expenses
of the natural son of Henry VIII., who had been created Duke of Somerset
and Richmond in June 1525, it appears[136] that “he had been several
times entertained by the performances of players,” and that the council
appointed for his care and custody had paid £3, 18s. 8d. for rewards to
actors and minstrels. Mary ascended the throne in 1553, and a play was
ordered on the occasion, but a month had barely transpired when she
issued a proclamation, one object of which was to prevent the
performance of plays calculated to advance the principles and doctrines
of the Reformation. Mary kept up the theatrical and musical
establishments of her father at an expense of between two and three
thousand pounds a year in salaries only, independently of board,
liveries, and incidental charges. The same establishment under
Elizabeth, in the fourth year of her reign, was on a much more
economical scale. But during her reign the stage found every
encouragement, for her Majesty caused a stage to be erected at Windsor
Castle for the regular performance of the drama, “with a wardrobe for
the actors, painted scenes, and an orchestra consisting of trumpeters,
luterers, harpers, ringers, minstrels,” &c.

On the 18th January 1561, an English tragedy in five acts, entitled
“Ferrex and Porrex, or Gorbaduc,” was performed before Queen Elizabeth,
being the joint composition of her cousins, Sir Thomas Sackville and
Thomas Norton. In her progress in 1564, Elizabeth was entertained at
King’s College, Cambridge, with a play entitled “Ezechias,” and two
years afterwards she witnessed a performance in Christ Church Hall,
Oxford, of Edwards’s “Palamon and Arcyte.” At this period plays were
occasionally exhibited on a Sunday in spite of the denunciations of the
Puritans. Elizabeth herself visited a theatrical exhibition on Sunday,
and in after years James I. allowed plays to be acted at Court on the
same day. It appears that in 1586 a correspondence took place between
the Court and the city of London regarding the fitness or unfitness of
certain theatrical representations, especially on Sundays.

Among the Harleian MSS. is an interesting account of the entertainments
given before Elizabeth and her Court in 1568, wherein we find a payment
of £634, 9s. 5d. to Sir Thomas Benger, for materials and work “within
the Office of the Revels,” between the 14th July 1567 and the 3rd March
1568, during which interval it appears “seven plays” and “one tragedy”
were represented before her Majesty.[137] And, it may be added, that it
was apparently part of the duty of the Master of the Revels to have the
plays rehearsed to him before they were presented at Court.

In 1574 the grant of the first “Royal Patent” was conceded in this
country to performers of plays, whereby the persons named in it were
empowered, during the Queen’s pleasure, to use, exercise, and occupy the
art and faculty of playing comedies, tragedies, interludes, and stage
plays, as well for the recreation of the Queen’s subjects as for her own
solace and pleasure, within the City of London and its liberties, and
within any cities, towns, and boroughs throughout England. Associated
with the theatrical amusements were the masks and shows, which were
conducted on a very expensive and imposing scale, an account of which we
have given elsewhere. And, as it has been often pointed out, many of
these were specially provided to gratify the vanity of the Queen, to
whom some marked and delicate compliment was generally made. In the
summer of 1601, the Queen was at an entertainment given by the Lord
Keeper, and on her way to the mansion she was entertained by a dialogue
“betweene the Bayly and the Dary-mayd,” in which the following was
supposed to be spoken by the bailiff of the Lord Keeper: “The Mistress
of this fayre companie, though she knowe the way to all men’s hearts,
yet she knowes the way to few men’s houses, except she love them very

James I., some years before he succeeded to the English throne, evinced
a strong disposition to favour theatrical amusements. In the Society of
Antiquaries is preserved a manuscript which shows the extent and amount
of his dramatic establishment, and from it we find that the annual fee
of the Master of the Revels had been raised to £100, besides diet in
Court, although each of the players was only allowed--as they had been
from the time of Henry VIII.--£3, 6s. 8d. per annum.

Prince Henry had a company of players, and after his death, and on the
marriage of the Elector Palatine of the Rhine to the Princess Elizabeth,
the players transferred their services to the Prince Palatine, and “it
is a new feature in theatrical history,” writes Collier,[138] “that on
this occasion they produced a patent under the Great Seal very similar
to that which James I. had granted about ten years before to Laurence
Fletcher, William Shakespeare, and the other servants of the Lord

But it seems that the plays acted at Court did not always give
satisfaction, for in one of John Chamberlain’s letters to Sir Dudley
Carlton occurs this paragraph: “They have plays at Court every night,
both holidays and working days, wherein they show great patience, being
for the most part such poor stuff that, instead of delight, they send
the auditory away with discontent.” And he adds, “Indeed our poets’
brains and inventions are grown very dry, insomuch that of five new
plays there is not one that pleases; and therefore they are driven to
furbish over their old, which stand them in best stead, and bring them
most profit.”

The fondness of James for theatricals is further evidenced by the fact
that in 1617, during his journey to the north, he was attended by a
regular company of players, and a warrant issued for their payment is
thus recorded in the registers of the Privy Council: “11th July 1617.--A
warrant to the L. Stanhope, Treasurer of his Majestie’s Chambers, to
cause payment to be made to certain players for three Stage Playes, that
were acted before his Majestie, in his journey to Scotland, such summes
of money as is usual in the like kinde.”

Prince Charles retained a company of musicians in his pay, besides his
dramatic performers; and after his accession to the throne we find
entries of payment for plays performed at Court at Christmas, and
Twelfth-tide. It would seem that, at a very early date, players who
called themselves the servants of any particular nobleman, usually wore
his badge or livery. Accordingly in 1629 we find the King’s players
allowed, every second year, four yards of bastard scarlet for a cloak,
and a quarter yard of crimson velvet for a cape to it.

Charles II., again, was passionately fond of theatrical entertainments.
On one occasion, when Sir William Davenant’s play of “Love and Honour”
was first acted, his Majesty presented Betterton, the actor, with his
coronation suit, in which the player performed the character of Prince
Alonzo. The Duke of York followed his Majesty’s example by giving the
suit which he had worn on the same occasion to Hains, who acted the part
of Prince Prospero.

Previous to the Restoration of Charles II., it may be remembered, no
woman was allowed on the stage, in connection with which Colley Cibber
gives this anecdote: The King coming to the house rather before his
usual time, found the _dramatis personæ_ not ready to appear, whereupon
he sent one of his attendants to ascertain the cause of the delay. The
manager at once went to the royal box, and informed the merry monarch
that “the queen was not yet shaved.” Charles good-humouredly accepted
the explanation, and laughed heartily, until the male queen was
effeminated and the curtain drew up.

At the time of James II. playhouses, and players, were constantly
anathematised by the clergy, and the Duchess of York had a strong moral
objection to the coarse comedies of the era. But she liked a good play,
and was wont to remark that “there was no sin, she believed, in going to
theatres, provided the pieces selected for representation were not of an
objectionable character; but that the stage might and ought to be
rendered a medium of conveying moral instruction to the people, instead
of flattering and inculcating vice.”

Mary II. was a patron of the drama, and, in 1689, she expressed a wish
to see Dryden’s “Spanish Friar” performed, which had been forbidden by
James II. because its licentious comic scenes held up the Romish Church
to ridicule. But her Majesty was disappointed, for, to quote the words
of her friend Nottingham, “the only time she gave herself the diversion
of a play has furnished the town with discourse for a month. Some
unlucky expressions confused her, and forced her to hold up her fan,
often look behind her, and call for her palatine or hood, or anything
she could contrive to speak of to her woman. Every speech in that play
seemed to come home to her, as there was a strong report about town that
her father, James II., was dead in Ireland; and when anything applicable
was said, every one in the pit turned their heads over their shoulders,
and directed their looks most pointedly at her.” “Nor,” as Miss
Strickland writes, “could this be wondered at; for a daughter sitting to
see a play acted, which was too free for the morals of that age, at the
moment when reports were prevalent that her own father was dead, was
indeed a sight to be gazed upon with consternation.”

George I. was fond of seeing the play of “Henry VIII.,” and on one
occasion when it was being acted at Hampton Court, he paid particular
attention to that part of the play where Henry VIII. commands his
minister, Wolsey, to write circular letters of indemnity to every county
where the payment of certain heavy taxes had been disputed--

    “Let there be letters writ to every shire
     Of the King’s grace and pardon. The grieved commons
     Hardly conceive of me. Let it be noised
     That through our intercession, this revokement
     And pardon comes. I shall, anon, advise you
     Further in the proceeding.”

The story goes that on one occasion when the above lines were spoken,
the King said to the Prince of Wales, who had not yet been expelled from
Court, “You see, George, what you have one day to expect.”

George II. has been censured for encouraging the representation of
immoral dramas, “a perverted taste,” which, it is said, “was strong upon
him from the first.”[139] When Prince of Wales he witnessed the acting
of Otway’s “Venice Preserved,” but, on discovering afterwards that
certain scenes had been omitted, he commanded them to be restored. In
the later part of his life, George II. took advantage of his position to
make loud remarks on the performances at which he was present, a
recorded instance of which occurred at Drury Lane, when his Majesty
commanded Farquhar’s “Beaux Stratagem” and Fielding’s “Intriguing
Chambermaid” to be performed. But the representation does not appear to
have given satisfaction, for Walpole, writing to Mann, says: “A certain
king that, whatever airs you may give yourself, you are not at all like,
was last week at the play. The intriguing chambermaid in the farce says
to the old gentleman, ‘You are villainously old, you are sixty-six; you
cannot have the impudence to think of living above two years.’ The old
gentleman on the stage here turned about in a passion and said, ‘This is
d--d stuff!’ and the royal critic was energetically right.”

One of the greatest honours ever rendered to a dramatist by royalty was
conferred by Queen Caroline, wife of George II., on Mottley, an obscene
playwright. But when his benefit night was announced “as to take place
soon after the Queen’s drawing-room had been held, the Queen herself, in
that very drawing-room, sold Mottley’s tickets, delivering them with her
own royal hand to the purchasers, and condescending to receive gold for
them in return.”[140]

Frederick Prince of Wales, father of George III., was fond of private
theatricals, and endeavoured to instil his taste for dramatic
performances into his children.

More than once we find the little princes and princesses “fretting their
hour upon the stage,” their instructor being the celebrated actor, James
Quin, who was also the stage manager. In after years the old actor took
a pride in speaking of the days when he was a Court favourite, and when
the first speech of George III., delivered from the throne, was much
commended for the graceful manner in which it was spoken; “Ay!” said
Quin, “it was I who taught the boy to speak.”

The first of these juvenile dramatic performances took place on 4th
January 1749--the piece selected for representation being Addison’s
“Cato”--and the last occasion of these juvenile theatricals at Leicester
House appears to have been on 11th January 1750, on which day Bubb
Dodington mentions in his diary that he was invited to witness the
representation of Rowe’s tragedy of “Lady Jane Grey” by the royal

In after days George III.’s early acquired taste for the drama seems to
have kept pace with his life, for so frequent were his visits to the
theatre that the people of London are said to have been as well
acquainted with his features as with those of their next-door neighbour.
His glee during the performance of a broad farce, or a droll hit in a
pantomime, may at times have been too exuberantly manifested, but his
subjects did not love him the less because he was completely at home in
the midst of them. Neither did his sense of the ridiculous prevent his
enjoying the higher beauties of the drama. Frequently Mrs. Siddons, and
sometimes Garrick, were sent for to read plays or poetry in the royal
circle either at Buckingham House, or Windsor.[141] “He is said,” writes
Thackeray,[142] “not to have cared for Shakespeare or tragedy much;
farces and pantomimes were his joy; and especially when the clown
swallowed a carrot, or a string of sausages, he would laugh so
outrageously that the lovely princess by his side would have to say, ‘My
gracious monarch, do compose yourself.’ But he continued to laugh, and
at the very smallest farces, so long as his poor wits were left him.”

But the fondness of George III. for the drama on one occasion was not
unattended with risk, for as he was on his way to the Haymarket
Theatre, on 25th July 1777, a madwoman attacked and did some damage to
his chair. And as he was entering his box in Drury Lane Theatre, on 15th
May 1800, he was shot at by a madman named James Hadfield. But he did
not lose his composure, and he slept as quietly as usual during the
interval between the play and the after-piece. What nowadays would be
considered an unpardonable offence was occasionally taken by actors with
their royal patrons. When Parsons, for instance, was playing the Chief
Carpenter in the “Siege of Calais,” advancing close to the royal box, he
exclaimed, “An’ the King were here and did not admire my scaffold, I
would say, D--n him! he has no taste”--an impudent sally which amused
the King even more than the audience.

An act of indecorum, but trivial compared with that of Parsons, happened
when the young King of Denmark--who married the sister of George
III.--was present in October 1768, at the tragedy of “Jane Shore,”
during the performance of which he went fast asleep, and remained so to
the amusement of the audience, but to the annoyance of Mrs. Bellamy, who
played Alicia.

She waited for her opportunity, and having to pronounce the words, “O
thou false lord,” she approached the royal box, and uttered them “in
such a piercing tone, that the King awoke in sudden amazement, but with
perception enough to enable him to protest that he would not be married
to a woman with such a voice though she had the whole world for a

It was on 3rd December 1779, when the “Winter’s Tale” was being played
by royal command at Drury Lane, that the Prince of Wales, afterwards
George IV., was subdued by the beauty of the charming actress, Mary
Robinson, in her character of Perdita. An intrigue ensued, and he
corresponded with her under the name of “Florizel.” He provided for her
a costly establishment, “and when after two years the connection
terminated, she obtained from him a bond for £20,000, which she
afterwards surrendered.” And although he had sworn to be “unalterable to
my Perdita through life,” he abandoned her, and left her to want. But
Charles Fox obtained for her an annuity of £300, and, when sojourning in
France, Marie Antoinette gave a purse knitted by her own fingers to “la
belle Anglaise.”

Queen Victoria, too, not only patronised the drama, but she gave it
every encouragement, the performance of a good play well acted being a
source of recreation which she thoroughly enjoyed. But, as is well
known, owing to the lamented death and irretrievable loss of the Prince
Consort, her Majesty during her many years of mourning abandoned many of
the former amusements of her Court as distasteful in her bereavement;
and it was only in the later years of her life that dramatic
representations were once more occasionally seen at Windsor, the memory
of which is of too recent occurrence to need further notice.

The prominence assigned to the drama in the diversions at the Court of
Louis XIV. did much to encourage this department of literature in
France,[144] for we are told that the stigma attaching to the stage had
to a large extent been wiped away “by the homage of society, the
elevation of the theatre to the level of a State institution,” and a
remark by Louis XIV. that a gentleman did not cease to be one by going
on the stage.

It was in 1680 that Louis XIV. formed a company of players, undertaking
to pay them 12,000 livres a year, and placing them under the control of
the First Gentlemen of the Chamber--the origin of the Théâtre Française,
more popularly designated the Comédie Française. The company consisted
of a sufficient number of members--twenty-seven--“to do justice to a
tragedy or comedy in the Maisons Royales, when his Majesty wished to be
so diverted.” However much the King’s name was maligned in death, in
this outburst of feeling the stage had little or no share, for the
players could not forget that the late King had been a lover of the
drama from his boyhood, and had raised their art to the dignity of a
State institution, and had treated them at Court as on a level with
distinguished men of letters, painters, and savants.[145]

Louis XV., on the other hand, showed an apathetic indifference towards
the stage, and in the words of Matthieu Marais he cared for neither the
drama nor music, and it is said that “the sight of his dull and
immovable face never failed to depress the players’ spirits.”

[Illustration: LOUIS XIV.]

Plays of an irreligious or seditious tendency found no sympathy with
Louis XVI., and he interdicted the production of “The Mariage de Figaro”
by Beaumarchais, remarking that the author of it “scoffs at everything
that ought to be respected in government,” but his Majesty was
eventually induced to withdraw his veto.

Marie Antoinette took a keen interest in all kinds of theatricals, and
private representations were performed in her apartments. According to
Montjoie,[146] she condescended to take characters not always of the
most dignified description; she also played in comic operas. This sort
of amusement, he adds, was imitated, and all classes of society imbibed
a taste for theatrical representations; “there was not a man of rank, a
financier, nor even a citizen in easy circumstances, who would be
without his theatre. Formerly a private gentleman would have been
disgraced if suspected of metamorphosing himself into an actor, even in
a private house. The Queen, however, by her example having put an end to
this prejudice, the head of the magistrates, unmindful of the dignity of
his position, performed the lowest comic parts.”[147] Indeed, the
theatre was a constant topic of conversation at Court, and when the
Queen had not been present she never omitted asking, “Was it well

It was in 1774 that the King addressed Marie Antoinette thus: “You are
fond of flowers. Well, I have a bouquet to offer you: it is the Little
Trianon”;--a fatal present, as it turned out, for this “Little Trianon”
became “the imputed cause of ruinous extravagance, and the fancied scene
of improper indulgences.” During her residence here the favourite
amusement was private theatricals, at which the King regularly attended.

On one occasion when Marie Antoinette went to the opera, a striking
proof was given by the audience of their extraordinary and marked
affection for her. The opera of “Iphigenia” by Glück was being
performed, in the second act of which there is a chorus, in which
Achilles sings the first verse, turning to his followers and saying--

    “Chantons, célébrez votre reine!”

Instead of that the actor gave these words--

    “Chantons, célébrons notre reine,
     L’hymen, qui sous ses lois l’enchaîne,
     Va nous rendre à jamais heureux.”

The audience took this up with enthusiastic ardour. “All was shouting
and clapping of hands, and--what never happened at the opera before--the
chorus was encored, and there were cries of ‘Long live the Queen,’” at
which expression of feeling the Queen was so affected that she shed

A similar demonstration occurred the last time the Queen was ever in a
playhouse, the play on this occasion being Grétry’s “Les Evenements
Imprévus.” By mistaken kindness, one of the leading ladies bowed to the
Queen as she sang the words, “Ah, how I love my mistress!” in a duet.

Instantly twenty voices shouted from the pit, “No mistress, no master!
liberty!” A few counter voices cried, “Vive le Roi! Vive le Reine!” but
the pit drowned them, “No master, no Queen!” A quarrel ensued, but the
Queen as composed as before was loudly cheered as she quitted the
theatre--never to be seen again at a dramatic performance.

In Maria Theresa, who became Empress of Germany in 1745, the drama had a
strong supporter, a taste which had always been wisely encouraged. The
story goes that her father composed an opera at a time when war was
raging, his country falling into ruins, and his Court receiving the
bribes of his enemies.

At the Court of Vienna the drama, at one time or another, has been in
popular request. Leopold I. made music and the theatre his great hobby,
next to his passion for hunting. According to Vehse,[148] he had a
theatre, and he caused at Vienna and Schönbrunn brilliant operas and
pastorals to be performed, in which “the scenery and the costumes were
most magnificent.” It is reported that the getting up of one of these
operas, “Il Pomo d’Oro,” cost as much as 100,000 florins--grand battle
scenes, rehearsed under the superintendence of the Court fencing-master,
being introduced. The whole of Vienna, we read, became imbued with the
Emperor’s fondness for music and the drama, which was equally shared by
his second wife, Claudia of Tyrol, who, it is said, sometimes made use
of these operatic representations to “tell her lord and husband things
which he was not likely to hear elsewhere.” Thus on one occasion she had
a piece performed entitled, “La Lanterne de Diogene,” in which the
speeches addressed to Alexander the Great were intended to set forth
before Leopold the abuses rife at the Court. But the Emperor’s third
wife, the saintly Eleanora of Mantua, had no sympathy for the stage, and
it is said accompanied her husband to the opera only with inward groans;
and, instead of reading the libretto, she studied the Psalms.

Joseph II., again, was fond of the theatre, and he did much for it. One
of his favourite comedies was Grossman’s “Not more than Six Dishes,”
which appears to have been an amusing satire on the prodigality and the
general manners of the nobility, who consequently, we are told, did
their utmost to have the piece suppressed. An opera which never failed
to amuse the Emperor was one by Paisiello, called “Il Re Teodoro,” the
libretto of which was another satire, pointed at King Gustavus III. of
Sweden, who, during his stay at Venice in the year 1783, had “displayed
a most ridiculous profusion, which even extended to his dressing-gown.”

As a young man Frederick the Great took great pleasure in theatrical
amusements, and in the year 1737 he acted at Rheinsberg, when he took
the part of Philoctèle in Voltaire’s “Œdipe.” He had a strong partiality
for the French drama, and soon after his accession to the throne he
summoned a French company to Berlin; but he was apt to criticise “the
exaggerated pathos of the French actors,” remarking of Le Cain: “This
man would be the Roscius of our age if he exaggerated less. I like to
see our passions represented as they really are; but as soon as Nature
is crushed by art, I remain quite unmoved.”

He established the Italian opera in Berlin, and until the Seven Years’
War he was a frequent attendant at the opera and ballet, as well as at
the French comedy. The theatre, we are told, “cost the Emperor nearly
four hundred thousand dollars a year. The admission was free, the boxes
being assigned to the Court, the ministers, privy councillors, &c. The
pit was filled by the military, every regiment of the garrison sending a
certain number of men.” But it would seem that the “gentlemen of the
green-room” gave the Emperor some trouble, for he once wrote: “The opera
people are such a blackguardly set that I am heartily tired of them.”
And on another occasion he wrote still more strongly: “I shall send them
all off to the ----, such blackguards may be had any day; I must have
money for cannon, and cannot spend so much on those mountebanks.”

The dancers, too, caused him some considerable trouble, and even
Vestris, the French _dieu de la danse_, found no engagement in Berlin,
the Emperor remarking, “Mon. Vestris is mad; who in the world but a fool
would give four thousand dollars to a dancer, besides three thousand to
his sister, and one thousand to his brother.”

But, much as Frederick liked theatrical amusements and dancing, he was
an inveterate opponent of aerial feats and rope-dancing shows as highly
dangerous, and forbade them throughout his dominions by a special
cabinet order, which ran thus: “If such people have a wish to break
their necks we cannot prevent their doing so in foreign countries, but
in our own provinces our humanity, and fatherly care for our subjects,
forbid us to allow them an opportunity.”

Never, it is said, were stage representations of such gorgeousness
exhibited in Rome until the period of the sojourn of Christina, ex-Queen
of Sweden, in Italy in 1668, when her influence seems to have had an
extraordinary effect on all classes of society. Thus we are told how the
entire Sacred College were now for ever going to the play, “and the
balcony of her box was every night crowded by cardinals, who looked with
edification on the ballerinas, and listened with delight to the
exquisitely dressed singing-girls, who resorted to Rome at the
invitation of Christina. The etiquette, when she was present, was of the
very strictest, the noblest in Rome being compelled to remain uncovered
as long as she was in the house. The gay cardinals, who lolled over the
balcony in front of her box, alone wore their caps, in allusion to which
privilege a paper was one night fixed beneath the balcony, on which was
inscribed, “Plenary indulgence for the gentlemen in purple.”[149]

In the spring of 1757 a strange event occurred in the little Court of
Stanislaus Leczinski, ex-King of Poland, and who at that time kept his
Court at Nancy. The theatrical company in the service of his Majesty
announced the performance of “Le Glorieux,” for the début of an actor, a
young boy, recently arrived at Nancy. On the appointed evening the
Court, together with every person of distinction in the town, flocked to
the little theatre to witness the appearance of the young actor, who was
to personate the humble character of the poorly dressed lacquey in the
play of Destouches. King Stanislaus was in his box, accompanied by the
Marchioness de Boufflers, anxious to see the boy whose past was so
romantic, and which, briefly told, was as follows: “During the
wanderings of a party of strolling-players, the wife of one of them
augmented the company by giving birth to a boy. The child was placed
under the care of a nurse, with a liberal allowance for its maintenance;
but she lodged it in the hospital of the _Enfans Trouvés_; but after a
lapse of seven years the treachery of the nurse was discovered, and the
child was restored to its parents.” This child was the new _débutant_,
whose natural air and correct accentuation of the little part allotted
to him charmed every one, and when, in accordance with his part, he took
with a cool gesture a pinch of snuff, which was followed by a fit of
sneezing he could not repress, the King smilingly exclaimed, “God bless
you,” words which instantly resounded through the pit.

At the conclusion of the play the child was brought to the King’s box,
and his Majesty drawing him towards him, and wiping away the powder
from his forehead, conferred upon him a royal kiss. The boy was sensible
of the honour, and shyly turning his eyes towards where the Marchioness
was seated, said--

“Ah, all the pretty ladies behind the scenes kissed me and embraced me.”

“And I suppose,” said the King, “you think all the pretty ladies in the
boxes ought to do the same.” And without waiting for the ceremony of
presentation, the boy ran to Madame de Boufflers and kissed her on each

Such was the début of Joseph Alvaham Bernard, commonly called Henry, on
making his first appearance at the Court Theatre of Nancy in 1750.[150]



It has been remarked that nothing can explain the almost universal
mediocrity of royal compositions, despite the great and manifest
advantages enjoyed by their authors. The superior value set upon martial
qualities in days gone by prevented, it is said, the rulers and leading
men of the State from cultivating letters, although, it would seem, the
reverse was the case in the old days of the Roman Empire, when, of the
first twenty emperors, above one-half were authors.

But in modern times literary habits have been comparatively rare among
princes, and of those who turned their attention in this direction---
more as a pastime than a study--few names would have survived in the
literary world had it not been for their connection with Royalty.

On the other hand, many of our queens have interested themselves in
literature, and it is recorded how Adelicia of Louvaine--surnamed “The
Fair Maid of Brabant”--second queen of Henry I., employed her days of
widowhood in collecting materials for the history of her mighty lord;
and Eleanora of Aquitaine was a popular troubadour poet, her chansons
having been famous long after her death. By hereditary right, too, she
was reviewer of the poets of Provence, and at the “Courts of Love,” when
chansons were sung or recited before her by the troubadours, she sat in
judgment, and passed sentence on their literary merits.

Richard I. was a troubadour poet, and Matthew Paris tells how, when he
was imprisoned at Tenebreuse, he composed a poem, preserved in the
Bibliothèque Royal. Eleanor of Provence, queen of Henry III., almost
before she entered her teens, had written an heroic poem in her native
Provençal tongue, and her taste for literature she seems to have
imparted to her husband, for his reign affords the first example of a
poet-laureate, in the person of one Master Henry, to whom by the name of
“our beloved versificator” his Majesty ordered “one hundred shillings to
be given in payment of his arrears;” and several romances are said to
have been written under this monarch’s supervision.

Eleanora of Castile, in addition to her many other accomplishments, was
fond of literature, and gave it every encouragement. According to
Warton, she paid forty shillings to one Richard du Marche for
illuminating a psalter, and at her request John de Pentham translated
from Latin into French a treatise of religion, called “Hierarchy,” which
is preserved in the library of St. Geneviève in Paris. Adversity appears
to have had a sobering and hallowing influence on Edward II., the
following lines having been written by him in Latin during his

    “On my devoted head
       Her bitterest showers,
     All from a wintry cloud,
       Stern Fortune pours.
     View but her favourite,
       Sage and discerning,
     Graced with fair comeliness,
       Famed for his learning;
     Should she withdraw her smiles,
       Each grace she banishes,
     Wisdom and wit are flown,
       And beauty vanishes.”

It was, however, a different motive that prompted a royal Plantagenet
poet, Edward, Duke of York, cousin-german to King Henry IV., to write
the following amatory stanzas in praise of the attractive Joanna of

    “Excellent sovereign! seemly to see,
     Proved prudence, peerless of price;
     Bright blossom of benignity,
     Of figure fairest, and freshest of days!

     Your womanly beauty delicious
     Hath me all bent unto its chain;
     But grant to me your love gracious,
     My heart will melt as snow in rain.

     If ye but wist my life, and knew
     Of all the pains that I y-feel,
     I wis ye would upon me rue,
     Although your heart were made of steel.

     And though ye be of high renown,
     Let mercy rule your heart so free;
     From you, lady, this is my boon,
     To grant me grace in some degree.”

But this act of indiscretion seems to have aroused the personal jealousy
of King Henry, for, on a very frivolous pretence, the Duke of York was
imprisoned in Pevensey Castle for three months, in the course of which
interval his Majesty’s displeasure had time to abate.

The following touching verses, which have been attributed to Henry VI.,
were probably written during his long imprisonment in the Tower:--

    “Kingdoms are but cares;
       State is devoid of stay;
     Riches are ready snares,
       And hasten to decay.

     Who meaneth to remove the rock
       Out of the slimy mud,
     Shall mire himself and hardly ’
       The swelling of the flood.”

And there are preserved two sentences said to have been written and
given by his Majesty to a knight who had the care of him. “Patience is
the armour and conquest of the godly; this meriteth mercy, when
causeless is suffered sorrow.” “Nought else is war but fury and madness,
wherein is not advice, but rashness; not right, but rage, ruleth and

Henry VIII. prided himself on his literary attainments, a boast which
was by no means unfounded. In 1536, offended at the manifesto of the
pilgrims, he compounded a reply in which he expressed his astonishment
that “ignorant people should go about to instruct him in matters of
theology, who somewhat had been noted to be learned in what the faith
should be,” indirectly referring to his own book against Luther, which
had procured for him from the Pope the title of “Defender of the Faith.”
Indeed, his Majesty is said not only to have been a great reader, but to
have been conversant with several languages; and, whatever his other
defects, he was an accomplished student--his work “The Glass of Truth”
alone being another proof of his theological attainments. He was among
the best physicians of his time, and he acted as “his own engineer,
inventing improvements in artillery, and new constructions in

Anne Boleyn is said to have composed her own dirge after her

    “Oh, death! rock me asleep,
       Bring on my quiet rest,
     Let pass my very guiltless ghost
       Out of my careful breast.
     Ring out the doleful knell;
     Let its sound my death tell--
       For I must die,
       There is no remedy,
       For now I die.

     My pains who can express?
       Alas! they are so strong,
     My dolour will not suffer strength
       My life for to prolong!
     Alone in prison strange,
       I wail my destiny;
     Woe worth this cruel hap, that I
       Should taste this misery!

     Farewell my pleasures past,
       Welcome my present pain,
     I feel my torments so increase
       That life cannot remain.

     Sound now the passing bell;
     Rung is my doleful knell,
     For its sound my death doth tell:
       Death doth draw nigh,
       Sound the knell dolefully,
       For now I die.”

But passing from this queen’s tragic death to Henry VIII.’s last wife,
Catherine Parr, it may be remembered that the celebrated devotional
work, “The Lamentation of a Sinner,” obtained great popularity, and has
been adjudged to be one of the finest specimens of English composition
of that era. Within the limits of about 120 miniature pages, it
comprises an elegant treatise “On the imperfection of human nature in
its unassisted state, and the utter vanity of all earthly grandeur and
distinction,” at the same time an uncompromising attitude being taken up
against papal supremacy; for, as her Majesty tells us in the volume, she
deplored her former attachment to the ceremonials of the Church of Rome.
Hence the royal writer does not forget to compliment Henry on having
emancipated the kingdom from this domination; and adds, “Our Moses, and
most godly wise governor and king hath delivered us out of the captivity
and spiritual bondage of Pharaoh: I mean by this Moses, King Henry
VIII., my most sovereign favourable lord and husband.” Catherine Parr
was no doubt gifted by nature with fine talents, for she both read and
wrote Latin with facility, and possessed some knowledge of Greek.

It was also through the influence of Catherine Parr that the Princess
Mary was induced to undertake the translation of the Latin paraphrase of
St. John, by Erasmus. She did not append her name to the translation,
but Dr. Udall in his preface thus refers to her labours: “England can
never be able to render thanks sufficient; so it never will be able--as
her deserts require--enough to praise the most noble, the most virtuous,
and the most studious Lady Mary’s grace, for taking such pains and
travail in translating this paraphrase of Erasmus on the Gospel of St.
John.” And when Mary was doubtful as to whether the work should be
published in her name or anonymously, Catherine Parr wrote “that in her
opinion she would do a wrong to the work, if she should refuse to send
it to posterity with the advantage of her name; because in her accurate
translation she had gone through much pains for the public good.” Mary,
however, did not append her name to the translation, but granted Dr.
Udall permission to mention her labours in the preface.

Elizabeth’s knowledge and acquirements from an early age made her
famous, and Hentzner, the German traveller, mentions having seen a
little volume in the royal library at Whitehall, written in French by
her, when a child, on vellum, and which was thus inscribed: “A tres
haut, et tres puissant, et redoubté Prince Henry VIII. de ce nom, roy
d’Angleterre, de France, et de Irelande, defendeur de la foy. Elizabeth,
sa tres humble fille, rend salut et obedience.” When imprisoned by her
sister Mary, she wrote several poems, and it is said that Mary Queen of
Scots during her long incarceration by Elizabeth produced many pleasing
poetic compositions.

When Henry IV. of France abjured the Protestant faith and joined the
Church of Rome, Elizabeth was greatly troubled at his apostasy, and to
divert her mind she entered into a course of theological studies, and
finally occupied her time by reading “Boethius on the Consolations of
Philosophy,” of the first five books of which she made a very elegant
English translation. Her Majesty, too, showed her sympathy for the
literary characters of her day, and when the antiquary Lambarde waited
upon her at Greenwich Palace to present his “Pandecta of the Tower
Records,” she received him most graciously, and after looking through
the volume, “she commended the work,” writes Lambarde, “not only for the
pains therein taken,” but also “for that she had not received, since her
first coming to the crown, any one thing that brought therewith so great
a delectation to her”; and Walpole[151] has chronicled her various other
contributions to literature.

James I. was fond of literature, and was an industrious reader, but as
an author “he was only possessed of that mediocrity of talent which in a
private person had never raised him to notice.” In 1599 was published
his “Basilicon Doron,” containing advice to his son respecting his moral
and political conduct; and in his work on “Dæmonologie” we find his
Majesty inveighing against the “damnable opinions of one Scott, an
Englishman, who is not ashamed to deny in public print that there be
such a thing as witchcraft, and so maintains the old error of the
Sadducees in denying of Spirits;”[152] and one of his first acts on
ascending the English throne was to order all copies of Scott’s
“Discoverie of Witchcraft” to be burnt. His translation of the Psalms
was never finished, and as a poet it is generally agreed he was a
failure. His collected works were published in 1616 by Bishop Montagu,
together with earlier speeches and State Papers. Walpole, speaking of
his literary abilities, says, “It is well for the arts that King James
had no disposition for them: he let them take their own course. Had he
felt for them any inclination, he would have probably introduced as bad
taste as he did in literature.” His unpublished correspondence with
Buckingham is described by Wellwood as too disgusting to be read by a
modest eye. The claims of Charles, his son, have been ranked very high
as an author; and if the “Eikon Basilike” had been his composition, this
famous production--which is full of piety and wisdom, and in style pure
and graceful--would give him a prominent place in the catalogue of royal
authors. But, as it has been observed, “the silence of Clarendon upon
the subject in his History, and the explicit denial by both Charles II.
and James II., as vouched by two unconnected witnesses, Bishop Burnet
and Lord Anglesey, would be decisive of the question, even if we could
overlook the evidence of Bishop Patrick and Dr. Walker.” During his
imprisonment at Carisbrooke Charles expressed his feelings in poetry;
the subjoined stanzas amongst many others having been attributed to him
at this period, although they have been suspected to be a pious fraud:--

    “Tyranny bears the title of taxation,
     Revenge and robbery are reformation,
     Oppression gains the name of sequestration.

     My loyal subjects, who in this bad season,
     Attend (by the law of God and reason),
     They dare impeach and punish for high treason.

     Next at the clergy do their furies frown,
     Pious Episcopacy must go down,
     They will destroy the crosier and the crown.

     Churchmen are chained, and schismatics are freed,
     Mechanics preach, and holy fathers bleed,
     The crown is crucified with the Creed.

     The Church of England doth all faction foster,
     The pulpit is usurped by each impostor;
     _Ex tempore_ excludes the _pater noster_.”

Charles II. is said to have had some poetical talent, and, as Sir John
Hawkins affirms, and as Horace Walpole thinks probable, the following
lines were his composition:--

    “I pass all my hours in a shady old grove,
     But I live not the day when I see not my love;
     I survey every walk now my Phyllis is gone,
     And sigh when I think we were there all alone;
         O then ’t
is I think there’s no hell
         Like loving too well.

     But each shade and each conscious bower when I find,
     Where I once have been happy, and she has been kind;
     When I see the print left of her shape on the green,
     And imagine the pleasure may yet come again,
         O then ’t
is I think that no joys are above
         The pleasures of love.

     While alone to myself I repeat all her charms,
     She I love may be locked in another man’s arms;
     She may laugh at my cares, and so false she may be,
     To say all the kind things she before said to me;
         O then ’t
is oh then, that I think there’s no hell
         Like loving too well.

     But when I consider the truth of her heart,
     Such an innocent passion, so kind without art;
     I fear I have wrong’d her, and hope she may be
     So full of true love to be jealous of me;
         And then, ’t
is I think that no joys are above
         The pleasures of love.”

In the year 1766 Lord Hailes edited a curious account of the adventures
of Charles II. after the battle of Worcester, “unquestionably written by
himself, and republished some letters to his friends, chiefly to
Arlington, there called Henry Bennet, together with a few made publick
for the first time,”[153] one of the most amusing passages in the
narrative being the subjoined:--

“As I was holding my horse’s foot, I asked the smith what news? He told
me that there was no news that he knew of, since the good news of the
beating of the rogues the Scots. I asked him whether there was none of
the English taken that joined the Scots? He answered that he did not
hear that that rogue Charles Stuart was taken, but some of the others,
he said, were taken, but not Charles Stuart. I told him that if that
rogue were taken, he deserved to be hanged more than all the rest for
bringing in the Scots, upon which he said that I spoke like an honest
man, and so we parted.”

There is little to note respecting the literary tastes of succeeding
English sovereigns, with the exception of Queen Caroline, who was a
great reader, and “frequently perplexed the divines of that period by
her paradoxes on the subjects of fatality and free-will,” maintaining a
correspondence with Leibnitz on the most abstruse subjects.

The plaintive lines below, described as “more touching than better
poetry,” have generally been attributed to the Princess Amelia, daughter
of George III., who will long be remembered “for the extreme passionate
tenderness with which her father loved her,” and for her early death:--

    “Unthinking, idle, wild, and young,
     I laughed, and danced, and talked, and sung;
     And, proud of health, of freedom vain,
     Dreamed not of sorrow, care, or pain;
     Concluding, in those hours of glee,
     That all the world was made for me.

     But when the hour of trial came,
     When sickness shook this trembling frame,
     When folly’s gay pursuits were o’er,
     And I could sing and dance no more,
     It then occurred how sad ’t
would be
     Were this world only made for me.”

“The poor soul quitted it,” and, as Thackeray writes, “Ere yet she was
dead the agonised father was in such a state that the officers about him
were obliged to set watchers over him, and from November 1810 George
III. ceased to reign.”

The following verses, entitled “The Charms of Silvia,” were addressed by
Frederick, Prince of Wales, who cultivated a taste for literature, to
his consort:--

    “‘Tis not the liquid brightness of those eyes,
       That swim with pleasure and delight;
     Nor those heavenly arches, which arise
       O’er each of them to shade their light.

is not that hair, which plays with every wind,
       And loves to wanton round thy face;
     Nor straying round the forehead, now behind
       Retiring with insidious grace.

is not that lovely range of teeth, so white,
       As new shorn sheep, equal and fair;
     Nor e’en that gentle smile, the heart’s delight,
       With which no smile could e’er compare.

is not that chin so round, that neck so fine,
       Those breasts that swell to meet my love,
     That easy sloping waist, that form divine,
       Nor aught below, nor aught above.

is not the living colours over each,
       By nature’s finest pencil wrought,
     To shame the full-blown rose, and blooming peach,
       And mock the happy painter’s thought.

     No--’tis that gentleness of mind, that love
       So kindly answering my desire;
     That grace with which you look, and speak, and move,
       That thus has set my soul on fire.”

In 1870, Charles Dickens was summoned by Queen Victoria to Buckingham
Palace in order that she might thank him for the loan of some
photographs of scenes in the American Civil War, and on his departure
she handed him a copy of her “Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the
Highlands” with the autograph inscription, “From the humblest of
writers to one of the greatest.” In 1883, her Majesty prepared for
publication another selection from her Journal, which she dedicated “To
my loyal Highlanders, and especially to the memory of my devoted
personal attendant and faithful friend, John Brown.” She took a very
modest view of her literary work, for, on sending a copy to Tennyson,
she described herself as “a very humble and unpretending author, the
only merit of whose writing was its simplicity and truth.”

Leaving our own country, it may be noted that Portugal has some claim to
be proud of her royal authors, for Diniz was a poet of exquisite taste,
“and in the number, beauty, and variety of his songs he proved himself
the greatest poet of his Court,” having inherited, it is said, the
poetic feeling and power of expression from his father, Alfonso III.,
who was no mean poet. Indeed, the effects of the influence of Diniz
“pervade the whole of Portuguese poetry; for not only was he in his
‘pastorellas’ the forerunner of the greatest pastoral school, but, by
sanctifying to literary use the national storehouse of song, he
perpetuated among his people, even to the present day, lyric forms of
greatest beauty.”[154] It is also said that immense service was rendered
by Diniz and his poetic courtiers in developing the Portuguese dialect
into a beautiful and flexible literary language; and with the Courts of
Love which he introduced into Portugal came the substitution of the
Limousin decasyllabic for the national octosyllabic metre.[155]

John I., surnamed “the Great,” encouraged literature, and the “Book of
the Chase,” one of the best specimens of early Portuguese prose, was
written for him under his own superintendence. Of his sons, Dom Pedro
wrote poems, and Dom Edward was the author of two capital prose works
entitled “Instructions in Horsemanship” and the “Faithful Councillor.”

Alfonso V., one of the exploring sovereigns, the subduer of Tangiers,
wrote much and ably on various subjects, forming an extensive library at
Evora; and the sagacious John II. patronised literature, and encouraged
Ruy de Pina, the greatest of all the Portuguese chroniclers. And another
sovereign who did all he could to promote the welfare of literature was
John V., who founded the Academy of History in Lisbon, in 1720.

James I. of Aragon, who was born at Montpellier on Candlemas Day, in his
“Chronicle,” written by himself--and forming one of the most remarkable
literary works of an eventful age--gives a curious as well as an
interesting account of his being named, and relates how his mother, Doña
Maria, “made twelve candles, all of one size and weight, and had them
all lighted together, and gave each the name of an apostle, and vowed to
our Lord that I should be christened by the name of that which lasted
longest. And so it happened that the candle which went by the name of
St. James lasted a good finger’s breadth more than all the others. And
owing to that circumstance, and to the grace of God, I was christened El

Catherine II. of Russia wrote fairy and moral tales in the style of
Marmontel, at that time so popular, comedies, and a kind of adaptation
of Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor,” her friend, the Princess
Dashkov, who was appointed President of the Academy of Sciences, having
co-operated with her in these studies.[156] In the “Romance of an
Empress”[157] many amusing anecdotes are given of this her favourite
pastime, which, it is said, “was in some sort a necessity, almost a
physical necessity” to her. When asked why she wrote so many comedies,
she replied, “_Primo_, because it amuses me; _secundo_, because I should
like to restore the national theatre, which, owing to its lack of new
plays, is somewhat gone out of fashion; and _tertio_, because it was
time to put down the visionaries, who were beginning to hold up their
heads.” In his “History of German Literature,” Kurtz includes the
Empress among the German writers of the eighteenth century, as author of
an Eastern romance, “Obidach” (1786), and two years later we find her
writing burlesque verses on the King of Sweden. It was often asked how
she found time to do so much, the answer being she rose at six o’clock.

After his deposition, Gustavus IV. of Sweden, under the title of Colonel
Gustafson, was occasionally heard of in various parts of Europe. At the
period of the French Revolution in 1830, the pamphlet which he published
on that event, and on its connection with Swedish affairs, showed,
writes Dr. Doran,[158] that “the ex-king possessed neither charms of
style nor power of reasoning. But his literary pursuits were now his
sole pleasure, and he wrote “Reflections on the Aurora Borealis, and its
Connection with Diurnal Motion,” the small effect produced by which
wounded him, it is said, almost as deeply as his loss of a crown.

Another sovereign who in his retirement devoted his time to literature
was the ex-king Stanislaus Leczinski of Poland, whose works were
published in a collected form, a few years after his death, in four
quarto volumes, under the title of the “Works of the Beneficent
Philosopher.” But there was no special ability in his writings, which
were “respectable but not great.” His collection of “Traits of Moral
Character for Everyday Life” was perhaps his most amusing and popular
work, each trait commencing with “Have the courage to ----,” and as a
whole as practically useful as the Golden Rules of King Charles. Thus,
as an illustration, Stanislaus writes: “Have the courage to pay your
debts at once; to do without what you do not need; to know when to speak
and when to be quiet; to set down every penny you spend, and to look at
the sum-total weekly; to pass your host’s lackey without giving him a
shilling, when you cannot afford it, and more especially when he has not
earned it; to face difficulties, which are often like thieves, and run
away if you only look at them.” Such are a few illustrations of his
Majesty’s traits of moral courage, but unfortunately some of them he
neglected himself, and he suffered accordingly.

Frederick II. of Prussia was an author, but only an average one. Indeed,
as it has been observed, “giving him the credit of all that passes under
his name, with the single exception of the ‘Seven Years’ War,’ can it be
pretended that of his numerous volumes one would ever have been known to
posterity, or more than one ever have found a publisher at all, even in
Germany, had they been the works of a private hand? The excepted book
has considerable merit, by far its greatest value being derived from the
accidental coincidence of the sword and the pen in the same hand.”
Little praise can be given to his Majesty’s verses, and his letters are
only interesting because of the great men with whom he corresponded, and
the stirring events in the midst of which they were written.[159]

A work which naturally created considerable notice was Louis XVIII.’s
narrative of his escape from France, but in the preface a most candid
admission is made, that the work had disappointed all who had expected
literary merit in it, that it had destroyed the reputation of the King
as an adept in the niceties of the French language, the French critics
asserting that it was “vulgarly ungrammatical”; and even the editor
“admits that the performance does not place his most Christian Majesty
very high in the list of royal authors, as the style is bad, the
observations often puerile, and the sentiments far from noble.” The
narrative is dedicated in affectionate terms to M. d’Avary, in token of
the royal authors lasting gratitude for his services upon the occasion
of his escape. But this, whatever merit may be ascribed to it, will,
like other similar productions, always be perused with interest from the
royal pen which wrote it.



From an early period there have been monarchs possessed of as much skill
in music as their best bards, or minstrels. Thus, as it has been
observed, if Alfred the Great could enter and explore the Danish camp
disguised as a harper, “his harp playing must have been in the genuine
professional manner of his time, otherwise he would have revealed to the
Danish lovers of music that he was not what he pretended to be.” Indeed,
the harp seems to have been a favourite instrument of our sovereigns in
olden times, harpers having been famous long before the Conquest. And it
may be noted that even many of those monarchs who were not musicians
patronised and encouraged music, as may be gathered from items of
expenditure in their household accounts, an instance of which occurs as
far back as the time of William of Normandy, who is recorded in Domesday
Book to have been liberal to his joculator, or bard.

Matilda of Scotland had a great talent for music, for which her love
amounted almost to a passion. And when queen she was not infrequently
censured for her lavish liberality in rewarding, with costly presents,
the monks who sang skilfully in the church service. According to
William of Malmesbury, “She was thoughtlessly prodigal towards clerks of
melodious voice, both in gifts and promises. Her generosity becoming
universally known, crowds of scholars, equally famed for poetry and
music, came over, and happy did he account himself who could soothe the
ear of the Queen by the novelty of his song.”

Specially skilled in music was Eleanor of Aquitaine, who composed and
sang the _chansons_ and _tensons_ of Provençal poetry; and Richard I.
was musically inclined, the place of his confinement in Germany, on his
return from the Holy Land, having been discovered, it is commonly said,
by his minstrel Blondel singing beneath the Tower Tenebreuse a _tenson_
which they had jointly composed, and to which the King replied. Henry
III., in the twenty-sixth year of his reign, gave forty shillings and a
pipe of wine to Richard, his harper, and a pipe of wine to Beatrice, the
harper’s wife--in such estimation were these musicians held by him.

Edward I. and his queen Marguerite were both lovers of music, and
encouraged its professors, as may be gathered from the following items
of their household expenditure: “To Melioro, the harper of Sir John
Mautravers, for playing on the harp while the King was bled, twenty
shillings; likewise to Walter Luvel, the harper of Chichester, whom the
King found playing on his harp before the tomb of St. Richard at
Chichester Cathedral, six shillings and eightpence.” And prior to
ascending the throne Edward took his harper with him to the Holy Land,
and, when attacked by an assassin at Ptolemais, his royal musician
rushed into the royal apartment, and dashed out the brains of his
antagonist after the Prince had given the final blow with a footstool,
which caused him to exclaim, “What was the use of striking a dead man?”

Henry V. was himself a performer on the harp from an early age; his
royal bride, Catherine of Valois, sharing his taste, as we find from an
entry in the Issue Rolls, whereby we learn that his Majesty sent from
France to England to obtain new harps for Catherine and himself in the
October preceding his marriage: “By the hands of William Menston was
paid £8, 13s. 4d. for two new harps purchased for King Henry and Queen
Catherine.” And a previous document mentions another harp sent to Henry
when in France, “purchased of John Bore, harp-maker, London, together
with several dozen harp-chords and a harp-case.” Henry was also a
composer, delighting in church harmony, which he was in the habit of
practising on the organ.

Anne Boleyn, like Henry VIII., was musical, and, according to an early
authority, “when she sung like a second Orpheus, she would have made
bears and wolves attentive. Besides singing like a syren, accompanying
herself on the lute, she harped better than King David, and handled
cleverly both flute and rebec.” From all accounts, Queen Mary seems to
have been highly talented in music, and at the tender age of four she is
said to have played on the virginals. When grown up she cultivated her
musical taste, and played with great proficiency on the lute, the
virginals, or the regals. She was also fond of sacred music, and
established the musicians of her Chapel Royal with more than usual care,
the names of our best English composers being found amongst them.

Queen Elizabeth was very partial to music, and played on the spinet,
lute, and violin, and she was especially careful to have the royal
chapel furnished with the best singing boys that could be procured in
the kingdom. In Sir Hans Sloane’s collection of MSS. in the British
Museum, there is a royal warrant of her Majesty authorising Thomas
Gytes, master of the children of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, “to
take up such apt and meet children as are most fit to be instructed, and
framed, in the art and science of music and singing, as may be had and
found out within any place of this our realm of England and Wales, to
be, by his education and bringing up, made meet and liable to serve us
in that behalf when our pleasure is to call them.”

Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I., had a taste for music, and was
possessed of a voice so sweet and powerful, that, it is said, she might
have been, had she not been a queen, _prima donna_ of Europe.
Occasionally, we are told, “her divine voice was heard singing to her
infant as she lulled it in her arms, filling the magnificent galleries
of Whitehall with its rich cadence. Queenly etiquette prevented her from
enchanting listeners with its melody at other times.”[160] Charles I.,
too, was fond of music, and performed on the viol.

The first Italian opera ever performed in England was produced on
January 5, 1674, under the auspices of Queen Catherine of Braganza, who
was devoted to that style of music, although it took a long time for an
English audience to relish it. And “it was not easy,” writes Agnes
Strickland, “to persuade the public in those days that a combination of
incomprehensible sounds, however harmonious they might be, was capable
of exciting feelings of admiration and delight like those with which
they listened to the national opera of Arthur, when Dryden’s numbers are
wedded to Purcell’s melodies.” The King’s admiration for Mrs. Knight,
whose voice was considered by Evelyn and others to excel those of the
Queen’s Italian vocalists, excited Catherine’s jealousy, especially as
her singing was regarded “as a greater attraction than the wonderful
violin playing of Signor Nicolao at musical meetings, where, also, the
lute of Dr. Wallgrave rivalled the harpsichord of Signor Francesco.”
But, it may be added, Mrs. Knight was first introduced at Court to sing
Waller’s complimentary verses on her Majesty’s recovery from serious
sickness, in the year 1663. Pepys tells us in his Diary,[161] under
September 30, 1668, that the Queen had a concert of Italian vocalists on
the Thames, under her balcony at Whitehall Palace, when, “it being a
most summerlike day, and a fine warm evening, the Italians came in a
barge under the leads before the Queen’s drawing-room, and so the Queen
and ladies went out, and heard them for more than an hour, and the
singing was very good together; but yet there was but one voice that did
appear considerable, and that was Signor Joanni.”

According to Roger North, Charles II. loved no music but of the dancing
kind, and put down all advocates for the fugal style of composition,
with the question, “Have I not ears?” A band of twenty-four violins who
merrily accompanied his meals, and enlivened his devotions in the Chapel
Royal, suggested the comic song, “Four and twenty fiddlers all of a
row,” which has lasted to the present day. Evelyn was greatly shocked
when in December 1662, at the conclusion of the sermon, “instead of the
ancient grave and solemn wind music accompanying the organ, was
introduced a concert of twenty-four violins, between every pause, after
the French fantastical light style; better suiting a tavern, or
playhouse, than a church.” It would seem, too, the King’s predilection
for French fiddlers formed part of his anti-national tendency, and was
carried so far that John Banister, who had been leader of the
twenty-four, was dismissed for saying, on his return from Paris, that
the English violins were better than the French. These anti-national
propensities of Charles II. brought into fashion that kind of music
which had constantly been appreciated by the masses--the music of the
old ballads and songs. The dislike of all compositions to which he could
not beat time led him to appreciate the common English airs, to which
the poets of the people had written their words, as well as the dance
music imported from France.[162]

To church music George III. was always very attached, showing skill in
it both as a critic and performer. “Many stories,” says Thackeray,[163]
“mirthful and affecting, are told of his behaviour at the concerts which
he ordered. When he was blind and ill he chose the music for the Ancient
Concerts once, and the music and words which he selected were from
‘Samson Agonistes,’ and all had reference to his blindness, his
captivity, and his affliction. He would beat time with his music-roll as
they sang the anthem in the Chapel Royal. If the page below was
talkative, or inattentive, down would come the music-roll on young
Scapegrace’s powdered head.” It would seem that his Majesty was not
content simply to be a listener, but he found additional pleasure in
taking an active part in musical performances. And one day in the year
when George loved to attend St. Paul’s was on “Charity Children’s Day,”
to listen to “500 children sing the hymn which makes every heart thrill
with praise and happiness.”

George IV. was fond of music, a taste which, we are told in the “Croker
Papers,” seems not always to have been agreeable to some of the ladies
who had the greatest influence over him. He would occasionally leave
them to _bouder_ in a corner, while he sang duets and glees with the
two pretty Misses Liddell--Lord Ravensworth’s sisters--old Michael
Kelly, Knyvett, and others. Thus, one evening at the Pavilion, in the
year 1822, the King “never left the pianoforte; he sang in ‘Glorious
Apollo,’ ‘Mighty Conqueror,’ ‘Lord Mornington’s Waterfall’ (encored),
‘Non Nobis, Domine,’ and several other glees and catches.” His voice, a
bass, according to Croker, was not good, and he did not sing so much
from the notes as from recollection. He was, therefore, “as a musician
far from good, but he gave, I think, the force, gaiety, and spirit of
the glees in a superior style to the professional men.”[164]

Music was a source of supreme delight to the Prince Consort, and in
musical compositions he acquired considerable technical skill. His
favourite instrument was the organ. On the 9th of October, 1840, Lady
Lyttelton writes from Windsor Castle: “Yesterday evening, as I was
sitting here comfortably after the drive, by candlelight, reading M.
Guizot, suddenly there arose from the room beneath, oh, such sounds!...
It was Prince Albert playing on the organ, modulating so learnedly,
wandering through every kind of bass and chord till he wound up in the
most perfect cadence, and then off again louder and louder. I ventured
at dinner to ask him what I had heard. “Oh, my organ! a new possession
of mine. I am so fond of the organ! It is the first of instruments, the
only instrument for expressing one’s feelings.”[165]

All forms of music competently rendered, it is said, had a fascination
for Queen Victoria, a taste which from childhood she encouraged, and to
which she devoted much attention. John Bernard Sale, organist of St.
Margaret’s, Westminster, and subsequently organist of the Chapel Royal,
gave her her first lessons in singing in 1826,[166] and “she developed a
sweet soprano voice, and soon both sang and played the piano with good
effect.” In 1836 Lablache became her singing-master, and he gave her
lessons for nearly twenty years. The harp was her instrument, and Grisi
was her ideal vocalist.

The Italian opera raised her highest enthusiasm, and, “staunch to the
heroes of her youth, she always appreciated the operas of Rossini,
Bellini, and Donizetti, but Handel and Mendelssohn won her early
admiration.” She never understood or approved Wagner or his school.

At one time elaborate concerts, oratorios, and musical recitations were
repeatedly given both at Windsor and Buckingham Palace. On the 10th of
February 1846, Charles Kemble read the words of the “Antigone,” when
Mendelssohn’s music was rendered, and this was followed by similar
performances--Mendelssohn being many times at Court.

Many accounts have come down to us of the talent of James I. of
Scotland for music, who is said to have “excelled all mankind in the
art, both vocal and instrumental.” He has been spoken of as the father
of Scottish music, and we are told that “he not only composed many
sacred pieces of vocal music, but also of himself invented a new kind of
music, plaintive and melancholy, different from all others, which, it is
said, long made his name famous.”

Turning to France, we find that many of its rulers were musically
inclined. Going back to an early period, it is said that Charlemagne
invited singers and musicians to come from Italy and improve the
performance of divine worship, and two song schools were established,
one at Gale, another at Metz. According to Charlemagne, “his Franks had
not much aptitude for music, their singing was like the howling of wild
beasts or the noise made by the squeaking, groaning wheels of a luggage
waggon on a stony road.”

An interesting story is told of Josquin, an eminent composer, who was
appointed master of the chapel of Louis XII., by whom he was promised a
benefice. But the King forgot the matter, and from the shortness of his
Majesty’s memory Josquin suffered great inconvenience. By a clever
expedient he contrived publicly to remind Louis of his promise without
giving offence. Being commanded to compose a motet for the Chapel Royal,
he chose part of the 119th Psalm, beginning with the words, “Oh, think
of thy servant as concerning thy word,” “which he set in so supplicating
and exquisite a manner that it was universally admired, particularly by
the King, who was not only charmed with the music, but felt the force of
the words so effectually that he soon after granted his petition by
conferring on him the promised appointment.”

Marie Antoinette had a natural taste and extreme fondness for music. She
much valued Grétry’s music--a great deal of the poetry set to his music
being by Marmontel. The day after the first performance of “Zemira and
Azor,” Marmontel and Grétry were presented to the Queen as she was
passing through the Gallery of Fontainbleau to go to mass. The Queen
congratulated Grétry on the success of the new opera, and told him that
she had dreamed of the enchanting effect of the trio by Zemira’s father
and sisters behind the magic mirror. In a transport of joy, Grétry took
Marmontel in his arms. “Ah, my friend,” cried he, “excellent music may
be made of this.” “And execrable words,” coolly added Marmontel, to whom
her Majesty had not addressed a single compliment.[167]

Marie Antoinette was the great patroness of the celebrated Viotti, and,
when he began to perform his concerts at her private musical parties,
she would go round the music saloon and say, “Ladies and gentlemen, I
request you will be silent, and very attentive, and not enter into
conversation while Mr. Viotti is playing, for it interrupts him in the
execution of his fine performance.”

She paid for the musical education of the French singer Garat, and
pensioned him for her private concerts. It was at her request, too, that
the great Gluck was brought from Germany to Paris. It may be remembered
that he composed his “Armida” in compliment to the personal charms of
Marie Antoinette. On one occasion he told her that the air of France had
invigorated his musical genius, and that, after having had the honour of
seeing her Majesty, his ideas were so much inspired that his
compositions resembled her, and became alike angelic and divine.

Had her musical taste been cultivated, it is said that Marie Antoinette
would have made considerable progress. She sang little French airs with
much feeling and taste. She improved much under the tuition of the
famous Sacchini, and after his death Sapio was named as his successor,
but, between the death of one master and the appointment of another,
“the revolutionary horrors so increased, that her mind was no longer in
a state to listen to anything but the howlings of the tempest.”

Charles V. of Spain had a fine musical ear, and thoroughly understood
the principles of the science. When on the throne, the music of his
chapel was unsurpassed by that of any church in Christendom. On his
settling at the Jeronymite monastery of Yuste, after his abdication, the
greatest pains had been taken to select for him the best voices from the
different convents of the order, and no person was admitted into the
choir except those who regularly belonged to it. On one occasion, a
professional singer from Plasencia having joined in the chant, the
unaccustomed tones soon attracted the Emperor’s attention, and the
intruder was compelled to retire. Charles had a quick ear, and sometimes
even a false note jarred on it, which prompted him to break into a
passion, and to salute the offender with one of those scurrilous
epithets which he had picked up in the wars, and which were far better
suited to a military life than to a monastic.[168] One thing is certain,
he never spared the unlucky offender.

Among touching instances of royal personages finding relief in music may
be mentioned the King of Hanover, who had the misfortune of being nearly
deprived of his eyesight some time before he came to the throne. As
Crown Prince he published a pamphlet, entitled “Ideas and Reflections on
the Properties of Music,” in which he thus gives his experiences: “From
early youth I have striven to make music my own. It has become to me a
companion and comforter through life; it has become more and more
valuable to me the more I learnt to comprehend and appreciate its
boundless exuberance of ideas, and its inexhaustible fulness.

“By means of music, ideas, feelings, historical events, natural
phenomena, pictures, and scenes of life of all sorts are as clearly and
intelligibly expressed as by any language in words; and we are ourselves
enabled to express ourselves in such a manner, and to make ourselves
understood by others. It is, above all, in the gloomy hours of
affliction that music is a soothing comforter, and whoever has
experienced this effect himself will admit that for this fairest service
rendered by the art he cannot sufficiently thank and revere it.”

Frederick William I. was fond of music, and, during the winter evenings,
he caused the airs and choruses of certain favourite operas to be played
to him on wind instruments by the band of the Potsdam Guard regiment.
During these concerts the musicians, with their desks and lights, stood
at one end of the long hall, while the King, sitting quite alone at the
other, would sometimes, especially after a good dinner, fall asleep.

As a composer and performer, Frederick the Great acquired considerable
celebrity, and in his early years his father used contemptuously to call
him the “piper,” or the “poetaster”; for, the Queen having caused him to
be secretly instructed in playing the flute, the Prince attempted to
arrange concerts in the woods when the King was hunting, and, whilst his
father rode after the wild boar, the flutes and violins were produced
out of the game-bags. One day, the King going into his apartment, the
music-master had to be hidden in the chimney. His compositions are very
numerous, as he wrote for his own use only as many as one hundred solos
for the flute, on which he was a skilful player. When time permitted, he
devoted four hours daily to the study or practice of music, a recreation
which he enjoyed until within a few years of his death, when he was
debarred it through the loss of several of his front teeth. He
generally contrived, after taking his coffee in the morning, to play his
flute, and these were the moments, as he once confessed to D’Alembert,
when his best thoughts occurred to him. Lord Malmesbury wrote from
Berlin in the year 1775: “Never was the King in a worse humour: a few
days ago the King broke his flute on the head of his chamber hussar, and
is very liberal to his servants with cuffs and kicks.” At a concert
given during the visit of the Electress-Dowager Maria Antonia of Saxony
in 1770, in which this princess, a very distinguished amateur performer,
played the piano and sang, the King, supported by his old master,
Quantz, played the first lute, the hereditary Prince of Brunswick the
first violin, and the Prince of Prussia--afterwards King Frederick
William II.--the violoncello.

Many anecdotes have been recorded of his musical pursuits, his behaviour
on the occasion of the performance of Graun’s _Te Deum_, after the
termination of the Seven Years’ War, in 1763, being specially
noteworthy. The orchestra and singers, who had assembled in the royal
palace at Charlottenburg at the time commanded, found to their surprise
that there was no audience assembling. But after having waited some
time, wondering whether the performance of the _Te Deum_ was to take
place, or whether there had been some mistake in the hour, they observed
a side door being opened at the end of the hall opposite them, through
which the King entered alone, and, sitting down in a corner, bade them
commence. At some of the full choruses he held his hands before his
eyes to conceal his tears, and, at the close of the performance, having
thanked them by a slight inclination of his head, he retired through the
side door by which he had entered. It is said that the Emperor was so
prepossessed by the compositions of Graun, that hardly any other
composer had a chance of finding favour with him.

The Emperor’s sister, the Princess Amelia, was a good musician and a
sharp critic, as may be gathered from the following letter which she
wrote to the Kapellmeister Schulz, in Rheinsberg, after he had sent her
the manuscript of his choruses to “Athalia,” with the humble request for
permission to dedicate them to her, or, as he expressed himself, “to
preface the work with the adorable name of so illustrious a

“I surmise, Mr. Schulz, that by an oversight you have sent me, instead
of your own work, the musical bungling of a child, since I cannot
discover in it the least musical art; on the contrary, it is throughout
faulty from beginning to end in the expression, sentiment, and meaning
of the language, as well as in the rhythm. The _motus contrarius_ has
been entirely neglected: there is no proper harmony, no impressive
melody; the key is never clearly indicated, so that one has to guess in
what key the music is meant to move. There are no canonic imitations,
not the least trace of counterpoint, but plenty of consecutive fifths
and octaves! And this is to be called music! May Heaven open the eyes
of those who possess such a high conceit of themselves, and enlighten
their understanding to make them comprehend that they are but bunglers
and fumblers. I have heard it said that the work ought to praise the
master; nowadays everything is reversed and confused, the masters are
the only ones who praise themselves, even if their works are offensive.”

Schulz, mentioning the contents of this letter to a friend, added, “All
this may be true, but why tell it me so rudely?”

A distinguished pianist was Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, who lost
his life in the battle of Saalfeld, in the year 1806. He was, too, a
fine composer--“perhaps the best of all the royal musicians whose works
have been published, or are otherwise known, and a true patron of the
art, which he showed by his cultivation of classical music, as well as
by his kindness to Beethoven, Dussek, Spohr, and other eminent
composers.” It was this prince of whom it is said that Beethoven, on
hearing him play, exclaimed with surprise, “Your Royal Highness does not
play like a prince--you play like a musician.”

As a pupil of Beethoven, Rudolph, Archduke of Austria, was not only a
true patron of music, but he took an active interest in all musical
matters, as is shown by the subjoined letter:--

     “DEAR BEETHOVEN,--I shall return to Vienna as early as Monday,
     August 5, and I shall then remain in town for several days.... My
     brother-in-law, Prince Anton, has written to me already that the
     King of Saxony expects your beautiful mass.

     “Respecting D--r, I have spoken with our gracious monarch, and
     likewise with Count Dietrichstein. I do not know whether this
     recommendation will be of use, as there is to be a competition for
     the appointment in question, in which any one, wishing to obtain
     it, has to prove his fitness. It would be a gratification to me if
     I could be useful to that clever man, whom I heard with pleasure
     playing the organ last Monday in Baden, especially as I am
     convinced that you would not recommend an unworthy person.

     “I hope you have written down your canon, and I pray you, in case
     it might be injurious to your health to come to town, not to exert
     yourself too soon out of attachment to me.--Your well-wishing


     “VIENNA, _July 31, 1823_.”

Within two months of ascending the throne, Ludwig II. of Bavaria made
the personal acquaintance of Wagner, whose enthusiastic devotee he had
been since, at fifteen, he had been present in Paris at the first
representation of “Lohengrin.” The royal friendship gave rise to much
comment, but it was not surprising, for “in Wagner’s work Ludwig found
abundance of that mysticism which from first to last had so powerful a
hold upon his imagination.” It was “the poetical reproduction of
mediæval legend in the midst of a perfect scenic setting” that
captivated the monarch, and attracted him to Wagner. But it caused a
great outcry at Munich, where the composer was openly accused of “making
a good thing out of his patron, of exercising undue influence over him,
and of meddling with politics.” And yet, although it is true Wagner had
a court appointment, apartments in the palace, and a seat at the King’s
table--sufficient of themselves to arouse envy and jealousy--his
allowance was £320 a year, hardly enough for riches. Wagner’s influence,
however, continued unabated until the King’s mind became too clouded for
even the old powerful charm to work.[169] And so closed one of the many
fads of a monarch whose life was throughout a strange mixture of
eccentricity, mysticism, and romance.



The spirit of the age in which they lived must, in most cases, account
for the superstitious turn of mind of many sovereigns in the past. The
fact that we are now acquainted with the laws which determine the
movements of comets, so that we are able to predict their appearance,
has caused us to cease to pray that we may be preserved from their
malevolent influence; and no longer now, as happened in the tenth
century, would an European army flee in terror before one of them.[170]
But from their movements not being understood, and hence regarded of
supernatural character, they were a source of fear. They were dreaded as
the precursors of calamity, because it was shown that comets had
preceded the death of such rulers as Cæsar, or Constantine the Great, or
Charles V. It was demonstrated that comets had been seen before the
invasion of Greece by Xerxes, before the Peloponnesian War, before the
Civil Wars of Cæsar and Pompey, before the fall of Jerusalem, before the
invasion of Attila, and before the greatest number of famines and
pestilences that have afflicted mankind. Hence it is not surprising
that Louis the Debonnaire was frightened by the comet which appeared
during Holy Week of 837. The first morning after it had been seen he
sent for his astrologer. “Go,” said he, “on to the terrace of the
palace, and come back again immediately and tell me what you have
noticed, for I have not observed that star before, and you have not
shown it to me; but I know that this sign is a comet: it announces a
change of reign and the death of a prince.” Nor was this all, for the
son of Charlemagne was convinced that the comet was sent for him, and
accordingly “he passed his nights in prayer, gave large donations to the
monasteries, and finally had a number of masses performed out of fear
for himself and forethought for the Church committed to his care.”[171]
But, whilst this comet was a source of fear in France, the Chinese were
observing it astronomically. It was no other than Halley’s comet, which
appeared again in 1066, and was regarded as a presage of the conquest
under William of Normandy, a representation of which occurs in Matilda’s
Bayeux tapestry. And it has been traditionally said that one of the
jewels of the British crown was taken from the tail of this comet. But
William neither believed in omens, nor encouraged fortune-telling, and,
when he heard how a certain soothsayer--who had thought proper to join
himself to the armament--had lost his life, he shrewdly remarked,
“Little could he have known of the fate of others who could not foresee
his own.”

The same comet made its appearance again in 1456, when Europe was filled
with dread of the Turks, who had lately become masters of
Constantinople, and a line was then added to the litanies of the Church
praying for deliverance from “the Devil, the Turk, and the Comet.” At
this time Pope Calixtus III. was engaged in a war with the Saracens, and
he declared that the comet “had the form of a cross,” and indicated some
great event; whereas Mahomet maintained that the comet, “having the form
of a yataghan,” was a blessing of the Prophet’s.

A comet which attained its greatest altitude at the hour of Edward I.’s
birth was much discussed, and Eleanor eagerly inquired of the
astrologers what it portended to her babe. They replied that the bright
flames which preceded it promised brilliant fortunes to her new-born
son; but the long train of smoke great calamity to his son and
successor. And once, it is said, when Queen Elizabeth’s attendants tried
to dissuade her from looking at a comet, which was supposed to predict
evil to her, she ordered the window of her apartment to be set open, and
pointing to the comet, she exclaimed, “_Jacta est alea_ (the die is
cast); my steadfast hope and confidence are too firmly planted in the
providence of God to be blasted or affrighted by these beams.” And yet
it was Elizabeth who preferred Dr. Dee to the chancellorship of St.
Paul’s Cathedral.

Another comet which caused some consternation at Court was seen in 1680,
and was said to be the same as that which had preceded Cæsar’s death.
Hence it is said that when the brother of Louis XIV. saw the courtiers
discussing the matter in an unconcerned manner, he sharply rebuked them:
“Ah, gentlemen, you may talk at your ease, if you please; you are not
princes.” It was this comet which gave rise to a curious story, how at
Rome a hen had laid an egg on which was depicted the comet--a fact which
was attested by his Holiness, by the Queen of Sweden, and by some of the
leading persons in Rome.

But if comets were a source of superstition, other phenomena of the
heavens were also supposed to influence the destinies of royalty; and
hence Queen Catherine de Medicis, though a woman of strong mind, was
deluded with the more ignorant by the vanity of astrological judgments.
The professors of the science were so much consulted in her Court that
the most trivial act was not done without an appeal to the stars. One of
the most noted astrologers under her patronage was Nostradamus, a
physician of Provence, who to medicine joined astrology, which soon
augmented his income. He was summoned to Paris by Catherine in 1556, and
one of his predictions--which turned out hopelessly wrong--was contained
in a small book issued in the year 1572, under this title,
“Prognostication touching the Marriage of the very honourable and
beloved Henry, by the grace of God King of Navarre, and the very
illustrious Princess Marguerite of France, calculated by Master Bernard
Abbatio, Doctor in Medicine, and Astrologer to the very Christian King
of France.” In this astrological calculation he professed to show that
the couple would “love one another intensely all their lives,” whereas
they always hated each other; and he further declared that they would
“approach a hundred years,” but Henry IV. died before he was sixty. Many
children were to be the outcome of the marriage, whereas there were
none, for the marriage was broken off, and Henry married to Marie de

But speaking of Catherine de Medicis, there is probably no sovereign in
history “of whose persevering addiction to the occult arts so many
singular traditions are preserved.” Anecdotes might be told of the
amulets and talismans which she wore; of the observatories and
laboratories which she fitted up in the Louvre; of the enchanted mirror
in which she beheld the fortunes of her descendants; “and, above all,
that singular and sudden change in her disposition which history
attributes to the cruel insults of her dissolute husband, but which
popular superstition ascribed to the malign influence of her
supernatural allies.”[172]

Louis XI., than whom no man had less of religion or more of
superstition, had an amusing adventure with an astrologer. Having heard
that one of these prophets had predicted the death of a woman of whom he
was very fond, he sent for him and asked him the question, “You, who
know everything, when will you die?” The astrologer, somewhat taken
aback, and fearing the monarch’s malicious nature, replied, “Sire, three
days before your Majesty.” “Fear and superstition,” it is said,
“overcame the monarch’s resentment, and he took special care of the
adroit impostor.” But this was only one instance of his contradictory
character, for, although there was no God in his heaven, strange to say,
he “believed in an invisible world of saints, having exclusive power
over the events of this life,” and he was ever seeking to propitiate
them in the most childish manner. Louis XI. further attributed great
superstitious worth to the ceremony of his coronation, and “adored the
holy oil brought down from heaven for the anointment of Clovis, showed
the greatest satisfaction at being anointed with it, and enjoyed the
sanctity more than the splendour of the ceremony.”

Marie de Medicis and Louis XIII. were both remarkable for the same sort
of credulity, and it has been commonly said that the supposed skill of
the Maréchale d’Ancre in the occult sciences was in a great measure the
source of her influence over the princess.

Anne of Austria, eager to satisfy herself in advance of the fate of the
infant to which she was about to give birth, determined, with the
superstition common to that age, to cause its horoscope to be drawn by
an able astrologer at the moment it was born. Having expressed her wish
to Louis XIII., he confided the care of discovering the required
astrologer to Cardinal Richelieu, who, having some previous knowledge
of a certain seer named Campanella, he immediately despatched a
messenger to command his presence. He was traced to the dungeons of
Milan, where he was awaiting his trial as a sorcerer, having been seized
by the Italian Inquisition, and whence he was allowed to obtain his
release. On the birth of the Dauphin, Campanella was requested to
proceed with his task without delay, and to speak the truth fearlessly.
Accordingly, he announced that his combinations had informed him that
“the infant would be as luxurious as Henry IV., and of conspicuous
haughtiness; that his reign would be long and laborious, although not
without a certain happiness; but that his end would be miserable, and
entail both religious and political confusion upon the kingdom”--which
proved a very fair forecast.[173]

The conquest of Spain by the Moors carried the science of astrology into
that country, and, before their expulsion, it was more or less
naturalised among the Christian savans. No individual contributed more
to the advancement of the study of the stars than Alfonso of Castile,
whom his friends called “the Wise,” whereas by his foes he was known as
“Alfonso the Astrologer.” It appears that he summoned a council of the
wisest mathematicians and doctors of the astral science who were
convened in the towers of the fabled Alcazar of Galiana, when five years
were spent in discussion. Alfonso usually presided in the assembly, and
after the tables which pass under his name were completed, many noble
privileges were granted to the sages and their issue, and they returned
richly rewarded each to his home. But unfortunately Alfonso endangered
his orthodoxy by his opinions; for astrology--when employed as a means
of forecasting events--was anathematised by the Church as “a vain,
lying, and presumptuous art.” But, despite such denunciations, Alfonso
was anxious to protect the dignity of his favourite pursuit by giving it
such a legal sanction as would distinguish it from deceit and fraud, and
he affirmed that the judgments and predictions which are given by this
art are discerned in the natural course of the planets, and “are taken
from the books of Ptolemy, and the other wise masters, who have laboured
therein.” And then he adds, “The other manner of divining is by
soothsayers, sorcerers, and wizards; some take their tokens from birds
or from the fate-word; others cast lots; others see visions in water, or
in crystal, or in a mirror, or the bright sword-blade; others frame
amulets; others prognosticate by the hand of a child, or of a maiden.
These ribalds, and such as are like them, are wicked men and lewd
impostors, and manifold evils arise from their deeds; therefore we will
not allow any of them to dwell in our dominions.”

Eric XIV. of Sweden chafed under annoyance of any kind; and, as he had
been told that all his difficulties would be owing to the treachery of a
man with fair hair, he lost no time in casting his brother John into
prison, who happened to be fair-haired, on which account Eric bitterly
hated him. Indeed, the King would probably have assassinated his brother
in prison, but for the intervention of Charles de Mornay, a French
gentleman, whose good counsel prevailed over the fiendish advice of
Goran Persson.

Matthias Corvin, King of Hungary, rarely undertook anything without
first consulting the astrologers, and the Duke of Milan and Pope Paul
were also very largely governed by their advice. Lord Malmesbury in his
“Memoirs” speaks of Frederick II.’s superstition and belief in
astrology, and on this point we may quote a communication which the King
made to his friend Baron von de Horst: “Being convinced that truth is
often arrived at by most irrational ways, and that the most specious
syllogisms very often lead to the falsest notions, I made inquiries in
all sorts of quarters. I caused all those to be consulted who pretended
to know anything about astrology, and even all the village prophets. The
result was that I never found anything but old women’s tales and
absurdity.” But so firmly did the Turkish divan believe in astrology,
that they attributed Frederick’s tide of success to the help of that
science. Accordingly, the Sultan Mustapha sent Resmi to Berlin with
instructions to induce the King to cede three of his most skilful
astrologers to the Sultan. But at an audience Frederick led the Turk to
a window and pointed out his troops to the ambassador, remarking that
“his three advisers in war and peace were experience, discipline, and
economy; these and these only,” he concluded, “are my chief three

Even nowadays the royal astrologer is one of the most important officers
at the Court of the Shah, and no Persian minister would venture to
conclude a political transaction, or even to arrange a State ceremonial,
without obtaining the sanction of the stars.

Among the illustrious believers in astrology who flourished in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries must be added the name of Albert von
Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland, who was an enthusiast in the cause.
Kepler was employed by him in making astrological calculations, and was
rewarded by his influence with the Court of Vienna, which procured the
settlement of a large demand. Then there was the astrologer John
Gadbury, who in the nativity cast for the illustrious Prince of Denmark,
informs us that “it is an aphorism nearly as old as astrology itself,
that if the lord of the ascendant of a revolution be essentially well
placed, it declares the native to be pleasant, healthful, and of a sound
constitution of body, and rich in quiet of mind all that year, and that
he shall be free from cares, perturbations, and troubles.”

Indeed, the drawers of horoscopes in bygone years had a busy and
lucrative time; and one Thurneysser, a famous astrologer, who lived at
the electoral Court of Berlin, was at the same time “physician, chemist,
drawer of horoscopes, almanack-maker, printer, and librarian.” His
reputation was so widespread that scarcely a birth took place in
families of any rank in Germany, Poland, Hungary, or England, without
his being announced of the precise moment of birth. And it may be
remembered how astrologers were consulted on behalf of Elizabeth of
York, wife of Henry VII., who had predicted that great good fortune
would befall her in 1503; a circumstance to which Sir Thomas More, in an
elegy he wrote for the Queen, alludes, at the same time noticing the
folly and vanity of such divinations:--

    “Yet was I lately promised otherwise
     This year to live in weal and in delight;
     Lo! to what cometh all thy blandishing promise,
     O false astrology and divinitrice,
     Of God’s secrets vaunting thyself so wise!
     How true for this year is thy prophecy?
     The year yet lasteth, and lo! here I lie”--

the Queen dying on her birthday, February 11, 1502-3, the very day when
she completed her thirty-seventh year.

Another delusion which excited an extensive and long-continued interest
was alchemy, and in the splendid Courts of Almansor and
Haroun-al-Raschid the professors of the mystic art found “patronage,
disciples, and emolument.” Frederick II., in a letter to his friend
Baron von de Horst, thus writes concerning the rage of making gold which
has deceived so many: “Fredersdorf firmly believed in it, and was soon
connected with all the adepts in Potsdam. Speedily the report spread
through the whole garrison, so that there was not an ensign who did not
hope to pay his debts by means of the philosopher’s stone. Swindling
adepts crowded from all quarters, and under all sorts of characters, to
Potsdam. From Saxony came a certain Madame von Pfuel with two very
handsome daughters, who did the thing in quite a professional style, so
that they were considered great prophetesses. I wished to put it down by
authority, but I did not succeed. An offer was made to give in my
presence every imaginable proof, so that I might convince myself with my
own eyes. Considering this the best means to expose the folly, I made
this lady alchemist perform her operations under my strict surveillance.
To throw gold in the crucibles, or the like clumsy tricks, would not
have done; yet Madame von Pfuel gave the affair such a specious
appearance that I could not prove any of the experiments to have
failed.” Indeed, the most eminent of the alchemic philosophers were not
only the companions of princes, but many of them were even kings
themselves, who “chose this royal road to wealth and magnificence.”

But in England the dreams of the alchemists never met with much favour,
although there seems reason to believe that Raymond Lully--one of the
most illustrious of the alchemists--visited this country about the year
1312, on the invitation of Edward II., and was employed here in refining
gold and coining rose nobles. In 1455 Henry VI., by the advice of his
council and parliament, issued four patents in succession to “certain
knights, London citizens, chemists, monks, mass-priests, and others,
with leave and licence to attempt the discovery of the philosopher’s
stone, to the great benefit of the realm, and the enabling of the King
to pay all the debts of the crown in real gold and silver.” Prynne
afterwards satirically remarked upon the issue of this patent to
ecclesiastics as well as laymen, that the King included them because
they were “such good artists in transubstantiating bread and wine in the
Eucharist, and therefore the more likely to be able to effect the
transmutation of baser metals into better.”

Elizabeth amused herself with the chimeras of alchemy. Cecil, in his
diary, has noted that in January 1567, “Cornelius Lannoy, a Dutchman,
was committed to the Tower for abusing the Queen’s Majesty in promising
to make the elixir.” This impostor had been permitted to have his
laboratory at Somerset House, where he had deceived many by promising to
convert any metal into gold. To the Queen a more flattering delusion had
been held forth, even the draught of perpetual life and youth, and her
strong intellect had been duped into the persuasion that it was in the
power of a foreign empiric to confer the boon of immortality upon her.
That Elizabeth was a believer in the occult sciences, and an encourager
of those who practised the arts of divination and transmutation, is
evident from the diary of her conjurer, Dr. Dee. On one occasion she
condescended with her whole Court and Privy Council to visit him at
Mortlake; but, as his wife had only been buried four hours, she
contented herself with a peep into his magic mirror. Dr. Dee flattered
Elizabeth with promises of perennial youth and beauty from his
anticipated discovery of the elixir of life, and the prospect of
unbounded wealth as soon as he had matured his secret of transmuting the
baser metals into gold. But the encouragement given by Elizabeth to
conjurers and star-gazers was inconsistent with her disbelief in the
prevailing superstitions of the age.

Turning to sorcery and magic, Charlemagne, it is said, had a talisman,
to which frequent allusion is made in traditional history, and which the
late Emperor Napoleon III., when Prince Louis Napoleon, was stated to
have in his possession. This curiosity, which was described in the
Parisian journals as “_la plus belle relique de l’Europe_,” has long
excited much interest in the archæological circles on the Continent. It
is of fine gold, of a round form, set with gems, and in the centre are
two sapphires, and a portion of the Holy Cross. This talisman was found
on the neck of Charlemagne when his tomb was opened, and was presented
to Bonaparte, and by him to Hortense, the former Queen of Holland, at
whose death it descended to her son Prince Louis, late Emperor of the

Similarly, Henry VIII. had so great a superstitious veneration for the
traditional virtues of a jewel which had for ages decked the shrine of
Thomas à Becket at Canterbury, that he had it set in a ring, which he
constantly wore on his thumb. The jewel was known as the “royal of
France,” having been presented to the shrine of the murdered archbishop
by Louis VII. in the year 1179. Indeed, amulets in one form or another
have from early times been used by royalty; and we read in the old
French chronicles how Gondebaud, King of Burgundy, in the fifth century
sought as a talisman the aid of St. Sergius’s thumb--which, fastened to
the right arm of a certain Eastern king, had always made him
victorious--and how, when his request was not granted, he took by force
a piece of the saint’s finger. And, likewise, on the death of Tippoo
Saib, in the assault on his capital by the English troops, an English
officer who was present at the discovery of his body among the slain, by
permission of General Baird, took from the Sultan’s right arm the
talisman which contained--sewed upon pieces of fine flowered silk--an
amulet of a brittle, metallic substance of the colour of silver, and
some magic words in Arabic and Persian characters. And, as a further
instance of the superstitious tendency of Queen Elizabeth, Lady
Southwell relates, “that the Queen, not being in very good health one
day, Sir John Stanhope, Vice-Chamberlain, came and presented her Majesty
with a piece of gold of the bigness of an angel, full of characters,
which he said an old woman in Wales had bequeathed to her--the Queen--on
her deathbed; and thereupon he discoursed how the said testatrix, by
virtue of that piece of gold, had lived to the age of 120 years, and at
that age, having all her body withered and consumed, she died,
commanding the said piece of gold to be sent to her Majesty, alleging,
further, that so long as she wore it on her body she could not die. The
Queen, in confidence, took the gold and hung it round her neck.”

And it may be remembered how, after the battle of Culloden, the baggage
of Prince Charles Edward fell into the hands of the Duke of Cumberland’s
army, when many private and curious articles came into the possession of
General Bedford--amongst others a stone set in silver attached to a ring
which, it has been suggested, “the superstitious prince may have
obtained on the Continent as a charm, and carried as a protection in the
hazardous enterprise in which he was engaged.” It was a ruby bloodstone,
having on one face the figure of Mars, and on the other face was a
female naked figure, probably Isis.[174]

And speaking of ring superstitions in connection with royalty, there
were the famous “cramp rings” which, when blessed by the sovereign, were
regarded as preservatives against the cramp or against epilepsy--the
earliest mention of which usage occurs in the reign of Edward II., the
ceremonial having been discontinued by Edward VI. These rings were of
various kinds--sometimes they were made of silver and of gold; and a MS.
copy of the Orders of the King of England’s Household--13th Henry VIII.,
1521-1522--preserved in the National Library at Paris, contains “the
Order of the Kinges of England, touching his coming to service,
hallowing of cramp rings, and offering and creeping to the Cross.”[175]
On April 4, 1529, Anne Boleyn sent to Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of
Winchester, who had been despatched to Rome to plead for the divorce of
Catherine of Aragon, a present of cramp rings; and the late Cardinal
Wiseman had in his possession a manuscript containing both the ceremony
for the blessing of the cramp rings, and that for the touching for the
king’s evil. At the commencement of the MS. are emblazoned the arms of
Philip and Mary, and there is an illumination representing the Queen
kneeling, with a dish containing the rings to be blessed on each side of
her. It appears that Queen Mary intended to revive the practice, and
from this manuscript she probably did so.

Closely allied with the “royal cramp rings” was the practice of
“touching for the evil,” which is said to have commenced with Edward the
Confessor, and was more or less continued to the reign of Queen Anne,
for in Lent 1712 we find Dr. Johnson among the persons actually touched.
The custom seems to have been at its height in the reign of Charles II.,
as in the four first years of his restoration he “touched” nearly 24,000
persons. Pepys, in his “Diary,” under June 23, 1666, records how he
waited at Whitehall, “to see the King touch people for the king’s evil.”
He did not come, but kept the poor persons waiting all the morning in
the rain in the garden; but afterwards he touched them in the
banqueting-house. And Evelyn records the fact that in the reign of
Charles II. several persons were pressed to death in the crowd that
surrounded the doors of the Court surgeon, where individuals applied for
tickets in order to present their children for cure to the King. William
III., says Macaulay, “had too much sense to be duped, and too much
honesty to bear a part in what he knew to be an imposture.” “It is a
silly superstition,” he exclaimed, when he heard that at the close of
Lent his palace was besieged by a crowd of the sick; “give the poor
creatures some money and send them away.” On one occasion he was
importuned into laying his hand on a patient. “God give you better
health,” he said, “and more sense.” But Queen Anne revived the
superstition, and performed the healing-office during her progresses
whenever she rested at any provincial city.

At a late period the use of certain coins, known as “royal
touch-pieces,” was in common vogue, which, being touched by the King,
were supposed to ward off evil or scrofula, several of which are
preserved in the British Museum; and Mrs. Bray speaks of a “Queen Anne’s
farthing” being a charm for curing the king’s evil in Devonshire.

The belief prevailed in France so lately as the coronation of Louis
XVI., who is reported to have touched 2000 persons afflicted with
scrofula. Indeed, this gift of healing was dispensed by the early French
kings, and Laurentius, first physician to Henry IV. of France, asserts
the power to have commenced with Clovis I. Bishop Elphinston, the
founder of King’s College, Aberdeen, before his elevation to the
episcopal dignity, while on an embassy from James III., King of Scots,
to Louis XI., in a complimentary speech to the French monarch,
congratulated him as the only prince to whom God had granted the
peculiar gift of healing by the touch.

Evil omens with regard to rings have been occasionally the source of
alarm to royalty. Thus Atkinson, in his “Memoirs of the Queen of
Prussia,” writes: “The betrothal of the young couple--Frederick and
Sophia Charlotte, King and Queen of Prussia--speedily followed. I
believe it was during the festivities attendant upon this occasion that
a ring worn by Frederick, in memory of his deceased wife, with the
device of clasped hands, and the motto ‘_à jamais_,’ suddenly broke,
which was looked upon as an omen that this union was to be of short
duration.” And Queen Elizabeth’s coronation ring, which she had worn
constantly since her inauguration, having grown into her finger,
necessitated the ring being filed off, an incident which was regarded as
an unfavourable omen by many. Few, too, were more credulous in such
matters than Elizabeth herself, who appears to have been a firm believer
in the popular superstition of “good luck.”

It has oftentimes been a matter of surprise that a person of so strong a
mind as Charles V. of Spain should have yielded to the popular
superstition of his day as to put faith in amulets and talismans. But
that he did so is evident, writes Prescott,[176] “from the care with
which he preserved certain amulets, and from his sending one of them--a
bezoar stone--to his Chamberlain, Van Male, when supposed to be ill of
the plague.” In his jewelled coffers were stones set in gold, sure
styptics for stopping blood; nine English rings, a specific against
cramp; a blue stone richly chased, for expelling the gout; four bezoar
stones in gold settings, of singular efficacy in curing the plague; and
other charms of the same kind. He also collected certain relics, among
which was a bit of the true Cross, which was afterwards passed as a
precious legacy to Philip, as also did the contents of a casket, and a
crucifix which his mother, the Empress Isabella, had in her hands at the
hour of death, and which was afterwards to solace the last moments of
her husband and her son.

In days gone by the unicorn’s horn was considered an amulet of singular
virtue, although it is now known that the object shown as such in
various museums is the horn of the rhinoceros. Such an amulet was sold
at six thousand ducats, and was thought to be an infallible test of
poison, like Venetian glass and certain sorts of jewels. The Dukes of
Burgundy kept pieces of them in their wine jugs, and used others to
touch the meat they tasted. And Holinshed tells us how King John,
observing a moisture on some precious stones he wore, thought that to
be an indication “of some pears he was about to eat containing poison.”

Again, in the dark ages, when magic was publicly professed in the
universities, we read of a sovereign who entered boldly into the cheat.
Eric XIV. of Sweden, surnamed “Windy Cap,” had his enchanted cap, and
pretended by the additional assistance of some magical jargon to be able
to command spirits to trouble the air, and to turn the winds themselves;
so that, when a great storm arose, his ignorant subjects believed that
the King had got his conjuring cap on; and from this fact, it is said,
originated the custom of mountebanks and conjurers playing their tricks
in a conjuring cap. But it would seem that this strange and eccentric
monarch, who looked upon every man with suspicion, and “interpreted the
most natural and insignificant of gestures as some dreadful telegraphing
of hideous treason,” rarely appeared in public, and never without a
superstitious dread of impending calamity.

The Emperor Basil, who was originally a Macedonian groom, and whose
fortune had been assured by the prophecy of crafty and acute monks,
anticipated one of the foolish superstitions of later times by applying
to the spirit of a deceased son to know how it went with him after

Indeed, under a variety of forms, the history of most countries affords
many a curious instance of monarchs seeking, or deriving, information by
supernatural agency. Thus Louis, eldest son of King Philip III. of
France by his first wife, Isabel of Aragon, having died somewhat
suddenly, his death was attributed to poison. Peter de la Brosse, whom
the King had made a confidant, advancing him to high dignities, did not
shrink from insinuating that the Queen--Maria of Brabant--was guilty of
this act, and that she was capable of inflicting the same fate upon all
the King’s children by Isabel. Accordingly, the King resolved to consult
a soothsayer, and of the two or three persons who were mentioned to him
as possessing the gift of what nowadays is popularly designated
clairvoyance, a kind of beguine, or begging nun, from Flanders was
selected as having most reputation. Philip sent the Abbot of St. Denis
to question her, but her answers he considered too serious to repeat,
excusing himself that what he had heard was under the secret of the
confessional. The King, in a fit of anger, sent further messengers, who
informed the beguine that they came from the King of France, and they
received from her the best possible character of the Queen. The King was
satisfied, and lost much of his trust and friendship for Peter de la
Brosse. Some time was allowed to elapse, when the grandees, who were
bent on his ruin, discovered, or pretended to discover, a treasonable
correspondence of his which caused him to be hanged.[177]

The astonishing success of Baptiste Bernadotte, Prince of Ponte Corvo,
who was selected as heir-presumptive to the crown of Sweden, which he
wore--not without dignity--as Charles XIV., is said to have been
foretold to him by the same celebrated fortune-teller who predicted that
of Bonaparte, and who so fully possessed the superstitious confidence
of the Empress Josephine. In a biography of his life, published at Pau,
we are told that Bernadotte believed in his special and independent
destiny, and in a kind of tutelar divinity, who vouchsafed to him a
special protection. An ancient traditionary chronicle is reported to
have contained the prediction of a certain fairy, who had married one of
his ancestors, that an illustrious king should spring from her race.
Bernadotte never forgot this legend, which had charmed his early days,
and possibly it was not without its influence on his future destiny. And
how greatly the supernatural guided him is illustrated by the following
event. Wishing to overcome the difficulties he encountered in Norway by
means of the sword, he proposed to despatch his son Oscar at the head of
an army, for the purpose of reducing the rebels, a proceeding which was
strongly opposed by the Council of State. One day, after an animated
discussion on the subject, he mounted his horse and galloped some
distance from the capital, when suddenly he beheld an old woman,
strangely clad. “What do you want?” asked the King. To which the
apparition replied, “If Oscar goes to the war you meditate, he will not
give but receive the first blow.” The next day, bearing in his
countenance the traces of a sleepless night, he presented himself at the
Council, and said, “I have changed my mind; we will negotiate for peace,
but I must have honourable terms.”

Amongst some of the cases recorded in this country of royalty
consulting supposed prophets, or being brought into their contact, may
be mentioned that of Matilda of Flanders, who, hearing that a German
hermit was possessed of the gift of prophecy, requested his prayers for
the reconciliation of her jarring son and husband, and his opinion as to
what would be the result of their feud. But William was just as
sceptical in such matters, and, when he accidentally put on his hauberk
the hind part before, he quickly changed it, and said to those who stood
by, “I never believed in omens, nor have I ever put my faith in
fortune-tellers, or divinations of any kind, for my trust is in God.”
And he added, “Let not this mischance discourage you,” knowing full well
how easily frightened even the bravest of his followers were by

Richard I. was hunting in one of his Norman forests when he was met by a
hermit, who prophesied that, unless he repented, his end was close at
hand. The King made light of the warning and went his way, but ere long
he was seized with an illness which threatened to prove fatal, when,
remembering the words of the hermit-prophet, he made public confession
of his sins, and vowed to be reconciled to his queen Berengaria.

Edward IV. had a passion for astrology, divination, and every kind of
fortune-telling, in which he imitated the pursuits of Henry V.; and
Elizabeth of York relates how “her father, being one day studying a book
of magic in the palace of Westminster, was extremely agitated, even to
tears, and, though earls and lords were present, none durst speak to
him but herself. She came and knelt before him for his blessing, upon
which he threw his arms around her, and lifted her into a high window;
and when he had set her there, he gave her the _reason_ or horoscope he
had drawn, and bade her show it to no one but Lord Stanley, for he had
plainly calculated that no son of his should wear the crown after him.
He predicted that she should be queen, and the crown would rest with her

In Wyatt’s “Memorials of Anne Boleyn” the following incident is related
as having happened previous to her marriage with Henry: A book, assuming
to be of a prophetic character, and of a similar class with the oracular
hieroglyphic almanacs of succeeding centuries, was mysteriously placed
in her chamber one day, on seeing which she called her principal
attendant, Anne Saville.

“Come hither, Nan,” said she. “See, here is a book of prophecies; this
is the King, this is the Queen, and this is myself, with my head cut

Anne Saville answered, “If I thought it true, I would not myself have
him were he an emperor.”

“Tut! Nan,” replied Anne Boleyn, “I think the book a bauble, and I am
resolved to have him, that my issue may be royal, whatever may become of

But such a forecast of the future was at this period of common
occurrence, and was no doubt occasionally adopted as a device for
deterring the sovereign from some design which his opponents desired to

Another anecdote is told of Catherine Parr, illustrative of her power of
retort when quite young. It seems that some one skilled in
prognostications, casting her nativity, said that “she was born to sit
in the highest seat of imperial majesty, having all the eminent stars
and planets in her house.” This forecast of her life she did not forget,
and, when her mother used at times to call her to work, she would reply,
“My hands are ordained to touch crowns and sceptres, and not spindles
and needles.”

But fortune-tellers have sometimes told uncomfortable things to royalty.
There is a singular anecdote of Charles I. traditional at Hampton Court
Palace. The story runs that one day he was standing at a window of the
palace, when a gipsy came up and asked for charity. Her appearance and
attitude excited ridicule, which so infuriated and enraged the gipsy,
that she took out of her basket a looking-glass and presented it to the
King, who saw therein his own head decollated.

Another tradition of a similar nature--of which there is more than one
version--is connected with the mode of divination known as the _Sortes
Virgilianæ_. According to one account, King Charles when at Oxford was
shown a magnificent Virgil, and when induced by Lord Falkland to make a
trial of his fortune by the _Sortes Virgilianæ_, he opened the volume at
the Fourth Book of the Æneid (615 _et seq._), which contained the
following passage:--

    “By a bold people’s stubborn arms opprest,
     Forced to forsake the land he once possess’d,
     Torn from his dearest son, let him in vain
     Seek help, and see his friends unjustly slain.
     Let him to base unequal terms submit,
     In hope to save his crown, yet lose both it
     And life at once, untimely let him die,
     And on an open stage unburied lie.”

Wellwood adds, “It is said that King Charles seemed concerned at the
accident, and that the Lord Falkland, observing it, would also try his
own fortune in the same way, hoping that he might fall on some passage
that could have no relation to his case, and thereby divert the King’s
thoughts from any impression that the other had made on him; but the
place that Lord Falkland stumbled upon was yet more suited to his
destiny than the other had been to the King’s, being the expression of
Evander upon the untimely death of his son Pallas, as thus translated by

    “O Pallas! thou hast fail’d thy plighted word,
     To fight with caution, nor to tempt the sword.
     I warned thee but in vain; for well I knew
     What perils youthful ardour will pursue;
     That boiling blood would carry thee too far,
     Young as thou wert in dangers, raw to war!
     O curst essay of arms, disastrous doom,
     Preludes of bloody fields, and fights to come!”

It is generally admitted, however, that Charles was very superstitious;
and we are told by Lilly, the astrologer, that the King on more than one
occasion sent to consult him during his misfortunes. It may be
remembered, too, that Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I., consulted a
prophetess--Lady Eleanor, daughter of the Earl of Castlehaven, and
married to Sir John Davys, the King’s Attorney-General. The idea that
she was a prophetess arose from the discovery that the letters of her
name, twisted into an anagram, might thus be read: “Reveal, O Daniel.”
But her prophetic pride had on one occasion a rebuff; for one of the
King’s Privy Council attacked her with her own weapons, maintaining that
the real anagram should be read thus: “Dame Eleanor Davys--Never so mad
a lady.”

But the strange conversation that passed between her Majesty Henrietta
Maria and the prophetess is thus given in the latter’s own words: “About
two years after the marriage of King Charles I., I was waiting on the
Queen as she came from mass or evening service, to know what service she
was pleased to require from me. Her first question was ‘Whether she
should ever have a son?’ I answered, ‘In a short time.’ The Queen was
next desirous to know what would be the destiny of the Duke of
Buckingham and the English fleet, which had sailed to attack her
brother’s realm, and relieve the siege of Rochelle.

“I answered that the Duke of Buckingham would bring home little honour,
but his person would return safely, and that speedily. The Queen then
returned to her hopes of a son, and I showed that she would have one,
and that for a long time she should be happy.

“‘But for how long?’ asked the Queen. ‘For sixteen years,’ was my reply.
King Charles coming in at that moment, our discourse was interrupted by
him. ‘How now, Lady Eleanor,’ said the King, ‘are not you the person who
foretold your husband’s death three days before it happened?’ to which
his Majesty thought fit to add, ‘that it was the next to breaking his

Mary II., having heard that a Mrs. Wise, a noted fortune-teller, had
prophesied that James II. would be restored, and that the Duke of
Norfolk would lose his head, went in person to her to hear what she had
to say regarding her own future destiny. But this witch-woman was a
perverse Jacobite, and positively refused to read futurity for her

George I. had been warned by a French prophetess to take care of his
wife, as it was fated that he would not survive her more than a year.
Such an effect, it is said, had the prediction on his mind, that shortly
after his wife’s death, on taking leave of his son and the Princess of
Wales, when on the eve of his departure for Hanover, he told them that
he should never see them again. “At the same time,” adds Mr. Jesse,[178]
“with a contempt of all laws, human and divine, he gave directions that
his wife’s will should be burnt, and this for the mere purpose, it
seems, of depriving his own son of some valuable legacies bequeathed to
him by his unfortunate mother”--his wife and his only son having, it
would appear, been the two persons whom he most disliked.

Divination by cards was in the seventeenth century a fashionable
amusement at the Court of France. A well-known anecdote tells of the
ominous gloom which was on one occasion cast over the circle of Anne of
Austria by the obstinacy with which the knave of spades--the sure emblem
of a speedy death--persisted in falling to the lot of the young and
brilliant Duc de Candale: a prediction which was shortly afterwards

The superstitious fancy of the “divinity that hedges in a king,” and
made Cæsar encourage his alarmed boatman, “Fear nothing, you carry Cæsar
and the fortune of Cæsar in your boat,” is told of Rufus, who, when the
sailors pointed out the danger of putting to sea, exclaimed: “I have
never heard of a king who was shipwrecked; weigh anchor, and you will
see that the winds will be with us.”

The immunity of an anointed king had its influence on the strong-minded
German Emperor, William I. A young married couple visited the island of
Meinau, where the Emperor was residing with his son-in-law, the Grand
Duke of Baden. On their departure, so violent a storm came on that their
boatman found it impossible to proceed, and they were forced to return
to the island. The Emperor, seeing their plight, met them on the beach,
and ordering steam to be got up in a small iron steam launch, placed it
at their service. But the lady, alarmed at her first encounter with the
waves, demurred somewhat to trusting herself again to their mercies. “Do
not be alarmed,” said the Emperor, “the steamer bears my name, and that
ought to reassure you.”

But Henry I. does not seem to have been of this opinion, for when in
June 1131 he had embarked from Normandy for England, he was so dismayed
by the bursting of a water-spout over the vessel and the fury of the
wind and waves, that, believing his last hour was at hand, he made a
penitent acknowledgment of his sins, promising to lead a new life if God
should preserve him from the peril of death.

Dreams have occasionally exerted a disquieting influence on royalty, two
or three instances of which may be quoted. Thus Bossuet, in his funeral
oration on the Princess Palatine, Anne of Gonzaga, attributes her
conversion to a mysterious dream. “This,” says he, “was a marvellous
dream; one of those which God himself produces through the ministry of
his angels; one in which the images are clearly and orderly arranged,
and we are permitted to obtain a glimpse of celestial things. The
princess fancied she was walking alone in a forest, when she found a
blind man in a small cottage. She approached him, and inquired if he had
been blind from his birth, or whether it was the result of an accident.
He told her that he was born blind. ‘You are ignorant then,’ she said,
‘of the effect of light, how beautiful and pleasant it is; nor can you
conceive the glory and beauty of the sun.’ ‘I have never,’ he replied,
‘enjoyed the sight of that beautiful object, nor can I form any idea of
it, nevertheless I believe it to be surpassing glorious.’ The blind man
then seemed to change his voice and manner, and assuming a tone of
authority, ‘My example,’ he continued, ‘should teach you there are
excellent things which escape your notice, and which are not less true
or less desirable, although you can neither comprehend nor imagine

Again, a few nights before the fatal day on which Henry IV. of France
was assassinated by Ravaillac--Friday, May 14, 1610--the Queen dreamed
that all the jewels in her crown were changed into pearls, and that she
was told pearls were significant of tears. Another night she started and
cried out in her sleep, and waked the King, who, asking her what was the
matter, she answered, “I have had a frightful dream, but I know that
dreams are mere illusions.”

“I was always of the same opinion,” said Henry; “however, tell me what
your dream was.”

“I dreamed,” continued the Queen, “that you were stabbed with a knife
under the short ribs.”

“Thank God,” added the King, “it was but a dream.”

On the morning of the fatal day the King more than once said to those
about him, “Something or other hangs very heavy on my heart.” Before he
entered his carriage he took leave of the Queen no fewer than three
times, and had not driven long ere Ravaillac gave him the deadly thrust
which deprived France of one of the most humane sovereigns she ever had.

A strange illustration of ignorance and superstition was that afforded
by the Emperor Romanus, who on the night of the death of his son
Constantine had a dream, in which he beheld him falling into hell. In a
state of alarm he despatched messengers to Jerusalem and Rome to solicit
the prayers of the faithful, and he summoned the monks of all the
adjacent monasteries to assemble around him, three hundred of whom
obeyed the invitation. The day was Holy Thursday, and, “at the moment of
the elevation of the Host, he divested himself of his upper garments and
stood in the midst of the assembly with nothing on but his shirt. With a
loud voice he read his general confession,” at the conclusion of which
he knelt before each monk in turn and received absolution. His
humiliation followed, for the whole assembly then retired to partake of
the ordinary repast, during which Romanus, still in his shirt, stood in
a corner apart, and a little hired boy was occupied in whipping his
naked legs, exclaiming, “Get to table, you wicked old fellow! get to
table!” That the whole ceremony had divine sanction is proved by the
numerous miracles which are said to have taken place, but “of which no
ocular witness ever made deposition.”

It was a dream--so asserted the Sultan Bajazet II.--that directed this
ruler when, on the 25th of April 1512, his son Selim appeared in front
of the palace at the head of an irresistible force, exclaiming, “If you
will not yield, we will not touch your life, but we will drag you by
your robes on the points of our javelins from the throne.” On the
following morning he acceded to their demands, acknowledging that a
dream of the night had taught him the course he was to take. “This was
my dream,” said the monarch, who was extricating himself from disgrace,
to follow the instructions imparted in a dream--“I saw my crown placed
by my soldiers on my son Selim’s head. It would be injurious to resist
such a sign.”

Numerous further illustrations might be added to show how great an
influence dreams, at different times, have exerted over the minds of
sovereigns, causing them occasionally to forego undertaking certain
acts, as being divine interpositions for their special guidance.

At the age of the Reformation, Scotland was sunk into barbarism and
ignorance, and on this account never did the witch-mania enter a country
better suited for its reception. James VI. of Scotland, before he became
the First of England, had taken an active part in several witch-trials,
but especially in the inquisition directed to discover the guilt of Dr.
Fian and others, to whom he had ascribed his stormy passage with his
Norwegian consort from Denmark. It is unnecessary to enter on a recital
of the horrible tortures inflicted upon the accused, for all the
torments known to the Scottish law were successively applied. But it is
evident that a monarch who had participated in such horrors, and had
further committed himself by the publication of his notable work, the
“Dæmonology,” must have come to the English throne decidedly predisposed
to foster the popular delusions respecting witchcraft. Indeed, as Mr.
Lecky observes, James “was continually haunted by the subject,” and
“boasted that the devil regarded him as the most formidable of
opponents.” The earliest statute against witchcraft appears to have been
enacted in the reign of Henry VI., and additional penal laws were passed
by Henry VIII. and Elizabeth. But there can be no doubt that in many
cases witchcraft was a convenient excuse for carrying out a wicked
policy. To this cause, as Sir Walter Scott says, we may impute the trial
of the Duchess of Gloucester, wife of the good Duke Humphrey, accused of
consulting witches concerning the mode of compassing the death of her
husband’s nephew, Henry VI. The Duchess was condemned to do penance, and
then banished to the Isle of Man. But the alleged witchcraft “was the
only ostensible cause of a procedure which had its real source in the
deep hatred between the Duke of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort, his
half-brother.” The same pretext was used by Richard III. when he brought
the charge of sorcery against the Queen-Dowager, Jane Shore, and the
Queen’s kinsmen. The accusation in each case “was only chosen as a
charge easily made and difficult to be eluded or repelled.”

In the same way Charles, Count of Valois, uncle of Louis X., had much
influence over him. Charles believed, or pretended to believe, in
sorcery. By making a waxen image of a foe, which was pricked and
tortured, the person represented was supposed to pine away and die. It
was a belief of the age, and a fearful belief, for who could be secure
against an act of malice that might be perpetrated in the most profound

And on the Continent we find royalty tacitly in times past pandering to
the superstitious spirit of their age, by sanctioning and upholding the
cruelties to which supposed witches were subjected. And the most
terrible scenes occurred in France, till happily the edict of Louis XIV.
discharged all future persecutions for witchcraft, after which the crime
was heard of no more.

The quarrel of Sancho I. of Portugal with the Bishop of Coimbra is, too,
another evidence of the superstitious disposition of even a crusading
monarch in those times, for it arose about a so-called witch, whom the
King insisted on keeping in his palace.

And, turning to another phase of superstition of a less gloomy nature,
may be briefly noticed the strong predilection displayed by some
monarchs for a particular number or day of the year or week. Thus
Dubois, in his _Mémoire Fidèle_, relates how Louis XIII. a few hours
before his death--Thursday, May 14, 1643--summoned his physicians, and
asked them if they thought he would live until the following day, saying
that Friday had always been for him a fortunate day; that all the
undertakings he had begun on that day had proved successful; that in all
the battles fought on that day he had been victorious; that it was his
fortunate day, and on that day he would wish to die.

Napoleon’s favourite and lucky day, like that of his nephew, Napoleon
III., was the 2nd of the month. He was made consul for life on August 2,
1802; was crowned December 2, 1804; won his greatest battle, that of
Austerlitz, for which he obtained the title of “Great,” December 2,
1805; and he married the Archduchess of Austria, April 2, 1810.

And going back to earlier days, according to Brantôme, Charles V. was
partial to St. Matthias’s Day--February 24--because on that day he was
elected emperor, on that day crowned, and on that day Francis I. was
taken prisoner at the battle of Pavia. Henry IV. of France, again,
considered Friday his lucky day, and began his undertakings by
preference on that day.

The Prince of Orange--heir-apparent of the King of Holland--who died
somewhat suddenly at Paris, June 11, 1879, was, it is said, very
superstitious with regard to the numbers 6 and 11. As a sporting man, he
always withdrew his horses when they were classed under the one or the
other; and, by a curious coincidence, the Prince died on the eleventh
day of the sixth month of the year, and at 11 o’clock. But, according to
Fuller, Edward VI. was the exact opposite in point of superstition, for
when it was remarked to him that Christ College, Cambridge, was a
superstitious foundation, consisting of a master and twelve fellows, in
imitation of Christ and His twelve apostles, he was advised by a
covetous courtier to take away one or two fellowships so as to break
that mystic number. “Oh no,” replied the King, “I have a far better way
than that to mar their conceit; I will add a thirteenth fellowship to
them”--which he accordingly did, to the disgust of the credulous and the
approval of the wise.


Agesilaus, anecdote of, 6

Albert of Austria, anecdote of his fool, 317

Alexander III., his physical strength, 124;
  a boxer, 235;
  attached to animals, 261

Alexis, Czar, prohibited smoking, 132

Alfonso of Castile, belief in astrology, 401-2

Alfonso IV. of Portugal, devoted to hunting, 149

Alfonso V., a writer, 371

Alfonso VI., his excesses, 25, 109-10;
  horsemanship, 150;
  affection for dogs, 258

Alfred the Great, practised falconry, 236-7;
  a harper, 376

Amelia Sophia, Princess, a card player, 201-2;
  lines attributed to, 368;
  death, _ib._

Anjou, Duke of, rivalry of Henry III., 20

Anne, Queen, dressed during prayers, 36;
  reputed love of strong drink, 52;
  gastronomic tastes, 80;
  fond of hunting, 143;
  a card player, 199;
  patron of the turf, 213;
  escape at the Revolution, 234;
  encouraged archery, 236;
  particular in dress, 299-300;
  patronage of D’Urfey, 333;
  touched for “king’s evil,” 411

Anne of Austria, belief in astrologers, 400-1

Anne Boleyn, an epicure, 76;
  danced with the French king, 101-2;
  her physical defects: 290;
  dirge written by, 361;
  musical, 378;
  prophetic incident, 419

Anne, Queen of Denmark, painting of, 139-40

Anne of Gonzaga, Princess Palatine, her dream, 425

Anne, Queen of James I., fashions of her reign, 297

Anne, Empress of Russia, fond of dancing, 107

Anne of Warwick, disguise of, 180-1

Armstrong, Archie, fool of James I., 332

Athelstan, King, horse-racing in time of, 204

Augustus, peculiarity of, 14;
  afraid of lightning, 85;
  fond of gaming, 184;
  kept dwarfs, 239

Augustus, King of Poland, his love of dress, 297

Augustus the Strong, of Saxony, his feats, 124-5;
  a china fancier, 132;
  General Kyan and, 280

Bajazet II., Sultan, his dream, 427-8

Bébé, favourite dwarf of Stanislaus, 73, 240

Bernadotte, Baptiste (afterwards Charles XIV. of Sweden),
   his superstition, 416-7

Bertin, Mademoiselle, Marie Antoinette’s milliner, 304

Bertoldo, Italian fool, 325

Bianca of Milan, died of indigestion, 74

Boleslaus II., King of Poland, worked as a porter, 173

Borra, fool of Martin of Aragon, 324

Borso, Duke of Ferrara, his jester, 325

Boruwlaski, Joseph, dwarf, story of, 239-40

Böttiger, originator of Dresden china, 132-3

Brusquet, famous Court jester, 315, 321-2

Buckingham, Duke of, and Queen Catherine, 161

Cambacérès, a noted epicure, 64

Cambridge, late Duke of, his homely tastes, 84

Campanella, the astrologer, 401

Carème, celebrated _chef_, 83

Carl August, Duke of Weimar, and Goethe, 263

Carlos, Don, son of Philip II., his violence, 31

Caroline, Princess, played at blind-man’s-buff, 6

Caroline, Queen, dressed during prayers, 36;
  Sir Paul Methuen and, 272;
  favoured a playwright, 344

Caroline Matilda, wife of Christian VII., her riding habit, 301

Casimir II. of Poland, story of, 188

Casimir IV., his death, 151

Catherine, queen of Henry VIII., pageants before, 153-4

Catherine of Aragon, proficiency in dancing, 100;
  pageant at her marriage, 154;
  disliked show, 295

Catherine of Braganza, queen of Charles II., 50-1;
  fond of dancing, 104-5;
  love of sport, 140;
  masquerading adventures, 161;
  frolic at Saffron Walden, 182;
  fond of cards, 196;
  played on Sunday, 197;
  wore low-necked dresses, 290;
  wore short skirts, 298;
  patroness of Italian opera, 380

Catherine II., a plain liver, 72;
  fond of the ballet, 108;
  anecdote of, _ib._;
  ruse practised on Joseph II., 175;
  enjoyed whist, 193;
  fond of animals, 261;
  caged her perruquier, 302-3;
  literary powers, 372

Catherine de Medicis, belief in astrologers, 398-9

Catherine Parr. _See_ Katherine

Charlemagne, an epicure, 57-8;
  his strength, 124;
  his water clock, 128;
  devoted to the chase, 144;
  privilege granted to hounds, 248;
  taste for music, 385;
  his talisman, 408

Charles I., a chess-player, 3;
  secret obligations of, 13;
  his abstemiousness, 48;
  encouragement of the masque, 160;
  journey to Spain incognito, 181-2;
  horse-racing in his reign, 208;
  played at golf, 228,
  and bowls, 229-30;
  athletic feats of, 232;
  his Court dwarf, 244;
  opinion on dogs, 252;
  his whipping-boy, 307;
  patron of the drama, 340;
  his literary ability, 365-6;
  predictions of his death, 420-1;
  consulted astrologers, 421

Charles II., his debauches, 49-50;
  tea introduced by his queen, 50;
  his gastronomic tastes, 78;
  knighting of a sirloin, 78;
  his table pillaged, 79;
  fond of dancing, 103-4,
  and of masquerading, 161;
  gambling in his reign, 196;
  encouraged horse-racing, 209-12;
  fire at Newmarket, 211;
  Rye House Plot, 211-2;
  bred race-horses, 212;
  a tennis player, 226;
  his walking powers, 232;
  fond of dogs, 252-3;
  the pickpocket and, 268;
  rejoinder to Dr. Stillingfleet, 269;
  victim of a joke, _ib._;
  low-necked dresses in his reign, 289-90;
  his jester, 333;
  fond of theatricals, 340;
  anecdote of, 341;
  poetical talent, 366-7;
  account of battle of Worcester, 367;
  his taste for music, 381;
  touched for “king’s evil,” 411

Charles of Austria, died of eating mushrooms, 74

Charles the Bold, his Court fool, 320

Charles Edward, Prince, capture of his baggage, 410

Charles the Fat, his excuse, 10

Charles V. of France, tennis in his reign, 227

Charles VI. of France, fond of disguises, 169-70;
  narrow escape, 170;
  a gambler, 184;
  his cards, 185

Charles VII. of France, fond of pleasure, 39;
  his Scots archers, 236;
  introduced long coats, 288-9

Charles VIII. of France, death of, 8

Charles IX. of France, his excesses, 21;
  disguise, 171;
  partiality for dwarfs, 239

Charles X. of France, flight of, 147-8;
  a whist player, 192;
  joke of, 278

Charles III. of Mantua, his disguises, 179

Charles II. of Spain, played at “jouchets,” 5;
  opened coffins, 27;
  his wild fancies, 90

Charles III. of Spain, devoted to hunting, 150-1

Charles IV. of Spain, fond of hunting, 151;
  his wit and spirit, 287

Charles V., Emperor, celebrates his funeral, 27-8;
  a hard drinker, 43-4;
  an epicure, 69;
  manner of eating, 69-70;
  suffered from indigestion, 70;
  his mechanical taste, 126-7;
  journeys incognito, 176;
  adventure with a cobbler, 177-8;
  partial to dwarfs, 242;
  anecdote of, 279;
  settled a dispute, _ib._;
  disregard of dress, 292-3;
  his Court fools, 315;
  taste for music, 387-8;
  faith in amulets, 413-4;
  his lucky day, 431

Charles XII. of Sweden, a plain liver, 74;
  his endurance, 98;
  bitten by a dog, 258;
  reply of, 286

Charlotte, Queen, her dress, 301-2

Chesterfield, Earl of, and George IV., 54

Chicot, fool of Henry III., 322

Childeric III., the “Phantom King,” 96

China, Emperor of, use of dancing, 112-3;
  whipping-boy to, 310

Christian I. of Denmark, despised Court fools, 313

Christian II, and his dwarf, 240-1

Christian IV., enjoyed a carouse, 42

Christina, Queen of Sweden, her masculine habits, 16;
habits, 17;
  her death predicted, 18;
  fond of rose-water, 42;
  change of religion, 167;
  travelled in disguise, 171-2;
  her wit, 286;
  dress, 294;
  influence on Roman society, 354

Clod, jester to Queen Elizabeth, 331

Coetier, Jacques, physician to Louis IX., 113-4

Condé, Prince Henry of, as an epicure, 66

Consort, Prince, love of music, 383

Cumberland, Duke of, his corpulence, 82

Cymburga of Poland, her strength, 125

D’Artois, Comte, his follies, 22

Dee, Dr., and Queen Elizabeth, 407-8

D’Enghien, Duc, anecdote of, 117

Denmark, Queen of, her disguise, 172

D’Epernay, Duke, dread of a leveret, 86

De Rohan, Chevalier, story of, 190

D’Escars, Duc, _maître d’hôtel_ to Louis XVIII., death of, 62-3

De Soubise, Prince, an epicure, 57

De Teil, Comte, and Queen Marie Casimire, 10

Dickens, Charles, and Queen Victoria, 369-70

Diniz, of Portugal, a poet, 370

Dunand, _maître d’hôtel_ to Napoleon, 65

D’Urfey, song-writer, patronised by Queen Anne, 333

Edward I., as chess player, 2;
  his pranks, 31-2;
  intemperance, 46;
  activity, 124;
  disliked show, 295;
  lover of music, 377;
  comet appeared at his birth, 397

Edward II., a player of cross and pile, 2;
  his freaks, 32;
  amused by dancing, 99;
  his female jester, 329;
  lines written by him, 358-9;
  visit of Raymond Lully, 406

Edward III., his taste for hunting, 136;
  race-horses in time of, 205

Edward IV., his intemperance, 46;
  his extravagant dinners, 75;
  meeting with Elizabeth Woodville, 137;
  anecdote of his jester, 329-30

Edward VI., his whipping-boy, 306, 309;
  superstition, 431-2

Eleanor, Queen of Henry II., story of, 302;
  dramatic patroness, 334;
  a troubadour poet, 357-8

Eleanora of Castile, fond of literature, 358

Elizabeth, Queen, a chess player, 3;
  her indecision, 34;
  drank common beer, 47;
  her bill of fare, 77;
  detested dwarfs and monsters, 86;
  aversion to smells, 87;
  patroness of dancing, 102;
  fond of hunting, 138;
  pageants and masques at Kenilworth, 156-7;
  her support of the masque, 158;
  horse-racing in reign of, 206;
  tennis in her reign, 224;
  sports of her reign, 231-2;
  fond of animals, 251;
  rejoinders made to her, 265-6;
  fond of jests, 266;
  love of finery, 295-6;
  her jesters, 331;
  patroness of the drama, 336-8;
  literary compositions, 363-4;
  musical, 379;
  and the comet, 397;
  belief in occult sciences, 407-8;
talisman presented to, 409;
  credulity, 413

Elizabeth, queen of Edward IV., fond of nine-pins, 231

Eric XIV. of Sweden, violence of, 15;
  his fate, 15;
  superstitions, 402, 415

Essex, Earl of, his masque before Elizabeth, 156-7

Feodor, son of Ivan IV., his bell-ringing hobby, 124

Ferdinand I. of Austria, his weak mind, 96

Ferdinand II., story of his jester, 316

Ferdinand I. of Naples, taste for fruit, 73

Ferdinand II., Grand Duke of Tuscany, “the fool of his health,” 89

Ferdinand V., the Catholic, a hunter, 148;
  disliked finery, 292

Ferrand, Count of Flanders, a chess player, 4

Francis I. of France, injured at snowballs, 8;
  his licentiousness, 40;
  fond of hunting, 145;
  introduced short hair, 288;
  his Court fools, 320-1

Frederic, Elector, collector of relics, 131;
  advice of his fool, 318

Frederic of Baden, Princess, wife of Gustavus IV., 19

Frederick, Austrian prince, died of eating melons, 58

Frederick the Great, an epicure, 66;
  cost of his dinner, 67;
  his bill of fare, 68;
  activity, 97;
  collector of snuff-boxes, 132;
  denounced hunting, 148;
  his masked ball in 1745, 165-6;
  his dogs, 259;
  and horses, 260;
  anecdote of, 264;
  retort to, 282-3;
  Carlyle’s story of, 283;
  General Ziethen’s reply to, 283-4;
  slovenly habits, 293;
  fond of theatricals, 352-3;
  a musician, 389-91

Frederick II., anecdote of, 319;
  a writer, 374;
  belief in astrology, 403;
  alchemy in the reign of, 405-6

Frederick III., his indolence, 96

Frederick, Prince of Wales, his sudden death, 226-7;
  fond of private theatricals, 344;
  lines written by, 368-9

Frederick William I., a hard drinker, 38;
  his bill of fare, 68;
  passion for recruiting giants, 93-4;
  eccentricities, 95;
  fond of hunting, 148;
  his coarse jokes, 281-2;
   ignored fashion, 293;
  fools at his Court, 319;
  fond of music, 389

Frederick William III., averse to hunting, 148

Gadbury, John, astrologer, 404

Gascoigne, Judge, committed the Prince of Wales, 33

Geoffrey, son of Henry II., dissolute habits, 45

George I., fond of good living, 81;
  horse-racing in his reign, 213;
  partial to dwarfs, 244;
  his humour, 270-1;
  indifferent to fashion, 300;
  fond of the play _Henry VIII._, 342;
  death predicted, 423

George II., apparition seen by, 30;
  his temperate habits, 53;
  anecdote of, 81;
  his exactness, 88-9;
  his anger, 89;
  fond of hunting, 143-4;
  at Heidegger’s masquerade, 164-5;
  gaming in his reign, 200;
  Lady Deloraine and, 200-1;
  horse-racing in reign of, 214;
  his humour, 271-2;
  instituted naval uniform, 301;
  encouraged immoral dramas, 343

George III., fond of children, 6;
  played at backgammon, 7;
  his abstemiousness, 53-4, 82;
  no lover of the turf, 214;
  love of humour, 273-4;
  his sons whipped, 310;
  Quin the actor and, 344;
  patron of the drama, 345;
  attacks on, 346-7;
  Mrs. Bellamy and, 346;
  death of Princess Amelia, 368;
  attached to church music, 382

George IV., his intemperance, 54-5;
  adventure with a dog, 54;
  reception of his bride-elect, 55;
  his favourite dishes, 83-4;
  a gambler, 202;
  patron of the turf, 214-7;
  at Brighton races, 216;
  interest in Ascot and Goodwood, 217-8;
  patron of the prize-ring, 234-5;
  connection with Mary Robinson, 347;
  fond of music, 382-3

George Castriot, Prince of Albania, his strength, 125-6

Gonella, jester of Duke of Ferrara, 325

Grammont, Count de, and Louis XIV., 7

Gustavus III., his extravagance, 41-2;
  death, 166;
  incognito travels, 179

Gustavus IV., his eccentricities, 19;
  deposition, 20;
  a writer, 373

Hanover, King of, his musical taste, 388

Hardicanute, a gourmand, 57

Heidegger, practical joke on, 164-5

Henrietta Maria, queen of Charles I., her fancy for dwarfs, 243-4;
  story of, 298;
  taste for music, 379;
  consulted a prophetess, 421-2

Henry I., loss of his son, 45;
  a hunter, 135;
  menagerie formed by him, 249-50;
  treatment of a lampooner, 264;
  dismayed by a storm, 425

Henry II., a chess player, 2;
  drunkenness of his sons, 45;
  horse-racing in time of, 204

Henry III., first poet-laureate in his reign, 358;
  esteemed musicians, 377

Henry V., his mad pranks, 33-4;
  reformed habits, 46;
  dined off porpoise, 75;
  a harpist, 378

Henry VI., lines written by, 360;
  belief in alchemy, 406-7;
  trial of Duchess of Gloucester, 429

Henry VII., dramatic performances in his reign, 334-5;
  astrologers consulted for his wife, 405

Henry VIII., a card player, 8;
  his intemperance, 47;
  an epicure, 75;
  partial to dancing, 99-100;
  stripped by the onlookers, 100;
  performed a ballet, 101;
  execution of Anne Boleyn, 137;
  hunted with Anne, 137-8;
  his masques, 152-4;
  a gambler, 194-5;
  lover of horses, 206;
  a tennis player, 223-4;
  established a cock-pit, 233;
  an archer, 235;
  a falconer, 237;
  Sir Thomas More’s reply to, 265;
  his Court jesters, 330;
  patron of the drama, 335-6;
  literary attainments, 360-1;
  his amulet, 408;
  cramp rings in his reign, 410-1

Henry III., Emperor, despised Court fools, 313

Henry V., Emperor, story of, 168-9

Henry II. of France, first wore silk stockings, 303;
  killed at a tournament, 311-2;
  his Court fools, 321

Henry III. of France, played at “cup and ball,” 5;
  his follies, 20;
  afraid of cats, 86;
  fond of other animals, 262;
  his jester Chicot, 322

Henry IV. of France, fond of children, 6;
  an epicure, 58;
  fond of the ballet, 114;
  a gambler, 186;
  fond of dogs, 262;
  disliked finery, 292;
  his whipping-boys, 307;
  marriage, 310;
  his female fool, 323;
  assassination predicted in a dream, 426;
  his lucky day, 431

Henry V. of France, story of, 223

Henry, Duke of York, a dancer, 101

Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Anjou, introduced pointed shoes, 289

Henry, Prince, son of James I., a tennis player, 224-5 ;
  played at golf, 228

Heraclius, Emperor, dread of the sea, 85

Heywood, John, Court jester, 330-1

Isabella, mother of Philip II., anecdote of, 91

Isabella Eugenia, Archduchess, story of, 288

Ivan IV., savage freaks of, 11;
  a drunkard, 38;
  his Court fools, 327;
  story of his cruelty, _ib._

James I. of Aragon, a writer 371

James I. of Scotland, a chess player, 4;
  murder of, 225;
  musical talent, 385

James IV. of Scotland, celebration of his marriage, 163;
  adventures in disguise, 178;
  a tennis player, 226

James I., a card player, 8;
  at church, 35;
  enjoyed a carouse, 42, 47-8;
  his household expenditure, 77;
  detested pork, 77-8;
  knighted a sirloin, 78-9;
  shuddered at sight of a sword, 87;
  enjoyed hunting, 138-9;
  his mishaps, 139;
  masques and pageants, 158-9;
  patron of horse-racing, 206;
  first public races, 207;
  fond of cock-fighting, 233;
  played quoits, 237;
  fond of animals, 251-2,
  and of buffoonery, 266-7;
  Buckingham’s trick, 268;
  regulated dress, 291;
  indifferent to dress, 293;
  his whipping-boy, 308;
  Court fools, 331-2;
  patron of the drama, 337, 338-40;
  fond of literature, 364-5;
  belief in witchcraft, 428-9

James II., averse to hard drinking, 51;
  in exile, 106-7;
  fond of hunting, 140-1;
  entertained at Copthall, 141-2;
  masques at St. Germains, 162;
  state of his disbanded soldiers, 163;
  a horseman, 212-3;
  Milton’s rejoinder to, 270;
  the stage in his reign, 341.
  _See also_ York, Duke of

Joachim, Frederick, Elector of Brandenburg, dwarfs collected by his wife, 242

Joan, Queen of Naples, romantic tale of, 111

Joanna of Navarre, married by proxy, 310;
  lines by Edward, Duke of York, on, 359

John, King of England, as chess player, 2;
  his drunkenness, 45;
  visit to Nottingham, 46;
  fond of venison, 75;
  a hunter, 136;
  a sportsman, 205;
  his dress and that of his queen, 294-5

John of Austria, Don, his living chess-board, 4

John I. of Portugal, encouraged literature, 371

John II., patronised literature, 371

John V., lover of music, 110,
  and literature, 371

John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, a chess player, 3

Joseph II., Emperor, his plain fare, 74;
  visit to Catherine II., 175;
  averse to ceremony, _ib._;
  fond of the theatre, 352

Josquin, composer, and Louis XII., 385

Katherine Parr, her “Lamentation of a Sinner,” 362;
  fortune predicted, 420

Killian, fool of Albert of Austria, 317-8

Killigrew, Tom, jester to Charles II., 333

Klaus, jester of Elector Frederick, 318

Konrad, jester of Maximilian I., 314-5

Kotzebue, anecdote of the Emperor Paul, 12

“Le Glorieux,” fool to Charles the Bold, 320

Leopold, “the Angel,” his self-denial, 93

Leopold I. of Austria, fond of music and the drama, 351-2

Loaysa, Cardinal, confessor to Charles V., 70

Lola Montes, mistress of Ludwig of Bavaria, 22

Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, Prince, a pianist, 392

Louis the Debonnaire and the comet, 396

Louis IX., forbade chess, 5;
  controlled by his physician, 113-4;
  introduced wigs, 289

Louis XI., anecdote of, 97;
  fond of the chase, 145;
  journeys in disguise, 171;
  anecdotes of, 275-6;
  disliked finery, 291;
  the astrologer and, 399-400;
  healed by touch, 413

Louis XII., story of, 188;
  anecdote of Josquin and, 385

Louis XIII., a chess player, 5;
  taste for fruit, 58;
  a dancer, 114;
  fond of the chase, 145;
  averse to gambling, 188;
  Sully’s rebuke of his favourites, 276;
  Bassompierre’s rejoinders to, 277;
  his courtiers beardless, 289;
  his Court fool, 323;
  credulity, 400;
  lucky day, 430-1

Louis XIV., fond of backgammon, 7;
  and billiards, _ib._;
  an epicure, 58-9;
  suicide of his _chef_, 60-1;
  consideration for ex-King James, 106-7;
  fond of dancing, 114-5;
  his favourite dances, 115;
  anecdote of him, 116;
  mechanical coach constructed for him, 129;
  passion for jewels, 130;
  the crown of Agrippina, 130-1;
  fond of hunting, 146,
  and of gambling, 188-90;
  the Capuchin and, 278;
  his wig, 302;
  remark of, 307;
  his Court jesters, 323-4;
  patron of the drama, 347-8;
  remark on the comet, 398;
  stopped persecutions for witchcraft, 430

Louis XV., his profligacy and devotion, 30;
  an epicure, 61-2;
  speculated in corn, 97;
  story of, 191;
  his wanton character, 262;
  retort to Lauragais, 277;
  indifference to drama and music, 348

Louis XVI., his mechanical taste, 127-8;
  passion for hunting, 146;
  gambling in his reign, 191;
  remark about Charles IV., 287;
  dress in his reign, 303;
  touched for “king’s evil,” 412

Louis XVII., played quoits, 237

Louis XVIII., an epicure, 62;
  invented a dish, 63;
  his narrative of his escape, 374-5

Louis Philippe, anecdote of, 278-9

Ludwig of Bavaria, his follies, 22

Ludwig II., his eccentricities, 23-4;
  deposition, 25;
  taste for building, 133-4;
  acquaintance with Wagner, 393-4

Marguerite, second wife of Edward I., story of, 136

Maria Theresa, Empress, her mourning, 28;
  dwarf presented to her, 239;
  supported the drama, 350

Marie Antoinette, fond of dancing, 117-8;
  anecdote of her, 147;
  a gambler, 191-2;
  her conduct at the races, 221;
  dress, 304-5;
  interest in theatricals, 349-50;
  affection of audience for her, 350;
  taste for music, 386-7

Marie Casimire of Poland, curious amusement of, 10

Marie Louise, her marriage, 312

Mary, Queen, a dancer, 102, 155;
  fond of wagers, 195-6;
  lover of animals, 251;
  the drama in her reign, 336;
  her literary work, 363;
  talented in music, 378-9

Mary II., a dancer, 105;
  averse to gaieties, 106;
  fond of cards, 198;
  witty remark, 270;
  patron of the drama, 341;
  at the theatre, 342;
  goes to see a fortune-teller, 423

Mary, Queen of Scots, masques in her reign, 163;
  sports of her reign, 232;
  fond of archery, 235;
  her favourite lap-dog, 251

Mary Beatrice, queen of James II., receptions at St. Germains, 162;
  disliked cards, 197;
  her pet dogs, 254;
  aversion to paint, 298-9

Matilda, Empress, her escape from Stephen, 169

Matilda of Scotland, talent for music, 376-7

Matthias II., story of his jester, 315-6

Maximilian, Archduke, married by proxy, 311

Maximilian I., his Court fools, 313-4

Maximilian II., fond of hunting, 148-9

Mazarin, Cardinal, reply to Louis XIV., 190

Mendoza, fool of Henry II., 321

Menicucci, jester of Grand Duke Ferdinand I., 326

Montespan, Marchioness de, and the crown of Agrippina, 130-1

Napoleon I., as chess player, 1;
  played at blind-man’s-buff, 6;
  fondness for children, _ib._;
  “the little red man,” 30;
  epicures of his reign, 64;
  a fast eater, 65;
  suffered from indigestion, _ib._;
  in a temper, 66;
  a favourite dance, 115;
  story of, 193;
  averse to gambling, _ib._;
  his fortune predicted, 416-7;
  his lucky day, 431

Nelle, Matthias II.’s fool, 315-6

Nicholas, Czar, his gaze, 14

Orleans, Regent Duke of, an epicure, 63

Patch, fool to Henry VIII., 330

Paul, Emperor of Russia, Kotzebue’s story of, 12;
  regulated dress, 291;
  his jesters, 328-9

Pedro, Charles V.’s jester, 315

Pedro I. of Portugal, a dancer, 109

Peter the Great, violence of, 14;
  his orgies, 37-8;
  his bills of fare, 71;
  aversion to being looked at, 93;
  boat-building hobby, 121-2;
  visit to Holland, 122;
  and to England, 123;
  learned smithing, 124;
  attended a masked ball, 176;
  story of, _ib._;
  partial to dwarfs, 241;
  his monkey, 260-1;
  remark about lawyers, 284-5;
  plain dress, 299;
  his Court fools, 327-8

Peter III., military mania, 12

Philibert de Chalon, Prince of Orange, gambled his soldiers’ pay, 185

Philip of France, anecdote of his fool, 320

Philip III. of France, his belief in soothsayers, 415-6

Philip, Landgrave of Baden, advice of his fool, 318

Philip II. of Spain, as chess player, 1;
  story of his wife’s parrots, 256-7;
  married by proxy, 311;
  his Court fool, 322

Philip III., died through excess of etiquette, 92;
  fond of dancing, 110

Philip IV., story of his wife’s stockings, 303-4

Richard Cœur de Lion, fond of venison, 75;
  horse-racing in reign of, 204;
  discovered by Blondel, 329;
  prediction to, 418

Richard II., an epicure, 75;
  story of his greyhound, 249-50

Richard III., entertained players, 334;
  charge of sorcery, 429

Robinson, Mary, actress, and George IV., 347

Roderick, last king of the Visigoths, and his dog, 250

Romanus, Emperor, his dream, 427

Rudolph, Archduke of Austria, patron of music, 392-3

Scogan, jester to Edward IV., 329

Sebastian, Don, freak of, 26;
  decreed plain living, 74;
  his restlessness, 98;
  physical strength, 125;
  fond of hunting, 149

Sophie, Queen of Denmark, story of, 111-2

Stanislaus, ex-King of Poland, his wine, 40;
  extravagant habits, 41;
  an epicure, 72;
  his pie, 73;
  taste for building, 134;
  fond of hunting, 151;
  a card player, 203;
  his dwarfs, 240;
  his wit, 285;
  reply to Voltaire, _ib._;
  the young actor and, 354-6;
  his writings, 373-4

Stich, jester of Duke Ludwig of Bavaria, 317

Tarleton, fool of Queen Elizabeth, 331

Tennyson, Lord, and Queen Victoria, 29, 370

Thurneysser, famous astrologer, 404-5

Tippoo Saib, talisman of, 409

Triboulet, fool of Francis I., 320-1

Ulrica, sister of Frederick the Great, her stratagem, 174-5

Ulysses and his hound, 247

Vatel, _chef_ to Louis XIV., his tragic death, 60-1

Victoria, Queen, fond of games, 4;
  romped with children, 7;
  morbid tendency, 28;
  belief in spirits, 29;
  plain liver, 84;
  attended races, 220;
  dwarfs at her Court, 245;
  love for animals, 255;
  appreciated wit, 275;
  patron of the drama, 347;
  her literary work, 369-70;
  love of music, 384

Vladislaus, King of Poland, had fits at sight of apples, 86

Wenceslaus, the Emperor, a hard drinker, 39;
  roasted his cook, 59

William the Conqueror, as chess player, 1;
  his temperance, 44;
  physical strength, 124;
  dwarfs in his retinue, 243;
  saved by his jester, 329;
  his bard, 376;
  disbelief in omens, 396

William Rufus, anecdote of, 424

William III., wore his hat in church, 35;
  drank ale, 47;
  joined in debauches, 49, 51;
  his vulgar behaviour, 79-80;
  hatred of mourning, 88;
  fond of coursing, 142;
  at the cock-fight, 143;
  a gambler, 198-9;
  patron of racing, 213;
  Sir E. Seymour’s retort to, 280;
  refused to touch for “king’s evil,” 412

William IV., advocate for temperance, 56;
  his favourite dish, 84;
  horse-racing in his reign, 219;
  sale of his stud, 220;
  patron of golf, 229;
  appreciated jokes, 274

William I. of Germany, anecdote of, 424

William, Prince, lost in the _White Ship_, 45

William the Silent, story of his spaniel, 257

York, Duke of, afterwards James II.,
  story of, 49;
  entertainments at Edinburgh, 164;
  played golf, 228,
  and pall-mall, 231

York, Frederick, Duke of, a lover of the turf, 218

                                THE END

                  Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
                          Edinburgh & London


[1] See Strutt’s “Sports and Pastimes.”

[2] See Smiles’ “Life and Labour,” p. 338.

[3] W. R. Morfill, “Russia,” pp. 253-254.

[4] Dr. Doran’s “Monarchs Retired from Business,” vol. ii. p. 249.

[5] Doran’s “Monarchs Retired from Business.”

[6] “History of France,” vol. iii. pp. 191-192.

[7] See the “Romance of Ludwig II. of Bavaria,” by Frances Gerard.

[8] _Edinburgh Review_, 1869, vol. cxxix. p. 31.

[9] See _Edinburgh Review_, 1867, vol. cxxv. p. 513.

[10] See Jesse’s “England under the Stuarts,” 1846, vol. i. pp. 18-19.

[11] _Mémoires secrèts pour servir a l’histoire de la cour de Russie
sous les règnes de Pierre-le-Grand et de Catherine I._

[12] _Edinburgh Review_, vol. ci. pp. 520-521.

[13] But later on we read that some dozen or two asses were kept to
maintain his decaying strength. See Crowe’s “History of France,” vol.
ii. p. 507.

[14] See Dr. Valpy French, “Nineteen Centuries of Drink,” p. 61.

[15] Jesse’s “Memoirs of the Court of England during the Reign of the
Stuarts,” 1846, vol. i. pp. 60-61.

[16] Reresby’s Memoirs, p. 173.

[17] See his Diary under 1667.

[18] See _Spectator_, 462. Jesse’s “England under the Stuarts,” 1846,
vol. iii. p. 338.

[19] Dalrymple’s Memoirs, vol. i. p. 132.

[20] Cole’s MSS., British Museum (vol. xxxi. p. 145), quoted in Jesse’s
“Court of England” (1686-1760), vol. i. pp. 288-289.

[21] Parody on the “Vicar of Bray,” by Thomas Dampier, Fellow of King’s
College, Cambridge; Cole’s MSS., vol. i. p. 145.

[22] “Memoirs of George IV.”

[23] Thackeray’s “Four Georges,” p. 367.

[24] “Monarchs Retired from Business,” vol. i. p. 307.

[25] “Vanderdoort, who had the charge of Charles I.’s collection,
hung himself because a miniature by Gibson was missing at the

[26] Dr. Doran’s “Table Traits,” p. 86.

[27] See Vehse’s “Court of Prussia,” p. 226.

[28] Prescott and Robertson, “History of the Reign of Charles V.,” vol.
ii. pp. 526-529; Vehse’s “Memoirs of the Court of Prussia,” p. 83.

[29] Dr. Doran’s “Monarchs Retired from Business,” 1857, vol. i. p. 316.

[30] “Romance of the Empress,” vol. ii. p. 181.

[31] See Dr. Doran’s “Table Traits.”

[32] See Wood’s “Letters of Royal Ladies,” vol. ii. p. 311.

[33] See Eccleston’s “Introduction to English Antiquities,” pp. 310-311.

[34] Lord Orford’s Works, vol. i. p. 149.

[35] Walpole’s Letters, vol. iii. p. 217.

[36] Wraxall’s “Hist. Memoirs,” vol. ii. pp. 5-9.

[37] “Diary and Letters of Madame d’Arblay,” vol. ii. p. 373.

[38] See Agnes Strickland’s “Lives of Queens of England,” vol. vi. p.

[39] “Court of England” (1688-1760).

[40] _Edinburgh Review_, 1869, vol. cxxix. p. 30.

[41] “Curiosities of Literature: Spanish Etiquette,” 1858, vol. i. p.

[42] “Curiosities of Literature: Spanish Etiquette,” 1858, vol. i. p.

[43] Vehse’s “History of the German Courts”; _Edinburgh Review_, vol.
civ. p. 409.

[44] See Vehse’s “History of the German Courts,” also _Edinburgh
Review_, vol. civ. p. 410.

[45] See _Edinburgh Review_, April 1867, p. 512.

[46] See Hall’s “Chronicles”; Agnes Strickland’s “Queens of England.”

[47] See “Russia,” by W. R. Morfill, 1891, p. 192.

[48] “The Story of a Throne: Catherine II. of Russia,” vol. ii. p. 217.

[49] Mrs. Lilly Grove, “Dancing,” p. 310.

[50] See Dr. Doran’s “Monarchs Retired from Business,” vol. ii. pp.

[51] See “History of Dancing,” by Mrs. Lilly Grove, 1895 (Badminton
Library), p. 243.

[52] In 1662 a royal academy of dancing was founded in Paris, and
two years afterwards Beauchamps received the title of “Directeur de
l’Académie de l’Art de la Danse.”

[53] Miss Pardoes, “Louis XIV. and the Court of France,” 1847, vol. ii.
p. 112.

[54] _Histoire des Princes de Condé._

[55] Marie Antoinette. _Correspondance secrète entre Marie Thérèse,
et le Comte de Merçy Argenteon, avec les lettres de Marie Thérèse et
de Marie Antoinette._ Paris, 1874. See _Edinburgh Review_, 1876, vol.

[56] “Peter the Great,” 1884, vol. i. pp. 135-137, 271.

[57] “Don Sebastian,” by Martha Walker Freer, 1864, p. 300.

[58] Prescott and Robertson, “History of the Reign of Charles V.,” vol.
ii. pp. 526, 551-552.

[59] Dr. Doran’s “Monarchs Retired from Business,” 1857, vol. i. p. 321.

[60] See Soulavie’s “Historical and Political Memoirs of the Reign of
Louis XVI.”

[61] Ibid.

[62] Sir David Brewster’s “Lectures on Natural Magic.”

[63] Miss Pardoe, “Louis XIV. and the Court of France,” vol. iii. pp.

[64] D’Israeli’s “Curiosities of Literature,” vol. i. p. 242.

[65] “Court of Prussia,” p. 246.

[66] See Vehse’s “History of the German Courts”; _Edinburgh Review_,
1856, vol. civ. pp. 405-406.

[67] Rowland Whyte to Sir Robert Sidney.

[68] See Crowe’s “History of France,” vol. ii. p. 254.

[69] “Historical and Political Memoirs of the Reign of Louis XVI.”

[70] Warton’s “History of English Poetry.”

[71] Eccleston’s “Introduction to English Antiquities,” p. 308.

[72] See Payne Collier’s “Annals of the Stage,” vol. i. p. 303.

[73] On her progress through England in 1603 there was an elegant
reception at Althorpe, when the “Masque of the Fairies,” by Ben Jonson,
was represented. See Nichol’s “Progresses.”

[74] See Eccleston’s “English Antiquities,” pp. 427-429.

[75] See Dr. Doran’s “Monarchs Retired from Business,” vol. i. pp.

[76] Mrs. Lilly Grove, “Dancing,” p. 181.

[77] See Crowe’s “History of France,” vol. ii. pp. 44-45.

[78] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 41.

[79] Dr. Doran’s “Monarchs Retired from Business,” vol. i. p. 372.

[80] Dr. Doran’s “Court Fools,” p. 381.

[81] “Gustavus III. and the French Court.” By A. Geffroy. See
_Edinburgh Review_, vol. cliv. pp. 90-91.

[82] Steinmetz, “The Gaming Table,” vol. i. p. 70.

[83] _Quarterly Review_, 148, pp. 536-537.

[84] Steinmetz, “The Gaming Table,” vol. i. pp. 105-107.

[85] Agnes Strickland’s “Lives of the Queens of England,” vol. ii. p.

[86] Ibid., vol. iv. p. 485.

[87] See Jesse’s “Court of England” (1688-1760), vol. iii. pp. 57-58.

[88] Jesse’s “Court of England,” vol. iii. pp. 213-214.

[89] “Four Georges.”

[90] See “History of Horse Racing,” 1863, pp. 20-21; Anderson’s “Origin
of Commerce.”

[91] Devon’s “Issues of the Exchequer,” p. 180.

[92] “History of Horse Racing,” 1863, pp. 28-29.

[93] “A General System of Horsemanship.” By William Cavendish, Duke of

[94] See “The Turf,” by Nimrod, 1851, pp. 7-8.

[95] See Nichol’s “Progresses of James I.,” vol. ii. p. 265.

[96] Ibid., vol. iii. p. 279.

[97] “The Turf,” by Nimrod, p. 9.

[98] Cooper’s “Annals of Cambridge,” vol. iii. p. 598.

[99] “The Turf,” by Nimrod, pp. 9-10.

[100] “The History of Horse Racing,” p. 72.

[101] “The Turf,” by Nimrod, p. 10.

[102] “The Turf,” by Nimrod, pp. 71-72.

[103] “The Turf,” by Nimrod, p. 73.

[104] See Strutt’s “Sports and Pastimes,” 1876, p. 160.

[105] “Pastimes and Players,” by Robert Macgregor, p. 109.

[106] Jesse, “England under the Stuarts,” vol. iii. pp. 309-310.

[107] See Sheppard’s “The Old Royal Palace of Whitehall,” 1902, pp.

[108] “Pastimes and Players,” pp. 162-172.

[109] See E. J. Wood, “Giants and Dwarfs,” pp. 314-315.

[110] See E. J. Wood, “Giants and Dwarfs,” p. 257.

[111] _Quarterly Review_, vol. cix. p. 203.

[112] “Memoirs of Charles I.,” _Quarterly Review_, vol. cix. pp.

[113] _The Spectator_, February 9, 1901.

[114] See Burnet’s “History of his Own Time,” vol. iv. p. 406, note.

[115] “Dictionary of National Biography.”

[116] See Dr. Doran’s “Monarchs Retired from Business,” vol. i. p. 233.

[117] See D’Israeli’s “Curiosities of Literature,” vol. i. pp. 228-29.

[118] Prescott’s “History of Ferdinand and Isabella,” 1851, vol. ii. p.

[119] Dr. Doran’s “Monarchs Retired from Business,” vol. ii. p. 288.

[120] Jesse, “Under the Stuarts,” vol. ii. p. 211.

[121] Planché, “British Costume,” 1859, p. 319.

[122] “British Costume,” p. 330; Paper on Naval Uniforms, by Mr. Ellis,
read at the Society of Antiquaries, March 18, 1830.

[123] See “Life of Caroline Matilda, Queen of Denmark,” by Sir C. F.
Lascelles Wraxall.

[124] Mons. de Masson, _Mémoires Sècrets sur la Russie_.

[125] “The Private Life of Marie Antoinette,” by Jeanne Louise
Henriette Caupan, 1884.

[126] “History of the Reformation,” 1865, vol. ii. p. 373.

[127] “Ecclesiastical Memorials,” 1822, vol. ii. p. 507.

[128] “History of his Own Time.”

[129] “Fortunes of Nigel,” chap. vi.

[130] “History of France,” vol. ii. pp. 647-648.

[131] See “History of Court Fools,” to which we are indebted for many
facts in this chapter.

[132] “Monarchs Retired from Business,” vol. ii. pp. 170-171.

[133] Strutt’s “Sports and Pastimes,” 1876, p. 233.

[134] See Collier’s “Annals of the Stage,” 1879, vol. i. pp. 83-85.

[135] Ibid., p. 89.

[136] See Collier’s “Annals of the Stage,” 1879, vol. i. p. 97.

[137] See Collier’s “Annals of the Stage,” vol. i. p. 187, and Harleian
MS., No. 146.

[138] “Annals of the Stage,” vol. i. p. 366.

[139] Dr. Doran’s “Their Majesties’ Servants,” vol. ii. p. 136.

[140] Dr. Doran’s “Their Majesties’ Servants,” vol. ii. p. 141.

[141] Jesse’s “Memoirs of the Life and Reign of George III.,” vol. ii.
p. 60.

[142] “Four Georges,” p. 343.

[143] Dr. Doran’s “Their Majesties’ Servants,” 1888, vol. iii. p. 36.

[144] “The French Stage in the Eighteenth Century.” Frederick Hawkin’s
Introduction, pp. xii.-xiii.

[145] Ibid., vol. i. pp. 113-14.

[146] “History of Marie Antoinette.”

[147] Madame Campan, “Private Life of M. Antoinette.”

[148] “Court of Austria,” vol. ii. pp. 8, 9.

[149] See Doran’s “Monarchs Retired from Business,” vol. ii. pp.

[150] “The French Stage,” Theodore Hook, 1841.

[151] “Royal and Noble Authors.”

[152] See D’Israeli’s “Curiosities of Literature” (James I.).

[153] _Edinburgh Review_, 1823, vol. xxxix., p. 87.

[154] _Ency. Brit._, 9th edition (Article “Portugal”).

[155] Stephens’ “History of Portugal,” 1891, pp. 89, 90-91.

[156] W. R. Morfill, “Russia,” pp. 245-246.

[157] “Catherine II. of Russia,” from the French of R. Waliszewski,
1894, vol. ii.

[158] “Monarchs Retired from Business,” vol. ii. pp. 321-322.

[159] See _Edinburgh Review_, vol. xxxix. pp. 85-86.

[160] Agnes Strickland, “Lives of Queens of England,” vol. iv. p. 191.

[161] “Lives of Queens of England,” vol. iv. pp. 453-454.

[162] See _Quarterly Review_, vol. cvi. p. 103; “Chappell’s Popular
Music of the Olden Times.”

[163] “Four Georges,” 1878, p. 343.

[164] “The Croker Papers: The Correspondence and Diaries of the late
Right Honourable John Wilson Croker, LL.D., F.R.S., Secretary to the
Admiralty from 1809 to 1830.” Edited by Louis J. Jennings, 1884.

[165] Theodore Martin’s “Life of Prince Consort,” vol. i. pp. 85-86.

[166] “Dictionary of National Biography.”

[167] See the “Private Life of Mary Antoinette,” by Jeanne Louise
Henriette Campan, 1884, vol. i. pp. 184-185.

[168] Prescott and Robertson, “History of the Reign of Charles V.,”
vol. ii. p. 553.

[169] Frances Gerard, “The Romance of Ludwig II. of Bavaria,” _The
Standard_, September 18, 1899.

[170] See Buckle’s “History of Civilisation,” 1867, vol. i. pp.
376-377; and Lecky’s “History of Rationalism in Europe,” 1871, vol. i.
p. 283.

[171] Flammarion’s “Astronomical Myths,” p. 345.

[172] _Edinburgh Review_, vol. lxxx. p. 210.

[173] Crowe’s “History of France,” vol. ii. pp. 251-252.

[174] See “Finger Ring Lore,” William Jones, p. 166.

[175] See paper on “Royal Cramp Rings” in _Archæological Journal_, vol.
xxi. pp. 103-113.

[176] “History of the Reign of Charles V.,” 1857, vol. ii. p. 540.

[177] See Crowe’s “History of France,” vol. i. pp. 297-298.

[178] “Memoirs of the Court of England” (1688-1760), vol. ii. pp.

[179] See Crowe’s “History of France,” vol. i. p. 363.

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