BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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ister, Cardinal Wolsey, felt himself (as we think he had good right to do) greatly scandalized at what, if not designed, was, by acci­dent, a palpable hint;—and, in order to teach the gentlemen of Gray's Inn that they were responsible for wounds given, if they happened to shoot arrows in the dark, he divested the ingenious author, Sergeant Roe, of his coif, and committed him to the Fleet, together with one of the actors, of the name of Moyle,—in order to afford them leisure for furnishing him with a satisfactory expla­nation of the matter.
In Dugdale's " Origines Juridiciales," we have an account of a magnificent Christmas which was kept at the Inner Temple, in the fourth year of Queen Elizabeth's reign ;—at which the Lord Robert Dudley, afterwards Earl of Leicester, presided, under the mock-title of Palaphilos, Prince of Sophie, High Constable Mar­shal of the Knights Templars, and Patron of the honorable order of Pegasus. A potentate with such a title would have looked very foolish without a "tail;"—and accordingly, he had for his mas­ter of the game, no less a lawyer than Christopher Hatton, after­wards Lord Chancellor of England, with four masters of the revels, a variety of other officers, and fourscore persons forming a guard. Gerard Leigh, who was so fortunate as to obtain the dig­nity of a knight of Pegasus, describes, as an eye-witness, in his " Accidence of Armorie," the solemn fooleries which were enacted on the occasion, by these worthies of the sword and of the gown.
Of coui-se, it was not to be expected that such shrewd courtiers as lawyers commonly are, if they had ever kept Christmas at all, should fail to do so, during the reign of this virgin queen,—when its celebration offered them such admirable opportunities for the administration of that flattery which was so agreeable to her ma­jesty, and might, possibly, be so profitable to themselves. We have great pleasure in recording a speech made by her majesty, on one of these occasions, nearly so much as two centuries and a half ago, but which, for its great excellence, has come down to our days. The gentlemen of Gray's Inn (their wits, probably, a little sharpened by the mistake which they had made in her father's time) had ventured upon a dramatic performance again; and, in the course of a masque which they represented before the
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