Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Part 2/Hoghton Pageant in 1617


The following is given in Nichols's "Progresses of James I." as "A speech made to King James at his coming to Hoghton Tower [in August 1617] by two conceived to be the household gods. The first attired in a purple taffeta mantle, in one hand a palm-tree branch, on his head a garland of the same, and in the other hand a dog":—

First Tutelar God.

This day, great King, for government admired,
Which these thy subjects have so much desired,
Shall be kept holy in their heart's best treasure,
And vowed to James, as is this month to Cæsar.
And now the landlord of this ancient tower,
Thrice fortunate to see this happy hour,
Whose trembling heart thy presence sets on fire,
Unto this house (the heart of all the shire)
Does bid thee hearty welcome, and would speak it
In higher notes, but extreme joy doth break it.
He makes his guest most welcome, in whose eyes
Love-tears do sit,—not he that shouts and cries.
And we, the gods and guardians of this place,
I of this house—he of the fruitful chace—
Since the Hoghtons from this hill took name,
Who with the stiff unbridled Saxons came;

And so have flourished in this fairer clime
Successively from that to this our time,
Still offering up to our immortal powers
Sweet incense, wine, and odoriferous flowers,
While sacred Vesta, in her virgin tire,
With vows and wishes tends the hallowed fire.
Now seeing that thy majesty we see,
Greater than country gods, more good than we,
We render up to thy more powerful guard
This house. This knight is thine, he is thy ward;
For by thy helping and auspicious hand
He and his home shall ever, ever stand,
And flourish in despite of envious Fate,
And then live, like Augustus, fortunate.
And long, long mayest thou live! To which both men,
God, saints, and angels, say, "Amen, Amen!"

The Second Tutelar God begins:—

Thou greatest of mortals! [He is nonplussed.

The First God begins again:—

Dread Lord! the splendour and the glorious ray
Of thy high majesty hath stricken dumb
His weaker godhead. If that himself he come
Unto thy service straight, he will commend
These foresters, and charge them to attend
Thy pleasure in this park, and show such sport
To the chief huntsman and thy princely court
As the small circuit of this round affords,
And be more ready than he was in 's words.

This is doubtless the same pageant thus recorded in Nicholas Assheton's Journal:—"Then, about ten or eleven o'clock, a mask of noblemen, knights, gentlemen, and courtiers, afore the King, in the middle round, in the garden. Some speeches; of the rest, dancing the Huckler, Tom Bedlo, and the Coup Justice of Peace." The Rev. Canon Raines, who edited the journal for the Chetham Society, observes—"These ancient and fashionable Lancashire dances have passed away and are forgotten. The origin of the second name is obviously" (from the Tom o' Bedlams, released from that hospital, and licensed to beg, wearing tin badges. There was also a play or interlude of "Tom o' Bedlam, the Tinker"). The particular frolic here referred to seems to be described in the following passage from the "History of Preston," vol. ii. p. 358:— "A grand masque took place, and a rush-bearing was introduced, in which a man was enclosed in a dendrological foliage of fronds, and was the admiration of the company. This spectacle was exhibited in that part of the garden called 'the middle circular.' Speeches were made in dialogue wittily pleasant, and all kinds of frolics were carried on to the highest pitch, by Robin Goodfellow, Will Huckler, Tom Bedloe, Old Crambo, Jem Tosspot, Dolly Wango, and the Cap Justice. These characters were played to the life; and the Justices Crooke, Houghton, and Doddridge, who were present, declared to the King that 'the Cap Justice was acted to the very life.' Sir John Finett, knight, and master of the ceremonies to the King, performed the part of Cap Justice." Crambo is named in Ben Jonson's masque of the "Fortunate Isles." Recent inquiry has thrown much doubt upon the strict accuracy of this passage.