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I WAS led into the following investigation from a natural and kind of instinctive curiosity, and a desire of knowing what was the antient state of the Court to which I have the honour, by the favour of his Grace William the late Duke of Devonshire, to compose a part. It is obvious to suppose that so large a body must have undergone various revolutions, and have borne very different complexions according to times and circumstances: and having occasion to consult some MSS. in the Lord Chamberlain's Office, by his Lordship's permission, upon a matter of no consequence to relate, I
thought I discerned, in the course of mv search, that materials were to be found sufficient to furnish out a detail. Having free access to the use of a large Library, and by the favour of many friends, to whom I take this opportunity of testifying my obligations, I was enabled to trace back the state of the Court in darker ages, though but by a glimmering light.
Notwithstanding ample revenues have always been provided for support of the dignity and splendour of the Royal House of the Kings of England, equal, if not perhaps superior, to those of any Court in Europe, yet we shall find they have varied very much in different Reigns, as times and circumstances have required; though not always for laudable reasons. Some of our Kings have been so profuse, that, either from their extensive liberality, or more frequently worse inducements, they have thereby lessened the estates of the Crown so very much, that retrenchments, either in the number or expence of their Households (and sometimes both) have become the necessary conse
quence. Others * have found the Crown Revenues so much contracted at their Accession, that they have been obliged to demand resumptions of grants made by their immediate Predecessor, in order to enable themselves to support the Regal dignity with a proper degree of splendour. Others +, again, from a wanton spirit of prodigality, have rendered it necessary for them to resume even their own grants; a measure equally scandalous to the character of the Prince, as derogatory to the honour of the Crown.
As to resumptions, several of each sort will be seen in the following sheets, antecedent to the Reformation; and since that period there have been repeated occasions for reductions (ex necessitate rei) in the tumultuous reigns of Charles the First, Charles the Second, and James the Second.
When we speak of the superior magnificence of our own Court, we may add, that no other makes so liberal appointments to its Officers, could we know the Establishments of the rest.
* Henry II. t William Rufus.
In France they figure away with thousand's of livres per annum; but, when these come to. be liquidated into pounds sterling, the idea is lost, and the appointment of a Lord of the Bed-chamber sinks down into a salary not superior to our Gentlemen Ushers.
In Poland the Officers of the State and Household have no salaries nor fees*; but are content with the honour, unless the King chose to reward them with a Starostie, a kind of Fiefs inherent in the Crown for this purpose.
At the Court of Turin, the salaries of the Officers of the Court are extremely small, and every way inadequate to their rank. Frugality and ceconomy, exercised in a Royal manner, are the characteristics of that Court; insomuch as that, if the Officers of State had not an income arising from their patrimony, their salaries would not afford them food and raiment f. ,
* See Letters concerning the present state of Poland, printed for T. Payne, 1773, Letter iii. p. 57.
t Lord Corke's Letters from Italy, published 177S;, p.. 53.
The Emperor of Germany has one very 'singular prerogative, very inconvenient to the inhabitants of Vienna, that of taking to himself the first floor of everv house in the City (a few privileged places excepted) for the use of the Officers of his Court and Army; so that, on this account, says my Author *, "Princes, Ambassadors, and Nobles, usually inhabit the second stories; and the third, fourth, and even fifth floors (the houses being large and high) are well fitted up for the reception of opulent and noble families." The houses being so large, a single floor suffices for most of the principal and largest families in the City.
For particulars relative to the Court of Denmark, it may be sufficient to refer to the account given by Lord Molesworth, who resided several years as Envoy Extraordinary from King William III.
* Dr. Burney, in his Present State of Munich, in Germany, vol. I. pp. 205, 295.