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Gentle Reader! I beg permission to introduce to you that most important personage ycleped - John Walle.
You are now, believe me, in the presence of the veritable owner of the ancient mansion, of which this splendid banqueting-room formed a part, and which latter it is the object of this humble work to elucidate.
I cannot disguise from you the fact, that, when I first announced my intended undertaking, this illuminated portrait was then considered, and spoken of by me, as that of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and Salisbury, well known by the unique appellation of “ The
King-Maker," whose arms and cognizance are conspicuous in the brilliant windows of this room ; but, on mature reflection, I discovered this opinion to be untenable, and, as I could not consistently assign it to any other person, and,
as there are strong grounds to support the appropriation, I cannot but believe, that this very curions portrait is the representation of Jihn Halle in the act of swearing fealty to the Royal Dynasty then on the throne-to the House of York.
As I believe, that the hypothesis, (discarded by me,) that this portrait is meant to represent Richard Neville, the great Earl of Warwick and Salisbury, “ the putter up, and the puller down of Kings,” is yet maintained by others from the faet, that his arms and cognizance do appear in the splendid windows of this ancient halle, and mayhap from the argument, that the costime is not, and cannot be, that of a merchant, 1 shall (leaving it to the future page to declare the why and the wherefore the arms do there so appear) not only support, as I proceed, the opinion, that it is the representation of the veritable John Valle, but I shall combat by valid arguments--indeed, I pledge myself to prove by historic data-that this very curious portrait
-cannot represent the doughty Earl of Warwick and Salisbury
If it be held, that the dress be too gorgeous for that of a merchant, I answer, that it is not inappropriate, when we consider it as the dress suit of the affluent man of commerce. be told, (and instances may be adduced against me from the “Sepulchral Monuments”of Gough) that the merchant, as sculptured on the tomb, or engraven on the ancient plate of brass, is represented as attired in a long gown, and low cap. This I readily admit; but such dress
may be regarded as more strictly professional it may be considered as the ordinary garb of the counting-house-as the in-door habit of the man of business—but, non constat, that John Halls was at all times thus arrayed ; for, certes, gentle reader, on holiday occasions he attired himself as other men ; we must not presume, that he attended the civic feast in a long gown, and low cap; and mayhap he did hunt the fox, or course the hare; indeed, perchaunce, he was himself the master of hounds, and I cannot bring myself to believe, that he took the field attired in a habit so ill suited to the occasio50 cumbersome to himself, and his mettlesome steed.
If, indeed, any reliance be placed by an adversary on the supposed want, in this instance, of the professional habit, the argument, if there be any thing in it, presses equally against himself. Had the portrait been intended to represent the Earl of Warwick and Salisbury, he, as the celebrated warrior of his day-whose food, and sport, was war-who, by his prowess, had seated Edward, the Fourth, on his throne, would have been pourtrayed, not in a civic dress, but in a full suit of armour, especially on such an occasion as that of swearing fealty to his Sovereign, and in such a martial suit we do see him depicted in the curious Roll of the Earls of Warwick, hy John Rous, the historical monk of Guy's Cliff, the original of which is in the Heralds' College, and thus he appears in an illuminated copy of that Roll-by the hands of the celebrated Sir William Dagdale, which is de
posited in the Library of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, and which I have lately personally inspected.
There is, however, another argument, which, I contend, proves to demonstration, that this is not the portrait of the Earl of Warwick and Salisbury, which is this : I proved, it may be remembered, in my third Essay, that this interesting room was erected in the reign of Edward, the Fourth, and in the interval between the years 1467 and 1484—between the purchase of the premises on the one hand, and the death of Sir Edmund Hungerford on the other (the convincing statement of which fact may be reperused in p. 44.) Now the person, represented in the portrait, supports with his one hand a banner with the royal arms, distinguished with the simple label of three points, and this proves it to be the banner of a Prince of Wales, the Heir Apparent to the Throne, and, as the room was erected in the reign of Edward, the Fourth, it cannot possibly be the arms of any other than those of his unfortunate son, Edward, the Fifth. He also places his other hand on his anelace, or dagger, as in the act of swearing fealty. He thus pledges to his Sovereign his fidelity-his readiness, and his determination to support both him and his lineage on the throne-to defend the line of the House of York. Here have I also historic data, on which not only to reason, but firmly to establish my conclusions. Let us inquire when, where, and under what circumstances, the birth of Edward, the Fifth, took place. From certain causes, unnecessary here