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FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY
FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY
Chambers's London Journal
Chambers's London Journal of History, Literature, Poetry, Biography, and Adventure, v. 2, no. 82, De...
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Chambers's London Journal of History, Literature, Poetry, Biography, and Adventure, v. 2, no. 82, December 17, 1842.
Blanchard, Edward Litt Leman.
21 October 2015
London: W. Strange ... W. Clements ... and G. Berger
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raw-.'...s..;+...., ' ' r r ,L 11..-.41 “ BY EDVCATXDN MEN Bxcolllln EASY To LEAD, BUT DIFHCIJLI‘ To DRIVE-EASY 1'0 GOVEEN, BUT IMPOSSIBLE TO I-ZNSLAVE."--LORD ERDIIG NUMBER 82. - SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1342. :1: > E‘. PRICE THREE HALFPENCE. A Gossip about Christmas- EI THE EDITOR. " with footstep slow in furry pzll yclad, His brows cnwrearlml wit Iolly, never sere. Old Christmas come: to close the waning year.” Axn right welcome shall he be to our town homes and hearths at least. If Christmas bring, in this year of grace Eighteen hundred and Forty-two, no other pass- port to our favour than mere recollections of how it was spent in days bygone, it shall yet be enough; and as we respect the child in vcneration for the memory of the father, so will we extend to the blu&'old fellow a hearty recognition of good fellowship, if only in grateful re- membrance for the delights he has lavished upon us with no niggard hands in times past. The trampling out of many of our oldest and best associations, has followed the stately tread of Intellectls march in this as well as in many other customs. One by one have relics of former usages been swept away from the surface of so- ciety, leaving us little save the period itselfto recall the festivities by which it was once attended. Oh! ’tvl-as indeed "merry in the hall when beards wagged all," and merry shall it again be, if hearts as warm and minds as ardent as those of old can make it so. We have no sympathy with your matter-of-fact people, that can think of May without its May-pole-and December without its Christmas. We sighed a requiem over the old watch- men, and yet anticipate being present to sing a mournful dirge at the funeral of the last stage-coach; but changes as great are already in progress. The very waits, wnoso existence seemed to depend upon this festal era, have gradually subsided into silence, and the night is no longer rendered harmonious by any concord of sweet sounds. Here and there a few straggling glee-singers may, under the momentary influence of malt, jerk from under their tattered coats a few faint notes of what was once a glee, but the spirit of the thing has long de- ported, and the custom itself almost interred in the ample cemetery of the New Police Act. Yes l Christmas, the season of fun and feasting, wine and wassailing, pie-making and merry-making, is now come, and he is much to be pitied who, having it within his power, spends not his Christmas as merrily as he ought. Let the yuls-log he placed on the glowing tire, put the wnssail-bowl on the table, surround your hearth with a cheerful social circle, and then see whether Christmas he not a thing to be loved for its own sake. Setting apart any reference to those holy thoughts which are connected peculiarly with this season, and which are by far too sacred to be lightly touched on here, Christmas comes as I silent monitor ofthe year, to remind us that as all things on earth are fleeting and transient, so the life ofman may be so too. The melanv oholy similitude hetween the old nge of humanity and the decline of the year, has been too often and too elaborately dwelt upon to need from ourselves any further allusion, but we may be allowed to suggest that ‘lie interpretation of this metaphor should never escape the redective mind. The green holly may have its emblem in the sincerity of friendship, which so far from changing in adversity assumes even a. brighter aspect ; we arming mow may be likened to human hopes, that melt into vapour when in Contact with the earth; but Christmas and the fall of the leaf must come home to our very heart ofhearts, as n memento of age and natural decay, and as a striking; illustrationpf the mutability of evcrrthing worldly and world-like. If we turn to the black-lettered tomes of our ancestors, No. 50. Vol. ll. rich in rare conceits, and plentifully bespread with the antiquarian learning of that day, we shall find that this degenerate agehas lapped most of the stalwart branches that bore good fruit at the holding of this festival. The England of the sixteenth century must have didered widely from that of the nineteenth, both in the nature and the extent of Christmas hospitality. A glance at the customs that existed in days of yore may not he devoid of interest in the present day. On Christmas-eve our ancestors were wont to light up candles of an enormous size, called Christmas candles, and lay a log of wood upon the tire, called the yule-log, or clog, which illuminated the house, and turned, as it were, night into day. This was the time, according to our old friend and poet, convivial Herrick, that one should- " Drink mw the strong bcere, Cut llunvllilc Iuaf hell‘, The while the “heal is a shredding; r ‘ ‘e, . And rhq . , To all the paste rlmm 4 kneading." The words lack not music, for the lips themselves twang mental music at the very mention of the “rare mince pie," which we warrant us was of no mean di- mensions. The elder poets are capital gossips about these ceremonies, and evidently thought it no discredit for Apollo to he sometimes the historian of the larder. Their imagination seemed to he marvellously stimulated at the sight of these formidable edibles, and the strings of their harp were not dulled in tone, apparently, if steeped in sack, for what says writers of this festive ime 1- “ L0, now is (‘0llIl' our festive feast, tcvery llllll e ally; Each room uilll tin: leaves is dressed, And every post “ in. lmlly. Now all our ...>;g1.lm...-u' chilnncys rmokc, And Cltrislmus Irlucks are burning; Their ovulrs vy ilh baked meals choke, And all Illcir spits are turning. “'irhi-nl the ulnar lcl sorrou lie, And iffur Crllll it hip to dle, “'c'll bury it in our Christmas pic, I Aurl etc) more be mcnye " And everrnorebe merrye.” What a delicate burden the lay hath! It reminds us of the endless happiness ofthose heroes and heroines of our juvenile fairy his. tories, when, after dcspnlching troops of scrccrcrs and regiments of giants, the happy couple retired to some ideal country-house, and, surrounded by every enjoy. ment, lived happily together “ for ever and a day.” Four and twenty hours thrown into the bargain ! “Think of this, Master Brooke." But these songs remind us of another portion ofour existence, when- “ Now is he The hapless cripple, umin-; through the streets is carol now; and on nrniti 2 gloom or midnight mm. prevails the’ accustonlcrl sounds or wakelul waits (whose melody, compose or harltboy, organ, violin, and Hilft, And various other lllzslnlments of mlrrh), li mum to celebrate the coming rime Bishop Taylor observes, that the Gloria in Bzrelsix, the well-known hymn sling by the angels to tho shep- herds at our Lord's nativity, was the earliest Christmas carol on record: the word carol itself being derived from culture, to sing, and relax, an interjection of joy. The custom of bringing in the boar’: head at Christmas, garnished with rosemary, is of the most remote tinti- quity. In a curious tract by Thomas Dekker, entitled " The Wonderful Year, 1605," he speaks of persons apprehensive of catching the plague, “ who go miching and mutlied up and downs. with rue and worrnwood stulfed into their car) and nostrils, looking like so many bores’ heads stuck with branches of rosemary, to he served in with brawne ntChristrn:l.s.” Thiswas anoiently the nrst dish on Christmas Day ; and Wynlrin de Worde supplies us with a curious carol in honour of its intro- duction, which, if we mistake not, is retained inQueen's College, Oxford, down to thisvery d:ly:- “The Barn‘: llozdc in hanlle bring I, win. gnrlanrl-4: gay and rnscmal-ye, I pray you Ill syugc lntrrily, Qui estis in cmlririo. “The llort-‘s lln:lrl,I El‘l(lL'l"lZAiltlE, is [he c '91" szrvice in the lanll Luke wlicrexcr it be fantle. ‘eruitecrlrii carrtico. “ Do glallrlc, Lordcs all, more or 11940. For this hath 0rd.Iym:ll our uewanl To clu-or each mm] at this Chrisltllzissc, The llort-'3 Head with nillstardc." n the "Vindication of Christmas, or his Twelve Yeare’s Observations upon the Times,” a very rare and curious tract, old Christmas is introduced, describing the former annual festivities of the season ns follows :- “ After dinner we arose from the board and sat by the lire, where the llartll was embroderod all over with roasted apples, piping hot, expecting a hols of ale, for a cooler,which im ' , was transformed into larnlfs wool. After which we discoursed merrily without pra- hanity or obscenity; some went to cards, others sang carols and pleasant songs, suitable for the times; then the poor labouring hinds and maid servants, with the ploughboys, went nimbly to dancing, the poor toyling wretches being glad of my company, because they had little or no sport at all till I came amongst them; and then they skipped and leaped for joy, singing in blight- some carol to the tune of ‘ lley it-rs ilanco, and sing, and make goovl rlrr--r, For Christmas only comes but once in every year.’ Thus, at active games and ganibols ofhot cockles,'shoo- ing the wild mare, and the like harmless sports, we spent some part of the tedious night, and early in the morning I took my leave of them, promising they should have my presence again on the next 25th of December." And so we earncslly hope they had. But we are truly speaking of the season as it used to be. December has this year been hitherto uncharac- terised by any of ils wonted rigour and severity; On the very day during which this article is penned the thermometer verges upon tifiy in the shade, and 3 southerly zephyr isvvafting fragrance to our olfactory nerves from gay parterres, yet dressed in their summer garb. We hrmly believe-mind we whisper this in strict confidence-that the weather has never been alto. gather right since Captains Ross and Parry went poking about the North Pole. These expeditions seern sadly to have disconcerted our ideas of the months ; and un- less there be another new style, we shall have Dozemher and January regular summer months, with its instead of ices in July and August. To show the ditfercnca of opinion that exists on this subject, we may add that a weather-wise correspondent of a provincial paper holds out to us the prospcctofbeing able, during the coming winter, to roast an ox on the Thames. He says, “ The most severe winters in Great Britain are when the cold planet Saturn is traversing Capricorn, when we have protracted frost and snow storms oftwo or threevmonths long, as was the case in 1781, 178.3, and 1816. The years correspond- ing with the years 1784 and ‘I785 (remarlrahle for winters ofunusual severity), ore184S and H; hutmore particularly severe upon the last, since upon the year 1844 the deiiciency of the years 19349 and -:3 will fall with the gre1lesleE'ect-:2 season which promises to - . r‘ ,.. :.%l....m.;...,-mrmu‘; , l l i 91‘: