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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. 83, De...
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Chambers's London Journal of History, Literature, Poetry, Biography, and Adventure, v. 2, no. 83, December 24, 1842.
Blanchard, Edward Litt Leman.
21 October 2015
London: W. Strange ... W. Clements ... and G. Berger
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l l rev " BY EDUCATION MEN BECOME IASY TO LEAD, BUT DIFFIEULT T0 nizlvs:-HA5! 1'0 GOVERN, BUT IMPOSSIBLE TD l':Nsl.AvB."-Loin) nnuvcnan. NUMBER 83. SATURDAY, DECERIUIER 24, 1842. PRICE TiiREETl.iLFi>i3NcE. Christmas Parties. KY THE EDITOR. Auoxo the infinite number of good old customs now unhappily fallen into desuetude, or swallowed up in the present rage for innovations, there are few with which uul r:tuii6l' associations are more closely connected , or with which our tastes are more intimately blended, than a Christmas Party. Pause, reader, and look back for a moment to the time when you were invited to the firstChristmas party. What a dream of former happi- ness is revived-how many a scene of early love-how many a group of joyous faces-how many a friend now no more-and how many an incident, not even at this distant period forgotten, press back at once upon the memory; making us, in imagination, once more children, and presenting to our view the hopes and the fears, the smiles and the glances, which we once felt, and by which we were once actuated. Of parties, there are as many ditferent descriptions as there are days in the year; and these may again be sub- divided into those peculiar to certain classes. Amongst the latter may be enumerated the bachelor's party-a periodical display of songs and cigars, cribbage-playing and gin>and-water. The water party-an assembly of persons who emulate pic-nics, and desiderate senti- mentalism. Then there is the washerwoman’s party--- on annual return of gossip and strong tea. Together with the private party, the public party, the card party, the musical party, the shooting party, and the political party-all ofwhich manifest characteristic peculiarities of their own. But, above all,'commend us to the genuine properly-so-called Christmas party, which starts up before our mental vision as we write the words. Nay, we have avivid recollection of one in particular, whereat we had the pleasure ofheing present some few Decem- bers bygone. It matters little to the general reader where the venue ofour story is laid-let it suffice that we endeavour to give him a meagre outline of what a Christmas party ought to be. No dancing in fetters, no tight-laced constraint, no musn’t-laugh-out-loud notions of propriety; but all “ righte merrie" gibes and gambols,which do the heart more good in one hour, than mere l-iomilies about good-fellowship preached for atwelvemonth. Attaching ourselves to the tenacious skirts of an imaginary Cleophas, about to accompany an ideal Asmodeus on one of his usual excursions, oil‘ we fly at a tangent-pop through the air, like the aerial ship that is to be-and rifting the root ofa certainhouse from its uncertain foundation, we alight upon the tiles, and-there we are. It is a night when the members ofthe family, however widely they may be dispersed, are gathered together under the same roof-a night to which they have anxiously looked forward since the termination of the one in the previous year, and a night which effects more good in producing concord and unanimity among the several branches of the family, than all that could be said or written about it between this and fifty years bence. The worthy host is one who is suliiciently rich to possess the comforts, and most of the luxuries of life, and yet sutliciently poor to appreciate the value of them, whilst his wife is in every respect a at companion and helpmote for him of whom we have !P0k9“- T59 young lady to the right is the eldest daughter of the mistress of the house, and the young man mth Whom she is so earnestly engaged, is her cousin, to whopi Illa will doubtless be united. The painted vignettes in the No. 51. Vol. II. ' album that lies upon yonder table, are mostly hers, and the illustrative poetry her cousin's. Next to these two is “Aunt Mary," is good-humourcd spectator of the scene around her, and contemplating with looks that betray no small satisfaction, the reflection of her last new sillilavender-coloured gown in the mirror oppo- site. Farther on are a group of laughing children, weaving those ingenious parenthetical perplexities which are designated, somewhat ignobly we think, “ cats’-cradles,” an innocent amusement, which we have a shrewd belief once formed a portion of the Eleusinian mysteries. But there is a knock at the door, and the servant, in a mysterious and confidential whisper to her mistress, announces the arrival of Uncle John; and forthwith Uncle John wailks in himself, decorated with a nose of considerable punch-like dimensions, to the inlinits amusement of the children, and the animndver- sions ofgrandpapa, who thinks it rather too early for Uncle John “ to begin his [IfllnlK5 yet." Then Aunt Mary gets up and tries on the nose, and the children scream again with deliglitas Uncle John leads her to the looking-glass to see her figure more closely. But tea is announced, and thejuvenile portion get very assiduous in bonding round the mufhns and crumpots, and Uncle John becomes very facetious upon the quantity that is eaten, comparing Master William to a pony that is running for the plate; wliereat those who do under- stand the joks smile. and those who do not, laugh outright, until grandpnpa names the very identical ago in Joe Miller from which it was borrowed, whereupon they all laugh heartily again, and Uncle John louder than any of them. Then, the boys get inquisitive, and wonder if there was any greater adinity than the name between the wag just men- tioned, and Mr. Joseph Miller, their sclmolmaster-a doubt satisfactorily set at rest by Uncle John, who in- forms them that Joseph the first admired Christmas on account of Nature having made it a perpetual holly- day-a saying, they imagine, quite foreign to the no- tions of a schoolmaster, and in which we are not quite sure that they are wrong after all. More knocking at the door, more scraping of shoes, more whispering, and Aunt Margaret arrives with her arty; then Uncle John imparts to Aunt Margaret how much better it is to be there late than never-a senti- ment in which it appears Aunt Margaret fully coincides. So the old folks get together and talk about their java. nile exploits when they were children, and the Iron. derful alterations they have seen since lamenting the degeneracy of the age, and reverting to the delights of theiryoutbful days as the very patterns of happiness and tranquillity. Another lmoclr, more timid than the previous one, a hesitatiog shuiile on the door-mat, and enter Uncle Thomas, one of the " poor" relations, who could not leave business before, as ho is "engaged inlhe city.” Then Uncle John suggests that the dancing should begin forthwith, a suggestion warmly responded to by the youthful branches; and away they hurry to the kitchen, which has been transformed into.u temporary ball-room. The two cousins contrive somehow to be there first, and there is uslightattempt at a kiss beneath the mistletoe, to which, after the customary resistance, and decorous display of maidanly cnyness, she at last consents. Then, Master William, who has stolen down into the kitchen unobserved, during the performance of the obove,threatens to run up stairs again, and “ tell"- is threat, however, not put into execution, on account of the young lady kissing him in a similar manner; so that when the rest come down, noholy, as the cousin observes, lmows anything about the matter. The dance, a country one, commences, and the well- known air of“ Sir llcgerde Coverly" is revived. whilst papa and mamma lead oil" the ball. followed by Uncle John, with his additional nose, andAunt Mary, with her lavender silk gown. Then succeed Aunt Margaret and Uncle Thomas, who relaxes,liis usual gravity to join in the festive amusements of the evening, and after him are the two cousins, followed by a whole train of little masters and mistresses, who are all in a state of the most intense enjoyment, and carrying on a little innocent flirtation amongst tllemsclves. Between the intervals of this and the first set of quadrilles, Uncle John volunteers to dance a hornpipe on his head, which,lmw- ever, at the request ofiiunt Mary, is afterwards mollitiod into n nautical pas-seul, performed in the usual manner, much to the delight of everybody, himself included. Then grandpapa relates how he used, at one tin)!-, to dance a comic liornpipe in clogs. which was then looked upon as a feat ofa most extraordinary nature, and how in Spanish dances he was considered quite the imper- sonation ofgrace itself, but now, he odds, with a sigh. times are altered. And now sundry rumours are in circulation, that there is something occult and mys. terious goin on up stairs, and that preparations for an optical exhi tion are heingzealouslymade. So theoldcr boys resolve themselves into a corner, and talk about the Easternmagi and the Arabian nights, and a thousand other oriental subjects, wondering, at the some time, what these preparations can refer to. Then Uncle John goes up stairs, as he says, for a change, and the servant comes down, as she says, for oil, so their conjectures are . far from being‘ ccndrlned as to what the peculiar nature of his employment may be. At last, Aunt Mary, with a mystihed smile, announces that they are quite ready, and then they discover that the whispering: of Uncle John’: entmnce had reference to his bringing a magic - lantern, and that the said magic lantern had caused all the whisperings below, so they sit down content with their discovery, and listen with great attention to the opinions of Cousin George, who has been mystifying them also by his knowledge ofoptics. Then it is found that UncleJohn has secreted himst.-lfbehind the instru- ment, where he extempcrises I faceiious dialogue for the figures as they appear upon the sheet, which has the ed":-ct of making the young ones laugh, and the old ones too, for that matter. Then papa sings one of his favourite songs, which highly gratities the company assembled. and mamma in particular, who declares she has not heard him do such a ' s thing before from the period when they assembled there the year previous. The exhibition over, the old olks play at chess and cards, and the younger go down below again and renew their dancing under the auspices ofAunt Mary, who has resumed her situation at the head of the quadrilles, in which capacity she is once more assisted by Uncle John, who has become quits enthusiastic in promoting the good feeling and hilarity ofthc evening. Then the children are recalled upstairs to participate in the celuritic and finger-burning pasifm. of snap-dragon, and disport Ihereat ,with so much activity and good humour. that it really becomes mar. vellously pleasant to look upon. The supper, a huge collection of sandwiches, tarts, cnstards, and a multi- farious diversity of other enticing lhings, succeeds, and the mighty bowl of negus,with its floating; sippt-ts of lemon and toasted ruslrs, forms no bad conclusion to the