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Ye virgins then your cleanly rooms prepare, And let the windows bays and laurel wear;
Your Rosemary preserve to dress your Bees, Nor forget me, which I advise in chief.
Another on the same.
Now, Mrs. Betty, o get up and rise,
It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader, that several notices of this day have been already presented; yet, many as they are, there are others from whence a few may be gleaned, with the probability of their still being acceptable.
With Mr. Leigh Hunt, who is foremost among modern admirers of the old festivals of the season, Christmas is, as it ought to be, the chief. His papers, in 1817, which occasioned the following letter, are not at hand to cite; and, perhaps if they were, the excellent feelings of his “fair correspondent" might be preferred to some of even his descriptions,
To the Editor of the Examiner.
Sir, I am of the number of your readers who recollect, with pleasure and gratitude, your papers last year on keeping Christmas, and I looked forward with a hope, which has not been disappointed, that you would take some notice again of its return. I feel unwilling to intrude on your valuable time, yet I cannot refrain from thanking you for your cheering attempts to enforce a due observance of this delightful season. I thank you in my own name, and I thank you in the name of those to whom the spring of life is opening in all its natural and heartfelt enjoyments, I thank you in the name of the more juvenile part of the holyday circle, who, released from the thraldom of school discipline, are come home, (that expressive word,) to bask awhile in the eyes and the smiles of their fond parents; and, lastly, I thank you on behalf of those who have none to plead for them, and to whom pleasure is but a name—the sick at heart and sick in body, the friendless and the fatherless, the naked and the hungry. To all of these I hope to exrend a portion of happiness and of help,
* Bellman's Treasury, 1707.
When you talk about Leicester
Whether these verses were written by Mr. Nichols or not, the mention of his name occasions it to be observed, that about a week before the present date he died, at the age of eighty-five.
The editor of this humble work, who has derived much assistance in its progress from the “Gentleman's Magazine,” o”. Nichols edited for nearly half a century, would omit to do rightly if he were not thus to acknowledge the obligation. Nor can he recollect without .. of respectful gratitude, that his name appeared a few years ago in the “Domestic Occurrences” of the “Gentleman's Magazine” with fidelity to its readers, unaccompanied by remarks which some of its admirers might, perhaps, at that time have admired. Its critical pages subsequently distinguished the volume on “Ancient Mysteries" by approval; and since then they have been pleased to favour, and even praise, the publication of which this is the last sheet. There was no personal intimacy to incline such good-will, and therefore it may be fairly inferred to have resulted stom pure feelings and principles of equity. Mr. Nichols's rank as a literary antiquary is manifested by many able and elaborate . As he declined in life, his active duties gradually and naturally devolved on his successor: may that gentleman live as long in health and wealth, and be remembered with as high honour, as his revered father.
Dec. 23, 1826. W. H.
On Christmas-eve, (new style,) 1753, a vast concourse of people attended the noted thorn, but to their great disappointment there was no appearance of its blowing, which made them watch it narrowly the 5th of January, the Christmasday, (old style,) when it blowed as usual. –London Evening Post.
On the same evening, at Quainton, in Buckinghamshire, above two thousand people went, with lanterns and candles, to view a blackthorn in that neighbourhood, and which was remembered to be a slip from the famous Glastonbury thorn,
should be kept holy as before."
This famous hawthorn, which grew on a hill in the church-yard of Glastonburyabbey, it has been said, sprung from the staff of St. Joseph of Arimathea, who having fixed it in the ground with his own hand on Christmas-day, the staff took root immediately, put forth leaves, and the next day was covered with milk-white blossoms. It has been added, that this thorn continued to blow every Christmasday during a long series of years, and that slips from the original plant are still preserved, and continue to blow ever Christmas-day to the present time.
There certainly was in the abbey churchyard a hawthorn-tree, which blossomed in winter, and was cut down in the time of the civil wars: but that it always blossomed on Christmas-day was a mere tale of the monks, calculated to inspire the vulgar with notions of the sanctity of the place. There are several of this species of thorn in England, raised from haws sent from the east, where it is common. One of our countrymen, the ingenious Mr. Millar, raised many plants from haws brought from Aleppo, and all proved to be what are called Glastonbury thorns. This exotic, or eastern thorn, differs from our common hawthorn in putting out its leaves very early in spring, and flowering twice a year; for in mild seasons it often flowers in November or December, and again at the usual time of the common sort; but the stories that are told of its budding, blossoming, and fading on Christmas-day are ridiculous, and only monkish legends.t
Hopen ING." IN KENT.
At Ramsgate, in Kent, they begin the festivities of Christmas by a curious mu
* “In good king Charles's golden days.” This is said to have been written by an officer in colonel Fuller's regiment, in the reign of king George I. It is founded on an historical fact, and, though it reflects no great honour on the hero of the poem, is humorously expressive of the comPlexion of the times in the successive reigns from Charles II: to George I.
t “My fond shepherds of late were so blest A favourite air in B. Arne’s “Eliza.”
t “There lived a youth in Ballan o Crazy.” This song is ascribed to a lady of great quality: it does not, however, abound with the wit which usually flows from female pens; but it admits of being sung with great humour.
• Gentleman's Magazine. communicated by T. B. C. from Boswell's An
tiquities of England and Wales
sical procession. A party of young people rocure the head of a dead horse, which is affixed to a pole about four feet in length, a string is tied to the lower jaw, a horse cloth is then attached to the whole, under which one of the party gets, and by frequently pulling the string keeps up a loud snapping noise, and is accompanied by the rest of the party *T. habited and ringing hand-bells. ey thus proceed from house to house, sounding their bells and singing carols and songs. They are commonly gratified with beer and cake, or perhaps with money. This is provincially called a hodening ; and the figure above described a “hoden,” or wooden horse. This curious ceremony is also observed in the Isle of Thanet on Christmas-eve, and is supposed to be an ancient relic of a festival ordained to commemorate our Saxon ancestors' landing in that island."
Amongst the customs observed on Christmas-eve, the Venetians eat a kind of pottage, which they call torta de lasagne, composed of oil, onions, paste, parsley, pine nuts, raisins, currants, and candied orange peel.
Many festivals, abrogated in France by the revolution, were revived under Buonaparte. Accordingly, at Marseilles on Christmas-eve all the members of any family resident in the same town were invited to supper at the house of the senior of the family, the supper being entirely au maigre, that is, without meat, —after which they all went together to a solemn mass, which was performed in all the churches at midnight: this ceremony was called in Provence faire calène. After mass the party dispersed and retired to their respective houses; and the next day, after attending high mass in the morning, they assembled at dinner at the same house where they had supped the night before, a turkey being, as in England, an established part of the dinner. The evening was concluded with cards, dancing, or any other amusement usual on holydays. Formerly there had been the midnight mass, which was often irre
& "Busby's Concert Room and Orchestra Anecdotes, C. o
WHITE HAv EN Customs. To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
Whitehaven, 4th Sept. 1826. Sir, You furnished your readers last Christmas with a dish, greatly up-heaped, of information regarding the manner in which it was kept in various parts of the kingdom. I enclose herein a printed copy of the play, which is said, or rather sung, at and about that time, by numbers of boys in this town. The comedians, of which there are many companies, parade the streets, and ask at almost every door if the mummers are wanted. They are dressed in the most grotesque fashion; their heads adorned with high . caps, gilt and spangled, and their bodies with ribbons of various colours, while St. George and the prince are armed with ten swords. The “mysterie” (query?) ends with a song, and afterwards a collection is made. This is the only relic of ancient times which exists in this town, excepting, indeed, it be the Waites—a few persons who parade the streets for a fortnight or three weeks before Christmas, and play upon violins one or two lively jig tunes, and afterwards call upon the inhabitants for a few pence each. The same persons, when they hear of a marriage, or of the arrival from abroad of a sea-faring man, regularly attend and fiddle away till they raise the person or persons; and for this they expect a trifling remuneration. I am satisfied you will join me, in surprise, that for so great a number of years. such a mass of indecent vulgarity as “Alexander and the king of Egypt,” should been used without alteration. Upon the death of any individual, poor or rich, in this town, and the day before the funeral, the parish clerk, or the clerk of the church in whose church-yard the corpse is to be interred, goes round the town, with or without mourning as the case may be, and rings a bell, like a bellman, and thus announces his purpose: “All friends and neighbours are desired to attend the corpse of A. B. from Queenstreet to St. James's church to-morrow afternoon at four o'clock.” Some of these hints may be of use to to: so I shall rejoice; for a kinderhearted publication than yours I never perused. For the present I am, Mr. Hone, Yours, most respectfully, ANADMIRER OF Your EveRY-DAY Book. e
The tract accompanying the preceding communication is entitled “Alexander and the King of Egypt; a mock Play, as it is acted by the Mummers every Christmas. Whitehaven. Printed by T. Wilson, King-street.” Eight pages, 8vo. An opportunity is thus obligingly afforded of making the following extracts:
Act I. Scene I.
Enter Alexander Alexander speaks ,
Silence, brave gentlemen, if you will give an eye, * Also, is my name, I'll sing a tragedy; A ramble here I took the country for to see, Three actors I have brought, so far from Italy: The first I do present, he is a noble king, He'st just come from the wars, good tidings he doth bring; The next that doth come in he is a doctor good, Had it not been for him I'd surely lost my blood. Old Dives is the next, a miser you may see, Who, by lending of his gold, is come to poverty; So, gentlemen, you see, our actors will go round, Stand off a little while more pastime will be found.
Act II. Scene II. Prince George arises. Prince George speaks. O horrible ! terrible! the like was never seen, A man drove out of seven senses into fifteen, And out of fifteen into four score, O horrible! terrible! the like was ne'er before. Aler. Thou silly ass, that liv'st on grass, dost thou abuse a stranger? I live in hopes to buy new ropes, and tic thy nose to a manger. P. George. Sir, unto you I bend. Aler. Stand off thou slave, I think thee not my friend; P. George. A slave: Sir, that's for me by far too base a name, That word deserves to stab thine honour's fame ! Aler. To be stabb'd, sir, is least of all my care, Appoint your time and place, I'll meet you there. , P. George. I'll cross the water at the hour of five. Aler. I'll meet you there, sir, if I be alive. P. George. But stop, sir, I'll wish you a wife both lusty and young, Can talk Dutch, French, and the Italian tongue. Aler. I'll have none such. P. George. Why don't you love your learning 2 Aler. Yes, I love my learning as I love my life, I love a learned scholar, but not a learned wife; Stand off, &c. K. of Egypt. Sir, to express thy beauty I'm not able, For thy face shines like the very kitchen table, Thy teeth are no whiter than the charcoal, &c. Aler. Stand off thou dirty dog, or by my sword thou'lt die, I'll make thy body full of holes, and cause thy buttons to fly. Act II. Scene III King of Egypt fights, and is killed. Enter Prince George. Oh! what is here? oh! what is to be done? Qurking is slain, the crown is likewise gone; Take up his body, bear it hence away, For in this place no longer shall it stay. The Conclusion. Bouncer Buckler, velvet's dear, And Christmas comes but once a year, Though when it comes it brings good cheer, But farewell Christmas once a year. Farewell, farewell, adieu ! friendship and unity, I hope we have made sport, and pleas'd the company; But, gentlemen, you see we're but actors four, We've done our best, and the best can do no more.