And after him came next the chill December;
   Yet he, through merry feasting which he made
   And great bonfires, did not the cold remember;
   His Saviour's birth so much his mind did glad.
   Upon a shaggy bearded goat he rode,
   The same wherewith Dan Jove in tender years,
   They say was nourisht by the Idæan mayd;
   And in his hand a broad deepe bowle he beares,
Of which he freely drinks an health to all his peers.


This is the twelfth and last month of the year. By our ancestors "December had his due appellation given to him in the name of winter-monat, to wit, winter-moneth; but after the Saxons received christianity, they then, of devotion to the birth-time of Christ, termed it by the name of heligh-monat, that is to say, holy-moneth."* [Verstegan.] They also called it midwinter-monath and guil erra, which means the former or first giul. The feast of Thor, which was celebrated at the winter solstice, was called giul from iol, or ol, which signified ale, and is now corrupted into yule. This festival appears to have been continued through part of January.* [Dr. F. Sayers.]

Our pleasant guide to "The Months," Mr. Leigh Hunt, says of December thus:—

It is now complete winter. The vapourish and cloudy atmosphere wraps us about with dimness and chilliness; the reptiles and other creatures that sleep or hide during the cold weather, have all retired to their winter quarters; the farmer does little or nothing out of doors; the fields are too damp and miry to pass, except in sudden frosts, which begin to occur at the end of the month; and the trees look but like skeletons of what they were—

Bare ruined choirs in which the sweet birds sang.


The evergreen trees with their beautiful cones, such as firs and pines, are now particularly observed and valued. In the warmer countries, where shade is more desirable, their worth and beauty are more regularly appreciated. Virgil talks of the pine as being handsomest in gardens; and it is a great favourite with Theocritus, especially for the fine sound of the air under its kind of vaulted roof.

But we have flowers as well as leaves in winter-time; besides a few of the last month, there are the aconite and hellebore, two names of very different celebrity; and in addition to some of the flourishing shrubs, there is the Glastonbury thorn, which puts forth its beauty at Christmas. It is so called, we believe, because the abbots of the famous monastery at that place first had it in their garden from abroad, and turned its seasonable efflorescence into a miracle.

The evergreens and winter flowers are like real friends, who, whatever be their peculiar disposition, whether serious or gay, will never forsake us. Even roses, with which we are so apt to associate summer weather, flourish from May to December inclusive; and during the winter months will live and prosper in apartments. We need never be without them from the first day of the year to the last; and thus, to the numerous comparisons made between roses and the fair sex, may be added this new one, as complimentary to their friendship as it is true.

We have anticipated our general observations on winter-time in our remarks at the beginning of the year. December is in general too early month for the fine manly exercise of skating, which indeed can be taken but rarely, on account of our changeful weather and the short continuance of frost. Like swimming, all the difficulty of it is in the commencement, at least for the purposes of enjoyment. The graces of outside strokes, and spread eagles, are the work of time and ambition.

But December has one circumstance in it, which turns it into the merriest month of the year,—Christmas. This is the holiday, which, for obvious reasons, may be said to have survived all the others; but still it is not kept with any thing like the vigour, perseverance, and elegance of our ancestors. They not only ran Christmas-day, new-year's-day, and twelfth-night, all into one, but kept the wassail-bowl floating the whole time, and earned their right to enjoy it by all sorts of active pastimes. The wassail-bowl, (as some of our readers may know by experience, for it has been a little revived of late,) is a composition of spiced wine or ale, with roasted apples put into it, and sometimes eggs. They also adorned their houses with green boughs, which it appears, from Herrick, was a practice with many throughout the year,—box succeeding at Candlemas to the holly, bay, rosemary, and misletoe of Christmas,—yew at Easter to box,—birch and flowers at Whitsuntide to yew,—and then bents and oaken boughs. The whole nation were in as happy a ferment at Christmas, with the warmth of exercise and their firesides, as they were in May with the new sunshine. The peasants wrestled and sported on the town-green, and told tales of an evening; the gentry feasted then, or had music and other elegant pastimes; the court had the poetical and princely entertainment of masques; and all sung, danced, revelled, and enjoyed themselves, and so welcomed the new year like happy and grateful subjects of nature.

This is the way to turn winter to summer, and make the world what heaven has enabled it to be; but as people in general manage it, they might as well turn summer itself to winter. Hear what a poet says, who carries his own sunshine about with him:—

As for those chilly orbs, on the verge of creation
   Where sunshine and smiles must be equally rare
Did they want a supply of cold hearts for that station,
   Heaven knows we have plenty on earth we could spare.

Oh, think what a world we should have of it here,
   If the haters of peace, of affection, and glee,
Were to fly up to Saturn's comfortless sphere,
   And leave earth to such spirits as you, love, and me.

Nor is it only on holidays that nature tells us to enjoy ourselves. If we were wise, we should earn a reasonable portion of leisure and enjoyment day by day, instead of resolving to do it some day or other, and seldom doing it at all. Company is not necessary for it, at intervals, except that best and most necessary company of one's family-partners in life, or some one or two especial friends, truly so called, who are friends for every sort of weather, winter as well as summer. A warm carpet and curtains, a sparkling fire, a book, a little music, a happy sympathy of talk or a kind of discussion, may then call to mind with unenvying placidity the very rarest luxuries of the summer-time; and instead of being eternally and foolishly told, that pleasures produce pains, by those who really make them do so with their profligacy or bigotry, we shall learn the finer and manlier knowledge—how to turn pain to the production of pleasure.

Lawrence, of virtuous father, virtuous son,
   Now that the fields are dank and ways are mire,
   Where shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire
Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
From the hard season gaining? Time will run
   On smoother, till Favonius re-inspire
   The frozen earth, and clothe in fresh attire
The lily and rose, which neither sowed nor spun.
What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,
Of Attick taste, with wine, whence we may rise
To hear the lute well touched, or artful voice
Warble immortal notes and Tuscan air?
He who of these delights can judge, and spare
To interpose them oft, is not unwise.


December 1.

St. Eligius, or Eloy, Bp. of Noyon. A. D. 659.


It is observed by Dr. Forster in the "Perennial Calendar," that the weather at this time is usually mild, and wet, with fogs; we have an occasional interchange of frosts. On some occasions a kind of weather occurs now which occasionally happens during all the winter months. The air becomes perfectly calm, the sky clouded and dark, without much mist below, the ground gets dry, and not a leaf stirs on the trees, and the sounds of distant bells, and other sounds and noises are heard at a great distance, just as they are on other occasions before rain. The thermometer is often from 45° to 52°. The barometer rises to "set fair" and remains steady, and the current of smoke from the chimnies either goes straight upright into the air in a vertical column, or inclines so little with the breath of air as to indicate sometimes one wind and sometimes another. At this time the crowing of the cocks, the noise of busy rooks and daws, which feed in flocks in the meadows, and fly at morning and eventide in flocks to and from their nests, the music of distant singing, and the strokes of the church clocks and chimes are heard for miles, as if carried along under the apparent sounding board of the clouds above. Even the voices of persons are heard at a vast distance, all being hushed around.


Dark Stapelia. Stapelia pulla
Dedicated to St. Eligius.

December 2.

St. Bibiania, A. D. 363.


On the 2d of December, 1823, the London Mechanics' Institution was formed, and on the anniversary of the day, in 1824, the first stone of its theatre for the delivery of the lectures, in Southampton Buildings, Chancery-lane, was laid by Dr. Birkbeck. In a cavity of the stone was placed a bottle, wherein were sealed up a book of the laws of the insitution—the tenth number of the "Mechanics' Magazine," which contained an acount of the first meeting of the members—a vellum roll, on which was inscribed the names of the officers of the institution,—and a portrait of Dr. Birkbeck, the president. The bottle having been deposited, the president proceeded to lay the stone, which bears the following inscription, with the names of all the officers of the institution:—

This Stone, the first of the Lecture Room,
was laid on the 2d of December, 1824,
Being the First Anniversary of the Establishment
of the
In the presence of the following Officers of the Institution,
Vice-Presidents, Trustees, Auditors,
John Martineau, Esq.,
Professor Millington,
John Borthwick Gilchrist, LL. D.
Robert M'William, Esq.

After the stone was laid, Dr. Birkbeck addressed the meeting in nearly the following words:—"Now have we founded our edifice for the diffusion and advancement of human knowledge. Now have we begun to erect a temple, wherein man shall extend his acquaintance with the universe of mind, and shall acquire the means of enlarging his dominion over the universe of matter. In this spot, hereafter, the charms of literature shall be displayed, and the powers of science shall be unfolded to the most humble inquirers; for to 'the feast of reason' which will be here prepared, the invitation shall be as unbounded as the region of intellect. For an undertaking so vast in its design, and so magnificent in its objects (nothing short, indeed, of the moral and intellectual amelioration and aggrandizement of the human race), the blessing of heaven, I humbly trust, will not be implored in vain. If, in this institution, we seek to obey the mandate which has gone forth that knowledge shall be increased; if we act in obedience to the injunction, that in all our gettings we should get understanding; if we succeed in proving, that for the existence of the mental wilderness, the continuance of which we all deeply deplore, we ought 'to blame the culture, not the soil;' if by rendering man more percipient of the order, harmony, and benevolence, which pervade the universe, we more effectually 'assert eternal Providence, and justify the ways of God to man;' and if thus we shall be the happy means of rendering it palpable, that the immortal essence within us, when freed from the deformity of ignorance and vice, has been created in the express image of God—then may we confidently hope that Omniscience will favourably behold our rising structure; and that in its future progress, Omnipotence, without whose assistance all human endeavours are vain, will confer upon us a portion of his powers. Whilst I remind you that the illustrious Bacon, long ago, maintained that 'knowledge is power,' I may apprize you that it has, since his time, been established that knowledge is wealth—is comfort—is security—is enjoyment—is happiness. It has been found so completely to mingle with human affairs, that it renders social life more endearing; has given to morality more sprightliness; and, politically, has produced more consistent obedience—it takes from adversity some of its bitterness, and enlarges the sphere, as well as augments the sweetness of every laudable gratification; and lastly, unquestionably one of its brightest influences, it becomes at once an avenue and a guide to that 'temple which is not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.'"


Lemon Geodorum. Geodorum citrinum.
Dedicated to St. Bibiania

December 3.

St. Francis Xavier, A. D. 1552. St. Birinus, first Bp. of Dorchester, A. D. 650. St. Sola, A. D. 790. St. Lucius, King, A. D. 182.

Royal Dance of torches.

Berlin, December 3, 1821.— Of all the entertainments which took place in this capital, on the occasion of the marriage of the prince royal with the princess of Bavaria, none appeared so extraordinary to foreigners, as the dance of torches, (Fakeltanz.) It was executed after the grand marriage feast, in the following manner:—"The royal family, followed by all the personages who had partook of the feast at separate tables, proceeded to the white saloon. The dance was immediately opened by the privy councillor, marshal of the court, the baron de Maltzahn, bearing his baton of order. After him followed two and two, according to seniority of rank, the privy councillors and the ministers of state, bearing wax torches. The august bride and bridegroom preceded the above dancers, and walked round the saloon. The princess royal stopped before the king, and making him a profound reverence, invited him to dance. After having danced one turn with his majesty, she danced with all the princes. The prince royal, in like manner, danced with all the princesses. After the ball, the royal family passed into the apartment of Frederick I., where the grand mistress, countess of Norde, distributed the garter of the bride.


Indian Tree. Euphorbia Tirucalli.
Dedicated to St. Francis Xavier.

December 4.

St. Peter Chrysologus, A. D. 450. St. Barbara, A. D. 306. St. Anno, Abp. of Cologn[e], A. D. 1075. St. Osmund, Bp. A. D. 1099. St. Maruthas, Bp. 5th Cent. St. Siran, or Sigirannus, A. D. 655. St. Clement, or Alexandria, A. D. 189.

Ancient Divinations in Advent.

From the following lines of Barnaby Googe, it appears that rustic young girls in ancient times, indulged at this season in attempting to divine the name of the man they were to marry, from forcing the growth of onions in the chimney-corner, and that they ascertained the temper of the good man, from the straitness or crookedness of a faggot-stick drawn from a woodstack. Advent seems likewise to have been a time wherein the young ones went about and levied contributions.

Three weekes before the day whereon
   was borne the Lorde of Grace,
And on the Thursday boyes and girles
   do runne in every place,
And bounce and beate at every doore,
   with blowes and lustie snaps,
And crie, the advent of the Lord
   not borne as yet perhaps.
And wishing to the neighbours all,
   that in the houses dwell,
A happie yeare, and every thing
   to spring and prosper well:
Here have they peares, and plumbs, and pence,
   ech man gives willinglee,
For these three nightes are always thought
   unfortunate to bee:
Wherein they are afrayde of sprites,
   and cankred witches spight,
And dreadfull devils blacke and grim,
   that then have chiefest might.
In these same dayes yong wanton gyrles
   that meete for marriage bee,
Doe search to know the names of them
   that shall their husbands bee.
Foure onyons, five, or eight, they take
   and make in every one,
Such names as they do fansie most,
   and best do thinke upon.
Thus neere the chimney them they set,
   and that same onyon than,
That first doth sproute, doth surely beare
   the name of their good man.
Their husbandes nature eke they seeke
   to know, and all his guise,
When as the sunne hath hid himselfe,
   and left the starrie skies,
Unto some woodstacke do they go,
   and while they there do stande
Eche one drawes out a faggot sticke,
   the next that commes to hande,
Which if it streight and even be,
   and have no knots at all,
A gentle husband then they thinke
   shall surely to them fall.
But if it fowle and crooked be,
   and knottie here and theare,
A crabbed and churlish husband then,
   they earnestly do feare.
These thinges the wicked papistes beare,
   and suffer willingly,
Because they neyther do the ende,
   nor fruites of faith espie:
And rather had the people should
   obey their foolish lust,
Than truely God to know; and in
   him here alone to trust.


Barbadou Gooseberry. Cactus Pereskia.
Dedicated to St. Peter Chrysologus.

December 5.

St. Sabas, Abbot, A. D. 532. St. Crispina, A. D. 304. St. Nicetius, Bp. of Triers, A. D. 566.

Foot Ball in Scotland.

On Tuesday the 5th of December, 1815, a great foot-ball match took place at Carterhaugh, Ettrick Forest (a spot classical in minstrelsy), betwixt the Ettrick men and the men of Yarrow; the one party backed by the earl of Home, and the other by sir Walter Scott, sheriff of the forest, who wrote two songs for the occasion, one whereof follows:—

Lifting the Banner of the House of Buccleugh,
at the great Foot-ball match, on Carterhaugh.

From the brown crest of Newark its summons extending,
   Our signal is waving in smoke and in flame;
And each forester blithe from his mountain descending,
   Bounds light o'er the heather to join in the game.


   Then up with the banner, let forest winds fan her,
   She has blazed over Ettrick eight ages and more;
   In sport we'll attend her, in battle defend her,
   With heart and with hand, like our fathers' before.

When the southern invader spread waste and disorder,
   At the glance of her crescents he paus'd and withdrew
For around them were marshal'd the pride of the border,
   The flowers of the forest, the hands of Buccleuch.
      Then up with the banner, &c.

A stripling's weak hand to our revel has borne her,
   No mail glove has grasp'd her, no spearmen around;
But ere a bold foeman should scathe or should scorn her,
   A thousand true hearts would be cold on the ground.
      Then up with the banner, &c.

We forget each contention of civil dissension,
   And hail, like our brethren, Home, Douglas, and Car;
And Elliot and Pringle in pastime shall mingle,
   As welcome in peace as their fathers in war.
      Then up with the banner, &c.

Then strip lads, and to it, though sharp be the weather,
   And if, by mischance, you should happen to fall,
There are worse things in life than a tumble on heather,
   And life is itself but a game at foot-ball!
      Then up with the banner, &c.

And when it is over, we'll drink a blythe measure
   To each laird and each lady that witness'd our fun,
And to every blythe heart that took part in our pleasure,
   To the lads that have lost and the lads that have won.
      Then up with the banner, &c.

May the forest still flourish, both borough and landward
   From the hall of the peer to the herd's ingle nook;
And huzza! my brave hearts, for Buccleuch and his standard
   For the king and the country, the clan and the duke!
      Then up with the banner, &c.


Abbotsford, Dec. 1, 1815.

Something has been said concerning ball-play, at p. 863, and more remains to be observed, with which foot-ball will be mentioned hereafter. At present the year hastens the volume to a close, and we must put by many things to make ready for the "great festival:"—

Christmas is a coming,
   We'll have flowing bowls,
Laughing, piping, drumming,
   We'll be jovial souls.


Longstalked Hibiscus. Hibiscus pedunculatus.
Dedicated to St. Crispina.

December 6.

St. Nicholas, Abp. of Myra, A. D. 342. Sts. Dionysia, Dativa, Æmilianus, Boniface, Leontia, Tertius, and Majoricus, Martyrs. St. Peter Paschal, A. D. 1300. St. Theophilus, Bp. of Antioch, A. D. 190.

St. Nicholas.

He is in the almanacs, and church of England calendar. He is patron or titular saint of virgins, boys, sailors, and the worshipful company of parish clerks of the city of London. Mr. Audley briefly observes of him, that he was remarkable in his infancy for piety, and the knowledge of the scriptures; that he was made bishop of Myra, in Lycia, by Constantine the Great, and that "he was present in the council of Nice, where, it is said, he gave Arius a box on the ear."* [Audley's Companion to the Almanac.]

According to catholic story, St. Nicholas was a saint of great virtue, and disposed so early in life to conform to ecclesiastical rule, that when an infant at the breast he fasted on Wednesday and Friday, and sucked but once on each of those days, and that towards night.† [Ribadeneira.] A story is related to his credit which is of considerable curiosity. It is told, that "an Asiatic gentleman" sent his two sons to "Athens" for education, and ordered them to wait on the bishop for his benediction. On arriving at Myra with their baggage they took up their lodging at an inn, purposing, as it was late in the day, to defer their visit till the morrow; but in the mean time the innkeeper, to secure their effects to himself, wickedly killed the young gentlemen, cut them into pieces, salted them, and intended to sell them for pickled pork. Happily St. Nicholas was favoured with a sight of these proceedings in a vision, and in the morning went to the inn, and reproached the cruel landlord with his crime, who immediately confessed it, and entreated the saint to pray to heaven for his pardon. Then the bishop, being moved by his confession and contrition, besought forgiveness for him, and supplicated restoration of life to the children; whereupon the pickled pieces reunited, and the reanimated youths stepping from the brine-tub threw themselves at the feet of St. Nicholas, who raised them up, exhorted them to return thanks to God alone, gave them good advice for the future, bestowed his blessing on them, and sent them to Athens with great joy to prosecute their studies.* [Rev. Mr. Cole; see Gentleman's Magazine.]

St. Nicholas.

The Salisbury missal of 1534, fol. xxvii. contains a prayer to St. Nicholas, before which is an engraving on wood of the bishop with children rising from the tub; but better than all, by a licence that artists formerly assumed of representing successive scenes in the same print, the landlord himself is shown in the act of reducing a limb into sizes suitable for his mercenary purpose. There are only two children in the story, and there are three in the tub of the engraving; but it is fairly to be conjectured, that the story was thought so good as to be worth making a little better. It is deemed seemly to introduce this narration by a fac-simile of the missal cut. Ribadeneira says of St. Nicholas, that "being present at the council of Nice, among three hundred and eighteen bishops, who were there assembled together to condemn the heresy of Arius, he shone among them all with so great clarity, and opinion of sanctity, that he appeared like a sun amongst so many stars." It will be remembered that he is affirmed to have given Arius a clarifying "box on the ear."

The Boy Bishop.

If there were no other, the miracle of the pickled children would be sufficient to establish Nicholas's fame as the patron of youth, and we find his festival day was selected by scholars, and the children of the church, for a remarkable exhibition about to be described.

Anciently on the 6th of December, it being St. Nicholas's day, the choir boys in cathedral churches, chose one of their number to maintain the state and authority of a bishop, for which purpose the boy was habited in rich episcopal robes, wore a mitre on his head, and bore a crosier in his hand; and his fellows, for the time being, assumed the character and dress of priests, yielded him canonical obedience, took possession of the church, and except mass, performed all the ecclesiastical ceremonies and offices. Though the boy bishop's election was on the 6th of December, yet his office and authority lasted till the 28th, being Innocents' day.

It appears from a printed church book containing the service of the boy bishop set to music, that at Sarum,* [Processionale ad usum insignit et preclare Ecclesie Sarum, Rothomagi, 1556, 4to.] on the eve of Innocents' day, the boy bishop and his youthful clergy, in their copes, and with burning tapers in their hands, went in solemn procession, chanting and singing versicles as they walked into the choir by the west door, in such order that the dean and canons went foremost, the chaplains next, and the boy bishop with his priests in the last and highest place. He then took his seat, and the rest of the children disposed themselves on each side of the choir upon the uppermost ascent, the canons resident bore the incense and the book, and the petit-canons the tapers according to the Romish rubric. Afterwards the boy bishop proceeded to the altar of the Holy Trinity, and All Saints, which he first censed, and next the image of the Holy Trinity, while his priests were singing. Then they all chanted a service with prayers and responses, and the boy bishop taking his seat, repeated salutations, prayers, and versicles, and in conclusion gave his benediction to the people, the chorus answering, Deo gratias. Having received his crosier from the cross-bearer other ceremonies were performed; he chanted the complyn; turning towards the quire delivered an exhortation; and last of all said, "Benedicat Vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus."

By the statues of the church of Sarum, for the regulation of this extraordinary scene, no one was to interrupt or press upon the boy bishop and the other children, during their procession or service in the cathedral, upon pain of anathema. It farther appears that at this cathedral the boy bishop held a kind of visitation, and maintained a corresponding state and prerogative; and he is supposed to have had power to dispose of prebends that fell vacant during his episcopacy. If he died within the month he was buried like other bishops in his episcopal ornaments, his obsequies were solemnized with great pomp, and a monument was erected to his memory, with his episcopal effigy.

About a hundred and fifty years ago a stone monument to one of these boy bishops was discovered in Salisbury cathedral, under the seats near the pulpit, from whence it was removed to the north part of the nave between the pillars, and covered over with a box of wood, to the great admiration of those, who, unacquainted with the anomalous character it designed to commemorate, thought it "almost impossible that a bishop should be so small in person, or a child so great in clothes."

Mr. Gregorie found the processional of the boy bishop. He notices the same custom at York; and cites Molanus as saying, "that this bishop in some places did reditat census, et capones annuo accipere, receive rents, capons, &c. during his year," &c. He relates that a boy bishop in the church of Cambray disposed of a prebend, which fell void during his episcopal assumption to his master; and he refers to the denunciation of the boy bishop by the council of Basil which, at the time of the holding of that council, was a well-known custom. Mr. Gregorie, who was a prebendary of Salisbury, describes the finding of the boy bishop's monument at that place, and inserts a representation of it in his treatise, from which the annexed engraving is taken.

Monument to a Boy Bishop

Monument to a Boy Bishop


The ceremony of the boy bishop is supposed to have existed not only in collegiate churches, but in almost every parish in England. He and his companions walked the streets in public procession. A statute of the collegiate church of St. Mary Overy, in 1337, restrained one of them to the limits of his own parish. On December 7, 1229, the day after St. Nicholas's day, a boy bishop in the chapel at Heton, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, said vespers before Edward I. on his way to Scotland, who made a considerable present to him and the other boys who sang with him. In the reign of king Edward III., a boy bishop received a present of nineteen shillings and sixpence for singing before the king in his private chamber on Innocents' day. Dean Colet in the statutes of St. Paul's school which he founded in 1512, expressly ordains that his scholars should every Childermas (Innocents) day, "come to Paulis Churche and hear the Chylde-Bishop's sermon: and after be at the hygh masse, and each of them offer a penny to the Chylde-Bishop: and with them the maisters and surveyors of the scole."

By a proclamation of Henry VIII. dated July 22, 1542, the show of the boy bishop was abrogated, but in the reign of Mary it was revived with other Romish ceremonials. A flattering song was sung before that queen by a boy bishop, and printed. It was a panegyric on her devotion, and compared her to Judith, Esther, the queen of Sheba, and the Virgin Mary.

The accounts of St. Mary at Hill, London, in the 10th Henry VI., and for 1549, and 1550, contain charges for the boy bishops of those years. At that period his estimation in the church seems to have been undiminished; for on November 13, 1554, the bishop of London, issued an order to all the clergy of his diocese to have boy bishops and their processions; and in the same year these young sons of the old church paraded St. Andrew's, Holborn, and St. Nicholas Olaves, in Bread-street, and other parishes. In 1556, Strype says that the boy bishops again went abroad singing in the old fashion, and were received by many ignorant but well-disposed persons into their houses, and had much good cheer.* [Hone on Ancient Mysteries.]


Nestflowered Heath. Erica nidiflora.
Dedicated to St. Nicholas.



Hoary, and dim, and bare, and shivering,
Like a poor almsman comes the aged Year,
With kind "God save you all, good gentlefolks!"
Heap on fresh fuel, make a blazing fire,
Bring out the cup of kindness, spread the board,
And gladden Winter with our cheerfulness!
Wassail!—To you, and yours, and all!—All health!

December 7.

St. Ambrose, A. D. 397. St. Fara, Abbess, A. D. 655.


The natural commencement of the winter season, according to Mr. How ard's "Tables," is on the 7th of December. This quarter of the year comprehends eighty-nine days, except in leap-year, when it has ninety days. Winter exhibits as large a proportion of the cold, as summer did of the heat. In spring the cold gradually goes off, to be replaced in the middle of the season by warmth; the respective proportions being like those which obtain in autumn, while their positions are reversed.

"The mean temperature of the season in the country is 37.76 degrees. The medium temperature of the twenty-four hours, descends from about 40 to 34 1/2 degrees, and returns again to the former point.

"The mean height of the barometer is 29.802 inches, being .021 inches above that of autumn. The range of the column is greatest in this season; and in the course of twenty winters it visits nearly the two extremities of the scale of three inches. The mean winter range is however 2.25 inches.

The predominating winds at the beginning of winter are the south-west: in the middle these give place to northerly winds, after which the southerly winds prevail again to the close: they are at this season often boisterous at night.

"The mean evaporation, taken in situations which give more than the natural quantity from the surface of the earth, (being 30.467 inches on the year,) is 3.587 inches. This is a third less than the proportion indicated by the mean temperature; showing the dampness of the air at this season.

"De Luc's hygrometer averages about 78 degrees.

"The average rain is 5.868 inches. The rain is greatest at the commencement, and it diminishes in rapid proportion to the end. In this there appears a salutary provision of divine intelligence: for had it increased, or even continued as heavy as in the autumnal months, the water instead of answering the purpose of irrigation, for which it is evidently designed, would have descended from the saturated surface of the higher ground in perpetual floods, and wasted for the season the plains and valleys.

"Notwithstanding the sensible indications of moisture, which in the intervals of our short frosts attend this season, the actual quantity of vapour in the atmosphere is now, probably, at its lowest proportion, or rather it is so at the commencement of the season; after which it gradually increases with the temperature and evaporation."* [Howard's Climate of London.]


This is the eldest of the seasons: he
   Moves not like spring with gradual step, nor
   From bud to beauty, but with all his snows
Comes down at once in hoar antiquity.
No rains nor loud proclaiming tempests flee
   Before him, nor unto his time belong
   The suns of summer, nor the charms of song,
That with May's gentle smiles so well agree.
But he, made perfect in his birth-day cloud,
   Starts into sudden life with scarce a sound,
   And with a tender footstep prints the ground,
      As tho' to cheat man's ear: yet while he stays
      He seems as 'twere to prompt our merriest days,
And bid the dance and joke be long and loud.

Literary P. Book.


Hairy Achania. Achania pilosa.
Dedicated to St. Ambrose.

December 8.

The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Romaric, Abbot, A. D. 653.

The winter season of the year 1818, was extraordinarily mild. On the 8th of December, the gardens in the neighbourhood of Plymouth showed the following flowers in full bloom, viz.:—Jonquils, narcissus, hyacinths, anemonies, pinks, stocks, African and French marigolds, the passion flowers, and monthly roses, in great perfection, ripe strawberries and raspberries. In the fields and hedges were the sweet-scented violets, heart's-ease, purple vetch, red robin, wild strawberry blossom, and many others. The oak and the elm retained much of their foliage, and the birds were sometimes heard as in spring.


Arbor vitæ. Thuja occidentalis.
Dedicated to the Conception of the B. V. Mary.

December 9.

St. Leocadia, A. D. 304. The Seven Martyrs at Samosata, A. D. 297. St. Wilfhilde, A. D. 990.


A remarkable instance of premature interment, is related in the case of the rev. Mr. Richards, parson of the Hay, in Herefordshire, who, in December, 1751, was supposed to have died suddenly. His friends seeing his body and limbs did not stiffen, after twenty-four hours, sent for a surgeon, who, upon bleeding him, and not being able to stop the blood, told them that he was not dead, but in a sort of trance, and ordered them not to bury him. They paid no attention to the injunction, but committed the body to the grave the next day. A person walking along the churchyard, hearing a noise in the grave, ran and prevailed with the clerk to have the grave opened, where they found a great bleeding at the nose, and the body in a profuse sweat; whence it was conjectured that he was buried alive. They were now, however, obliged to let him remain, as all appearance of further recovery had been precluded by his interment.* [Gentleman's Magazine, 1751.]

A writer in the "Gentleman's Magazine" some years before, observes, "I have undoubted authority for saying, a man was lately (and I believe is still) living at Hustley, near Winchester, December, 1747, who, after lying for dead two days and two nights, was committed to the grave, and rescued from it by some boys luckily playing in the churchyard!"


Corsican Spruce. Pinus Laricio.
Dedicated to St. Leocadia.

December 10.

St. Melchiades, Pope, A. D. 314. St. Eulalia.


On the 10th of December, 1741, died Mr. Henry Wanyford, late steward to the earl of Essex. He was of so large a size, that the top of the hearse was obliged to be taken off before the coffin could be admitted, and it was so heavy, that the attendants were forced to move it along the churchyard upon rollers.* [Gentleman's Magazine.]


Portugal Cyprus. Cupressus Lusitanica.
Dedicated to St. Eulalia.

December 11.

St. Damasus, Pope, A. D. 384. Sts. Fuscian, Victoricus, and Gentian, A. D. 287. St. Daniel, the Stylite, A. D. 494.


A gentleman obligingly contributes the subjoined account of a northern usage on the 5th of December, the vigil of St. Nicholas. He communicates his name to the editor, and vouches for the authenticity of his relation, "having himself been an actor in the scene he describes."

(For the Every-Day Book.)

In the fine old city of Leewvarden, the capital of West Friezland, there are some curious customs preserved, connected with the celebration of the anniversary of this saint. From time immemorial, in this provice, St. Nicholas has been hailed as the tutelary patron of children and confections; no very inappropriate association, perhaps. On the eve, or Avond, as it is there termed, of this festival, the good saint condescends, (as currently asserted, and religiously believed, by the younger fry,) to visit these sublunar spheres, and to irradiate by his majestic presence, the winter fireside of his infant votaries.

During a residence in the above town, some twenty years ago, in the brief days of happy boyhood, (that green spot in our existence,) it was my fortune to be present at one of these annual visitations. Imagine a group of happy youngsters sporting around the domestic hearth, in all the buoyancy of riotous health and spirits, brim-full of joyful expectation, but yet in an occasional pause, casting frequent glances towards the door, with a comical expression of impatience, mixed up with something like dread of the impending event. At last a loud knock is heard, in an instant the games are suspended, and the door slowly unfolding, reveals to sight the venerated saint himself, arrayed in his pontificals, with pastoral staff and jewelled mitre. Methinks I see him now! yet he did "his spiriting gently," and his tone of reproof, "was more in sorrow than in anger!"

In fine, the family peccadillos being tenderly passed over, and the more favourable reports made the subject of due encomiums, good father Nicholas gave his parting benediction, together with the promise, (never known to fail,) of more substantial benefits, to be realized on the next auspicious morning. So ends the first act of the farce, which it will be readily anticipated is got up with the special connivance of papa and mamma, by the assistance of some family friend, who is quite au fait to the domestic politics of the establishment. The concluding scene, however, is one of unalloyed pleasure to the delighted children, and is thus arranged.

Before retiring to rest, each member of the family deposits a shoe on a table in a particular room, which is carefully locked, and the next morning is opened in the presence of the assembled household; when lo! by the mysterious agency (doubtless) of the munificent saint, the board is found covered with bons bons, toys, and trinkets.

It may not be deemed irrelevant to add, that on the anniversary, the confectioners' shops display their daintiest inventions, and are gaily lighted up and ornamented for public exhibition, much in the same way as at Paris on the first day of the new year.

These reminiscences may not prove unacceptable to many, who contemplate with satisfaction the relics of ancient observances, belonging to a more primitive state of manners, the memory of which is rapidly passing into oblivion; and who, perhaps, think with the writer, in one sense at least, that modern refinements, if they tend to render us wiser, hardly make us happier!

H. H.


Aleppo Pine. Pinus Halipensis.
Dedicated to St. Damasus.

December 12.

Sts. Epimachus and Alexander, &c. A. D. 250. St. Finian, or Finan, Bp. in Ireland. A. D. 552. St. Columba, son of Crimthain, A. D. 548. St. Cormac. St. Colman, Abbot, A. D. 659. St. Eadburge, A. D. 751. St. Valery, Abbot, A. D. 622. St. Corentin, 1st. Bp. of Quimper, 5th Cent. Another St. Corentin, or Cury, A. D. 401.

An intoxicated Servant.

In Lloyd's Evening Post of December 12-14, 1781, there is the following advertisement:—

A YOUNG MAN having yesterday left his master's service in Smithfield, on a presumption of his pocket being picked of one hundred pounds, his master's property, when he was in liquor; this is to inform him, that he left it in the shop of his master, who has found it; and if he will return to his master's service he will be kindly received.

Such was the state of society, in the year 1781, that a drunken servant would be "kindly received" by his employer. We are so far better, in the year 1825, that if such a servant were kindly received, he would not be permitted to enter on his duties till he was admonished not to repeat the vice. Drunkenness is now so properly reprobated, that no one but a thorough reprobate dares to practise it, and the character of sot or drunkard invariably attaches to him.

In the subjoined extract taken from an old author, without recollection of his name, there is something apt to the occasion.

By a writer, in the year 1621.

Of all the trades in the world, a brewer is the loadstone which draws the customes of all functions unto it. It is the mark or upshot of every man's ayme, and the bottomlesse whirlepoole that swallowes up the profits of rich and poore. The brewer's art (like a wilde kestrell or lemand hawke,) flies at all games; or like butler's boxe at Christmasse, it is sure to winne, whosoever loses. In a word, it rules and raignes, (in some sort,) as Augustus Cæsar did, for it taxeth the whole earth. Your innes and alehouses are brookes and rivers, and their clients are small rills and springs, who all, (very dutifully) doe pay their tributes to the boundless ocean of the brewhouse. For, all the world knowes, that if men and women did drinke no more than sufficed nature, or if it were but a little extraordinary now and then upon occasion, or by chance as you may terme it; if drinking were used in any reason, or any reason used in drinking, I pray ye what would become of the brewer then? Surely we doe live in an age,* [Some make a profit of quarreling; some pick their livings out of contentions and debate; some thrive and grow fat by gluttony; many are bravely maintained by bribery, theft, cheating, roguery, and villiany; but put all these together, and joine to them all sorts of people else, and they all in general are drinkers, and consequently the brewer's clients and customers.] wherein the seven deadly sins are every man's trade and living.

Pride is the maintainer of thousands which would else perish; as mercers, taylors, embroydrers, silkmen, citters, drawers, sempsters, laundresses, of which functions there are millions which would starve but for Madam Pride, with her changeable fashions. Letchery, what a continual crop of profits it yeelds, appears by the gallant thriving and gawdy outsides of many he and she, private and publicke sinners, both in citie and suburbs. Covetousnesse is embroydered with extortion, and warmly lined and furred with oppression; and though it be a divell, yet is it most idolatrously adored, honoured, and worshipped by those simple sheep-headed fooles, whom it hath undone and beggared. I could speake of other vices, how profitable they are to a commonwealth; but my invention is thirsty, and must have one carouse more at the brewhouse, who (as I take it) hath a greater share than any, in the gaines which spring from the world's abuses.

If any man hang, drowne, stabbe, or by any violent meanes make away his life, the goods and lands of any such person are forfeit to the use of the king; and I see no reason but those which kill themselves with drinking, should be in the same estate, and be buried in the highways, with a stake drove thorow them; and if I had but a grant of this suite, I would not doubt but that in seven yeeres (if my charity would but agree with my wealth,) I might erect almes-houses, free-schooles, mend highways, and make bridges; for I dare sweare, that a number (almost numberlesse) have confessed upon their death-beds, that at such and such a time, in such and such a place, they dranke so much, which made them surfeite, of which surfeite they languished and dyed. The maine benefit of these superfluous and manslaughtering expenses, comes to the brewer, so that if a brewer be in any office, I hold him to be a very ingrateful man, if he punish a drunkard; for every stiffe, potvaliant drunkard is a post, beam, or pillar, which holds up the brewhouse; for as the barke is to the tree, so is a good drinker to the brewer.


Crowded Heath. Erica conferta.
Dedicated to St. Eadburge.

December 13.

St. Lucy, A. D. 304. St. Jodoc, or Josse, A. D. 669. St. Kenelm, King, A. D. 820. St. Aubert, Bp. of Cambray and Arras, A. D. 669. B. John Marinoni, A. D. 1562. St. Othilla, A. D. 772.

St. Lucy.

This saint is in the church of England calendar and the almanacs. She was a young lady of Syracuse, who preferring a religious single life to marriage, gave away all her fortune to the poor[.] Having been accused to Peschasius, a heathen judge, for professing christianity, she was soon after barbarously murdered by his officers.* [Audley's Companion to the Almanac.]


The following effusions are from America. The first, by Mr. R. H. Wilde, a distinguished advocate of Georgia; the second, by a lady of Baltimore, who moots in the court of the muses, with as much ingenuity as the barrister in his own court.


My life is like the summer rose
   That opens to the morning sky,
But, ere the shades of evening close,
   Is scattered on the ground to die.
Yet on that rose's humble bed
The sweetest dews of night are shed,
As if she wept such waste to see;
But none shall weep a tear for me.

My life is like the autumn leaf
   That trembles in the moon's pale ray,
Its hold is frail, its date is brief,
   Restless, and soon to pass away.
Yet, ere that leaf shall fall and fade,
The parent tree shall mourn its shade,
The winds bewail the leafless tree,
But none shall breath a sigh for me.

My life is like the prints which feet
   Have left on Tempe's desert strand,
Soon as the rising tide shall beat
   All trace will vanish from the sand.
Yet, as if grieving to efface
All vestige of the human race,
On that lone shore loud moans the sea;
But none, alas! shall mourn for me.


The dews of night may fall from heaven,
   Upon the wither'd rose's bed,
And tears of fond regret be given,
   To mourn the virtues of the dead:
Yet morning's sun the dews will dry,
And tears will fade from sorrow's eye,
Affection's pangs be lull'd to sleep,
And even love forget to weep.

The tree may mourn its fallen leaf,
   And autumn winds bewail its bloom,
And friends may heave the sigh of grief,
   O'er those who sleep within the tomb.
Yet soon will spring renew the flowers,
And time will bring more smiling hours;
In friendship's heart all grief will die.
And even love forget to sigh.

The sea may on the desert shore,
   Lament each trace it bears away;
The lonely heart its grief may pour
   O'er cherish'd friendship's fast decay:
Yet when all trace is lost and gone,
The waves dance bright and daily on;
Thus soon affection's bonds are torn,
And even love forgets to mourn.


Cypress arbor vitæ. Thuja cupressioides.
Dedicated to St. Lucy.

December 14.

St. Spiridion, Abp. A. D. 348. Sts. Nicasius, 9th Abp. of Rheims, and his Companions, 5th Cent.

Ember Week.

This is an ancient fast, wherein monks were enjoined to great severity of abstinence preparatory to the festival of Christmas.


Swamp Pine. Pinus palustris.
Dedicated to St. Spiridion.

December 15.

St. Eusebius, Bp. of Vercelli, A. D. 371. St. Florence, or Flann, Abbot.


There is a class of those who are said to "dearly love the lasses, oh?" by whom the verses below may be read without danger of their becoming worse.

A Winter Piece.

It was a winter's evening, and fast came down the snow,
And keenly o'er the wide heath the bitter blast did blow;
When a damsel all forlorn, quite bewilder'd in her way,
Press'd her baby to her bosom, and sadly thus did say:

"Oh! cruel was my father, that shut his door on me,
And cruel was my mother, that such a sight could see;
And cruel is the wintry wind, that chills my heart with cold;
But crueller than all, the lad that left my love for gold!

"Hush, hush my lovely baby, and warm thee in my breast;
Ah, little thinks thy father how sadly we're distrest!
For, cruel as he is, did he know but how we fare,
He'd shield us in his arms from this bitter piercing air.

"Cold, cold, my dearest jewel! thy little life is gone:
Oh! let my tears revive thee, so warm that trickle down;
My tears that gush so warm, oh! they freeze before they fall:
Ah! wretched, wretched mother! thou 'rt now bereft of all."

Then down she sunk despairing upon the drifted snow,
And, wrung with killing anguish, lamented loud her woe:
She kiss'd her babe's pale lips, and laid it by her side;
Then cast her eyes to heaven, then bow'd her head, and died.


Pitch Pine. Pinus resinosa.
Dedicated to St. Florence.

December 16.

St. Ado, Abp. of Vienne, A. D. 875. St. Alice, or Adelaide, Empress, A. D. 999. St. Beanus, Bp. in Leinster.

[Cambridge Term ends]

"O Sapienta."

This day is so marked in the church of England calendar and the almanacs. Many have been puzzled by this distinction, and some have imagined that "O SAPIENTA" was a saint and martyr, one of the celebrated eleven thousand virgins of St. Ursula. Mr. Audley, however, has rightly observed that, "This day is so called from the beginning of an anthem in the service of the Latin church, which used to be sung for the honour of Christ's advent, from this day till Christmas eve."—The anthem commenced with these words, "O SAPIENTA quæ ex ore altissimi prodidisti," &c.


Chinese arbor vitæ. Thuja orientalis.
Dedicated to St. Alice.

December 17.

St. Olympias, A. D. 410. St. Begga, Abbess, A. D. 698.

[Oxford Term ends.]

The Season.

By this time all good housewives, with an eye to Christmas, have laid in their stores for the coming festivities. Their mincemeat has been made long ago, and they begin to inquire, with some anxiety, concerning the state of the poultry market, and especially the price of prime roasting beef.

"O the roast beef of old England,
And O the old English roast beef!"

Manner of Roasting Beef anciently.

A correspondent, who was somewhat ruffled in the dog-days by suggestions for preventing hydrophobia, let his wrath go down before the dog-star; and in calm good nature he communicates a pleasant anecdote or two, which, at this time, may be deemed acceptable.

To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.

Dear Sir,
As an owner of that useful class of animals, dogs, I could not but a little startle at the severity you cast on their owners in your "Sirius," or dog-star of July 3d. In enumerating their different qualities and prescribing substitutes, you forgot one of the most laborious employments formerly assigned to a species of dogs with long backs and short legs, called "Turnspits."

The mode of teaching them their business was more summary than humane: the dog was put in a wheel, and a burning coal with him; he could not stop without burning his legs, and so was kept upon the full gallop. These dogs were by no means fond of their profession; it was indeed hard work to run in a wheel for two or three hours, turning a piece of meat which was twice their own weight. As the season for roasting meat is fast approaching, perhaps you can find a corner in your Every-Day Book for the insertion of a most extraordinary circumstance, relative to these curs, which took place many years ago at Bath.

It is recorded, that a party of young wags hired the chairmen on Saturday night to steal all the turnspits in the town, and lock them up till the following evening. Accordingly on Sunday, when every body desires roast meat for dinner, all the cooks were to be seen in the streets,—"Pray have you seen our Chloe?" says one. "Why," replies the other, "I was coming to ask you if you had seen our Pompey;" up came a third while they were talking, to inquire for her Toby,—and there was no roast meat in Bath that day. It is recorded, also, of these dogs in this city, that one Sunday, when they had as usual followed their mistresses to church, the lesson for the day happened to be that chapter in Ezekiel, wherein the self-moving chariots are described. When first the word "wheel" was pronounced, all the curs pricked up their ears in alarm; at the second wheel they set up a doleful howl; and when the dreaded word was uttered a third time, every one of them scampered out of church, as fast as he could, with his tail between his legs.

Nov. 25, 1825. JOHN FOSTER.

A real EVERY-DAY English Dialogue.

(From the Examiner.)

A. (Advancing) "How d'ye do, Brooks?

B. "Very well, thank'ee; how do you do?"

A. "Very well, thank'ee; is Mrs. Brooks well?"

B. "Very well, I'm much obliged t'ye. Mrs. Adams and the children are well, I hope?"

A. "Quite well, thank'ee."

(A pause.)

B. "Rather pleasant weather to-day."

A. "Yes, but it was cold in the morning."

B. "Yes, but we must expect that at this time o'year."

(Another pause,—neckcloth twisted and switch twirled.)

A. "Seen Smith lately?"

B. "No,—I can't say I have—but I have seen Thompson."

A. "Indeed—how is he?"

B. "Very well, thank'ee."

A. "I'm glad of it. — Well, —good morning."

B. "Good morning."

Here it is always observed that the speakers, having taken leave, walk faster than usual for some hundred yards.

Wild Fowl Shooting in France.

Wild Fowl Shooting in France.

Or where the Northern ocean, in vast whirls
Boils round the naked melancholy isles
Of farthest Thulè, and th' Atlantic surge
Pours in among the stormy Hebrides;
Who can recount what transmigrations there
Are annual made? what nations come and go?
And how the living clouds on clouds arise?
Infinite wings till all the plume-dark air
And rude, resounding shore, are one wild cry.


To a sporting friend, the editor is indebted for the seasonable information in the accompanying letter, and the drawings of the present engravings.

Abbeville, Nov. 14, 1825.

Dear Sir,
It is of all things in the world the most unpleasant to write about nothing, when one knows a letter with something is expected. It is true that I promised to look out for pious chansons, miraculous stories, and other whims and wonders of the French vulgar; and though I do not send you a budget of these gallimaufry odds and ends, whereon I know you have set your heart, yet I hope you will believe that I thoroughly determined to keep my word. To be frank, I had no sooner landed, than desire came over me to reach my domicile at this place as fast as possible, and get at my old field-sports. I therefore posted hither without delay, and, having my gun once more in my hand, have been up every morning with the lark, lark shooting, and letting fly at all that flies—my conscience flying and flapping my face at every recollection of my engagement to you. I well remember your telling me I should forget you, and my answering, that it was "impossible!" Birds were never more plentiful, and till a frost sets them off to a milder atmosphere, I cannot be off for England. I am spell-bound to the fields and waters. Do not, however, be disheartened; I hope yet to do something handsome for your "hobby," but I have one of my own, and I must ride him while I can.

It strikes me, however, that I can communicate something in my way, that will interest some readers of the Every-Day Book, if you think proper to lay it before them.

Every labouring man in France has a right to sport, and keeps a gun. The consequence of this is, that from the middle of October, or the beginning of this month, vast quantities of wild-fowl are annually shot in and about the fens of Picardy, whither they resort principally in the night, to feed along the different ditches and small ponds, many of which are artificially contrived with one, two, and sometimes three little huts, according to the dimensions of the pond. These huts are so ingeniously manufactured, and so well adapted to the purpose, that I send you two drawings to convey an idea of their construction.

All wild-fowl are timorous, and easily deceived. The sportsman's huts, to the number of eight or ten, are placed in such a situation, that not until too late do the birds discover the deception, and the destruction which, under cover, the fowlers deal among them. To allure them from their heights, two or three tame ducks, properly secured to stones near the huts, keep up an incessant quacking during the greater part of the night. The huts are sufficiently large to admit two men and a dog; one man keeps watch while his companion sleeps half the night, when, for the remainder, it becomes his turn to watch and relieve the other. They have blankets, a mattress, and suitable conveniences, for passing night after night obscured in their artificial caverns, and exposed to unwholesome damps and fogs. The huts are formed in the following manner:—A piece of ground is raised sufficiently high to protect the fowler from the wet ground, upon which is placed the frame of the temporary edifice. This is mostly made of ozier, firmly interwoven, as in this sketch.

Hunting Blind.

This frame is covered with dry reeds, and well plastered with mud or clay, to the thickness of about four inches, upon which is placed, very neatly, layers of turf, so that the whole, at a little distance, looks like a mound of verdant earth. Three holes, about four inches in diameter, for the men inside to see and fire through, are neatly cut; one is in the front, and one on each side. Very frequently there is a fourth at the top., This is for the purpose of firing from at the wild-fowl as they pass over. The fowlers, lying upon their backs, discharge guess shots at the birds, who are only heard by the noise of their wings in their flight. Fowlers, with quick ears, attain considerable expertness in this guess-firing.

The numbers that are shot in this way are incredible. They are usually therefore sold at a cheap rate. At forty sous a couple, (1s. 8d. English) they are dear, but the price varies according to their condition.

In the larger drawing, I have given the appearance of the country and of the atmosphere at this season, and a duck-shooter with his gun near his hut, on the look out for coming flocks; but I fear wood engraving, excellent as it is for most purposes, will fall very short of the capability of engraving on copper to convey a correct idea of the romantic effect of the commingling cloud, mist, and sunshine, I have endeavoured to represent in this delightful part of France. Such as it is, it is at your service to do with as you please.

For myself, though for the sake of variety, I have now and then crept into a fowler's hut, and shot in ambuscade, I prefer open warfare, and I assure you I have had capital sport. That you may be acquainted with some of these wildfowl, I will just mention the birds I have shot here within the last three weeks, beginning with the godwit; their names in French are from my recollection of Buffon.

The Godwit.

Common Godwit, la grand barge.
Red Godwit, la barge rousse.
Cinereous Godwit, (Bewick).
Cambridge Godwit, (Latham).
Green-shanked Godwit, la barge variée.
Red-legged Godwit, le chevalier rouge.
Redshank, le chevalier aux pieds rouges.


Ruffs and Reeves, le combattant.
Green Sandpiper, le bécasseau, ou culblanc.
Common Sandpiper, la guignette.
Brown Sandpiper, (Bewick.)
Dunlin, la brunette.
Ox-eye, l'alouette de mer.
Little Stint, la petite alouette de mer, (Brisson) &c. &c.


Curlew, la courles.
Whimbiel, le petite courles.


Common, le heron hupe.
Bittern, le butor.
Little Bittern, le blongois.


The common Wild Duck, le canard sauvage.
Gadwell, or Gray, le chipeau.
Pochard, penelope, le millovin.
Pintail, la canard à longue queue.
Golden-eye, le garrot.
Morillon, le morillon.
Tufted Duck, le petit morillon. (Brisson.)
Gargany, la sarcelle.
Teal, la petite sarcelle.

If you were here you should have a "gentleman's recreation," of the most delightful kind. Your propensity to look for "old masters," would turn into looking out for prime birds. The spotted red-shanks, or barkers, as they are sometimes called, would be fine fellows for you, who are fond of achieving difficulties. They come in small flocks, skimming about the different ponds into which they run to the height of the body, picking up insects from the bottom, and looking as if they had no legs. They are excessively wary, and above all, the most difficult to get near. Confound all "black letter" say I, if it keeps a man from such delightful scenes as I have enjoyed every hour since I came here; as to picture-loving—come and see these pictures which never tire by looking at. I like a good picture though myself, and shall pick up some prints at Paris to put with my others. You may be certain therefore of my collecting something for you, after the birds have left, especially wood cuts. I shall accomplish what I can in the scrap and story-book way, which is not quite in my line, yet I think I know what you mean. In my next you shall have something about lark-shooting, which, in England, is nothing compared with what the north of France affords.

I am, &c.
J. J. H.


White Cedar. Cupressus thyoides.
Dedicated to St. Olympias.

December 18.

Sts. Rufus and Zozimus, A. D. 116. St. Gatian, 1st. Bp. of Tours, 3d. Cent. St. Winebald, A. D. 760.


Fault was found because a newspaper commenced a police-office report of one of the humane endeavours of the warm-hearted member for Galway, in behalf of the proverbially most patient of all quadrupeds, by saying, "Mr. Martin came to this office with another ass." Ridicule, however, never injures a just man with the just-minded; Mr. Martin has been properly supported in every judicious effort by public opinion.

The notice of the all-enduring ass, in former pages, occasions a letter from a gentleman, (with his name) whose researches have been directed to the geographical and natural history of foreign countries. In this communication he refers to a work of considerable interest relative to Africa, which it may be important for inquirers regarding the interior of that region to be acquainted with.

To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.

November 29, 1825.

The facetious TIM TIMS, in your Every-Day Book, of the 19th of September, (p. 1309.) cites the amusing and accurate Leo Africanus, as asserting "that asses may be taught to dance to music." This is an error. Leo, in his description of Africa, (Elzevir edition, 1632. p. 749.) says, "I saw in Cairo a camel dance to the sound of a drum, and as the master told me, this is the mode of teaching: a young camel is selected and placed for half an hour in a place prepared for him of about the size of a stove, the pavement of which is heated by fire. Some one then, outside the door, beats the drum, and the camel, not on account of the music, but of the fire by which his feet are hurt, lifts first one leg then another, after the manner of a dancer, and after having been thus trained for ten or twelve months, he is led into public, when, on hearing the drum, and remembering the burning of his feet, he immediately begins to jump, and thinking himself to be on the same floor, he raises himself on his hind legs, and appears to dance; and so, use becoming second nature, he continues to do."

The only ass described by Leo, is the ass of the woods, found only in the desert or its borders. It yields to the Barb, or Arabian, (Leo says they are the same,) in swiftness, and is caught with the greatest difficulty. When feeding, or drinking, he is always moving.

A word more about the camel. He is of a most kind and mild nature, and partakes in a manner of the sense of man. If, at any time, between Ethiopia and Barbary (in the great desert) the day's journey is longer than ordinary, he is not to be driven on by stripes (or beating,) but the driver sings certain short songs, by which the camel being allured, he goes on with such swiftness, that no one is able to keep up with him.

When I open this highly valued book, I never know when to close it; and, indeed, the less at this time, when we are all on tip-toe with respect to Africa.

Now it does appear strange to me, that not one word has been said, either by the travellers, or those who have traced them, about this little work. One reason may be, that it has never been wholly translated into English. It is called by Hartman, (who has been deemed the ablest editor of these oriental authors,) a golden book, which had he wanted, he should as frequently have wanted light. The author, who was a man of a noble family and great acquirements, had been at Tombuto twice at least. Once he accompanied his father on his embassy from the king of Fez to that city, and afterwards as a merchant. This must have been at the very beginning of the sixteenth century, for he finished this work at Rome, the 5th of March, 1526. He describes Tombuto, as well as Bornou, and Cano, with many other of the Negro kingdoms with great minuteness, and with respect to the Niger, (which, like the Nile, rises, falls, and fertilizes the country,) he says, that its course is from the kingdom of Tombuto towards the west as far as Ginea or Jinnea, and even Melli, which joins the ocean at the same place where the Niger empties itself into the sea. He also says, that at Cabra, which is situate on the Niger, about twelve miles from Tombuto, the merchants sailing to Ginea or Melli, go on board their vessels.

Moore, who resided as a writer and factor under the African company, at the mouth of the Gambia, about five years, and in 1738, published his travels, describing the several nations for the space of six hundred miles up that river, concludes that river and the Niger to be the same. In this work will be found an English translation from the Italian, of parts of Leo's work.

Jackson is a coxcomb, who copies without acknowledgment. He fancies the Niger runs backwards, and joins the Nile, after which they most fraternally run into the Mediterranean.

I am, &c.
T. O.


New Holland Cyprus. Cupressus Australis.
Dedicated to St. Winebald.

December 19.

St. Nemesion, &c., A. D. 250. St. Samthana, Abbess, A. D. 738.


By the contemplation of the "shining heavens" at this season, the mind is induced to the solemn thinking, beautifully imagined by the greatest and most wayward poet of our age.

A Starlight Winter Night.

The stars are forth, the moon above the tops
Of the snow-shining mountains.—Beautiful!
I linger yet with Nature, for the night
Hath been to me a more familiar face
Than that of Man; and in her starry shade
Of dim and solitary loveliness,
I learn'd the language of another world.
I do remember me, that in my youth,
When I was wandering,—upon such a night
I stood within the Coloseum's wall,
'Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome;
The trees which grew along the broken arches
Waved dark in the blue midnight, and the stars
Shone through the rents of ruin: from afar
The watchdog bayed beyond the Tiber; and
More near from out the Cæsars' palace came
The owl's long cry, and, interruptedly,
Of distant sentinels the fitful song
Begun and died upon the gentle wind.
Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach
Appeared to skirt the horizon, yet they stood
Within a bowshot—where the Cæsars dwelt,
And dwell the tuneless birds of night, amidst
A grove which springs through levell'd battlements,
And twines its roots with the imperial hearths,
Ivy usurps the laurel's place of growth;—
But the gladiators' bloody Circus stands,
A noble wreck in ruinous perfection!
While Cæsar's chambers, and the Augustan halls,
Grovel on earth in indistinct decay.—
And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon
All this, and cast a wide and tender light,
Which softened down the hoar austerity
Of rugged desolation, and fill'd up,
As 'twere, anew, the gaps of centuries;
Leaving that beautiful which still was so,
And making that which was not, till the place
Became religion, and the heart ran o'er
With silent worship.



Two-coloured Heath. Erica bicolor.
Dedicated to St. Samthana.

December 20.

St. Philogonius, Bp. of Antioch, A. D. 322. St. Paul, or Latrus, or Latra, A. D. 956.


Mr. Foster's letter, inserted on the 17th instant, occasions the seasonable recollection, that this is the time when, in fashionable language, "every body" goes to Bath.

According to fabulous history, the virtues of the hot springs at Bath, were discovered long before the christian era, by Bladud, a British prince, who having been driven from his father's house because he was leprous, was reduced like the prodigal son to keep swine. His pigs, says the story, had the same disease as himself; in their wanderings they came to this valley, and rolled in the mud where these waters stagnated; and healed them. Whereupon prince Bladud, attaining "to the height of this great argument," tried the same remedy with the same success, and when he became king, built a city upon the spot—the famous city of Bath.


Beau Nash, the founder of the theatre at Bath, made laws to regulate when and where the company should assemble, and when they should separate; arranged the tactics of the dance; enacted the dress in which ladies should appear; and, if they ventured to disobey, whatever was their rank, turned them back. His strong sense and sarcastic humour, being supported by a prevailing sense of propriety, kept offenders of this sort in awe. It has been said that such a man in old times, would have been selected for the king's fool; he seems to have considered himself in that relation to the Bath visiters, and made use of the privilege the character allowed him. He lived on the follies of mankind, and cultivated them. He gambled, and his profits and his office required and enabled him to live expensively, sport a gay equipage, and keep a large retinue. Yet he became old and helpless, and lived to need that charity which he had never withheld from the needy, but which none extended to him. He died poor, neglected, and miserable; and the inhabitants of Bath rewarded his services and genius, in the usual manner; they erected a statue to the honour of the man whom they had suffered almost to starve.

His loss, to the assemblies was exemplified in a very remarkable manner. Two ladies of quality quarrelled in the ball-room. The company took part, some on one side, some on the other: Nash was gone, and his successor in office did not inherit his authority: the partizans as well as the combatants became outrageous, a real battle-royal took place, and caps, lappets, curls, cushions, diamond pins, and pearls, strewed the floor of those rooms, wherein during Nash's time order was supreme.


Stone Pine. Pinus Pinea.
Dedicated to St. Philogonius.

December 21.

St. Thomas, the Apostle. St. Edburge.

St. Thomas.

This apostle is in the church of England calendar and almanacs. He is affirmed to have travelled and promulgated christianity among the Parthians, Medes, Persians, and Carmenians, and to have been the apostle of the Indies; where he effected numerous conversions, and by his preaching raised the indignation of the Bramins, who instigated the people against him till they threw stones and darts at him, and ended his life by running him through the body with a lance.

It is said that the body of the apostle was carried to the city of Edessa. On the discovery of Malabar, by the Portuguese, they found there the Nestorian christians of St. Thomas, whom they treated as heretics, and held a council, which passed decrees for their purgation. Yet may of the Malabarians still maintain the Nestorian doctrines and ceremonies, and refuse to acknowledge the authority of the pope.

Ribadeneira pretends that on the eve of Christmas, in the church of St. Thomas at Malabar, a stone cross commences to shed blood as soon as the Jesuits begin to say mass, "and not before." He says, "The holy cross also begins, by little and little, to change its natural colour, which is white, turning into yellow, and afterwards into black, and from black into azure colour, until the sacrifice of the mass being ended, it returns to its natural colour: and that which augments both admiration and devotion is, that, as the holy cross changes its colours, it distils certain little drops of blood, and by little and little tthey grow thicker, until they fall in so great abundance that the clothes with which they wipe it are dyed with the same blood: and if any year this miracle fail, it is held as a certain sign of great calamity that is to come upon them, as experience has shown them." Perhaps it is further miraculous, that in a country where there is liberty of thought and speech, and a free press, no stone cross will do the like.


Going a gooding on St. Thomas's day formerly prevailed in England. Women begged money, and in return presented the donors with sprigs of palm and branches of primroses.* [Gentleman's Magazine, April 1794.] Mr. Ellis says, "this practice is still kept up in Kent, in the neighbourhood of Maidstone." Mr. Brand adds, "My servant B. Jelkes, who is from Warwickshire, informs me that there is a custom in that county for the poor on St. Thomas's day to go with a bag to beg corn of the farmers, which they call going a corning."


In London, on St. Thomas's day, wardmotes are held for the election of the inquest and common councilmen, and other officers, who are annually chosen for the service and representation of the respective wards.

It is a remarkable fact that the majority of the inhabitants, in many wards, are indifferent to these elections, and suffer their ample franchise to run to waste, like housewives who are careless of their serviceable water; hence important offices are frequently filled by persons either ignorant of the duties they should discharge, or indifferent to them, or unqualified to understand them.

The Ward Inquests.

From "An Inquiry into the Nature and Duties of the Office of Inquest Jurymen," by Mr. Thomas Newell, of Cripplegate Ward, published in 1825, in appears that the ward inquest should be elected on St. Thomas's day, before the common councilmen are elected, inasmuch as "the alderman is commanded by his precept from the lord mayor, to give all the articles of the precept in charge to the inquest; which they cannot take charge of unless they are elected first." It is now the common practice of wardmotes, to elect the inquest last. This has arisen, perhaps, from what may be called, in the ordinary sense of the word, the "political" importance usually atteached to the election of the common councilmen, and by this means the inquest, though foremost in power, has been degraded in rank, and sunk into comparative insignificance. Withal it is to be observed, that the inquest, with the aldermen, are the returning officers of the election of the common councilmen; so that where the practice prevails of electing the inquest last, such inquests are in fact constituted too late to take cognizance, as an inquest, of the election of the common council, and such inquests are consequently incompetent upon their oaths, as inquest men, to return the common councilmen, as having been truly and duly elected.

It appears further, that another extraordinary inroad has been made in London, upon the right of the wardmote inquests to return the jurors to serve in the mayor's and sheriffs' courts of the city. By some by-law or order of the court of aldermen, that court claims to exercise this most important and ancient right of the wardmote inquests; and issues a precept to the alderman of each ward, requiring him to acquaint the inquest "that they are not hereafter to intermeddle or concern themselves in the making of the said returns." This mandate is said to be conformed to at this time by all the inquests; so that the court of aldermen seems to have obtained the inquests to surrender their right to nominate the juries in the city courts, without a struggle. If the proceedings of the court of aldermen were illegal, it is clear that each alderman, in his own ward, illegally dispossessed each inquest of its right, and then, exercised their usurped power when they met together as a court of aldermen.

From the elections in each ward on this day, the citizens are all in a hurry, and there is much discussion at the few remaining clubs and tavern parlours in the different parishes, concerning the qualifications of the respective candidates. All freemen, being householders, are entitled to vote.


Sparrowwort. Erica passerina.
Dedicated to St. Thomas, Apostle.

December 22.

St. Ischyrion, A. D. 253. Sts. Cyril and Methodius, A. D. 881.

Clark, the Miser of Dundee.

On the 22d of December, 1817, died, at Dundee, aged sixty-six, Thomas Clark, a labouring man, who, by dint of parsimony and saving, had accumulated property to the amount of from 800l. to 1000l. before his death. There are perhaps few authenticated instances of endurance which this person did not voluntarily submit to, in order to gratify his ruling passion. He lived by himself, in a small garret, in a filthy lane, called Tyndal's Wynd. His diet consisted of a little oatmeal, stirred into hot water, which he begged from some one or other of the neighbours every morning, to save the expense of fuel. For many years he had laboured under a painful disorder, but would not put himself under the care of a surgeon, fearful of the cost. Driven at last to desperation by the intenseness of his sufferings, about twelve months previous to his decease, he sent for Mr. Crichton, who found him lying, in the most inclement season of the year, barely covered by an old tattered blanket. The furniture of the apartment consisted of about a dozen pair of old shoes, some old tattered clothes, a plough-share, a wooden dish, and horn spoon, a pair of scales and weights, a tub for holding meal, and an old crazy chair. Clark's disorder having been ascertained to be stone in the bladder, he was told that a surgical operation would be necessary for his relief. This he expressed the utmost willingness to undergo; but when informed it would also be necessary to have him removed to a comfortable room, &c. his heart died within him, and he said he must continue as he was, until death relieved him. In vain was he told that every thing needful would be provided. He still persevered in his determination. Leaving a trifle with him to procure necessaries, Mr. Crichton descended from the garret, and made inquiry of the neighbours concerning this miserable object; from whom he received the account narrated. Possessed of this information he returned and rated the wretch for his miserable disposition; but all that could be obtained, was a promise to procure some bed-clothes, and to allow the operation to be performed in a room belonging to one of the neighbours, and immediately to be hoisted back to his own roost. The first morning after the operation he was found quarreling and abusing the old woman left in charge of him, for her extravagance in making use of soap to wash the cloths that were occasionally taken from under him; and he expressed great exultation when she was given to understand that soap was not absolutely necessary for the purpose. A dose of castor oil that had been prescribed for him, he would not allow to be sent for; but in its place swallowed a piece of soap, which, he said, would equally answer the purpose, and at much less cost. The cure going on well, he was ordered some beef tea. The parting with threepence every morning to purchase half a pound of meat, was perfect torture, and recollecting a piece of old rusty bacon, when he had formerly picked up somewhere in his travels, he tried the expedient of converting part of it into beef tea, and drank it with seeming relish. Next morning, however, the old woman, alarmed for the consequences, insisted peremptorily for money to purchase fresh meat, at the same time acquainting him that a supply of coals was necessary. "The coals consumed already! Impossible! They should have served him for the winter! She must have carried off some of them! Threepence for meat and eighteen-pence for coals! It's ruination! She must pack off immediately! But before she goes she must account for the two shillings received on the day of the operation!" The poor woman being somewhat confused could not bring to her recollection the disposal of more than 1s. 10d. It was then perfectly plain she was robbing his room, and ruining him by her extravagance, and she must go to prison! The garret was filled with the neighbours, alarmed by his noisy vociferation; and nothing they could say having pacified him, they sent for Mr. Crichton, who thought it might be a wise plan to leave him alone, and let him manage and feed himself in his own way. By the help of a good constitution, he soon recovered his health, but never could forget the expenses he had been put to during his confinement. The failure also of some people holding money of his in their hands, tended much to embitter the remainder of his life: and he was often observed lamenting his misfortunes; frequently saying aloud, "all bankrupts should be hanged!" There would be no end to the detail of this miserable creature's miserable eccentricities. On a bitter cold day, he went into one of the neighbour's rooms to warm himself, before ascending to his comfortless loft. The next morning he was found almost stiff with cold, and unable to move—the bed clothes, which he had been made to provide himself with the year before, were lying folded up in a corner; he had not the heart to use them. On Sunday he lost the use of his faculties; and on Monday he breathed his last. His only surviving sister, a poor old woman, living somewhere in Strathmore, inherited his property.


Pellucid Heath. Erica pellucida.
Dedicated to St. Cyril.

December 23.

St. Servulus, A. D. 590. Ten Martyrs of Crete. St. Victoria, A. D. 250

A Trifling Mistake.

In December, 1822, the Morning Chronicle states the following whimsical circumstance to have taken place at the Black Swan inn, at York:—

An honest son of Neptune travelling northwards, having put up there for the night, desired the chambermaid to call him early the next morning, as he wished to proceed on his journey by the coach; and added, "as I am a very sound sleeper, you will most likely be obliged to come in and shake me." Accordingly he left his door unfastened, and soon fell asleep. The next morning when he awoke, he found the sun was high, and the coach must have left him some hours behind. Vexation was his first feeling, the next was that of vengeance against the faithless Molly. Accordingly he proceeded to inform himself of the time of day, that he might tax her accurately with her omission, which was aggravated, in his mind, by every additional hour that he had lost; but after groping for some time under his pillow for his watch, it was not to be found! This effectually roused him, and he launched at once out of bed, but no sooner found himself on his feet, than he discovered that his clothes had likewise vanished. It was now evident to him that he had been robbed; however a little more rubbing of the eyes convinced him that he must have been also stolen himself, as the room, bed, and furniture, were all strange to him! Indeed, he was positive in his own mind, that he had never beheld them before. It was equally clear to him that he had gone to bed sober; so being completely puzzled, Jack sate himself down on the bed to "make a calculation" as he often had done at sea, in order to discover, if possible, in what precise part of the globe he just then happened to be, and how he came there. He had read of the enchanted carpet, by which persons could be transported to the remotest parts of the world in the twinkling of an eye; but he never had heard that these fairy tricks had been played at or near York, to which place he had now distinctly traced himself by his "log." His next thought was to "take an observation, " by looking out of the window, but he could observe nothing but tops of houses. This view, however, rejoiced his sight, for, thought he, I am still in a civilized country; this place may be York, where, if my sense do not deceive me, I went to bed last night, at all events I shall have justice done me. But the enigma still remained unexplained, and poor Jack had no clothes to go in quest of a solution. At last he spied a bell-rope, and giving it a hearty tug, leaped into bed again to wait the issue, come who might. It was no enchanter who answered this summons, but only poor Molly. "So you are there, are you? Pray why did you not call me at seven o'clock, as I desired you?" "I did, sir, but you did not answer me." "Then, why did you not come in and shake me?" "I did come in, sir, but you were gone." "I tell you I have not been out of bed all night; you must have gone to the wrong room." "No, sir, I went to No. 22, the room that I put you in last night; besides, there was your watch under the pillow, your impression in the bed, and your clothes placed ready for putting on." "Then, where the devil am I? and how came I here?" "You are a story higher, sir; just over your own room." Our hero was now satisfied that he had been rambling over the house in his sleep, and had mistaken a story in returning to his own room. He then recollected that this was a trick to which he had been addicted when a boy, and he devised that the fatigue of a long journey had probably chiefly contributed to revive his old habit. The whole affair was now accounted for, and Molly proceeded to fetch the clothes of the disenchanted knight, resolving within herself never to trust her own door open again, lest it should be entered accidentally by some sleep-walking traveller.


Cedar of Lebanon. Pinus cedrus.
Dedicated to St. Victoria.

To the Reader.

I am encouraged, by the approbation of my labours, to persevere in the completion of my plan, and to continue this little work next year as usual.

Not a sentence that has appeared in the preceding sheets will be repeated, and the Engravings will be entirely new.


December 1825.

December 24.

Sts. Thrasilla and Emiliana. St. Gregory, of Spoleto, A. D. 304.

Christmas Eve.

This is the vigil of that solemn festival which commemorates the day that gave

"To man a saviour—freedom to the slave."

Calabrian Shepherds playing in Rome at Christmas.

Calabrian Shepherds playing in Rome at Christmas.

In the last days of Advent the Calabrian minstrels enter Rome, and are to be seen in every street saluting the shrines of the virgin mother with their wild music, under the traditional notion of soothing her until the birth-time of her infant at the approaching Christmas. This circumstance is related by lady Morgan, who observed them frequently stopping at the shop of a carpenter. To questions concerning this practice, the workmen, who stood at the door, said it was done out of respect to St. Joseph. The preceding engraving, representing this custom, is from a clever etching by D. Allan, a Scottish artist of great merit. In Mr. Burford's excellent panorama of the ruins of Pompeii, exhibited in the Strand, groups of these peasantry are celebrating the festival of the patron saint of the master of a vineyard. The printed "Description" of the panorama says, these mountaineers are called Pifferari, and "play a pipe very similar in form and sound to the bagpipes of the Highlanders." It is added, as lady Morgan before observed, that "just before Christmas they descend from the mountains to Naples and Rome, in order to play before the pictures of the Virgin and Child, which are placed in various parts of every Italian town." In a picture of the Nativity by Raphael, he has introduced a shepherd at the door playing on the bagpipes.

Christmas Carols.

Carol is said to be derived from cantare, to sing, and rola, an interjection of joy.* [Bourne in Brand's Antiquities.] It is rightly observed by Jeremy Taylor, that "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and good-will towards men," the song of the angels on the birth of the Saviour, is the first Christmas carol.

Anciently, bishops carolled at Christmas among their clergy; but it would be diverging into a wide field to exemplify ecclesiastical practices on this festival; and to keep close to the domestic usages of the season, church customs of that kind will not now be noticed.

In Mr. Brand's "Popular Antiquities," he gives the subjoined Anglo-Norman carol, from a MS. in the British Museum,† [Bib. Reg. 16. E. VIII.] with the accompanying translation by his "very learned and communicative friend, Mr. Douce; in which it will easily be observed that the translator has necessarily been obliged to amplify, but endeavours every where to preserve the sense of the original."

Anglo-Norman Carol.

Seignors ore entendez a nus,
De loinz sumes venuz a wous,
   Pur quere NOEL;
Car lem nus dit que en cest hostel
Soleit tenir sa feste anuel
   Ahi cest iur.
      Deu doint a tuz icels joie d'amurs
      Qi a DANZ NOEL ferunt honors.

Seignors io vus di por veir
KE DANZ NOEL ne uelt aveir
   Si joie non;
E repleni sa maison,
De payn, de char, & de peison,
   Por faire honor.
      Deu doint a tuz ces joie damur.

Seignors il est crie en lost,
Qe cil qui despent bien & tost,
   E largement;
E fet les granz honors sovent
Deu li duble quanque il despent
   Por faire honor.
      Deu doint a.

Seignors escriez les malveis,
Car vus nel les troverez jameis
   De bone part:
Botun, batun, ferun groinard,
Car tot dis a le quer cuuard
   Por faire honor.
      Deu doint.

NOEL beyt bein li vin Engleis
E li Gascoin & li Franceys
   E l'Angeuin:
NOEL fait beivre son veisin,
Si quil se dort, le chief en clin,
   Sovent le ior.
      Deu doint a tuz cels.

Seignors io vus di par NOEL,
E par li sires de cest hostel,
   Car benez ben:
E io primes beurai le men,
E pois apres chescon le soen,
   Par mon conseil,
Si io vus di trestoz Wesseyl
Dehaiz eit qui ne dirra Drincheyl.


Now, lordings, listen to our ditty,
   Strangers coming from afar;
Let poor minstrels move your pity,
   Give us welcome, soothe our care:
In this mansion, as they tell us,
   Christmas wassell keeps to day;
And, as the king of all good fellows,
   Reigns with uncontrouled sway.

Lordings, in these realms of pleasure,
   Father Christmas yearly dwells;
Deals out joy with liberal measure,
   Gloomy sorrow soon dispels:
Numerous guests, and viands dainty,
   Fill the hall and grace the board;
Mirth and beauty, peace and plenty,
   Solid pleasures here afford.

Lordings, 'tis said the liberal mind,
   That on the needy much bestows,
From Heav'n a sure reward shall find;
   From Heav'n, whence ev'ry blessing flows.
Who largely gives with willing hand,
   Or quickly gives with willing heart,
His fame shall spread throughout the land,
   His memory thence shall ne'er depart.

Lordings, grant not your protection
   To a base, unworthy crew,
But cherish, with a kind affection,
   Men that are loyal, good, and true.
Chace from your hospitable dwelling
   Swinish souls, that ever crave;
Virtue they can ne'er excel in,
   Gluttons never can be brave.

Lordings, Christmas loves good drinking,
   Wines of Gascoigne, France, Anjou,* [Gascoigne and Anjou, being at this time under the dominion of the English sovereigns, were not regarded as part of France.]
English ale, that drives out thinking,
   Prince of liquors old or new.
Every neighbour shares the bowl,
   Drinks of the spicy liquor deep,
Drinks his fill without controul,
   Till he drowns his care in sleep.

And now—by Christmas, jolly soul!
   By this mansion's generous sire!
By the wine, and by the bowl,
   And all the joys they both inspire!
Here I'll drink a health to all.
   The glorious task shall first be mine:
And ever may foul luck befal
   Him that to pledge me shall decline!


Hail, father Christmas! hail to thee!
Honour'd ever shalt thou be!
All the sweets that love bestows,
Endless pleasures, wait on those
Who, like vassals brave and true,
Give to Christmas homage due.

From what has been observed of Christmas carols in another work, by the editor, a few notices will be subjoined with this remark, that the custom of singing carols at Christmas is very ancient; and though most of those that exist at the present day are deficient of interest to a refined ear, yet they are calculated to awaken tender feelings. For instance, one of them represents the virgin contemplating the birth of the infant, and saying,

"He neither shall be clothed
   in purple nor in pall,
But all in fair linen,
   as were babies all:
He neither shall be rock'd
   in silver nor in gold,
But in a wooden cradle,
   that rocks on the mould."

Not to multiply instances at present, let it suffice that in a MS. at the British Museum* [Harl. Coll. 5896.] there is "A song on the holly and the ivy," beginning,

"Nay, my nay, hyt shal not be I wys,
Let holy hafe the maystry, as the maner ys:

"Holy stond in the hall, fayre to behold,
Ivy stond without the dore, she ys ful sore acold.
      "Nay my nay," &c.

"Holy, & hys mery men, they dawnsyn and they syng,
Ivy and hur maydyns, they wepyn & they wryng.
      "Nay my nay," &c.

The popularity of carol-singing occasioned the publication of a duodecimo volume in 1642, intitled, "Psalmes or Songs of Sion, turned into the language, and set to the tunes of a strange land. By W(illiam) S(layter), intended for Christmas carols, and fitted to divers of the most noted and common but solemne tunes, every where in this land familiarly used and knowne." Upon the copy of this book in the British Museum, a former possessor has written the names of some of the tunes to which the author designed them to be sung: for instance, Psalm 6, to the tune of Jane Shore; Psalm 19, to Bar. Forster's Dreame; Psalm 43, to Crimson Velvet; Psalm 47, to Garden Greene; Psalm 84, to The fairest Nymph of the Valleys; &c.

In a carol, still sung, called "Dives and Lazarus," there is this amusing account:

"As it fell it out, upon a day,
Rich Dives sicken'd and died,
There came two serpents out of hell,
His soul therein to guide.

"Rise up, rise up, brother Dives,
And come along with me,
For you've a place provided in hell,
To set upon a serpent's knee."

However whimsical this may appear to the reader, he can scarcely conceive its ludicrous effect, when the "serpent's knee" is solemnly drawn out to its utmost length by a Warwickshire chanter, and as solemnly listened to by the well-disposed crowd, who seem, without difficulty, to believe that Dives sits on a serpent's knee. The idea of sitting on this knee was, perhaps, conveyed to the poet's mind by old wood-cut representations of Lazarus seated in Abraham's lap. More anciently, Abraham was frequently drawn holding him up by the sides, to be seen by Dives in hell. In an old book now before me, they are so represented, with the addition of a devil blowing the fire under Dives with a pair of bellows.

Carols begin to be spoken of as not belonging to this century, and few, perhaps, are aware of the number of these compositions now printed. The editor of the Every-Day Book has upwards of ninety, all at this time, published annually.

This collection he has had little opportunity of increasing, except when in the country he has heard an old woman singing an old carol, and brought back the carol in his pocket with less chance of its escape, than the tune in his head.

Mr. Southey, describing the fight "upon the plain of Patay," tells of one who fell, as having

"In his lord's castle dwelt, for many a year,
A well-beloved servant: he could sing
Carols for Shrove-tide, or for Candlemas,
Songs for the wassel, and when the boar's head
Crown'd with gay garlands, and with rosemary,
Smoak'd on the Christmas board."

Joan of Arc, b. x. 1. 466.

These ditties, which now exclusively enliven the industrious servant-maid, and the humble labourer, gladdened the festivity of royalty in ancient times. Henry VII., in the third year of his reign, kept his Christmas at Greenwich: on the twelfth night, after high mass, the king went to the hall, and kept his estate at the table; in the middle sat the dean, and those of the king's chapel, who, immediately after the king's first course, "sang a carall."* [Leland, Collect. vol. iv. p. 237.] Granger innocently observes, that "they that fill the highest and the lowest classes of human life, seem in many respects to be more nearly allied than even themselves imagine. A skilful anatomist would find little or no difference in dissecting the body of a king, and that of the meanest of his subjects; and a judicious philosopher would discover a surprising conformity in discussing the nature and qualities of their minds."* [Biog. Hist. Engl. ed. 1804, vol. iv. p. 356.]

The earliest collection of Christmas carols supposed to have been published, is only known from the last leaf of a volume printed by Wynkn de Worde, in the year 1521. This precious scrap was picked up by Tom Hearne; Dr. Rawlinson purchased it at his decease in a volume of tracts, and bequeathed it to the Bodleian library. There are two carols upon it: one, "a caroll of huntynge," is reprinted in the last edition of Juliana Berners' "Boke of St. Alban's;" the other, "a caroll, bringing in the bore's head," is in Mr Dibdin's "Ames," with a copy of it as it is now sung in Queen's-college, Oxford, every Christmas-day. Dr. Bliss, of Oxford, also printed on a sheet for private distribution, a few copies of this and Ant. a Wood's version of it [sic], with notices concerning the custom, from the hand-writings of Wood and Dr. Rawlinson, in the Bodleian library. Ritson, in his ill-tempered "Observations on Warton's History of English Poetry," (1782, 4to. p. 37,) has a Christmas carol upon bringing up the boar's head, from an ancient MS. in his possession, wholly different from Dr. Bliss's. The "Bibliographical Miscellanies," (Oxford, 1813, 4to.) contains seven carols from a collection in one volume in the possession of Dr. Cotton, of Christchurch-college, Oxford, "imprynted at London, in the Powltry, by Richard Kele, dwellyng at the longe shop vnder saynt Myldrede's Chyrche," probably "between 1546 and 1552." I had an opportunity of perusing this exceedingly curious volume, which is supposed to be unique, and has since passed into the hands of Mr. Freeling. There are carols among the Godly and Spiritual Songs and Balates, in "Scottish Poems of the sixteenth century," (1801, 8vo.); and one by Dunbar, from the Bannatyne MS. in "Ancient Scottish Poems." Others are in Mr. Ellis's edition of Brand's "Popular Antiquities," with several useful notices. Warton's "History of English Poetry" contains much concerning old carols. Mr. Douce, in his "Illustrations of Shakspeare," gives a specimen of the carol sung by the shepherds, on the birth of Christ, in one of the Coventry plays. There is a sheet of carols headed thus: "CHRISTUS NATUS EST: Christ is born;" with a wood-cut, 10 inches high, by 8½ inches wide, representing the stable at Bethlehem; Christ is in the crib, watched by the virgin and Joseph; shepherds kneeling; angels attending; a man playing on the bagpipes; a woman with a basket of fruit on her head; a sheep bleating, and an ox lowing on the ground; a raven croaking, and a crow cawing on the hay-rack; a cock crowing above them; and angels singing in the sky. The animals have labels from their mouths, bearing Latin inscriptions. Down the side of the wood-cut is the following account and explanation: "A religious man, inventing the conceits of both birds and beasts, drawn in the picture of our Saviour's birth, doth thus express them: the cock croweth, Christus natus est, Christ is born. The raven asked, Quando? When? The crow replied, Hac nocte, This night. The ox cryeth out, Ubi? Ubi? Where? where? The sheep bleated out, Bethlehem, Bethlehem. A voice from heaven sounded, Gloria in Excelsis, Glory be on high.—London: printed and sold by J. Bradford, in Little Britain, the corner house over against the Pump, 1701. Price One Penny." This carol is in the possession of Mr. Upcott.

The custom of singing carols at Christmas prevails in Ireland to the present time. In Scotland, where no church feasts have been kept since the days of John Knox, the custom is unknown. In Wales it is still preserved to a greater extent, perhaps, than in England; at a former period, the Welsh had carols adapted to most of the ecclesiastical festivals, and the four seasons of the year, but in our times they are limited to that of Christmas. After the turn of midnight at Christmas-eve, service is performed in the churches, followed by the singing of carols to the harp. Whilst the Christmas holidays continue, they are sung in like manner in the houses, and there are carols especially adapted to be sung at the doors of the houses by visiters before they enter. Lffyr Carolan, or the book of carols, contains sixty-six for Christmas, and five summer carols; Blodeugerdd Cymrii, or the "Anthology of Wales," contains forty-eight Christmas carols, nine summer carols, three May carols, one winter carol, one nightingale carol, and a carol to Cupid. The following verse of a carol for Christmas is literally translated from the first mentioned volume. The poem was written by Hugh Morris, a celebrated songwriter during the commonwealth, and until the early part of the reign of William III:—

"To a saint let us not pray, to a pope let us not kneel;
On Jesu let us depend, and let us discreetly watch
To preserve our souls from Satan with his snares;
Let us not in morning invoke any one else."

With the succeeding translation of a Welsh wassail song, the observer of manners will, perhaps, be pleased. In Welsh, the lines of each couplet, repeated inversely, still keep the same sense.

A Carol for the Eve of St. Mary's Day.

This is the season when, agreeably to custom,
That it was an honour to send wassail
By the old people who were happy
In their time, and loved pleasure;
And we are now purposing
To be like them, every one merry:
Merry and foolish, youths are wont to be,
Being reproached for squandering abroad.
I know that every mirth will end
Too soon of itself;
Before it is ended, here comes
The wassail of Mary, for the sake of the time:
N ———* [Here the master or the mistress of the house was called on by name to officiate.] place the maid immediately
In the chair before us;
And let every body in the house be content that we
May drink wassail to virginity,
To remember the time, in faithfulness,
When fair Mary was at the sacrifice,
After the birth to her of a son,
Who delivered every one, through his good will
From their sins, without doubt.
   Should there be an inquiry who made the carol,
   He is a man whose trust is fully on God,
   That he shall go to heaven to the effulgent Mary,
   Towards filling orders where she also is.


In the rage for "collecting" almost every thing, it is surprising that "collectors" have almost overlooked carols, as a class of popular poetry. To me they have been objects of interest from circumstances which occasionally determine the direction of pursuit. The wood-cuts round the annual sheets, and the melody of "God rest you merry gentlemen," delighted my childhood; and I still listen with pleasure to the shivering carolist's evening chant towards the clean kitchen window decked with holly, the flaring fire showing the whitened hearth, and reflecting gleams of light from the surfaces of the dresser utensils.

Davies Gilbert, Esq. F.R.S. F.A.S. &c. has published "Ancient Christmas carols, with the tunes to which they were formerly sung in the west of England." Mr. Gilbert says, that "on Christmas-day these carols took the place of psalms in all the churches, especially at afternoon service, the whole congregation joining: and at the end it was usual for the parish clerk, to declare in a loud voice, his wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy new year."

In "Poor Robin's Almanac," for 1695, there is a Christmas carol, which is there called, "A Christmas Song," beginning thus:—

Now thrice welcome, Christmas,
   Which brings us good cheer,
Minced-pies and plumb-porridge,
   Good ale and strong beer;
With pig, goose, and capon,
   The best that may be,
So well doth the weather
   And our stomachs agree.

Observe how the chimneys
   Do smoak all about,
The cooks are providing
   For dinner, no doubt;
But those on whose tables
   No victuals appear,
O, may they keep Lent
   All the rest of the year!

With holly and ivy
   So green and so gay;
We deck up our houses
   As fresh as the day.
With bays and rosemary
   And laurel compleat,
And every one now
   Is a king in conceit.

So much only concerning carols for the present. But more shall be said hereon in the year 1826, if the editor of the Every-Day Book live, and retain his faculties to that time. He now, however, earnestly requests of every one of its readers in every part of England, to collect every carol that may be singing at Christmas time in the year 1825, and convey these carols to him at their earliest convenience, with accounts of manners and customs peculiar to their neighbourhood, which are not already noticed in this work. He urges and solicits this most earnestly and anxiously, and prays his readers not to forget that he is a serious and needy suitor. They see the nature of the work, and he hopes that any thing and every thing that they think pleasant or remarkable, they will find some means of communicating to him without delay. The most agreeable presents he can receive at any season, will be contributions and hints that may enable him to blend useful information with easy and cheerful amusement.


Christmas Eve.

Mr. Coleridge writing his "Friend," from Ratzeburg, in the north of Germany, mentions a practice on Christmas-eve very similar to some on December 6th, St. Nicholas'-day. Mr. Coleridge says, "There is a Christmas custom here which pleased and interested me. The children make little presents to their parents, and to each other, and the parents to the children. For three or four months before Christmas the girls are all busy, and the boys save up their pocket-money to buy these presents. What the present is to be is cautiously kept secret; and the girls have a world of contrivances to conceal it—such as working when they are out on visits, and the others are not with them—getting up in the morning before day-light, &c. Then, on the evening before Christmas-day, one of the parlours is lighted up by the children, into which the parents must not go; a great yew bough is fastened on the table at a little distance from the wall, a multitude of little tapers are fixed in the bough, but not so as to burn it till they are nearly consumed, and coloured paper, &c. hangs and flutters from the twigs. Under this bough the children lay out in great order the presents they mean for their parents, still concealing in their pockets what they intend for each other. Then the parents are introduced, and each presents his little gift; they then bring out the remainder one by one, from their pockets, and present them with kisses and embraces. Where I witnessed this scene, there were eight or nine children, and the eldest daughter and the mother wept aloud for joy and tenderness; and the tears ran down the face of the father, and he clasped all his children so tight to his breast, it seemed as if he did it to stifle the sob that was rising within it. I was very much affected. The shadow of the bough and its appendages on the wall, and arching over on the ceiling, made a pretty picture; and then the raptures of the very little ones, when at last the twigs and their needles began to take fire and snap—O it was a delight to them!—On the next day, (Christmas-day) in the great parlour, the parents lay out on the table the presents for the children; a scene of more sober joy succeeds; as on this day, after an old custom, the mother says privately to each of her daughters, and the father to his sons, that which he has observed most praiseworthy and that which was most faulty in their conduct. Formerly, and still in all the smaller towns and villages throughout North Germany, these presents were sent by all the parents to some one fellow, who, in high buskins, a white robe, a mask, and an enormous flax wig, personates Knecht Rupert, i. e. the servant Rupert. On Christmas-night he goes round to every house, and says, that Jesus Christ, his master, sent him thither. The parents and elder children receive him with great pomp and reverence, while the little ones are most terribly frightened. He then inquires for the children, and, according to the character which he hears from the parents, he gives them the intended present, as if they came out of heaven from Jesus Christ. Or, if they should have been bad children, he gives the parents a rod, and, in the name of his master, recommends them to use it frequently. About seven or eight years old the children are let into the secret, and it is curious how faithfully they keep it."

A correspondent to the "Gentleman's Magazine," says, that when he was a school-boy, it was a practice on Christmas-eve to roast apples on a string till they dropt into a large bowl of spiced ale, which is the whole composition of lamb's wool. Brand thinks, that this popular beverage obtained its name from the softness of the composition, and he quotes from Shakspeare's "Midsummer-Night's Dream,"

——— "Sometimes lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab;
And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
And on her wither'd dew-lap pour the ale."

It was formerly a custom in England on Christmas-eve to wassail, or wish health to the apple-tree. Herrick enjoins to—

"Wassaile the trees, that they may beare
You many a plum, and many a peare;
For more or lesse fruits they will bring,
And you do give them wassailing."

In 1790, it was related to Mr. Brand, by sir Thomas Acland, and Werington, that in his neighbourhood on Christmas-eve it was then customary for the country people to sing a wassail or drinking-song, and throw the toast from the wassail-bowl to the apple-trees in order to have a fruitful year.

"Pray remember," says T. N. of Cambridge, to the editor of the Every-Day Book, "that it is a Christmas custom from time immemorial to send and receive presents and congratulations from one friend to another; and, could the number of baskets that enter London at this season be ascertained, it would be astonishing; exclusive of those for sale, the number and weight of turkeys only, would surpass belief. From a historical account of Norwich it appears, that between Saturday morning and the night of Sunday, December 22, 1793, one thousand seven hundred turkeys, weighing 9 tons, 2 cwt. 2 lbs. value 680l. were sent from Norwich to London; and two days after half as many more."

"Now," says Stevenson, in his Twelve Months, 1661, "capons and hens, besides turkeys, geese, ducks, with beef and mutton, must all die; for in twelve days a multitude of people will not be fed with a little. Now plums and spice, sugar and honey, square it among pies and broth. Now a journeyman cares not a rush for his master, though he begs his plum-porridge all the twelve days. Now or never must the music be in tune, for the youth must dance and sing to get them a heat, while the aged sit by the fire. The country-maid leaves half her market, and must be sent again if she forgets a pack of cards on Christmas-eve. Great is the contention of holly and ivy, whether master or dame wears the breeches; and if the cook do not lack wit, he will sweetly lick his fingers."

Mr. Leigh Hunt's Indicator presents this Christmas picture to our contemplation—full of life and beauty:—


One of the most pleasing sights at this festive season is the group of boys and girls returned from school. Go where you will, a cluster of their joyous chubby faces present themselves to our notice. In the streets, at the panorama, or play-house, our elbows are constantly assailed by some eager urchin whose eyes just peep beneath to get a nearer view.

I am more delighted in watching the vivacious workings of their ingenuous countenances at these Christmas shows, than at the sights themselves.

From the first joyous huzzas, and loud blown horns which announce their arrival, to the faint attempts at similar mirth on their return, I am interested in these youngsters.

Observe the line of chaises with their swarm-like loads hurrying to tender and exulting parents, the sickly to be cherished, the strong to be amused; in a few mornings you shall see them, new clothes, warm gloves, gathering around their mother at every toy-shop, claiming the promised bat, hoop, top, or marbles; mark her kind smile at their ecstasies; her prudent shake of the head at their multitudinous demands; her gradual yielding as they coaxingly drag her in; her patience with their whims and clamour while they turn and toss over the play-things, as now a sword, and now a hoop is their choice, and like their elders the possession of one bauble does but make them sigh for another.

View the fond father, his pet little girl by the hand, his boys walking before on whom his proud eye rests, while ambitious views float o'er his mind for them, and make him but half attentive to their repeated inquiries; while at the Museum or Picture-gallery, his explanations are interrupted by the rapture of discovering that his children are already well acquainted with the different subjects exhibited.

Stretching half over the boxes at the theatre, adorned by maternal love, see their enraptured faces now turned to the galleries wondering at their height and at the number of regular placed heads contained in them, now directed towards the green cloud which is so lingeringly kept between them and their promised bliss. The half-peeled orange laid aside when the play begins; their anxiety for that which they understand; their honest laughter which runs through the house like a merry peal of sweet bells; the fear of the little girl lest they should discover the person hid behind the screen; the exultation of the boy when the hero conquers.

But, oh, the rapture when the pantomime commences! Ready to leap out of the box, they joy in the mischief of the clown, laugh at the thwacks he gets for his meddling, and feel no small portion of contempt for his ignorance in not knowing that hot water will scald and gunpowder explode; while with head aside to give fresh energy to the strokes, they ring their little palms against each other in testimony of exuberant delight.

Who can behold them without reflecting on the many passions that now lie dormant in their bosoms, to be in a few years agitating themselves and the world. Here the coquet begins to appear in the attention paid to a lace frock or kid gloves for the first time displayed, or the domestic tyrant in the selfish boy, who snatches the largest cake, or thrusts his younger brother and sister from the best place.

At no season of the year are their holidays so replete with pleasures; the expected Christmas-box from grand-papa and grand-mamma; plum-pudding and snap-dragon, with blindman's-buff and forfeits; perhaps to witness a juvenile play rehearsed and ranted; galantée-show and drawing for twelfth-cake; besides Chrismas gambols in abundance, new and old.

Even the poor charity-boy at this season feels a transient glow of cheerfulness, as with pale blue face, frost-nipped hands, and ungreatcoated, from door to door, he timidly displays the unblotted scutcheon of his graphic talents, and feels that the pence bestowed are his own, and that for once in his life he may taste the often desired tart, or spin a top which no one can snatch from him in capricious tyranny.

Ancient Representation of the Nativity.

Ancient Representation of the Nativity.


According to Mr. Brand, "a superstitious notion prevails in the western parts of Devonshire, that at twelve o'clock at night on Christmas-eve, the oxen in their stalls are always found on their knees, as in an attitude of devotion; and that (which is still more singular) since the alteration of the style, they continue to do this only on the eve of old Christmas-day. An honest countryman, living on the edge of St. Stephen's Down, near Launceston, Cornwall, informed me, October 28, 1790, that he once, with some others, made a trial of the truth of the above, and watching several oxen in their stalls at the above time, at twelve o'clock at night, they observed the two oldest oxen only fall upon their knees, and, as he expressed it in the idiom of the country, make 'a cruel moan like christian creatures.' I could not but with great difficulty keep my countenance: he saw, and seemed angry that I gave so little credit to his tale, and walking off in a pettish humour, seemed to 'marvel at my unbelief.' There is an old print of the Nativity, in which the oxen in the stable, near the virgin and the child, are represented upon their knees, as in a suppliant posture. This graphic representation has probably given rise to the above superstitious notion on this head." Mr. Brand refers to "an old print," as if he had only observed one with this representation; whereas, they abound, and to the present day the ox and the ass are in the wood-cuts of the nativity on our common Christmas carols. Sannazarius, a Latin poet of the fifteenth century, in his poem De Partu Virginis, which he was several years in revising, and which chiefly contributed to the celebrity of his name among the Italians, represents that the virgin wrapped up the new-born infant, and put him into her bosom; that the cattle cherished him with their breath, an ox fell on his knees, and an ass did the same. He declares them both happy, promises they shall be honoured at all the altars in Rome, and apostrophizes the virgin on occasion of the respect the ox and ass have shown her. To a quarto edition of this Latin poem, with an Italian translation by Gori, printed at Florence in 1740, there is a print inscribed "Sacrum monumentum in antiquo vitro Romæ in Musea Victorio," from whence the preceding engraving is presented, as a curious illustration of the obviously ancient mode of delineating the subject.

In the edition just mentioned of Sannazarius's exceedingly curious poem, which is described in the editor's often cited volume on "Ancient Mysteries," there are other engravings of the nativity with the ox and the ass, from sculptures on ancient sarcophagi at Rome. This introduction of the ox and the ass warming the infant in the crib with their breath, is a fanciful construction by catholic writers on Isaiah i. 3; "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib."

Sannazarius was a distinguished statesman in the kingdom of Naples. His superb tomb in the church of St. Mark is decorated with two figures originally executed for and meant to represent Apollo and Minerva; but as it appeared indecorous to admit heathen divinities into a christian church, and the figures were thought too excellent to be removed, the person who shows the church is instructed to call them David and Judith: "You mistake," said a sly rogue who was on of a party surveying the curiosities, "the figures are St. George, and the queen of Egypt's daughter." The demonstrator made a low bow, and thanked him.* [Lounger's Com. Place Book.]


Frankincense. Pinus Tæda.
Dedicated to Sts. Thrasilla and Emiliana.

December 25.

The Nativity of Christ, or Christmas-day. St. Anastasia, A. D. 304. Another St. Anastasia. St. Eugenia, A. D. 257.


The festival of the nativity was anciently kept by different churches in April, May, and in this month. It is now kept on this day by every established church of christian denomination; and is a holiday all over England, observed by the suspension of all public and private business, and the congregating of friends and relations for "comfort and joy."

Our countryman, Barnaby Googe, from the Latin of Naogeorgus, gives us some lines descriptive of the old festival:—

Then comes the day wherein the Lorde
   did bring his birth to passe;
Whereas at midnight up they rise,
   and every man to Masse.
This time so holy counted is,
   that divers earnestly
Do thinke the waters all to wine
   are chaunged sodainly;
In that same houre that Christ himselfe
   was borne, and came to light,
And unto water streight againe
   transformde and altred quight.
There are beside that mindfully
   the money still do watch,
That first to aultar commes, which then
   they privily do snatch.
The priestes, least other should it have,
   takes oft the same away,
Whereby they thinke throughout the yeare
   to have good lucke in play,
And not to lose: then straight at game
   till day-light do they strive,
To make some present proofe how well
   their hallowde pence wil thrive.
Three Masses every priest doth sing,
   upon that solemne day,
With offrings unto every one,
   that so the more may play.
This done, a woodden child in clowtes
   is on the aultar set,
About the which both boyes and gyrles
   do daunce and trymly jet,
And Carrols sing in prayse of Christ,
   and, for to helpe them heare,
The organs aunswere every verse
   with sweete and solemne cheare.
The priestes doe rore aloude; and round
   about the parentes stande
To see the sport, and with their voyce
   do helpe them and their hande.

The commemorations in our own times vary from the account in these versifyings. An accurate observer, with a hand powerful to seize, and a hand skilled in preserving manners, offers us a beautiful sketch of Christmas-tide in the "New Monthly Magazine," of December 1, 1825. Foremost in his picture is the most estimable, because the most useful and ornamental character in society,—a good parish priest.

"Our pastor was told one day, in argument, that the interests of christianity were opposed to universal enlightenment. I shall not easily forget his answer. 'The interests of christianity,' said he, 'are the same as the interests of society. It has no other meaning. Christianity is that very enlightenment you speak of. Let any man find out that thing, whatever it be, which is to perform the very greatest good to society, even to its own apparent detriment, and I say that is christianity, or I know not the spirit of its founder. What?' continued he, 'shall we take christianity for an arithmetical puzzle, or a contradiction in terms, or the bitterness of a bad argument, or the interests, real or supposed, of any particular set of men? God forbid. I wish to speak with reverence (this conclusion struck me very much)—I wish to speak with reverence of whatever has taken place in the order of Providence. I wish to think the best of the very evils that have happened; that a good has been got out of them; perhaps that they were even necessary to the good. But when once we have attained better means, and the others are dreaded by the benevolent, and scorned by the wise, then is the time come for throwing open the doors to all kindliness and to all knowledge, and the end of christianity is attained in the reign of beneficence.'

"In this spirit our pastor preaches to us always, but most particularly on Christmas-day; when he takes occasion to enlarge on the character and views of the divine person who is supposed then to have been born, and sends us home more than usually rejoicing. On the north side of the church at M. are a great many holly-trees. It is from these that our dining and bed-rooms are furnished with boughs. Families take it by turns to entertain their friends. They meet early; the beef and pudding are noble; the mince-pies—peculiar; the nuts half play-things and half-eatables; the oranges as cold and acid as they ought to be, furnishing us with a superfluity which we can afford to laugh at; the cakes indestructible; the wassail bowls generous, old English, huge, demanding ladles, threatening overflow as they come in, solid with roasted apples when set down. Towards bed-time you hear of elder-wine, and not seldom of punch. At the manor-house it is pretty much the same as elsewhere. Girls, although they be ladies, are kissed under the misletoe. If any family among us happen to have hit upon an exquisite brewing, they send some of it round about, the squire's house included; and he does the same by the rest. Riddles, hot-cockles, forfeits, music, dances sudden and not to be suppressed, prevail among great and small; and from two o'clock in the day to midnight, M. looks like a deserted place out of doors, but is full of life and merriment within. Playing at knights and ladies last year, a jade of a charming creature must needs send me out for a piece of ice to put in her wine. It was evening and a hard frost. I shall never forget the cold, cutting, dreary, dead look of every thing out of doors, with a wind through the wiry trees, and snow on the ground, contrasted with the sudden return to warmth, light, and joviality.

"I remember we had a discussion that time, as to what was the great point and crowning glory of Christmas. Many were for mince-pie; some for the beef and plum-pudding; more for the wassail-bowl; a maiden lady timidly said, the misletoe; but we agreed at last, that although all these were prodigious, and some of them exclusively belonging to the season, the fire was the great indispensable. Upon which we all turned our faces towards it, and began warming our already scorched hands. A great blazing fire, too big, is the visible heart and soul of Christmas. You may do without beef and plum-pudding; even the absence of mince-pie may be tolerated; there must be a bowl, poetically speaking, but it need not be absolutely wassail. The bowl may give place to the bottle. But a huge, heaped-up, over heaped-up, all-attracting fire, with a semicircle of faces about it, is not to be denied us. It is the lar and genius of the meeting; the proof positive of the season; the representative of all our warm emotions and bright thoughts; the glorious eye of the room; the inciter to mirth, yet the retainer of order; the amalgamater of the age and sex; the universal relish. Tastes may differ even on a mince-pie; but who gainsays a fire? The absence of other luxuries still leaves you in possession of that; but

'Who can hold a fire in his hand
With thinking on the frostiest twelfth-cake?'

"Let me have a dinner of some sort, no matter what, and then give me my fire, and my friends, the humblest glass of wine, and a few penn'orths of chesnuts, and I will still make out my Christmas. What! Have we not Burgundy in our blood? Have we not joke, laughter, repartee, bright eyes, comedies of other people, and comedies of our own; songs, memories, hopes? [An organ strikes up in the street at this word, as if to answer me in the affirmative. Right, thou old spirit of harmony, wandering about in the ark of thine, and touching the public ear with sweetness and an abstraction! Let the multitude bustle on, but not unarrested by thee and by others, and not unreminded of the happiness of renewing a wise childhood.] As to our old friends the chesnuts, if any body wants an excuse to his dignity for roasting them, let him take the authority of Milton. 'Who now,' says he, lamenting the loss of his friend Deodati,—'who now will help to soothe my cares for me, and make the long night seem short with his conversation; while the roasting pear hisses tenderly on the fire, and the nuts burst away with a noise,—

'And out of doors a washing storm o'erwhelms
Nature pitch-dark, and rides the thundering elms?'

Christmas in France.

From a newspaper of 1823, (the name unfortunately not noted at the time, and not immediately ascertainable), it appears that Christmas in France is another thing from Christmas in England.

"The habits and customs of the Parisians vary much from those of our own metropolis at all times, but at no time more than at this festive season. An Englishman in Paris, who had been for some time without referring to his almanac, would not know Christmas-day from another by the appearance of the capital. It is, indeed, set down as a jour de fete in the calendar, but all the ordinary business of life is transacted; the streets are, as usual, crowded with waggons and coaches; the shops, with few exceptions, are open, although on other fête days the order for closing them is rigorously enforced, and if not attended to, a fine levied; and at the churches nothing extraordinary is going forward. All this is surprising in a catholic country, which professes to pay such attention to the outward rites of religion.

"On Christmas-eve indeed, there is some bustle for a midnight mass, to which immense numbers flock, as the priests, on this occasion, get up a showy spectacle which rivals the theatres. The altars are dressed with flowers, and the churches decorated profusely; but there is little in all this to please men who have been accustomed to the John Bull mode of spending the evening. The good English habit of meeting together to forgive offences and injuries, and to cement reconciliations, is here unknown. The French listen to the church music, and to the singing of their choirs, which is generally excellent, but they know nothing of the origin of the day and of the duties which it imposes. The English residents in Paris, however, do not forget our mode of celebrating this day. Acts of charity from the rich to the needy, religious attendance at church, and a full observance of hospitable rites, are there witnessed. Paris furnishes all the requisites for a good pudding, and the turkeys are excellent, though the beef is not to be displayed as prize production.

"On Christmas-day all the English cooks in Paris are in full business. The queen of cooks, however, is Harriet Dunn, of the Boulevard.—As sir Astley Cooper among the cutters of limbs, and d'Egville among the cutters of capers, so is Harriet Dunn among the professors of one of the most necessary, and in its results, most gratifying professions of existence; her services are secured beforehand by special retainers; and happy is the peer who can point to his pudding, and declare that it is of the true "Dunn" composition. Her fame has even extended to the provinces. For some time previous to Christmas-day, she forwards puddings in cases to all parts of the country, ready cooked and fit for the table, after the necessary warming. All this is, of course, for the English. No prejudice can be stronger than that of the French against plum-pudding—a Frenchman will dress like an Englishman, swear like an Englishman, and get drunk like an Englishman; but if you would offend him for ever, compel him to eat plum-pudding. A few of the leading restauranteurs, wishing to appear extraordinary, have plomb-pooding upon their cartes, but in no instance is it ever ordered by a Frenchman. Every body has heard the story of St. Louis—Henri Quatre, or whoever else it might be, who, wishing to regale the English ambassador on Christmas-day with a plumb-pudding, procured an excellent recipe for making one, which he gave to his cook, with strict injunctions that it should be prepared with due attention to all the particulars. The weight of the ingredients, the size of the copper, the quantity of water, the duration of time, every thing was attended to except one trifle—the king forgot the cloth, and the pudding was served up like so much soup, in immense tureens, to the surprise of the ambassador, who was, however, too well bred to express his astonishment. Louis XVIII., either to show his contempt of the prejudices of his countrymen, or to keep up a custom which suits his palate, has always an enormous pudding on Christmas-day, the remains of which, when it leaves the table, he requires to be eaten by the servants, bon gré, mauvais gré; but in this instance even the commands of sovereignty are disregarded, except by the numerous English in his service, consisting of several valets, grooms, coachmen, &c., besides a great number of ladies' maids, in the service of the duchesses of Angouleme and Berri, who very frequently partake of the dainties of the king's table."

The following verses from the original in old Norman French, are said to be the first drinking song composed in England. They seem to be an abridged version of the Christmas carol in Anglo-Norman French, translated by Mr. Douce:—

Lordlings, from a distant home,
To seek old Christmas are we come,
   Who loves our minstrelsy—
And here, unless report mis-say,
The greybeard dwells; and on this day
Keeps yearly wassel, ever gay
   With festive mirth and glee.

Lordlings, list, for we tell you true;
Christmas loves the jolly crew,
   That cloudy care defy:
His liberal board is deftly spread,
With manchet loaves and wastel bread;
His guests with fish and flesh are led,
   Nor lack the stately pye.

Lordlings, it is our host's command,
And Christmas joins him hand in hand,
   To drain the brimming bowl;
And I'll be foremost to obey—
Then pledge me, sirs, and drink away,
For Christmas revels here to-day
   And sways without controul.
Now wassel to you all! and merry may you be,
And foul that wight befall, who drinks not health to me.

There were anciently great doings in the halls of the inns of court at Christmas time. At the Inner-Temple early in the morning, the gentlemen of the inn went to church, and after the service they did then "presently repair into the hall to breakfast with brawn, mustard, and malmsey." At the first course at dinner, was "served in, a fair and large Bore's head upon a silver platter with minstralsye."* [Dugdale's Orig. Jurid.]

The Boar's Head.

With our forefathers a soused boar's head was borne to the principal table in the hall with great state and solemnity, as the first dish on Christmas-day.

In the book of "Christmasse Carolles" printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1521, are the words sung at this "chefe servyce," or on bringing in this the boar's head, with great ceremony, as the first dish: it is in the next column.

A CAROL bryngyng in the Boar's Head.

Caput Apri defero
Reddens laudes Domino.

The bore's head in hande bring I,
With garlandes gay and rosemary,
I pray you all synge merely,
      Qui estis in convivio.

The bore's head, I understande,
Is the chefe servyce in this lande.
Loke wherever it be fande
      Servite com Cantico.

Be gladde, lords, both more and lasse,
   For this hath ordayned our stewarde
To chere you all this Christmasse,
   The bore's head with mustarde.

The Boar's Head at Christmas.

The Boar's Head at Christmas.

"With garlandes gay and rosemary."

Warton says, "This carol, yet with many innovations, is retained at Queen's-college, in Oxford." It is still sung in that college, somewhat altered, "to the common chant of the prose version of the psalms in cathedrals;" so, however, the rev. Mr. Dibdin says, as mentioned before.

Mr. Brand thinks it probable that Chaucer alluded to the custom of bearing the boar's head, in the following passage of the "Franklein's Tale:"—

"Janus sitteth by the fire with double berd,
And he drinketh of his bugle-horne the wine,
Before him standeth the brawne of the tusked swine."

In "The Wonderful Yeare, 1603," Dekker speaks of persons apprehensive of catching the plague, and says, "they went (most bitterly) miching and muffled up and down, with rue and wormwood stuft into their eares and nosthrils, looking like so many bores heads stuck with branches of rosemary, to be served in for brawne at Christmas."

Holinshed says, that in 1170, upon the young prince's coronation, king Henry II. "served his son at the table as sewer, bringing up the bore's head, with trumpets before it, according to the manner."* [Grose.]

An engraving from a clever drawing by Rowlandson, in the possession of the editor of the Every-Day Book, may gracefully close this article.

A Boor's Head.

A Boor's Head.

"Civil as an orange."


There are some just observations on the old mode of passing this season, in "the World," a periodical paper of literary pleasantries. "Our ancestors considered Christmas in the double light of a holy commemoration, and a cheerful festival, and accordingly distinguished it by devotion, by vacation from business, by merriment, and hospitality. They seemed eagerly bent to make themselves, and every one about them happy; with what punctual zeal did they wish one another a merry Christmas! and what an omission would it have been thought, to have concluded a letter without the compliments of the season! The great hall resounded with the tumultuous joys of servants and tenants, and the gambols they played served as amusement to the lord of the manor, and his family, who, by encouraging every conducive to mirth and entertainment, endeavoured to soften the rigour of the season, and mitigate the influence of winter."

The country squire of three hundred a year, an independent gentleman in the reign of queen Anne, is described as having "never played at cards but at Christmas, when the family pack was produced from the mantle-piece." "His chief drink the year round was generally ale, except at this season, the 5th of November, or some other gala days, when he would make a bowl of strong brandy punch, garnished with a toast and nutmeg. In the corner of his hall, by the fire-side, stood a large wooden two-armed chair, with a cushion, and within the chimney corner were a couple of seats. Here, at Christmas, he entertained his tenants, assembled round a glowing fire, made of the roots of trees, and other great logs, and told and heard the traditionary tales of the village, respecting ghosts and witches, till fear made them afraid to move. In the meantime the jorum of ale was in continual circulation." [Grose.]

It is remarked, in the "Literary Pocket Book," that now, Christmas-day only, or at most a day or two, are kept by people in general; the rest are school holidays. "But, formerly, there was nothing but a run of merry days from Christmas-eve to Candlemas, and the first twelve in particular were full of triumph and hospitality. We have seen but too well the cause of this degeneracy. What has saddened our summer-time has saddened our winter. What has taken us from our fields and May-flowers, and suffered them to smile and die alone, as if they were made for nothing else, has contradicted our flowing cups at Christmas. The middle classes make it a sorry business of a pudding or so extra, and game at cards. The rich invite their friends to their country houses, but do little there but gossip and gamble; and the poor are either left out entirely, or presented with a few clothes and eatables that make up a wretched substitute for the long and hospitable intercourse of old. All this is so much the worse, inasmuch as christianity had a special eye to those feelings which should remind us of the equal rights of all; and the greatest beauty in it is not merely its charity, which we contrive to swallow up in faith, but its being alive to the sentiment of charity, which is still more opposed to these proud distances and formal dolings out.—The same spirit that vindicated the pouring of rich ointment on his feet, (because it was a homage paid to sentiment in his person,) knew how to bless the gift of a cup of water. Every face which you contribute to set sparkling at Christmas is a reflection of that goodness of nature which generosity helps to uncloud, as the windows reflect the lustre of the sunny heavens. Every holly bough and lump of berries with which you adorn your houses is a piece of natural piety as well as beauty, and will enable you to relish the green world of which you show yourselves not forgetful. Every wassail bowl which you set flowing without drunkenness, every harmless pleasure, every innocent mirth however mirthful, every forgetfulness even of serious things, when they are only swallowed up in the kindness of joy with which it is the end of wisdom to produce, is

'Wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best;'

and Milton's Eve, who suggested those epithets to her husband, would have thought so too, if we are to judge by the poet's account of her hospitality."


And well our christian sires of old
Loved, when the year its course had roll'd,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all its hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night:
On Christmas-eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas-eve the mass was sung;
That only night, in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donn'd her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dress'd with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry men go,
To gather in the misletoe.
Then open wide the baron's hall,
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And ceremony doff'd his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose:
The lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of "post and pair."
All hailed, with uncontrouled delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.

The fire, with well-dried logs supply'd,
Went, roaring, up the chimney wide;
The huge hall table's oaken face,
Scrubb'd till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving man;
Then the grim boar's-head frown'd on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garb'd ranger tell,
How, when, and where the monster fell;
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar;
While round the merry wassel bowl,
Garnish'd with ribbons, blithe did trowl.
There the huge sirloin reek'd; hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Nor fail'd old Scotland to produce,
At such high tide her savoury goose.
Then came the merry maskers in,
And carols roar'd with blithsome din;
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note and strong
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supply the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visor made;
But, oh! what masquers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
'Twas Christmas broach'd the mightiest ale;
'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft would cheer
A poor man's heart through half the year.

Sir Walter Scott.


The musicians who play by night in the streets at Christmas are called waits. It has been presumed, that waits in very ancient times meant watchmen; they were minstrels at first attached to the king's court, who sounded the watch every night, and paraded the streets during winter to prevent depredations.

In London, the waits are remains of the musicians attached to the corporation of the city under that denomination. They cheer the hours of the long nights before Christmas with instrumental music. To denote that they were "the lord mayor's music," they anciently wore a cognizance, a badge on the arm, similar to the represented in the engraving below, from a picture by A. Bloemart.

The Piper.

The Piper.

He blows his bagpipe soft or strong,
Or high or low, to hymn or song,
Or shrill lament, or solemn groan,
Or dance, or reel, or sad o-hone!
Or ballad gay, or well-a-day—
To all he gives due melody.

Preparatory to Christmas, the bellman of every parish in London rings his bell at dead midnight, that his "worthy masters and mistresses" may listen, and be assured by his vocal intonation that he is reciting "a copy of verses" in praise of their several virtues, especially their liberality; and, when the festival is over, he calls with his bell, and hopes he shall be "remembered."

At the good town of Bungay, in Suffolk, the "watch" of the year 1823 circulated the following, headed by a representation of a moiety of their dual body:—






John Pye and John Tye.

Watchman of Bungay

YOUR pardon, Gentles, while we thus implore,
In strains not less awakening than of yore,
Those smiles we deem our best reward to catch,
And for the which we've long been on the Watch;
Well pleas'd if we that recompence obtain,
Which we have ta'en so many steps to gain.
Think of the perils in our calling past,
The chilling coldness of the midnight blast,
The beating rain, the swiftly-driving snow,
The various ills that we must undergo,
Who roam, the glow-worms of the human race,
The living Jack-a-lanthorns of the place.

'Tis said by some, perchance, to mock our toil,
That we are prone to "waste the midnight oil!"
And that, a task thus idle to pursue,
Would be an idle waste of money too!
How hard, that we the dark designs should rue
Of those who'd fain make light of all we do!
But such the fate which oft doth merit greet,
And which now drives us fairly off our beat!
Thus it appears from this our dismal plight,
That some love darkness, rather than the light.

Henceforth let riot and disorder reign,
With all the ills that follow in their train;
Let TOMS and JERRYS unmolested brawl,
(No Charlies have they now to floor withal,)
And "rogues and vagabonds" infest the Town,
For cheaper 'tis to save than crack a crown!

To brighter scenes we now direct our view—
And first, fair Ladies, let us turn to you.
May each NEW YEAR new joys, new pleasures bring,
And Life for you be one delightful spring!
No summer's sun annoy with fev'rish rays,
No winter chill the evening of your days!

To you, kind Sirs, we next our tribute pay:
May smiles and sunshine greet you on your way!
If married, calm and peacful be your lives;
If single, may you forthwith get you wives!

Thus, whether Male or Female, Old or Young,
Or Wed or Single, be this burden sung:
Long may you live to hear, and we to call,
A Happy Christmas and New Year to all!

J. and R. Childs, Printers, Bungay.

Previous to Christmas 1825, a trio of foreign minstrels appeared in London, ushering the season with melody from instruments seldom performed on in the streets. These were Genoese with their guitars. Musicians of this order are common in Naples and all over Italy; at the carnival time they are fully employed, and at other periods are hired to assist in those serenades whereof English ladies hear nothing, unless they travel, save by the reports of those who publish accounts of their adventures. The three now spoken of took up their abode in London, at the King's-head public-house, in Leather-lane, from whence ever and anon, to wit, daily, they sallied forth to "discourse most excellent music." They are represented in the engraving below, from a sketch hastily taken by a gentleman who was of a dinner party, by whom they were called into the house of a street in the suburbs.

Italian Minstrels in London.

Italian Minstrels in London,


Ranged in a row, with guitars slung
Before them thus, they played and sung:
Their instruments and choral voice
Bid each glad guest still more rejoice;
And each guest wish'd again to hear
Their wild guitars and voices clear.


There was much of character in the men themselves. One was tall, and had that kind of face which distinguishes the Italian character; his complexion a clear pale cream colour, with dark eyes, black hair, and a manner peculiarly solemn: the second was likewise tall, and of more cheerful feature; but the third was a short thick-set man, with and Oxberry countenance of rich waggery, heightened by large whiskers: this was the humourist. With a bit of cherry-tree held between the finger and thumb, they rapidly twirled the wires in accompaniment of various airs, which they sung with unusual feeling and skill. They were acquainted with every foreign tune that was called for. That Italian minstrels of this class should venture here for the purpose of perambulating our streets, is evidence that the refinement in our popular manners is known in "the land of song," and they will bear testimony to it from the fact that their performances are chiefly in the public-houses of the metropolis, from whence thirty years ago such aspirants to entertain John Bull would have been expelled with expressions of abhorrence.

To the accounts of Christmas keeping in old times, old George Wither adds amusing particulars in rhime.


So now is come our joyfulst feast;
   Let every man be jolly;
Each room with ivy leaves is drest,
   And every post with holly.
Though some churls at our mirth repine,
Round your foreheads garlands twine;
Drown sorrow in a cup of wine,
   And let us all be merry.

Now all our neighbours' chimnies smoke,
   And Christmas blocks are burning;
Their ovens they with baked meat choke,
   And all their spits are turning.
Without the door let sorrow lye;
And if for cold it hap to die,
We'll bury't in a Christmas pie,
    And evermore be merry.

Now every lad is wond'rous trim,
   And no man minds his labour;
Our lasses have provided them
   A bagpipe and a tabor;
Young men and maids, and girls and boys,
Give life to one another's joys;
And you anon shall by their noise
   Perceive that they are merry.

Rank misers now do sparing shun;
   Their hall of music soundeth;
And dogs thence with whole shoulders run,
   So all things there aboundeth.
The country folks, themselves advance,
With crowdy-muttons out of France;
And Jack shall pipe and Jyll shall dance,
   And all the town be merry.

Ned Squash hath fetch his bands from pawn,
   And all his best apparel;
Brisk Nell hath bought a ruff of lawn
   With dropping of the barrel.
And those that hardly all the year
Had bread to eat, or rags to wear,
Will have both clothes and dainty fare,
   And all the day be merry.

Now poor men to the justices
   With capons make their errants;
And if they hap to fail of these,
   They plague them with their warrants:
But now they feed them with good cheer,
And what they want, they take in beer,
For Christmas comes but once a year,
   And then they shall be merry.

Good farmers in the country nurse
   The poor, that else were undone;
Some landlords spend their money worse,
   On lust and pride at London.
There the roysters they do play,
Drab and dice their lands away,
Which may be ours another day,
   And therefore let's be merry.

The client now his suit forbears,
   The prisoner's heart is eased;
The debtor drinks away his cares,
   And for the time is pleased.
Though others' purses be more fat,
Why should we pine, or grieve at that?
Hang sorrow! care will kill a cat,
   And therefore let's be merry.

Hark! now the wags abroad do call,
   Each other forth to rambling;
Anon you'll see them in the hall,
   For nuts and apples scrambling.
Hark! how the roofs with laughter sound,
Anon they'll think the house goes round,
For they the cellar's depth have found,
   And there they will be merry.

The wenches with their wassel bowls
   About the streets are singing;
The boys are come to catch the owls,
   The wild mare in it bringing.
Our kitchen boy hath broke his box,
And to the dealing of the ox,
Our honest neighbours come by flocks,
   And here they will be merry.

Now kings and queens poor sheepcotes have,
   And mute with every body;
The honest now may play the knave,
   And wise men play the noddy.
Some youths will now a mumming go,
Some others play at Rowland-bo,
And twenty other game boys mo,
   Because they will be merry.

Then, wherefore, in these merry daies,
   Should we, I pray, be duller?
No, let us sing some roundelayes,
   To make our mirth the fuller.
And, while we thus inspired sing,
Let all the streets with echoes ring;
Woods and hills, and every thing,
   Bear witness we are merry.

From Mr. Grant's "Popular Superstitions of the Highlands," we gather the following account:—

Highland Christmas.

As soon as the brightening glow of the eastern sky warns the anxious housemaid of the approach of Christmas-day, she rises full of anxiety at the prospect of her morning labours. The meal, which was steeped in the sowans-bowie a fortnight ago, to make the Prechdachdan sour, or sour scones, is the first object of her attention. The gridiron is put on the fire, and the sour scones are soon followed by hard cakes, soft cakes, buttered cakes, brandered bannocks, and pannich perm. The baking being once over, the sowans pot succeeds the gridiron, full of new sowans, which are to be given to the family, agreeably to custom, this day in their beds. The sowans are boiled into the consistence of molasses, when the Lagan-le-vrich, or yeast-bread, to distinguish it from boiled sowans, is ready. It is then poured into as many bickers as there are individuals to partake of it, and presently served to the whole, old and young. It would suit well the pen of a Burns, or the pencil of a Hogarth, to paint the scene which follows. The ambrosial food is despatched in aspiring draughts by the family, who soon give evident proofs of the enlivening effects of the Lagan-le-vrich. As soon as each despatches his bicker, he jumps out of bed—the elder branches to examine the ominous signs of the day,* ["A black Christmas makes a fat kirk-yard." A windy Christmas and a calm Candlemas are signs of a good year.] and the younger to enter on its amusements. Flocking to the swing, a favourite amusement on this occasion the youngest of the family get the first "shoulder," and the next oldest to him in regular succession. In order to add the more to the spirit of the exercise, it is a common practice with the person in the swing, and the person appointed to swing him, to enter into a very warm and humorous altercation. As the swinged person approaches the swinger, he exclaims, Ei mi to chal, "I'll eat your kail." To this the swinger replies, with a violent shove, Cha ni u mu chal, "You shan't eat my kail." These threats and repulses are sometimes carried to such a height, as to break down or capsize the threatener, which generally puts an end to the quarrel.

As the day advances, those minor amusements are terminated at the report of the gun, or the rattle of the ball-clubs—the gun inviting the marksman to the "Kiavamuchd," or prize-shooting, and the latter to "Luchd-vouil," or the ball combatants—both the principal sports of the day. Tired at length of the active amusements of the field, they exchange them for the substantial entertainments of the table. Groaning under the sonsy haggis,"* [The "savoury haggis" (from hag to chop) is a dish commonly made in a sheep's maw, of its lungs, heart, and liver, mixed with suet, onions, salt and pepper; or of oatmeal mixed with the latter, without any animal food.] and many other savoury dainties, unseen for twelve months before, the relish communicated to the company, by the appearance of the festive board, is more easily conceived than described. The dinner once despatched, the flowing bowl succeeds, and the sparkling glass flies to and fro like a weaver's shuttle. As it continues its rounds, the spirits of the company become the more jovial and happy. Animated by its cheering influence, even old decrepitude no longer feels his habitual pains—the fire of youth is in his eye, as he details to the company the exploits which distinguished him in the days of "auld langsyne;" while the young, with hearts inflamed with "love and glory," long to mingle in the more lively scenes of mirth, to display their prowess and agility. Leaving the patriarchs to finish those professions of friendship for each other, in which they are so devoutly engaged, the younger part of the company will shape their course to the ball-room, or the card-table, as their individual inclinations suggest; and the remainder of the evening is spent with the greatest pleasure of which human nature is susceptible.


When Rosemary and Bays, the poet's crown,
Are bawl'd in frequent cries through all the town;
Then judge the festival of Christmass near,
Christmass, the joyous period of the year!
Now with bright Holly all the temples strow,
With Laurel greens, and sacred Misletow.


From ev'ry hedge is pluck'd by eager hands
The Holly branch with prickly leaves replete,
And fraught with berries of a crimson hue;
Which, torn asunder from its parent trunk,
Is straightway taken to the neighb'ring towns,
Where windows, mantels, candlesticks, and shelves,
Quarts, pints, decanters, pipkins, basons, jugs,
And other articles of household ware,
The verdant garb confess.

R. J. Thorn.

The old and pleasant custom of decking our houses and churches at Christmas with evergreens is derived from ancient heathen practices. Councils of the church forbad christians to deck their houses with bay leaves and green boughs at the same time with the pagans; but this was after the church had permitted such doings in order to accomodate its ceremonies to those of the old mythology. Where druidism had existed, "the houses were decked with evergreens in December, that the sylvan spirits might repair to them, and remain unnipped with frost and cold winds, until a milder season had renewed the foliage of their darling abodes."* [Brand.]

Polydore Vergil says that, "Trimmyng of the Temples, with hangynges, floures, boughtes and garlondes, was taken of the heathen people, whiche decked their idols and houses with suche array." In old church calendars Christmas-eve is marked "Templa exornantur." Churches are decked.

The holly and the ivy still maintain some mastery at this season. At the two universities, the windows of the college chapels are decked with laurel. The old Christmas carol in MS. at the British Museum, [Link] quoted at p. 1598, continues in the following words:—

Ivy hath a lybe; she laghtit with the cold,
So mot they all hafe that wyth Ivy hold.
——————Nay, Ivy! Nay, hyt, &c.

Holy hat berys as red as any Rose,
The foster the hunters, kepe hom from the doo.
——————Nay, Ivy! Nay, hyt, &c.

Ivy hath berys as black as any slo;
Ther com the oule and ete hum as she goo.
——————Nay, Ivy! Nay, hyt, &c.

Holy hath byrdys, aful fayre flok,
The Nyghtyngale, the Poppyngy, the gayntyl Lavyrok.
——————Nay, Ivy! Nay, hyt, &c.

Good Ivy! what byrdys ast thou!
Non but the howlet that kreye 'How! How!'
——————Nay, Ivy! Nay, hyt shall not, &c.

Mr. Brand infers from this, "that holly was used only to deck the inside of houses at Christmas: while ivy was used not only as a vintner's sign, but also among the evergreens at funerals." He also cites from the old tract, "Round about our Coal-fire, or Christmas Entertainments," that formerly "the rooms were embowered with holly, ivy, cyprus, bays, laurel, and misletoe, and a burning Christmas log in the chimney;" but he remarks, that "in this account the cyprus is quite a new article. Indeed I should as soon have expected to have seen the yew as the cypress used on this joyful occasion."

Mr. Brand is of opinion that "although Gay mentions the misletoe among those evergreens that were put up in churches, it never entered those sacred edifices but by mistake, or ignorance of the sextons; for it was the heathenish and profane plant, as having been of such distinction in the pagan rites of druidism, and it therefore had its place assigned it in kitchens, where it was hung up in great state with its white berries, and whatever female chanced to stand under it, the young man present either had a right or claimed one of saluting her, and of plucking off a berry at each kiss." He adds "I have made many diligent inquiries after the truth of this. I learnt at Bath that it never came into churches there. An old sexton at Teddington, in Middlesex, informed me that some misletoe was once put up in the church there, but was by the clergyman immediately ordered to be taken away." He quotes from the "Medallic History of Carausius," by Stukeley, who speaking of the winter solstice, our Christmas, says: "This was the most respectable festival of our druids called yule-tide; when misletoe, which they called all-heal, was carried in their hands and laid on their altars, as an emblem of the salutiferous advent of Messiah. The misletoe they cut off the trees with their upright hatchets of brass, called celts, put upon the ends of their staffs, which they carried in their hands. Innumerable are these instruments found all over the British Isles. The custom is still preserved in the north, and was lately at York. On the eve of Christmas-day they carry misletoe to the high altar of the cathedral and proclaim a public and universal liberty, pardon, and freedom to all sorts of inferior and even wicked people at the gates of the city towards the four quarters of heaven." This is only a century ago.

In an "Inquiry into the ancient Greek Game, supposed to have been invented by Palamedes," Mr. Christie speaks of the respect the northern nations entertained for the misletoe, and of the Celts and Goths being distinct in the instance of their equally venerating the misletoe about the time of the year when the sun approached the winter solstice. He adds, "we find by the allusion of Virgil, who compared the golden bough in infernis, to the misletoe, that the use of this plant was not unknown in the religious ceremonies of the ancients, particularly the Greeks, of whose poets he was the acknowledged imitator."

The cutting of the misletoe was a ceremony of great solemnity with our ancient ancestors. The people went in procession. The bards walked first singing canticles and hymns, a herald preceded three druids with implements for the purpose. Then followed the prince of the druids accompanied by all the people. He mounted the oak, and cutting the misletoe with a golden sickle, presented it to the other druids, who received it with great respect, and on the first day of the year distributed it among the people as a sacred and holy plant, crying, "The misletoe for the new year." Mr. Archdeacon Nares mentions, "the custom longest preserved was the hanging up of a bush of misletoe in the kitchen or servant's hall, with the charm attached to it, that the maid, who was not kissed under it at Christmas, would not be married in that year." This natural superstition still prevails.

Christmas Doughs, Pies, and Porridge.

The season offers its

   —— customary treat,
A mixture strange of suet, currants, meat,
Where various tastes combine.

Oxford Sausage.

Yule-dough, or dow, a kind of baby, or little image of paste, was formerly baked at Christmas, and presented by bakers to their customers, "in the same manner as the chandlers gave Christmas candles." They are called yule cakes in the county of Durham. Anciently, "at Rome, on the vigil of the nativity, sweetmeats were presented to the fathers in the Vatican, and all kinds of little images (no doubt of paste) were to be found at the confectioners' shops." Mr. Brand, who mentions these usages, thinks, "there is the greatest probability that we have had from hence both our yule-doughs, plum-porridge, and mince-pies, the latter of which are still in common use at this season. The yule-dough has perhaps been intended for an image of the child Jesus, with the Virgin Mary:" he adds, "it is now, if I mistake not, pretty generally laid aside, or at most retained only by children."

It is inquired by a writer in the "Gentleman's Magazine," 1783, "may not the minced pye, a compound of the choicest productions of the east, have in view the offerings made by the wise men, who came from afar to worship, bringing spices," &c. These were also called shrid-pies.

Christmasse Day.

No matter for plomb-porridge, or shrid-pie
Or a whole oxe offered in sacrifice
To Comus, not to Christ, &c.

Sheppard's Epigrams, 1651.

Mr. Brand, from a tract in his library printed about the time of queen Elizabeth of James I. observes, that they were likewise called "minched pies."

According to Selden's "Table Talk," the coffin shape of our Christmas pies, is in imitation of the cratch, or manger wherein the infant Jesus was laid. The ingredients and shape of the Christmas pie is mentioned in a satire of 1656, against the puritans:—

Christ-mass? give me my beads: the word implies
A plot, by its ingredients, beef and pyes.
The cloyster'd steaks with salt and pepper lye
Like Nunnes with patches in a monastrie.
Prophaneness in a conclave? Nay, much more,
Idolatrie in crust! ———
——— and bak'd by hanches, then
Serv'd up in coffins to unholy men;
Defil'd, with superstition, like the Gentiles
Of old, that worship'd onions, roots, and lentiles!

R. Fletcher.

There is a further account in Misson's "Travels in England." He says, "Every family against Christmass makes a famous pye, which they call Christmas pye. It is a great nostrum; the composition of this pasty is a most learned mixture of neat's-tongues, chicken, eggs, sugar, raisins, lemon and orange peel, various kinds of spicery," &c. The most notably familiar poet of our seasonable customs interests himself for its safety:—

Come guard this night the Christmas-pie
That the thiefe, though ne'r so slie,
With his flesh hooks don't come nie
            To catch it;

From him, who all alone sits there,
Having his eyes still in his eare,
And a deale of nightly feare
            To watch it.


Mr. Brand observes, of his own knowledge, that "in the north of England, a goose is always the chief ingredient in the composition of a Christmas pye;" and to illustrate the usage, "further north," he quotes, that the Scottish poet Allan Ramsay, in his "Elegy on lucky Wood," tells us, that among other baits by which the good ale-wife drew customers to her house, she never failed to tempt them at Yule (Christmas,) with

"A bra' Goose Pye."

Further, from "Round about our Coal-fire," we likewise find that "An English gentleman at the opening of the great day, i.e. on Christmass day in the morning, had all his tenants and neighbours enter his hall by day-break. The strong beer was broached, and the black jacks went plentifully about with toast, sugar, nutmegg, and good Cheshire cheese. The hackin (the great sausage) must be boiled by day-break, or else two young men must take the maiden (i.e.) the cook, by the arms and run her round the market-place till she is ashamed of her laziness.

"In Christmass holidays, the tables were all spread from the first to the last; the sirloins of beef, the minced pies, the plumb porridge, the capons, turkeys, geese, and plum-puddings, were all brought upon the board: every one eat heartily, and was welcome, which gave rise to the proverb, 'merry in the hall when beards wag all.'"

Lastly, Mr. Brand makes this important note from personal regard. "Memorandum. I dined at the chaplain's table at St. James's on Christmas-day, 1801, and partook of the first thing served and eaten on that festival at that table, i.e. a tureen full of rich luscious plum-porridge. I do not know that the custom is any where else retained."

Thus has been brought together so much as, for the present, seems sufficient to describe the ancient and present estimation and mode of keeping Christmas.


Holly. Ilex bacciflora.
Dedicated to the Nativity of Jesus Christ.

It ought not, however, to be forgotten, that a scene of awful grandeur, hitherto misrepresented on the stage by the meanest of "his majesty's servants," opens the tragedy of Hamlet, wherein our everlasting bard refers to ancient and still existing tradition, that at the time of cock-crowing, the midnight spirits forsake these lower regions, and go to their proper places; and that the cocks crow throughout the live-long nights of Christmas—a circumstance observable at no other time of the year. Horatio, the friend of Hamlet, discourses at midnight with Francisco, a sentry on the platform before the Danish palace, and Bernardo and Marcellus, two officers of the guard, respecting the ghost of the deceased monarch of Denmark, which had appeared to the military on watch.

Mar. Horatio says, 'tis but our fantasy,
And will not let belief take hold of him,
Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us;
Therefore I have entreated him, along
With us, to watch the minutes of this night;
That, if again this apparition come,
He may approve our eyes, and speak to it.

Hor. Tush! tush! 'twill not appear.

Ber. Sit down awhile;
And let us once again assail your ears,
That are so fortified against our story,
What we two nights have seen.
———Last night of all,
When yon same star, that's westward from the pole,
Had made his course to illume that part of heaven
Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
The bell then beating one,———

Mar. Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again!

The ghost enters. Horatio is harrowed with fear and wonder. His companions urge him to address it; and somewhat recovered from astonishment, he urges "the majesty of bury'd Denmark" to speak. It is offended, and stalks away.

Mar. Thus, twice before, and just at this dead hour,
With martial stalk he hath gone by our watch.

Horatio discourses with his companions on the disturbed state of the kingdom, and the appearance they have just witnessed; whereof he ways, "a mote it is, to trouble the mind's eye." He is interrupted by its re-entry, and invokes it, but the apparition remains speechless; the "cock crows," and the ghost is about to disappear, when Horatio says,

—— Stay, and speak, — Stop it, Marcellus.

Mar. Shall I strike at it with my partizan?

Hor. Do, if it will not stand.

Ber. 'Tis here!

Hor. 'Tis here!

Mar. 'Tis gone!           [Exit Ghost.
We do it wrong, being so majestical,
To offer it the show of violence;
For it is, as the air, invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery.

Ber. It was about to speak, when the cock crew.

Hor. And then it started, like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard,
The cock, that is the trumpet of the morn,
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day; and, at this warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
The extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine: and of the truth herein
This present object makes probation.

Marcellus answers, "It faded on the crowing of the cock," and concludes on the vigilance of this bird, previous to the solemn festival, in a strain of superlative beauty:—

Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit stirs abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planet strikes;
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

December 26.

St. Stephen, the first Martyr. St. Dionysius, Pope, A. D. 269. St. Jarlath, 1st Bp. of Tuam, 6th Cent.

St. Stephen.

The church of England observes this festival, and the name of the apostle is in the almanacs accordingly. The circumstances that led to his death, and the particulars of it by stoning, are related in the seventh chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. He is deemed the first martyr for the christian faith.

The notice of this festival by Naogeorgus is thus translated by Barnaby Googe:—

Then followth Saint Stephens day,
      whereon doth every man
His horses jaunt and course abrode,
      as swiftly as he can,
Until they doe extreemely sweate,
      and than they let them blood,
For this being done upon this day,
      they say doth do them good,
And keepes them from all maladies
      and sickensse through the yeare,
As if that Steven any time
      took charge of horses heare.


Whether Stephen was the patron of horses does not appear; but our ancestors used his festival for calling in the horse-leech. Tusser, in his "Five Hundred Points of Husbandry," says,

Yer Christmas be passed,
       let Horsse, be lett blood,
For many a purpose
      it doth him much good:
The day of St. Steven,
      old fathers did use,
If that do mislike thee,
      some other day chuse.

An annotator on Tusser subjoins, "About Christmas is a very proper time to bleed horses in, for then they are commonly at house, then spring comes on, the sun being now coming back from the winter solstice, and there are three or four days of rest, and if it be upon St. Stephen's day it is not the worse, seeing there are with it three days of rest, or at least two." In the "Receipts and Disbursements of the Canons of St. Mary in Huntingdon," is the following entry: "Item, for letting our horses blede in Chrystmasse weke iiijd."* [Mr. Nichols's Illustration of Anc. Times.] According to one of Mr. Douce's manuscript notes, he thinks the practice of bleeding horses on this day is extremely ancient, and that it was brought into this country by the Danes. It is noticed in "Wits Fits and Fancies," an old and rare book, that on "S. Stevens-day it is the custome for all horses to be let bloud and drench'd. A gentleman being (that morning) demaunded whether it pleased him to have his horse let bloud and drencht, according to the fashion? He answered, no, sirra, my horse is not diseas'd of the fashions." Mr. Ellis in a note on Mr. Brand quotes, that Aubrey says, "On St. Stephen's-day the farrier came constantly and blouded all our cart-horses."† [In Lansdowne MS. 226. British Museum.]

The Finns upon St. Stephen's-day, throw a piece of money, or a bit of silver, inot the trough out of which the horses drink, under the notion that it prospers those who do it. [double dagger][Tooke's Russia.]

Heit! Heck! Whoohe! and Geho!

The well-known interjection used by country people to their horses, when yoked to a cart, &c. Heit! or Heck! is noticed by Mr. Brand to have been used in the days of Chaucer:—

They saw a cart, that charged was with hay,
The which a carter drove forth on his way:
Depe was the way, for which the carte stode;
The carter smote and cryde as he were wode,
Heit Scot! Heit Brok! what spare ye for the stones?
The Fend quoth he, you fetch, body and bones." [section][Frere's T. ed. Tyrwh. Chaucer.]

Brok is still in frequent use amongst farmer's draught oxen.* [Brand.]

Whoohe! a well-known exclamation to stop a team of horses, is derived by a writer in the "Gentleman's Magazine," 1799, from the Latin. "The exclamation used by our waggoners when they wish for any purpose to stop their team (an exclamation which it is less difficult to speak than to write, although neither is a task of great facility,) is probably a legacy bequeathed us by our Roman ancestors: precisely a translation of the ancient Ohe! an interjection strictly confined to bespeaking a pause—rendered by our lexicographers, Enough! Oh, Enough!

"Ohe, jani satis est—Ohe, Libelle."

A learned friend of Mr. Brand's says, "The exclamation 'Geho, Geho,' which carmen use to their horses is probably of great antiquity. It is not peculiar to this country, as I have heard it used in France. In the story of the milkmaid who kicked down her pail, and with it all her hopes of getting rich, as related in a very ancient 'Collection of Apologues,' entitled 'Dialogus Creaturarum,' printed at Gouda, in 1480, is the following passage: 'Et cum sic gloriaretur, et cogitaret cum quanta gloria duceretur ad illum virum super equum dicendo gio gio, cepit pede percutere terram quasi pungeret equum calcaribus.'"

It appears from a memoir on the manner in which the inhabitants of the north riding of Yorkshire celebrate Christmas, in the "Gentleman's Magazine," 1811, that "On the feast of St. Stephen large goose pies are made, all of which they distribute among their needy neighbours, except one which is carefully laid up, and not tasted till the purification of the virgin, called Candlemas."

Boxing Day.

On the day after Christmas, tradespeople are visited by persons in the employment of their customers for a "Christmas-box," and every man and boy who thinks he is qualified to ask, solicits from those on whom he calculates as likely to bestow. A writer, in 1731, describes Boxing-day at that time from his own experience. "By that time I was up, my servants could do nothing but run to the door. Inquiring the meaning, I was answered, the people were come for the Christmas-box: this was logic to me; but I found at last, that, because I had laid out a great deal of ready-money with my brewer, baker, and other tradesmen, they kindly thought it my duty to present their servants with some money for the favour of having their goods. This provoked me a little; but being told it was 'the custom,' I complied. These were followed by the watch, beadles, dustmen, and an innumerable tribe; but what vexed me the most was the clerk, who has an extraordinary place, and makes as good an appearance as most tradesmen in the parish; to see him come a boxing, alias begging, I thought was intolerable: however, I found it was 'the custom' too, so I gave him half-a-crown; as I was likewise obliged to do to the bellman, for breaking my rest for many nights together.

"Having talked this matter over with a friend, he promised to carry me where I might see the good effects of this giving box-money. In the evening, away we went to a neighbouring alehouse, where abundance of these gentry were assembled round a stately piece of roast beef, and as large a plum-pudding. When the drink and brandy began to work, they fell to reckoning of their several gains that day: one was called stingy dog for giving but sixpence; another called an extravagant fool for giving half-a-crown, which perhaps he might want before the year was out; so I found these good people were never to be pleased. Some of them were got to cards by themselves, which soon produced a quarrel and broken heads. In the interim came in some of their wives, who roundly abused the people for having given them money; adding, that instead of doing good, it ruined their families, and set them in a road of drinking and gaming, which never ceased till not only their gifts, but their wages, were gone. One good woman said, if people had a mind to give charity, they should send it home to their families: I was very much of her opinion; but, being tired with the noise, we left them to agree as they could.

"My friend next carried me to the upper end of Piccadilly, where, one pair of stairs over a stable, we found near a hundred people of both sexes, some masked, others not, a great part of which were dancing to the music of two sorry fiddles. It is impossible to describe this medley of mortals fully; however, I will do it as well as I can. There were footmen, servant-maids, butchers, apprentices, oyster and orange-women, and sharpers, which appeared to be the best of the company. This horrid place seemed to be a complete nursery for the gallows. My friend informed me, it was called a 'three-penny hop;' and while we were talking, to my great satisfaction, by order of the Westminster justices, to their immortal honour, entered the constables and their assistants, who carried off all the company that was left; and, had not my friend been known to them, we might have paid dear for our curiosity."* [Cited in Malcolm's London, 18th Cent.]


Purple Heath. Erica purpurea.
Dedicated to St. Stephen.

December 27.

St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. St. Theodorus Grapt, A. D. 822.

St. John.

This festival of St. John is observed by the church of England, and consequently his name is in the church calendar and the almanacs. The church of Rome, from whence the celebration is derived, also keeps another festival to St. John on the 6th of May, concerning which, and the evangelist, there are particulars [Link] at p. 617. Mr. Audley says of him, "Tradition reports, that when he was a very old man, he used to be carried into the church at Ephesus, and say, 'little children, love one another.' He returned from his banishment, and lived till the third or fourth year of Trajan; so that he must have been nearly a hundred years of age when he died. The appellation of divine given to St. John is not canonical; but was first applied to him by Eusebius, on account of those mysterious and sublime points of divinity, with the knowledge of which he seems to have been favoured above his fellow apostles. Perhaps this may explain the etymology of the word divine, as applied to christian ministers."

Barnaby Googe, from the Latin of Naogeorgus, thus introduces the day:—

Nexte John the sonne of Zebedee
      hath his appoynted day,
Who once by cruell tyraunts will,
      constrayned was they say
Strong poyson up to drinke, therefore
      the papistes doe beleeve
That whoso puts their trust in him,
      no poyson them can greeve.
The wine beside that halowed is
      in worship of his name,
The priestes doe give the people
      that bring money for the same.
And after with the selfe same wine
      are little manchets made,
Agaynst the boystrous winter stormes,
      and sundrie such like trade.
The men upon this solemne day,
      do take this holy wine
To make them strong, so do the maydes
      to make them faire and fine.


Flame Heath. Erica flammea. Dedicated to St. John.

December 28.

The Holy Innocents. St. Theodorus, Abbot of Tabenna, A. D. 367.


This is another Romish celebration preserved in the church of England calendar and the almanacs. It has another name—


This is conjectured to have been derived from the masses said for the souls of the Innocents who suffered from Herod's cruelty. It is to commemorate their slaughter that Innocents or Childermas-day is appropriated, and hence the name it bears.

It was formerly a custom to whip up the children on Innocent's day morning, in order "that the memorial of Herod's murder of the Innocents might stick the closer, and so, in a moderate proportion, to act over the crueltie again in kinde."* [Gregory on the Boy Bishop.] The day itself was deemed of especial ill omen, and hence the superstitious never married on Childermas-day. Neither upon this day was it "lucky" to put on new clothes, or pare the nails, or begin any thing of moment. In the play of "Sir John Oldcastle" the prevalence of this belief is instanced by an objection urged to an expedition proposed on a Friday,—"Friday, quoth'a, a dismal day; Candlemas-day this year was Friday." This vulgar superstition reached the throne; the coronation of king Edward IV. was put off till the Monday, because the preceding Sunday was Childermas-day.† [Fenn's Letters, i.] Lastly, a mother in the "Spectator" is made to say, at that time, "No, child, if it please God, you shall not go into join-hand on Childermas-day."

Yet this was a day of disport among the sages of the law. In 1517, king Henry VIII., by an order, enjoined, "that the king of cockneys, on Childermas-day, should sit and have due service; and that he and all his officers should use honest manner and good order, without any waste or destruction making in wine, brawn, chely, or other vitails: and also that he, and his marshal, butler, and constable marshal, should have their lawful and honest commandments by delivery of the officers of Christmas, and that the said king of cockneys, ne none of his officers medyl neither in the buttery, nor in the Stuard of Christmass his office, upon pain of 40s. for every such medling: and lastly, that Jack Straw, and all his adherents, should be thenceforth utterly banisht and no more to be used in this house, upon pain to forfeit, for every time, five pounds, to be levied on every fellow hapning to offend against this rule."* [Dugdale's Orig. Jurid.]

The Flight of the Holy Family.

The Flight of the Holy Family.

From Herod's cruel order, they
By angel's order, fled away,
And painters add, an angel, too,
Attended them the journey through.

The old artists often painted the flight of the holy family from Herod's cruel purpose:—"Behold the angel of the lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod."* [Acts ii. 13-15] In some pictures an angel is painted accompanying them on the way, although on no scriptural authority. In a painting by "Lucca Giordano" they are represented in a boat with the ass, whereon the virgin had rode, held by an angel, who is thus degraded to the condition of a stable boy; while cherubs company them in the sky: the picture being curious and engraving from it is placed in this article.

Lucca Giordano.

The artist of the picture mentioned was born at Naples, about 1629: he studied under Spagnoletto, and afterwards under Pietra da Cortona. He is likewise called Luca Fa Presto, from a phrase used by his father. Though his son painted with amazing facility, from designs of the great masters, while he pursued his studies, and the old man sold them for high prices, yet he was accustomed to hurry his son at his meals as well as his work, and say, "Luca fa presto!" Luca, make haste: hence, Luca's companions nicknamed him Fa Presto. His knowledge of the style of artists belonging to different schools was amazing, and though his attainments in judgment and execution were of high order, he seems to have preferred the copying of other compositions to painting designs by himself. Hence, there are more pictures by Luca fa Presto than some connoisseurs would willingly acknowledge. They pervade every collection under the reputation of being by Titian, Guido, Tintorette, and other painters of greater celebrity than Giordano. He etched his own thoughts freely and gracefully, and died loaded with honours from crowned heads, and immensely rich, in 1704.


Bloody Heath. Erica cruenta.
Dedicated to The Holy Innocents.

December 29.

St. Thomas, Abp. of Canterbury, A. D. 1170. St. Marcellus, Abbot of the Acæmetes, A. D. 485. St. Evroul, Abbot, A. D. 596.


Much has been remarked in the course of these sheets respecting painting, which, if our artists will labour, they may elevate to a height that will honour their country, and amply reward themselves. It is a mistake to suppose that real talent is not appreciated. Precocity is not talent till it has ripened; it usually withers and falls beneath the only test of greatness, labour: patrons experience this, and sicken. Whenever genius labours, it finds patrons.

Sculpture in the English school seems of late to have advanced further than painting, in their simultaneous efforts, and in this department of art, Ireland is likely to compete with England.

At the distribution of medals by sir Thomas Lawrence to students, at the Royal Academy, in the month of December, 1825, Mr. John Gallagher and Mr. Constantine Panormo, natives of the sister country, received the two medals for sculpture. It is a happy augury for the Royal Dublin Society that these young men were the first individuals sent hither by that institution for the purpose of improvement; and it must be highly gratifying to Mr. Behnes, with whom the Royal Dublin Society placed them as pupils, that his tuition so qualified these youths, that they excelled their numerous rivals, and carried both the prizes. So extraordinary an instance is creditable to their native country, whose national establishment fostered them, and whose protection they have distinguished by their perseverance.


Sestina Heath. Erica genistopha.
Dedicated to St. Thomas.

December 30.

St. Sabinus, Bp. of Assisium, and his Companions, A. D. 304. St. Anysia, A. D. 304. St. Maximus, A. D. 662.


The earth, as it appears in England at this period, is well represented in the "Mirror of the Months," the pleasant reflex of the year referred to in November. "The meadows are still green—almost as green as in the spring—with the late-sprouted grass that the last rains have called up since it has been fed off, and the cattle called home to enjoy their winter fodder. The corn-fields, too, are bright with their delicate sprinkling of young autumn-sown wheat; the ground about the hedge-rows, and in the young copses, is still pleasant to look upon, from the sobered green of the hardy primrose and violet, whose clumps of unfading leaves brave the utmost rigour of the season; and every here and there a bush of holly darts up its pyramid of shining leaves and brilliant berries, from amidst the late wild and wandering, but now faded and forlorn company of woodbines and eglantines, which have all the rest of the year been exulting over and almost hiding it with the quick-growing branches, and flaunting flowers. The evergreens, too, that assist in forming the home enclosures, have altogether lost that sombre hue which they have until lately worn—sombre in comparison with the bright freshness of spring, and the splendid variety of autumn; and now, that not a leaf is left around them, they look as gay by the contrast as they lately looked grave."


Pontieva. Ponthieva glandalom.
Dedicated to St. Anysia.

December 31.

St. Sylvester, Pope, A. D. 335. St. Columba, A. D. 258. St. Melania, the younger, A. D. 439.

St. Sylvester.

This saint, whose name is in the church of England calendar and the almanacs, was pope Sylvester I. "He is said to have been the author of several rites and ceremonies of the Romish church, as asylums, unctions, palls, corporals, &c. He died in 334."* [Mr. Audley's Companion to Almanac.]

New Year's Eve.

To end the old year merrily, and begin the new one well, and in friendship, were popular objects in the celebration of this festival. It was spent among our labouring ancestors in festivity and frolic by the men; and the young women of the village carried from door to door, a bowl of spiced ale, the wassail bowl, which they offered to the inhabitants of every house they stopped at, singing rude congratulatory verse, and hoping for small presents. Young men and women also exchanged clothes, which was termed Mimming, or Disguising; and when thus dressed in each other's garments, they went from one neighbour's cottage to another, singing, dancing, and partaking of good cheer.† [Dr. Drake's Shakspeare and his Times.]

The anticipated pleasure of the coming year, accompanied by regret at parting with the present old year, is naturally expressed by a writer already cited. "After Christmas-day comes the last day of the year; and I confess I wish the bells would not ring so merrily on the next. I have not become used enough to the loss of the old year to like so triumphant a welcome to the new. I am certain of the pleasures I have had during the twelvemonth: I have become used to the pains. In a few days, especially by the help of Twelfth-night, I shall become reconciled to the writing 6 instead of 5 in the date of the year. Then welcome new hopes and new endeavours. But at the moment—at the turn—I hate to bid adieu to my old acquaintance."* [New Monthly Magazine, Dec. 18.]

ELIA, in a delightful paper on the "Eve of New Year's-day, 1821, among the other delightful essays of his volume, entitled "ELIA"—a little book, whereof to say that it is of more gracious feeling and truer beauty than any of our century, is poor praise—Elia says, "while that turncoat bell, that just now mournfully chanted the obsequies of the year departed, with changed notes lustily rings in a successor, let us attune to its peal the song made on a like occasion, by hearty, cheerful Mr. Cotton." Turn gentle reader to the [Link] first page of the first sheet, which this hand presented to you, and you will find the first two and twenty lines of ELIA's "song." They tell us, that, of the two faces of Janus,

——that which this way looks is clear,
And smiles upon the New-born year.

These are the remaining verses.

He† [Janus] looks too from a place so high,
The year lies open to his eye;
And all the moments open are
To the exact discoverer;
Yet more and more he smiles upon
The happy revolution.
Why should we then suspect or fear
The influences of a year,
So smiles upon us the first morn,
And speaks as good so soon as born?
Plague on't! the last was ill enough,
This cannot but make better proof;
Or, at the worst, as we brush'd through
The last, why so we may this too;
And then the next in reason shou'd
Be superexcellently good;
For the worst ills (we daily see)
Have no more perpetuity,
Than the best fortunes that do fall;
Which also bring us wherewithal
Longer their being to support,
Than those do of the other sort;
And who has one good year in three,
And yet repines at destiny,
Appears ungrateful in the case,
And merits not the good he has.
Then let us welcome the new guest
With lusty brimmers of the best;
Mirth always should good fortune meet,
And render e'en disaster sweet:
And though the princess turn her back,
Let us but line ourselves with sack,
We better shall by far hold out,
Till the next year she face about.

ELIA, having trolled this song to the sound of "the merry, merry bells," breaks out:—

"How say you reader—do not these verses smack of the rough magnanimity of the old English vein? Do they not fortify like a cordial; enlarging the heart, and productive of sweet blood, and generous spirits in the concoction?—Another cup of the generous! and a merry New Year and many of them, to you all, my masters!"

The same to you, ELIA,—and "to you all my masters!"—Ladies! think not yourselves neglected, who are chief among "my masters"— you are the kindest, and therefore the most masterful, and most worshipful of "my masters!"

Under the female form the ancients worshipped the Earth. They called her "Bona Dea," or the "Good Goddess," by way of excellency, and that, for the best reason in the world, because "there is no being that does men more good." In respect to her chastity, all men were forbidden to be present at her worship; the high priest himself, in whose house it was performed, and who was the chief minister in all others, not excepted. Cicero imputed to Clodius as a crime that he had entered the sacred fane in disguise, and by his presence polluted the mysteries of the Good Goddess. The Roman ladies offered sacrifices to her through the wife of the high priest, and virgins consecrated to the purpose.

The Earth, Bona Dea, or the "Good Goddess," was represented under the form of a matron with her right hand opened, as if tendering assistance to the helpless, and holding a loaf in her left hand. She was also venerated under the name of Ops, and other denominations, but with the highest attributes; and when so designated, she was worshipped by men and boys, as well as women and virgins; and priests minstered to her in dances with brazen cymbals. These motions signified that the Earth only imparted blessings upon being constantly moved; and as brass was discovered before iron, the cymbals were composed of that metal to indicate her antiquity. The worshippers seated themselves on the ground, and the posture of devotion was bending forward, and touching the ground with the right hand. On the head of the goddess was placed a crown of towers, denoting strength, and that they were to be worn by those who persevered.

To all "of the earth" not wholly "earthy," the Earth seemed a fit subject to picture under its ancient symbol; and, in a robe of arable and foliage, set in a goodly frame of the celestial signs, with the seasons "as they roll," it will be offered as a frontispiece to the present folume, and accompany the title-page with the indexes in the next sheet.

It must have been obvious to every reader of the Every-Day Book, as it has been to me, of which there have been several indications for some time past, that the plan of the work could not be executed within the year; and I am glad to find from numerous quarters that its continuance is approved and even required. So far as it has proceeded I have done my utmost to render it useful. My endeavours to render it agreeable may occasion "close" readers to object, that it was more discursive than they expected. I am afraid I can only answer that I cannot unmake my making-up; and plead guilty to the fact, that, knowing the wants of many, through my own deficiencies, I have tried to aid them in the way that appeared most likely to effect the object, with the greater number of those for whom the work was designed. Nor do I hesitate also to acknowledge, that in gathering for others, I have in no small degree been teaching myself. For it is of the nature of such an undertaking to constrain him who executes it, to tasks of thought, and exercises of judgment, unseen by those who are satisfied when they enjoy what is before them, and care not by what ventures it was obtained. My chief anxiety has been to provide a wholesome sufficiency for all, and not to offer any thing that should be hurtful or objectionable. I hope I have succeeded.

I respectfully desire to express my grateful sense of the extensive favour wherein the conduct of the publication is held. And I part from my readers on New Year's-eve, with kind regards till we meet in the new volume of the Every-Day Book on New Year's-day—to-morrow.


45, Ludgate-hill, 1825.


London: Printed by A. Applegath, Stamford-street.