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Title: Christmas: Its Origin and Associations - Together with Its Historical Events and Festive Celebrations During Nineteen Centuries
Author: Dawson, William Francis
Language: English
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[Illustration: BRINGING IN THE YULE LOG. _Frontispiece._]


                  _ITS ORIGIN AND ASSOCIATIONS,_

                          TOGETHER WITH


                    DEPICTING, BY PEN AND PENCIL,

                    IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE WORLD,
                         SOURCES, AND ARRANGED


                              W. F. DAWSON.

                 At home, at sea, in many distant lands,
                This Kingly Feast without a rival stands!

                 ELLIOT STOCK, 62, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.




In the third quarter of the nineteenth century, it fell to my lot to
write an article on Christmas, its customs and festivities. And,
although I sought in vain for a chronological account of the festival,
I discovered many interesting details of its observances dispersed in
the works of various authors; and, while I found that some of its
greater celebrations marked important epochs in our national history,
I saw, also, that the successive celebrations of Christmas during
nineteen centuries were important links in the chain of historical
Christian evidences. I became enamoured of the subject, for, in
addition to historical interest, there is the charm of its legendary
lore, its picturesque customs, and popular games. It seemed to me that
the origin and hallowed associations of Christmas, its ancient customs
and festivities, and the important part it has played in history
combine to make it a most fascinating subject. I resolved, therefore,
to collect materials for a larger work on _Christmas_.

Henceforth, I became a snapper-up of everything relating to
Christmastide, utilised every opportunity of searching libraries,
bookstalls, and catalogues of books in different parts of the country,
and, subsequently, as a Reader of the British Museum Library, had
access to that vast storehouse of literary and historical treasures.

Soon after commencing the work, I realised that I had entered a very
spacious field of research, and that, having to deal with the
accumulated materials of nineteen centuries, a large amount of labour
would be involved, and some years must elapse before, even if
circumstances proved favourable, I could hope to see the end of my
task. Still, I went on with the work, for I felt that a complete
account of Christmas, ancient and modern, at home and abroad, would
prove generally acceptable, for while the historical events and
legendary lore would interest students and antiquaries, the holiday
sports and popular celebrations would be no less attractive to general

The love of story-telling seems to be ingrained in human nature.
Travellers tell of vari-coloured races sitting round their watch fires
reciting deeds of the past; and letters from colonists show how, even
amidst forest-clearing, they have beguiled their evening hours by
telling or reading stories as they sat in the glow of their camp
fires. And in old England there is the same love of tales and stories.
One of the chief delights of Christmastide is to sit in the united
family circle and hear, tell, or read about the quaint habits and
picturesque customs of Christmas in the olden time; and one of the
purposes of _CHRISTMAS_ is to furnish the retailer of Christmas wares
with suitable things for re-filling his pack.

From the vast store of materials collected it is not possible to do
more than make a selection. How far I have succeeded in setting forth
the subject in a way suited to the diversity of tastes among readers I
must leave to their judgment and indulgence; but I have this
satisfaction, that the gems of literature it contains are very rich
indeed; and I acknowledge my great indebtedness to numerous writers of
different periods whose references to Christmas and its time-honoured
customs are quoted.

I have to acknowledge the courtesy of Mr. Henry Jewitt, Mr. E.
Wiseman, Messrs. Harper, and Messrs. Cassell & Co., in allowing their
illustrations to appear in this work.

My aim is neither critical nor apologetic, but historical and
pictorial: it is not to say what might or ought to have been, but to
set forth from extant records what has actually taken place: to give
an account of the origin and hallowed associations of Christmas, and
to depict, by pen and pencil, the important historical events and
interesting festivities of Christmastide during nineteen centuries.
With materials collected from different parts of the world, and from
writings both ancient and modern, I have endeavoured to give in the
present work a chronological account of the celebrations and
observances of Christmas from the birth of Christ to the end of the
nineteenth century; but, in a few instances, the subject-matter has
been allowed to take precedence of the chronological arrangement. Here
will be found accounts of primitive celebrations of the Nativity,
ecclesiastical decisions fixing the date of Christmas, the connection
of Christmas with the festivals of the ancients, Christmas in times of
persecution, early celebrations in Britain, stately Christmas meetings
of the Saxon, Danish, and Norman kings of England; Christmas during
the wars of the Roses, Royal Christmases under the Tudors, the Stuarts
and the Kings and Queens of Modern England; Christmas at the Colleges
and the Inns of Court; Entertainments of the nobility and gentry, and
popular festivities; accounts of Christmas celebrations in different
parts of Europe, in America and Canada, in the sultry lands of Africa
and the ice-bound Arctic coasts, in India and China, at the Antipodes,
in Australia and New Zealand, and in the Islands of the Pacific; in
short, throughout the civilised world.

In looking at the celebrations of Christmas, at different periods and
in different places, I have observed that, whatever views men hold
respecting Christ, they all agree that His Advent is to be hailed with
joy, and the nearer the forms of festivity have approximated to the
teaching of Him who is celebrated the more real has been the joy of
those who have taken part in the celebrations.

The descriptions of the festivities and customs of different periods
are given, as far as possible, on the authority of contemporary
authors, or writers who have special knowledge of those periods, and
the most reliable authorities have been consulted for facts and dates,
great care being taken to make the work as accurate and trustworthy as
possible. I sincerely wish that all who read it may find as much
pleasure in its perusal as I have had in its compilation.



[Illustration: Contents]

CHAPTER I.                                                       PAGE

The Earlier Celebrations of the Festival                           10

Early Christmas Celebrations in Britain                            23

Christmas, From the Norman Conquest To Magna Charta                40
(A.D. 1066-1215.)

Christmas, From Magna Charta To the End of the Wars of
  the Roses (A.D. 1215-1485.)                                      62

Christmas Under Henry VII. and Henry VIII.                         94
(A.D. 1485-1547.)

Christmas Under Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth                   115
(A.D. 1547-1603.)

Christmas Under James I.                                          151
(A.D. 1603-1625.)

Christmas Under Charles the First and the Commonwealth            197
(A.D. 1625-1660.)

Christmas, From the Restoration To the Death Of George II.
(A.D. 1660-1760.)                                                 215

Modern Christmases at Home                                        240

Modern Christmases Abroad                                         294

Concluding Carol Service of the Nineteenth Century                349

INDEX                                                             351




Bringing in the Yule Log                               _Frontispiece_

The Herald Angels                                                  2

Virgin and Child                                                   5

Joseph Taking Mary to be Taxed, and the Nativity Events            6

The Nativity (_Central portion of Picture in National Gallery_)    8

Virgin and Child (_Relievo_)                                       9

Group from the Angels' Serenade                                   10

Adoration of the Magi (_From Pulpit of Pisa_)                     11

"The Inns are Full"                                               14

Grape Gathering and the Vintage (_Mosaic in the Church of
St. Constantine, Rome, A.D. 320_)                                 16

German Ninth Century Picture of the Nativity                      16

Ancient Roman Illustrations                                       17

Ancient Roman Illustrations                                       18

Ancient Agape                                                     19

Ancient Roman Illustrations                                       21

Early Celebrations in Britain                                     23

Queen Bertha                                                      27

An Ancient Fireplace                                              30

Traveling in the Olden Time, with a "Christmas Fool"
  on the Front Seat"                                              31

The Wild Boar Hunt: Killing the Boar                              32

Adoration of the Magi (_Picture of Stained Glass, Winchester
  Cathedral_)                                                     34

A King at Dinner                                                  40

Blind Minstrel at a Feast                                         42

Minstrels' Christmas Serenade at an Old Baronial Hall             44

Westminster Hall                                                  46

Strange Old Stories Illustrated (_From Harl. MS._)                50

A Cook of the Period (_Early Norman_)                             55

Monk Undergoing Discipline                                        56

Wassailing at Christmastide                                       57

Panoply of a Crusader                                             58

Royal Party Dining in State                                       63

Ladies Looking from the Hustings upon the Tournament              73

The Lord of Misrule                                               74

Curious Cuts of Priestly Players in the Olden Time                76

A Court Fool                                                      77

Virgin and Child (_Florentine, 1480. South Kensington Museum_)    83

Henry VI.'s Cradle                                                84

Lady Musician of the Fifteenth Century                            91

Rustic Christmas Minstrel with Pipe and Tabor                     92

Martin Luther and the Christmas Tree                             106

The Little Orleans Madonna of Raphael                            107

Magdalen College, Oxford                                         110

Bringing in the Boar's Head with Minstrelsy                      111

Virgin and Child, Chirbury, Shropshire                           118

Riding a-Mumming at Christmastide                                121

A Dumb Show in the Time of Elizabeth                             123

The Fool of the Old Play (_From a Print by Breughel_)            137

The Acting of one of Shakespeare's Plays in the Time of
  Queen Elizabeth                                                141

Neighbours with Pipe and Tabor                                   147

Christmas in the Hall                                            149

The Hobby-Horse                                                  197

Servants' Christmas Feast                                        202

"The Hackin"                                                     216

Seafaring Pilgrims                                               219

An Ancient Fireplace                                             225

A Druid Priestess Bearing Mistletoe                              228

A Nest of Fools                                                  229

"The Mask Dance"                                                 231

The Christmas Mummers                                            234

The Waits                                                        240

The Christmas Plum-Pudding                                       245

Italian Minstrels in London, at Christmas, 1825                  246

Snap Dragon                                                      247

Blindman's Buff                                                  249

The Christmas Dance                                              250

The Giving Away of Christmas Doles                               257

Poor Children's Treat in Modern Times                            265

The Christmas Bells                                              271

Wassailing the Apple-Trees in Devonshire                         279

Modern Christmas Performers: Yorkshire Sword-Actors              282

Modern Christmas Characters: "St Peter," "St. Denys"             283

A Scotch First Footing                                           285

Provençal Plays at Christmastide                                 320

Nativity Picture (_From Byzantine Ivory in the British Museum_)  324

Calabrian Shepherds Playing in Rome at Christmas                 329

Worshipping the Child Jesus (_From a Picture in the Museum
  at Naples_)                                                    337

Angels and Men Worshipping the Child Jesus (_From a
  Picture in Seville Cathedral_)                                 338

Simeon Received the Child Jesus into his Arms (_From Modern
  Stained Glass in Bishopsgate Church, London_)                  348

Lichfield Cathedral                                              349



While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
  All seated on the ground;
The angel of the Lord came down,
  And glory shone around.



Lo! God hath ope'd the glist'ring gates of heaven,
  And thence are streaming beams of glorious light:
All earth is bath'd in the effulgence giv'n
  To dissipate the darkness of the night.
The eastern shepherds, 'biding in the fields,
  O'erlook the flocks till now their constant care,
And light divine to mortal sense reveals
  A seraph bright descending in the air.

Hark! strains seraphic fall upon the ear,
  From shining ones around th' eternal gates:
Glad that man's load of guilt may disappear,
  Infinite strength on finite weakness waits.

Why are the trembling shepherds sore afraid?
  Why shrink they at the grand, the heavenly sight?
"Fear not" (the angel says), nor be dismay'd,
  And o'er them sheds a ray of God-sent light.
O matchless mercy! All-embracing love!
  The angel speaks and, gladly, men record:--
"I bring you joyful tidings from above:
  This day is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord!"

Hark! "Peace on earth, and God's good-will to men!"
  The angels sing, and heaven resounds with praise--
That fallen man may live with God again,
  Through Christ, who deigns the sons of men to raise.

W. F. D




  Behold, a virgin shall conceive,
  And bear a Son,
  And shall call His name Immanuel.

  (_Isaiah_ vii. 14.)


Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When His mother Mary
had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found
with child of the Holy Ghost. And Joseph her husband, being a
righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, was
minded to put her away privily. But when he thought on these things,
behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying,
Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife:
for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall
bring forth a Son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus; for it is He
that shall save His people from their sins. Now all this is come to
pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through
the prophet, saying,

  Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a Son,
  And they shall call His name Immanuel;

which is, being interpreted, God with us. And Joseph arose from his
sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto
him his wife; and knew her not till she had brought forth a Son; and
he called His name Jesus.

(_Matthew_ i. 18-25.)

[Illustration: "There went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus that all the
world should be taxed. And Joseph went to be taxed with Mary his
espoused wife, being great with child." (_Luke_ ii. 1-5.)]

And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field,
and keeping watch by night over their flock. And an angel of the Lord
stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and
they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid;
for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to
all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David
a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign unto you; Ye
shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God, and saying,

  Glory to God in the highest,
  And on earth peace among men in whom He is well pleased.

And it came to pass, when the angels went away from them into heaven,
the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem,
and see this thing that is come to pass, which the Lord hath made
known unto us. And they came with haste, and found both Mary and
Joseph, and the Babe lying in the manger. And when they saw it, they
made known concerning the saying which was spoken to them about this
child. And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken
unto them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering
them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising
God for all the things that they had heard and seen, even as it was
spoken unto them.

(_Luke_ ii. 8-20.)


The evangelist Matthew tells us that "Jesus was born in Bethlehem of
Judæa in the days of Herod the king;" and Justin Martyr, who was born
at Shechem and lived less than a century after the time of Christ,
places the scene of the Nativity in a cave. Over this cave has risen
the Church and Convent of the Nativity, and there is a stone slab with
a star cut in it to mark the spot where the Saviour was born. Dean
Farrar, who has been at the place, says: "It is impossible to stand in
the little Chapel of the Nativity, and to look without emotion on the
silver star let into the white marble, encircled by its sixteen
everburning lamps, and surrounded by the inscription, '_Hic de Virgine
Maria Jesus Christus natus est_.'"

To visit such a scene is to have the thoughts carried back to the
greatest event in the world's history, for it has been truly said that
the birth of Christ was the world's second birthday.

  Now, death is life! and grief is turn'd to joy!
    Since glory shone on that auspicious morn,
  When God incarnate came, not to destroy,
    But man to save and manhood's state adorn!

  W. F. D.

[Illustration: The Nativity by Sandro Botticelli
Centre Portion of Picture in National Gallery]


"Christmas" (pronounced Kris'mas) signifies "Christ's Mass," meaning
the festival of the Nativity of Christ, and the word has been
variously spelt at different periods. The following are obsolete forms
of it found in old English writings: Crystmasse, Cristmes, Cristmas,
Crestenmes, Crestenmas, Cristemes, Cristynmes, Crismas, Kyrsomas,
Xtemas, Cristesmesse, Cristemasse, Crystenmas, Crystynmas, Chrystmas,
Chrystemes, Chrystemasse, Chrystymesse, Cristenmas, Christenmas,
Christmass, Christmes. Christmas has also been called _Noël_ or
_Nowel_. As to the derivation of the word _Noël_, some say it is a
contraction of the French _nouvelles_ (tidings), _les bonnes
nouvelles_, that is "The good news of the Gospel"; others take it as
an abbreviation of the Gascon or Provençal _nadaü_, _nadal_, which
means the same as the Latin _natalis_, that is, _dies natalis_, "the
birthday." In "The Franklin's Tale," Chaucer alludes to "Nowel" as a
festive cry at Christmastide: "And 'Nowel' crieth every lusty man."
Some say _Noël_ is a corruption of _Yule_, _Jule_, or _Ule_, meaning
"The festival of the sun." The name _Yule_ is still applied to the
festival in Scotland, and some other places. Christmas is represented
in Welsh by _Nadolig_, which signifies "the natal, or birth"; in
French by _Noël_; and in Italian by _Il Natale_, which, together with
its cognate term in Spanish, is simply a contraction of _dies
natalis_, "the birthday."

  CHRISTMAS: blest Feast of the Nativity!
  H eaven made thy lowly shrine
  R esplendent with the gift of the eternal Deity
  I n whom we live and move, whose large benignity
  S pared not His Son divine:
  T hat well-beloved Son by God was given,
  M ankind to save with His redeeming blood;
  A nd Jesus freely left the bliss of Heaven,
  S uffering death, to achieve our lasting good.--W. F. D.






The Angels' Song has been called the first Christmas Carol, and the
shepherds who heard this heavenly song of peace and goodwill, and went
"with haste" to the birthplace at Bethlehem, where they "found Mary,
and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger," certainly took part in
the first celebration of the Nativity. And the Wise Men, who came
afterwards with presents from the East, being led to Bethlehem by the
appearance of the miraculous star, may also be regarded as taking part
in the first celebration of the Nativity, for the name Epiphany (now
used to commemorate the manifestation of the Saviour) did not come
into use till long afterwards, and when it was first adopted among the
Oriental Churches it was designed to commemorate both the birth and
baptism of Jesus, which two events the Eastern Churches believed to
have occurred on January 6th. Whether the shepherds commemorated the
Feast of the Nativity annually does not appear from the records of the
Evangelists; but it is by no means improbable that to the end of their
lives they would annually celebrate the most wonderful event which
they had witnessed.

[Illustration: ADORATION OF THE MAGI (Relievo.)
From Pulpit of Pisa Nicola: Pisano]

Within thirty years after the death of our Lord, there were churches
in Jerusalem, Cæsarea, Rome, and the Syrian Antioch. In reference to
the latter, Bishop Ken beautifully says:--

  "Fair Antioch the rich, the great,
  Of learning the imperial seat,
      You readily inclined,
      To light which on you shined;
  It soon shot up to a meridian flame,
  You first baptized it with a Christian name."

Clement, one of the Apostolic Fathers and third Bishop of Rome, who
flourished in the first century, says: "Brethren, keep diligently
feast-days, and truly in the first place the day of Christ's birth."
And according to another of the early Bishops of Rome, it was ordained
early in the second century, "that in the holy night of the Nativity
of our Lord and Saviour, they do celebrate public church services and
in them solemnly sing the Angels' Hymn, because also the same night He
was declared unto the shepherds by an angel, as the truth itself doth

But, before proceeding further with the historical narrative, it will
be well now to make more particular reference to the fixing of the
date of the festival.


Whether the 25th of December, which is now observed as Christmas Day,
correctly fixes the period of the year when Christ was born is still
doubtful, although it is a question upon which there has been much
controversy. From Clement of Alexandria it appears, that when the
first efforts were made to fix the season of the Advent, there were
advocates for the 20th of May, and for the 20th or 21st of April. It
is also found that some communities of Christians celebrated the
festival on the 1st or 6th of January; others on the 29th of March,
the time of the Jewish Passover: while others observed it on the 29th
of September, or Feast of Tabernacles. The Oriental Christians
generally were of opinion that both the birth and baptism of Christ
took place on the 6th of January. Julius I., Bishop of Rome (A.D.
337-352), contended that the 25th of December was the date of Christ's
birth, a view to which the majority of the Eastern Church ultimately
came round, while the Church of the West adopted from their brethren
in the East the view that the baptism was on the 6th of January. It
is, at any rate, certain that after St. Chrysostom Christmas was
observed on the 25th of December in East and West alike, except in the
Armenian Church, which still remains faithful to January 6th. St.
Chrysostom, who died in the beginning of the fifth century, informs
us, in one of his Epistles, that Julius, on the solicitation of St.
Cyril of Jerusalem, caused strict inquiries to be made on the subject,
and thereafter, following what seemed to be the best authenticated
tradition, settled authoritatively the 25th of December as the
anniversary of Christ's birth, the _Festorum omnium metropolis_, as it
is styled by Chrysostom. It may be observed, however, that some have
represented this fixing of the day to have been accomplished by St.
Telesphorus, who was Bishop of Rome A.D. 127-139, but the authority
for the assertion is very doubtful. There is good ground for
maintaining that Easter and its accessory celebrations mark with
tolerable accuracy the anniversaries of the Passion and Resurrection
of our Lord, because we know that the events themselves took place at
the period of the Jewish Passover; but no such precision of date can
be adduced as regards Christmas. Dr. Geikie[1] says: "The _season_ at
which Christ was born is inferred from the fact that He was six months
younger than John, respecting the date of whose birth we have the help
of knowing the time of the annunciation during his father's
ministrations in Jerusalem. Still, the whole subject is very
uncertain. Ewald appears to fix the date of the birth as five years
earlier than our era. Petavius and Usher fix it as on the 25th of
December, five years before our era; Bengel, on the 25th of December,
four years before our era; Anger and Winer, four years before our era,
in the spring; Scaliger, three years before our era, in October; St.
Jerome, three years before our era, on December 25th; Eusebius, two
years before our era, on January 6th; and Ideler, seven years before
our era, in December." Milton, following the immemorial tradition of
the Church, says that--

  "It was the winter wild."

But there are still many who think that the 25th of December does not
correspond with the actual date of the birth of Christ, and regard the
incident of the flocks and shepherds in the open field, recorded by
St. Luke, as indicative of spring rather than winter. This incident,
it is thought, could not have taken place in the inclement month of
December, and it has been conjectured, with some probability, that the
25th of December was chosen in order to substitute the purified joy of
a Christian festival for the license of the _Bacchanalia_ and
_Saturnalia_ which were kept at that season. It is most probable that
the Advent took place between December, 749, of Rome, and February,

Dionysius Exiguus, surnamed the Little, a Romish monk of the sixth
century, a Scythian by birth, and who died A.D. 556, fixed the birth
of Christ in the year of Rome 753, but the best authorities are now
agreed that 753 was not the year in which the Saviour of mankind was
born. The Nativity is now placed, not as might have been expected, in
A.D. 1, but in B.C. 5 or 4. The mode of reckoning by the "year of our
Lord" was first introduced by Dionysius, in his "Cyclus Paschalis," a
treatise on the computation of Easter, in the first half of the sixth
century. Up to that time the received computation of events through
the western portion of Christendom had been from the supposed
foundation of Rome (B.C. 754), and events were marked accordingly as
happening in this or that year, _Anno Urbis Conditæ_, or by the
initial letters A.U.C. In the East some historians continued to reckon
from the era of Seleucidæ, which dated from the accession of Seleucus
Nicator to the monarchy of Syria, in B.C. 312. The new computation was
received by Christendom in the sixth century, and adopted without
adequate inquiry, till the sixteenth century. A more careful
examination of the data presented by the Gospel history, and, in
particular, by the fact that "Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa"
before the death of Herod, showed that Dionysius had made a mistake of
four years, or perhaps more, in his calculations. The death of Herod
took place in the year of Rome A.U.C. 750, just before the Passover.
This year coincided with what in our common chronology would be B.C.
4--so that we have to recognise the fact that our own reckoning is
erroneous, and to fix B.C. 5 or 4 as the date of the Nativity.

[Illustration: "THE INNS ARE FULL."]

Now, out of the consideration of the time at which the Christmas
festival is fixed, naturally arises another question, viz.:--


Sir Isaac Newton[2] says the Feast of the Nativity, and most of the
other ecclesiastical anniversaries, were originally fixed at cardinal
points of the year, without any reference to the dates of the
incidents which they commemorated, dates which, by lapse of time, it
was impossible to ascertain. Thus the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary
was placed on the 25th of March, or about the time of the vernal
equinox; the Feast of St. Michael on the 29th of September, or near
the autumnal equinox; and the Birth of Christ at the time of the
winter solstice. Christmas was thus fixed at the time of the year when
the most celebrated festivals of the ancients were held in honour of
the return of the sun which at the winter solstice begins gradually to
regain power and to ascend apparently in the horizon. Previously to
this (says William Sandys, F.S.A.),[3] the year was drawing to a
close, and the world was typically considered to be in the same state.
The promised restoration of light and commencement of a new era were
therefore hailed with rejoicings and thanksgivings. The Saxon and
other northern nations kept a festival at this time of the year in
honour of Thor, in which they mingled feasting, drinking, and dancing
with sacrifices and religious rites. It was called Yule, or Jule, a
term of which the derivation has caused dispute amongst antiquaries;
some considering it to mean a festival, and others stating that Iol,
or Iul (spelt in various ways), is a primitive word, conveying the
idea of Revolution or Wheel, and applicable therefore to the return of
the sun. The _Bacchanalia_ and _Saturnalia_ of the Romans had
apparently the same object as the Yuletide, or feast of the Northern
nations, and were probably adopted from some more ancient nations, as
the Greeks, Mexicans, Persians, Chinese, &c., had all something
similar. In the course of them, as is well known, masters and slaves
were supposed to be on an equality; indeed, the former waited on the
latter.[4] Presents were mutually given and received, as Christmas
presents in these days. Towards the end of the feast, when the sun was
on its return, and the world was considered to be renovated, a king or
ruler was chosen, with considerable power granted to him during his
ephemeral reign, whence may have sprung some of the Twelfth-Night
revels, mingled with those in honour of the Manifestation and
Adoration of the Magi. And, in all probability, some other Christmas
customs are adopted from the festivals of the ancients, as decking
with evergreens and mistletoe (relics of Druidism) and the wassail
bowl. It is not surprising, therefore, that Bacchanalian illustrations
have been found among the decorations in the early Christian Churches.
The illustration on the following page is from a mosaic in the Church
of St. Constantine, Rome, A.D. 320.



Dr. Cassel, of Germany, an erudite Jewish convert who is little known
in this country, has endeavoured to show that the festival of
Christmas has a Judæan origin. He considers that its customs are
significantly in accordance with those of the Jewish festival of the
Dedication of the Temple. This feast was held in the winter time, on
the 25th of Cisleu (December 20th), having been founded by Judas
Maccabæus in honour of the cleansing of the Temple in B.C. 164, six
years and a half after its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes. In
connection with Dr. Cassel's theory it may be remarked that the German
word _Weihnachten_ (from _weihen_, "to consecrate, inaugurate," and
_nacht_, "night") leads directly to the meaning, "Night of the


In proceeding with our historical survey, then, we must recollect that
in the festivities of Christmastide there is a mingling of the Divine
with the human elements of society--the establishment and development
of a Christian festival on pagan soil and in the midst of
superstitious surroundings. Unless this be borne in mind it is
impossible to understand some customs connected with the celebration
of Christmas. For while the festival commemorates the Nativity of
Christ, it also illustrates the ancient practices of the various
peoples who have taken part in the commemoration, and not
inappropriately so, as the event commemorated is also linked to the
past. "Christmas" (says Dean Stanley) "brings before us the relations
of the Christian religion to the religions which went before; for the
birth at Bethlehem was itself a link with the past. The coming of
Jesus Christ was not unheralded or unforeseen. Even in the heathen
world there had been anticipations of an event of a character not
unlike this. In Plato's Dialogue bright ideals had been drawn of the
just man; in Virgil's Eclogues there had been a vision of a new and
peaceful order of things. But it was in the Jewish nation that these
anticipations were most distinct. That wonderful people in all its
history had looked, not backward, but forward. The appearance of Jesus
Christ was not merely the accomplishment of certain predictions; it
was the fulfilment of this wide and deep expectation of a whole
people, and that people the most remarkable in the ancient world."
Thus Dean Stanley links Christianity with the older religions of the
world, as other writers have connected the festival of Christmas with
the festivals of paganism and Judaism. The first Christians were
exposed to the dissolute habits and idolatrous practices of
heathenism, as well as the superstitious ceremonials of Judaism, and
it is in these influences that we must seek the true origin of many of
the usages and institutions of Christianity. The old hall of Roman
justice and exchange--an edifice expressive of the popular life of
Greece and Rome--was not deemed too secular to be used as the first
Christian place of worship: pagan statues were preserved as objects of
adoration, being changed but in name; names describing the functions
of Church officers were copied from the civil vocabulary of the time;
the ceremonies of Christian worship were accommodated as far as
possible to those of the heathen, that new converts might not be much
startled at the change, and at the Christmas festival Christians
indulged in revels closely resembling those of the _Saturnalia_.



It is known that the Feast of the Nativity was observed as early as
the first century, and that it was kept by the primitive Christians
even in dark days of persecution. "They wandered in deserts, and in
mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" (Heb. xi. 38). Yet they
were faithful to Christ, and the Catacombs of Rome contain evidence
that they celebrated the Nativity.

The opening up of these Catacombs has brought to light many most
interesting relics of primitive Christianity. In these Christian
cemeteries and places of worship there are signs not only of the deep
emotion and hope with which they buried their dead, but also of their
simple forms of worship and the festive joy with which they
commemorated the Nativity of Christ. On the rock-hewn tombs these
primitive Christians wrote the thoughts that were most consoling to
themselves, or painted on the walls the figures which gave them the
most pleasure. The subjects of these paintings are for the most part
taken from the Bible, and the one which illustrates the earliest and
most universal of these pictures, and exhibits their Christmas joy, is
"The Adoration of the Magi." Another of these emblems of joyous
festivity which is frequently seen, is a vine, with its branches and
purple clusters spreading in every direction, reminding us that in
Eastern countries the vintage is the great holiday of the year. In the
Jewish Church there was no festival so joyous as the Feast of
Tabernacles, when they gathered the fruit of the vineyard, and in some
of the earlier celebrations of the Nativity these festivities were
closely copied. And as all down the ages pagan elements have mingled
in the festivities of Christmas, so in the Catacombs they are not
absent. There is Orpheus playing on his harp to the beasts; Bacchus as
the god of the vintage; Psyche, the butterfly of the soul; the Jordan
as the god of the rivers. The classical and the Christian, the Hebrew
and the Hellenic elements had not yet parted; and the unearthing of
these pictures after the lapse of centuries affords another
interesting clue to the origin of some of the customs of
Christmastide. It is astonishing how many of the Catacomb decorations
are taken from heathen sources and copied from heathen paintings; yet
we need not wonder when we reflect that the vine was used by the early
Christians as an emblem of gladness, and it was scarcely possible for
them to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity--a festival of glad
tidings--without some sort of _Bacchanalia_. Thus it appears that even
beneath the palaces and temples of pagan Rome the birth of Christ was
celebrated, this early undermining of paganism by Christianity being,
as it were, the germ of the final victory, and the secret praise,
which came like muffled music from the Catacombs in honour of the
Nativity, the prelude to the triumph-song in which they shall unite
who receive from Christ the unwithering crown.

[Illustration: ANCIENT AGAPE.

(_From Withrow's_ "_Catacombs of Rome_," which states that the
inscriptions, according to Dr. Maitland, should be expanded thus IRENE
DA CALDA[M AQVAM]--"Peace, give hot water," and AGAPE MISCE MI [VINVM
CVM AQVA]--"Love, mix me wine with water," the allusion being to the
ancient custom of tempering wine with water, hot or cold)]


But they who would wear the crown must first bear the cross, and these
early Christians had to pass through dreadful days of persecution.
Some of them were made food for the torches of the atrocious Nero,
others were thrown into the Imperial fish-ponds to fatten lampreys for
the Bacchanalian banquets, and many were mangled to death by savage
beasts, or still more savage men, to make sport for thousands of
pitiless sightseers, while not a single thumb was turned to make the
sign of mercy. But perhaps the most gigantic and horrible of all
Christmas atrocities were those perpetrated by the tyrant Diocletian,
who became Emperor A.D. 284. The early years of his reign were
characterised by some sort of religious toleration, but when his
persecutions began many endured martyrdom, and the storm of his fury
burst on the Christians in the year 303. A multitude of Christians of
all ages had assembled to commemorate the Nativity in the temple at
Nicomedia, in Bithynia, when the tyrant Emperor had the town
surrounded by soldiers and set on fire, and about twenty thousand
persons perished. The persecutions were carried on throughout the
Roman Empire, and the death-roll included some British martyrs,
Britain being at that time a Roman province. St. Alban, who was put to
death at Verulam in Diocletian's reign, is said to have been the first
Christian martyr in Britain. On the retirement of Diocletian, satiated
with slaughter and wearied with wickedness, Galerius continued the
persecutions for a while. But the time of deliverance was at hand, for
the martyrs had made more converts in their deaths than in their
lives. It was vainly hoped that Christianity would be destroyed, but
in the succeeding reign of Constantine it became the religion of the
empire. Not one of the martyrs had died in vain or passed through
death unrecorded.


 "There is a record traced on high,
  That shall endure eternally;
  The angel standing by God's throne
  Treasures there each word and groan;
  And not the martyr's speech alone,
  But every word is there depicted,
    With every circumstance of pain
  The crimson stream, the gash inflicted--
    And not a drop is shed in vain."


With the accession of Constantine (born at York, February 27, 274, son
of the sub-Emperor Constantius by a British mother, the "fair Helena
of York," and who, on the death of his father at York in 306, was in
Britain proclaimed Emperor of the Roman Empire) brighter days came to
the Christians, for his first act was one of favour to them. He had
been present at the promulgation of Diocletian's edict of the last and
fiercest of the persecutions against the Christians, in 303, at
Nicomedia, soon after which the imperial palace was struck by
lightning, and the conjunction of the events seems to have deeply
impressed him. No sooner had he ascended the throne than his good
feeling towards the Christians took the active form of an edict of
toleration, and subsequently he accepted Christianity, and his example
was followed by the greater part of his family. And now the
Christians, who had formerly hidden away in the darkness of the
Catacombs and encouraged one another with "Alleluias," which served as
a sort of invitatory or mutual call to each other to praise the Lord,
might come forth into the Imperial sunshine and hold their services in
basilicas or public halls, the roofs of which (Jerome tells us)
"re-echoed with their cries of Alleluia," while Ambrose says the sound
of their psalms as they sang in celebration of the Nativity "was like
the surging of the sea in great waves of sound." And the Catacombs
contain confirmatory evidence of the joy with which relatives of the
Emperor participated in Christian festivities. In the tomb of
Constantia, the sister of the Emperor Constantine, the only
decorations are children gathering the vintage, plucking the grapes,
carrying baskets of grapes on their heads, dancing on the grapes to
press out the wine. This primitive conception of the Founder of
Christianity shows the faith of these early Christians to have been of
a joyous and festive character, and the Graduals for Christmas Eve and
Christmas morning, the beautiful Kyrie Eleisons (which in later times
passed into carols), and the other festival music which has come down
to us through that wonderful compilation of Christian song, _Gregory's
Antiphonary_, show that Christmas stood out prominently in the
celebrations of the now established Church, for the Emperor
Constantine had transferred the seat of government to Constantinople,
and Christianity was formally recognised as the established religion.


Cyprian, the intrepid Bishop of Carthage, whose stormy episcopate
closed with the crown of martyrdom in the latter half of the third
century, began his treatise on the Nativity thus: "The much wished-for
and long expected Nativity of Christ is come, the famous solemnity is
come"--expressions which indicate the desire with which the Church
looked forward to the festival, and the fame which its celebrations
had acquired in the popular mind. And in later times, after the
fulness of festivity at Christmas had resulted in some excesses,
Bishop Gregory Nazianzen (who died in 389), fearing the spiritual
thanksgiving was in danger of being subordinated to the temporal
rejoicing, cautioned all Christians "against feasting to excess,
dancing, and crowning the doors (practices derived from the heathens);
urging the celebration of the festival after an heavenly and not an
earthly manner."

In the Council, generally called _Concilium Africanum_, held A.D. 408,
"stage-playes and spectacles are forbidden on the Lord's-day,
Christmas-day, and other solemn Christian festivalls." Theodosius the
younger, in his laws _de Spectaculis_, in 425, forbade shows or games
on the Nativity, and some other feasts. And in the Council of Auxerre,
in Burgundy, in 578, disguisings are again forbidden, and at another
Council, in 614, it was found necessary to repeat the prohibitory
canons in stronger terms, declaring it to be unlawful to make any
indecent plays upon the Kalends of January, according to the profane
practices of the pagans. But it is also recorded that the more devout
Christians in these early times celebrated the festival without
indulging in the forbidden excesses.

    [1] Notes to "Life of Christ."

    [2] "Commentary on the Prophecies of Daniel."

    [3] Introduction to "Christmas Carols," 1833.

    [4] The Emperor Nero himself is known to have presided at
    the _Saturnalia_, having been made by lot the _Rex
    bibendi_, or Master of the Revels. Indeed it was at one of
    these festivals that he instigated the murder of the young
    Prince Britannicus, the last male descendant of the family
    of the Claudii, who had been expelled from his rights by
    violence and crime; and the atrocious act was committed
    amid the revels over which Nero was presiding as master.





It is recorded that there were "saints in Cæsar's household," and we
have also the best authority for saying there were converts among
Roman soldiers. Cornelius, a Roman centurion, "was a just man and one
that feared God," and other Roman converts are referred to in
Scripture as having been found among the officers of the Roman Empire.
And although it is not known who first preached the Gospel in Britain,
it seems almost certain that Christianity entered with the Roman
invasion in A.D. 43. As in Palestine some of the earlier converts
served Christ secretly "for fear of the Jews," so, in all probability,
did they in Britain for fear of the Romans. We know that some
confessed Christ and closed their earthly career with the crown of
martyrdom. It is also certain that very early in the Christian era
Christmas was celebrated in Britain, mingling in its festivities some
of the winter-festival customs of the ancient Britons and the Roman
invaders, for traces of those celebrations are still seen in some of
the Christmas customs of modern times. Moreover, it is known that
Christians were tolerated in Britain by some of the Roman governors
before the days of Constantine. It was in the time of the fourth Roman
Emperor, Claudius, that part of Britain was first really conquered.
Claudius himself came over in the year 43, and his generals afterwards
went on with the war, conquering one after another of the British
chiefs, Caradoc, whom the Romans called Caractacus, holding out the
longest and the most bravely. This intrepid King of the Silurians, who
lived in South Wales and the neighbouring parts, withstood the Romans
for several years, but was at last defeated at a great battle,
supposed to have taken place in Shropshire, where there is a hill
still called Caer Caradoc. Caradoc and his family were taken prisoners
and led before the Emperor at Rome, when he made a remarkable speech
which has been preserved for us by Tacitus. When he saw the splendid
city of Rome, he wondered that an Emperor who lived in such splendour
should have meddled with his humble home in Britain; and in his
address before the Emperor Claudius, who received him seated on his
throne with the Empress Agrippina by his side, Caradoc said: "My fate
this day appears as sad for me as it is glorious for thee. I had
horses, soldiers, arms, and treasures; is it surprising that I should
regret the loss of them? If it is thy will to command the universe, is
it a reason we should voluntarily accept slavery? Had I yielded
sooner, thy fortune and my glory would have been less, and oblivion
would soon have followed my execution. If thou sparest my life, I
shall be an eternal monument of thy clemency." Although the Romans had
very often killed their captives, to the honour of Claudius be it said
that he treated Caradoc kindly, gave him his liberty, and, according
to some historians, allowed him to reign in part of Britain as a
prince subject to Rome. It is surprising that an emperor who had shown
such clemency could afterwards become one of Rome's sanguinary
tyrants; but Claudius was a man of weak intellect.

There were several of the Roman Emperors and Governors who befriended
the Christians, took part in their Christmas festivities, and
professed faith in Christ. The Venerable Bede says: "In the reign of
Marcus Aurelius Antonius, and his partner in the Empire, Lucius Verus,
when Eleutherius was Bishop of Rome, Lucius, a British king, sent a
letter to his prelate, desiring his directions to make him a
Christian. The holy bishop immediately complied with this pious
request; and thus the Britons, being brought over to Christianity,
continued without warping or disturbance till the reign of the Emperor
Diocletian." And Selden says: "Howsoever, by injury of time, the
memory of this great and illustrious Prince King Lucy hath been
embezzled and smuggled; this, upon the credit of the ancient writers,
appears plainly, that the pitiful fopperies of the Pagans, and the
worship of their idol devils, did begin to flag, and within a short
time would have given place to the worship of the true God." As this
"illustrious Prince King Lucy"--Lucius Verus--flourished in the latter
part of the second century, and is credited with the erection of our
first Christian Church on the site of St. Martin's, at Canterbury, it
seems clear that even in those early days Christianity was making
progress in Britain. From the time of Julius Agricola, who was Roman
Commander from 78 to 84, Britain had been a Roman province, and
although the Romans never conquered the whole of the island, yet
during their occupation of what they called their province (the whole
of Britain, excepting that portion north of the Firths of Forth and
Clyde), they encouraged the Christmas festivities and did much to
civilise the people whom they had conquered and whom they governed for
more than three hundred years. They built towns in different parts of
the country and constructed good roads from one town to another, for
they were excellent builders and road-makers. Some of the Roman
emperors visited Britain and others were chosen by the soldiers of
Britain; and in the reigns of Constantine the Great and other tolerant
emperors the Britains lived like Romans, adopted Roman manners and
customs, and some of them learned to speak the Latin language.
Christian churches were built and bishoprics founded; a hierarchy was
established, and at the Council of Arles, in 314, three British
bishops took part--those of York, London, and Camulodunum (which is
now Colchester or Malden, authorities are divided, but Freeman says
Colchester). The canons framed at Arles on this occasion became the
law of the British Church, and in this more favourable period for
Christians the Christmas festival was kept with great rejoicing. But
this settled state of affairs was subsequently disturbed by the
departure of the Romans and the several invasions of the Anglo-Saxons
and the Danes which preceded the Norman Conquest.



The outgoing of the Romans and the incoming of the Angles, the Saxons,
and the Jutes disastrously affected the festival of Christmas, for the
invaders were heathens, and Christianity was swept westward before
them. They had lived in a part of the Continent which had not been
reached by Christianity nor classic culture, and they worshipped the
false gods of Woden and Thunder, and were addicted to various
heathenish practices, some of which now mingled with the festivities
of Christmastide. Still, as these Angles came to stay and have given
their name to our country, it may be well to note that they came over
to Britain from the one country which is known to have borne the name
of Angeln or the Engle-land, and which is now called Sleswick, a
district in the middle of that peninsula which parts the Baltic from
the North Sea or German Ocean. The Romans having become weakened
through their conflicts with Germany and other nations, at the
beginning of the fifth century, the Emperor Honorius recalled the
Roman legions from Britain, and this made it much easier for the
Angles and Saxons (who had previously tried to get in) to come and
remain in this country. Thus our Teuton forefathers came and conquered
much the greater part of Britain, the Picts and Scots remaining in the
north and the Welsh in the west of the island. It was their custom to
kill or make slaves of all the people they could, and so completely
did they conquer that part of Britain in which they settled that they
kept their own language and manners and their own heathenish religion,
and destroyed or desecrated Christian churches which had been set up.
Hence Christian missionaries were required to convert our ancestral
worshippers of Woden and Thunder, and a difficult business it was to
Christianise such pagans, for they stuck to their false gods with the
same tenacity that the northern nations did.

In his poem of "King Olaf's Christmas" Longfellow refers to the
worship of Thor and Odin alongside with the worship of Christ in the
northern nations:--

 "At Drontheim, Olaf the King
  Heard the bells of Yule-tide ring,
      As he sat in his banquet-hall.
  Drinking the nut-brown ale,
  With his bearded Berserks hale
      And tall.

  *     *     *     *     *

  O'er his drinking horn, the sign
  He made of the Cross divine
      As he drank, and muttered his prayers;
  But the Berserks evermore
  Made the sign of the Hammer of Thor
      Over theirs."

In England, too, Christ and Thor were worshipped side by side for at
least 150 years after the introduction of Christianity, for while some
of the English accepted Christ as their true friend and Saviour, He
was not accepted by all the people. Indeed, the struggle against Him
is still going on, but we anticipate the time when He shall be
victorious all along the line.

The Christmas festival was duly observed by the missionaries who came
to the South of England from Rome, headed by Augustine, and in the
northern parts of the country the Christian festivities were revived
by the Celtic missionaries from Iona, under Aidan, the famous
Columbian monk. At least half of England was covered by the Columbian
monks, whose great foundation upon the rocky island of Iona, in the
Hebrides, was the source of Christianity to Scotland. The ritual of
the Celtic differed from that of the Romish missionaries, and caused
confusion, till at the Synod of Whitby (664) the Northumbrian Kingdom
adopted the Roman usages, and England obtained ecclesiastical unity as
a branch of the Church of Rome. Thus unity in the Church preceded by
several centuries unity in the State.

[Illustration: QUEEN BERTHA.]

In connection with Augustine's mission to England, a memorable story
(recorded in Green's "History of the English People") tells how, when
but a young Roman deacon, Gregory had noted the white bodies, the fair
faces, the golden hair of some youths who stood bound in the
market-place of Rome. "From what country do these slaves come?" he
asked the traders who brought them. "They are English, Angles!" the
slave-dealers answered. The deacon's pity veiled itself in poetic
humour. "Not Angles, but Angels," he said, "with faces so angel-like!
From what country come they?" "They come," said the merchants, "from
Deira." "De ira!" was the untranslatable reply; "aye, plucked from
God's ire, and called to Christ's mercy! And what is the name of their
king?" "Ælla," they told him, and Gregory seized on the words as of
good omen. "Alleluia shall be sung in Ælla's land!" he cried, and
passed on, musing how the angel-faces should be brought to sing it.
Only three or four years had gone by when the deacon had become Bishop
of Rome, and the marriage of Bertha, daughter of the Frankish king,
Charibert of Paris, with Æthelberht, King of Kent, gave him the
opening he sought; for Bertha, like her Frankish kinsfolk, was a

And so, after negotiations with the rulers of Gaul, Gregory sent
Augustine, at the head of a band of monks, to preach the gospel to the
English people. The missionaries landed in 597, on the very spot where
Hengest had landed more than a century before, in the Isle of Thanet;
and the king received them sitting in the open air on the chalk-down
above Minster, where the eye nowadays catches, miles away over the
marshes, the dim tower of Canterbury. Rowbotham, in his "History of
Music," says that wherever Gregory sent missionaries he also sent
copies of the Gregorian song as he had arranged it in his
"Antiphonary." And he bade them go singing among the people. And
Augustine entered Kent bearing a silver cross and a banner with the
image of Christ painted on it, while a long train of choristers walked
behind him chanting the _Kyrie Eleison_. In this way they came to the
court of Æthelberht, who assigned them Canterbury as an abode; and
they entered Canterbury with similar pomp, and as they passed through
the gates they sang this petition: "Lord, we beseech Thee to keep Thy
wrath away from this city and from Thy holy Church, Alleluia!"

As papal Rome preserved many relics of heathen Rome, so, in like
manner, Pope Gregory, in sending Augustine over to convert the
Anglo-Saxons, directed him to accommodate the ceremonies of the
Christian worship as much as possible to those of the heathen, that
the people might not be much startled at the change; and, in
particular, he advised him to allow converts to kill and eat at the
Christmas festival a great number of oxen to the glory of God, as they
had formerly done to the honour of the devil. The clergy, therefore,
endeavoured to connect the remnants of Pagan idolatry with
Christianity, and also allowed some of the practices of our British
ancestors to mingle in the festivities of Christmastide. The religion
of the Druids, the priests of the ancient Britons, is supposed to have
been somewhat similar to that of the Brahmins of India, the Magi of
Persia, and the Chaldeans of Syria. They worshipped in groves,
regarded the oak and mistletoe as objects of veneration, and offered
sacrifices. Before Christianity came to Britain December was called
"Aerra Geola," because the sun then "turns his glorious course." And
under different names, such as Woden (another form of Odin), Thor,
Thunder, Saturn, &c., the pagans held their festivals of rejoicing at
the winter solstice; and so many of the ancient customs connected with
these festivals were modified and made subservient to Christianity.

Some of the English even tried to serve Christ and the older gods
together, like the Roman Emperor, Alexander Severus, whose chapel
contained Orpheus side by side with Abraham and Christ. "Roedwald of
East Anglia resolved to serve Christ and the older gods together, and
a pagan and a Christian altar fronted one another in the same royal
temple."[5] Kent, however, seems to have been evangelised rapidly, for
it is recorded that on Christmas Day, 597, no less than ten thousand
persons were baptized.


Before his death Augustine was able to see almost the whole of Kent
and Essex nominally Christian.

Christmas was now celebrated as the principal festival of the year,
for our Anglo-Saxon forefathers delighted in the festivities of the
Halig-Monath (holy month), as they called the month of December, in
allusion to Christmas Day. At the great festival of Christmas the
meetings of the Witenagemot were held, as well as at Easter and
Whitsuntide, wherever the Court happened to be. And at these times the
Anglo-Saxon, and afterwards the Danish, Kings of England lived in
state, wore their crowns, and were surrounded by all the great men of
their kingdoms (together with strangers of rank) who were sumptuously
entertained, and the most important affairs of state were brought
under consideration. There was also an outflow of generous hospitality
towards the poor, who had a hard time of it during the rest of the
year, and who required the Christmas gifts to provide them with such
creature comforts as would help them through the inclement season of
the year.

Readers of Saxon history will remember that chieftains in the festive
hall are alluded to in the comparison made by one of King Edwin's
chiefs, in discussing the welcome to be given to the Christian
missionary Paulinus: "The present life of man, O King, seems to me, in
comparison of that time which is unknown to us, like to the swift
flight of a sparrow through the hall where you sit at your meal in
winter, with your chiefs and attendants, warmed by a fire made in the
middle of the hall, while storms of rain or snow prevail without."


The "hall" was the principal part of a gentleman's house in Saxon
times--the place of entertainment and hospitality--and at
Christmastide the doors were never shut against any who appeared to be
worthy of welcome. And with such modes of travelling as were in vogue
in those days one can readily understand that, not only at Christmas,
but also at other seasons, the rule of hospitality to strangers was a

To this period belong the princely pageants and the magnificent


and the Knights of his Round Table. We know that some people are
inclined to discredit the accounts which have come down to us of this
famous British King and Christian hero, but for our own part we are
inclined to trust the old chroniclers, at all events so far as to
believe that they give us true pictures


of the manners and customs of the times of which they write; and in
this prosaic age it may surely be permitted to us at Christmastide to
linger over the doings of those romantic days,

  "When every morning brought a noble chance,
   And every chance brought out a noble knight."[6]

Sir John Froissart tells us of the princely pageants which King Arthur
held at Windsor in the sixth century, and of the sumptuous Christmas
banquetings at his Round Table--the very Round Table (so we are to
believe, on the authority of Dr. Milner)[7] which has been preserved
in the old chapel, now termed the county hall, at Winchester. It
consists of stout oak plank, perforated with many bullets, supposed to
have been shot by Cromwell's soldiers. It is painted with a figure to
represent King Arthur, and with the names of his twenty-four knights
as they are stated in the romances of the old chroniclers. This famous
Prince, who instituted the military order of the Knights of the Round
Table, is also credited with the reintroduction of Christianity at
York after the Saxon invaders had destroyed the first churches built
there. He was unwearying in his warfare against enemies of the
religion of Christ. His first great enterprise was the siege of a
Saxon army at York, and, having afterwards won brilliant victories in
Somersetshire and other parts of southern England, he again marched
northward and penetrated Scotland to attack the Picts and Scots, who
had long harassed the border. On returning from Scotland, Arthur
rested his wearied army at York and kept Christmas with great
bountifulness. Geoffrey of Monmouth says he was a prince of
"unparalleled courage and generosity," and his Christmas at York was
kept with the greatest joy and festivity. Then was the round table
filled with jocund guests, and the minstrels, gleemen, harpers,
pipe-players, jugglers, and dancers were as happy round about their
log-fires as if they had shone in the blaze of a thousand gas-lights.


King Arthur and his Knights also indulged in out-door amusements, as
hunting, hawking, running, leaping, wrestling, jousts, and tourneys.
"So," says Sir Thomas Malory,[8] "passed forth all the winter with all
manner of hunting and hawking, and jousts and tourneys were many
between many great lords. And ever, in all manner of places, Sir
Lavaine got great worship, that he was nobly renowned among many of
the knights of the Round Table. Thus it passed on until Christmas, and
every day there were jousts made for a diamond, that whosoever joust
best should have a diamond. But Sir Launcelot would not joust, but if
it were a great joust cried; but Sir Lavaine jousted there all the
Christmas passing well, and most was praised; for there were few that
did so well as he; wherefore all manner of knights deemed that Sir
Lavaine should be made a Knight of the Round Table, at the next high
feast of Pentecost."


are referred to by some of the old chroniclers, intemperance being a
very prevalent vice at the Christmas festival. Ale and mead were their
favourite drinks; wines were used as occasional luxuries. "When all
were satisfied with dinner," says an old chronicler, "and their tables
were removed, they continued drinking till the evening." And another
tells how drinking and gaming went on through the greater part of the
night. Chaucer's one solitary reference to Christmastide is an
allegorical representation of the jovial feasting which was the
characteristic feature of this great festival held in "the colde
frosty season of December."

 "Janus sits by the fire with double beard,
  And drinketh of his bugle horn the wine:
  Before him stands the brawn of tuskéd swine,
  And 'Nowel' cryeth every lusty man."[9]

The Saxons were strongly attached to field sports, and as the "brawn
of the tuskéd swine" was the first Christmas dish, it was provided by
the pleasant preliminary pastime of hunting the wild boar; and the
incidents of the chase afforded interesting table talk when the boar's
head was brought in ceremoniously to the Christmas festival.

Prominent among the Anglo-Saxon amusements of Christmastide, Strutt
mentions their propensity for gaming with dice, as derived from their
ancestors, for Tacitus assures us that the ancient Germans would not
only hazard all their wealth, but even stake their liberty, upon the
turn of the dice: "and he who loses submits to servitude, though
younger and stronger than his antagonist, and patiently permits
himself to be bound and sold in the market; and this madness they
dignify by the name of honour." Chess and backgammon were also
favourite games with the Anglo-Saxons, and a large portion of the
night was appropriated to the pursuit of these sedentary amusements,
especially at the Christmas season of the year, when the early
darkness stopped out-door games.

 "When they had dined, as I can you say,
  Lords and ladies went to play;
  Some to tables, and some to chess,
  With other games more and less."[10]

Our Saxon forefathers were very superstitious. They had many
pretenders to witchcraft. They believed in the powers of philtres and
spells, and invocated spirits; and they relished a blood-curdling
ghost story at Christmas quite as much as their twentieth-century
descendants. They confided in prognostics, and believed in the
influence of particular times and seasons; and at Christmastide they
derived peculiar pleasure from their belief in the immunity of the
season from malign influences--a belief which descended to Elizabethan
days, and is referred to by Shakespeare, in "Hamlet":--

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


We cannot pass over this period without mentioning a great Christmas
in the history of our Teutonic kinsmen on the Continent, for the
Saxons of England and those of Germany have the same Teutonic origin.
We refer to


The coronation took place at Rome, on Christmas Day, in the year 800.
Freeman[11] says that when Charles was King of the Franks and Lombards
and Patrician of the Romans, he was on very friendly terms with the
mighty Offa, King of the Angles that dwelt in Mercia. Charles and Offa
not only exchanged letters and gifts, but each gave the subjects of
the other various rights in his dominions, and they made a league
together, "for that they two were the mightiest of all the kings that
dwelt in the Western lands." As conqueror of the old Saxons in
Germany, Charles may be regarded as the first King of all Germany, and
he was the first man of any Teutonic nation who was called Roman
Emperor. He was crowned with the diadem of the Cæsars, by Pope Leo, in
the name of Charles Augustus, Emperor of the Romans. And it was held
for a thousand years after, down to the year 1806, that the King of
the Franks, or, as he was afterwards called, the King of Germany, had
a right to be crowned by the Pope of Rome, and to be called Emperor of
the Romans. In the year 1806, however, the Emperor Francis the Second,
who was also King of Hungary and Archduke of Austria, resigned the
Roman Empire and the Kingdom of Germany. Since that time no Emperor of
the Romans has been chosen; but a new German Emperor has been created,
and the event may be regarded as one of Christmastide, for the
victorious soldiers who brought it about spent their Christmas in the
French capital, and during the festival arranged for the
re-establishment of the German Empire. So it happens, that while
referring to the crowning of the first German Emperor of the Roman
Empire, on Christmas Day, 800, we are able to record that more than a
thousand years afterwards the unification of the German Empire and the
creation of its first Emperor also occurred at Christmastide, under
the influence of the German triumphs over the French in the war of
1870. The imposing event was resolved upon by the German Princes on
December 18, 1870, the preliminaries were completed during the
Christmas festival, and on January 18, 1871, in the Galerie des Glaces
of the château of Versailles, William, King of Prussia, was crowned
and proclaimed first Emperor of the new German Empire.

Now, going back again over a millennium, we come to


During the reign of Alfred the Great a law was passed with relation to
holidays, by virtue of which the twelve days after the Nativity of our
Saviour were set apart for the celebration of the Christmas festival.
Some writers are of opinion that, but for Alfred's strict observance
of the "full twelve holy days," he would not have been defeated by the
Danes in the year 878. It was just after Twelfth-night that the Danish
host came suddenly--"bestole," as the old Chronicle says--to
Chippenham. Then "they rode through the West Saxons' land, and there
sat down, and mickle of the folk over sea they drove, and of others
the most deal they rode over; all but the King Alfred; he with a
little band hardly fared after the woods and on the moor-fastnesses."
But whether or not Alfred's preparations for the battle just referred
to were hindered by his enjoyment of the festivities of Christmastide
with his subjects, it is quite certain that the King won the hearts of
his people by the great interest he took in their welfare. This good
king--whose intimacy with his people we delight to associate with the
homely incident of the burning of a cottager's cakes--kept the
Christmas festival quite as heartily as any of the early English
kings, but not so boisterously as some of them. Of the many beautiful
stories told about him, one might very well belong to Christmastide.
It is said that, wishing to know what the Danes were about, and how
strong they were, King Alfred one day set out from Athelney in the
disguise of a Christmas minstrel, and went into the Danish camp, and
stayed there several days, amusing the Danes with his playing, till he
had seen all he wanted, and then went back without any one finding him

Now, passing on to


we find that in 961 King Edgar celebrated the Christmas
festival with great splendour at York; and in 1013 Ethelred
kept his Christmas with the brave citizens of London who had
defended the capital during a siege and stoutly resisted Swegen,
the tyrant king of the Danes. Sir Walter Scott, in his beautiful
poem of "Marmion," thus pictures the "savage Dane" keeping
the great winter festival:--

 "Even, heathen yet, the savage Dane
  At Iol more deep the mead did drain;
  High on the beach his galleys drew,
  And feasted all his pirate crew;
  Then in his low and pine-built hall,
  Where shields and axes deck'd the wall,
  They gorged upon the half-dress'd steer;
  Caroused in seas of sable beer;
  While round, in brutal jest, were thrown
  The half-gnaw'd rib, and marrow bone:
  Or listen'd all, in grim delight.
  While Scalds yell'd out the joys of fight.
  Then forth, in frenzy, would they hie,
  While wildly-loose their red locks fly,
  And dancing round the blazing pile,
  They make such barbarous mirth the while,
  As best might to the mind recall
  The boisterous joys of Odin's hall."

When the citizens of London saw that Swegen had succeeded all over
England except their own city, they thought it was no use holding out
any longer, and they too, submitted and gave hostages. And so Swegen
was the first Dane who was king, or (as Florence calls him) "Tyrant
over all England;" and Ethelred, sometimes called the "Unready," King
of the West Saxons, who had struggled unsuccessfully against the
Danes, fled with his wife and children to his brother-in-law's court
in Normandy. On the death of Swegen, the Danes of his fleet chose his
son Cnut to be King, but the English invited Ethelred to return from
Normandy and renew the struggle with the Danes. He did so, and the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says: "He held his kingdom with great toil and
great difficulty the while that his life lasted." After his death and
that of his son Edmund, Cnut was finally elected and crowned.
Freeman,[12] in recording the event, says that: "At the Christmas of
1016-1017, Cnut was a third time chosen king over all England, and one
of the first things that he did was to send to Normandy for the
widowed Lady Emma, though she was many years older than he was. She
came over; she married the new king; and was again Lady of the
English. She bore Cnut two children, Harthacnut and Gunhild. Her three
children by Ethelred were left in Normandy. She seems not to have
cared at all for them or for the memory of Ethelred; her whole love
passed to her new husband and her new children. Thus it came about
that the children of Ethelred were brought up in Normandy, and had the
feelings of Normans rather than Englishmen, a thing which again
greatly helped the Norman Conquest."

Cnut's first acts of government in England were a series of murders;
but he afterwards became a wise and temperate king. He even identified
himself with the patriotism which had withstood the stranger. He
joined heartily in the festivities of Christmastide, and atoned for
his father's ravages by costly gifts to the religious houses. And his
love for monks broke out in the song which he composed as he listened
to their chant at Ely: "Merrily sang the monks in Ely when Cnut King
rowed by" across the vast fen-waters that surrounded their Abbey.
"Row, boatmen, near the land, and hear we these monks sing."[13]

 "'All hail!' the monks at Christmas sang;
  The merry monks who kept with cheer
  The gladdest day of all the year."[14]

It is said that Cnut, who is also called Canute, "marked one of his
royal Christmases by a piece of sudden retributive justice: bored
beyond all endurance by the Saxon Edric's iteration of the traitorous
services he had rendered him, the King exclaimed to Edric, Earl of
Northumberland: 'Then let him receive his deserts, that he may not
betray us as he betrayed Ethelred and Edmund!' upon which the ready
Norwegian disposed of all fear on that score by cutting down the
boaster with his axe, and throwing his body into the Thames."[15]

In the year 1035, King Cnut died at Shaftesbury, and was buried in
Winchester Cathedral. His sons, Harold and Harthacnut, did not possess
the capacity for good government, otherwise the reign of the Danes
might have continued. As it was, their reigns, though short, were
troublesome. Harold died at Oxford in 1040, and was buried at
Westminster (being the first king who was buried there); Harthacnut
died at Lambeth at a wedding-feast in 1042, and was buried beside his
father in Winchester Cathedral. And thus ended the reigns of the
Danish kings of England.

Now we come to


who, we are told, was heartily chosen by all the people, for the two
very good reasons, that he was an Englishman by birth, and the only
man of either the English or the Danish royal families who was at
hand. He was the son of Ethelred and Emma, and at the Christmas
festival of his coronation there was great rejoicing. As his early
training had been at the court of his uncle, Richard the Good, in
Normandy, he had learnt to prefer Norman-French customs and life to
those of the English. During his reign, therefore, he brought over
many strangers and appointed them to high ecclesiastical and other
offices, and Norman influence and refinement of manners gradually
increased at the English court, and this, of course, led to the more
stately celebration of the Christmas festival. The King himself, being
of a pious and meditative disposition, naturally took more interest in
the religious than the temporal rejoicings, and the administration of
state affairs was left almost entirely to members of the house of
Godwin during the principal part of his reign. Many disturbances
occurred during Edward's reign in different parts of the country,
especially on the Welsh border. At the Christmas meeting of the King
and his Wise Men, at Gloucester, in 1053, it was ordered that Rhys,
the brother of Gruffydd, the South Welsh king, be put to death for his
great plunder and mischief. The same year, the great Earl Godwine,
while dining with the king at Winchester at the Easter feast, suddenly
fell in a fit, died four days after, and was buried in the old
cathedral. A few years later (1065), the Northumbrians complained that
Earl Tostig, Harold's brother, had caused Gospatric, one of the chief
Thanes, to be treacherously murdered when he came to the King's court
the Christmas before. King Edward kept his last Christmas (1065), and
had the meeting of his Wise Men in London instead of Gloucester as
usual. His great object was to finish his new church at Westminster,
and to have it hallowed before he died. He lived just long enough to
have this done. On Innocent's Day the new Minster was consecrated, but
the King was too ill to be there, so the Lady Edith stood in his
stead. And on January 5, 1066, King Edward, the son of Ethelred, died.
On the morning of the day following his death, the body of the
Confessor was laid in the tomb, in his new church; and on the same


in his stead. Thus three very important events--the consecration of
Westminster Abbey, the death of Edward the Confessor, and the crowning
of Harold--all occurred during the same Christmas festival.

In the terrible year 1066 England had three kings. The reign of
Harold, the son of Godwine, who succeeded Edward the Confessor,
terminated at the battle of Senlac, or Hastings, and on the following


by Archbishop Ealdred. He had not at that time conquered all the land,
and it was a long while before he really possessed the whole of it.
Still, he was the king, chosen, crowned, and anointed, and no one ever
was able to drive him out of the land, and the crown of England has
ever since been held by his descendants.

    [5] Green's "History of the English People."

    [6] Tennyson.

    [7] "History of Winchester."

    [8] "History of King Arthur and His Noble Knights."

    [9] "The Franklin's Tale."

    [10] "Romance of Ipomydon."

    [11] "Old English History."

    [12] "Short History of the Norman Conquest."

    [13] "History of the English People."

    [14] J. G. Whittier.

    [15] "Chambers's Journal," Dec. 28, 1867.




(1066 to 1215.)

Now we come to the


[Illustration: A KING AT DINNER.]

Lord Macaulay says "the polite luxury of the Normans presented a
striking contrast to the coarse voracity and drunkenness of their
Saxon and Danish neighbours." And certainly the above example of a
royal dinner scene (from a manuscript of the fourteenth century) gives
an idea of stately ceremony which is not found in any manuscripts
previous to the coming over of the Normans. They "loved to display
their magnificence, not in huge piles of food and hogsheads of strong
drink, but in large and stately edifices, rich armour, gallant horses,
choice falcons, well-ordered tournaments, banquets delicate rather
than abundant, and wines remarkable rather for their exquisite flavour
than for their intoxicating power." Quite so. But even the Normans
were not all temperate. And, while it is quite true that the refined
manners and chivalrous spirit of the Normans exercised a powerful
influence on the Anglo-Saxons, it is equally true that the conquerors
on mingling with the English people adopted many of the ancient
customs to which they tenaciously clung, and these included the
customs of Christmastide.

The Norman kings and nobles displayed their taste for magnificence in
the most remarkable manner at their coronations, tournaments, and
their celebrations of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide. The great
councils of the Norman reigns which assembled at Christmas and the
other great festivals, were in appearance a continuation of the
Witenagemots, but the power of the barons became very formal in the
presence of such despotic monarchs as William the Conqueror and his
sons. At the Christmas festival all the prelates and nobles of the
kingdom were, by their tenures, obliged to attend their sovereign to
assist in the administration of justice and in deliberation on the
great affairs of the kingdom. On these occasions the King wore his
crown, and feasted his nobles in the great hall of his palace, and
made them presents as marks of his royal favour, after which they
proceeded to the consideration of State affairs. Wherever the Court
happened to be, there was usually a large assemblage of gleemen, who
were jugglers and pantomimists as well as minstrels, and were
accustomed to associate themselves in companies, and amuse the
spectators with feats of strength and agility, dancing, tumbling, and
sleight-of-hand tricks, as well as musical performances. Among the
minstrels who came into England with William the Conqueror was one
named Taillefer, who was present at the battle of Hastings, and rode
in front of the Norman army, inspiriting the soldiers by his songs. He
sang of Roland, the heroic captain of Charlemagne, tossing his sword
in the air and catching it again as he approached the English line. He
was the first to strike a blow at the English, but after mortally
wounding one or two of King Harold's warriors, he was himself struck

At the Christmas feast minstrels played on various musical instruments
during dinner, and sang or told tales afterwards, both in the hall and
in the chamber to which the king and his nobles retired for amusement.
Thus it is written of a court minstrel:--

 "Before the King he set him down
  And took his harp of merry soun,
  And, as he full well can,
  Many merry notes he began.
  The king beheld, and sat full still,
  To hear his harping he had good will.
  When he left off his harping,
  To him said that rich king,
  Minstrel, we liketh well thy glee,
  What thing that thou ask of me
  Largely I will thee pay;
  Therefore ask now and asay." (_Sir Orpheo._)


After the Conquest the first entertainments given by William the
Conqueror were those to his victorious warriors:--

 "Every warrior's manly neck
  Chains of regal honour deck,
  Wreathed in many a golden link:
  From the golden cup they drink
  Nectar that the bees produce,
  Or the grape's extatic juice.
  Flush'd with mirth and hope they burn."

  _The Gododin._

In 1067 the Conqueror kept a grand Christmas in London. He had spent
eight months of that year rewarding his warriors and gratifying his
subjects in Normandy, where he had held a round of feasts and made a
grand display of the valuable booty which he had won by his sword. A
part of his plunder he sent to the Pope along with the banner of
Harold. Another portion, consisting of gold, golden vases, and richly
embroidered stuffs, was distributed among the abbeys, monasteries, and
churches of his native duchy, "neither monks nor priests remaining
without a guerdon." After spending the greater part of the year in
splendid entertainments in Normandy, apparently undisturbed by the
reports which had reached him of discontent and insurrection among his
new subjects in England, William at length embarked at Dieppe on the
6th of December, 1067, and returned to London to celebrate the
approaching festival of Christmas. With the object of quieting the
discontent which prevailed, he invited a considerable number of the
Saxon chiefs to take part in the Christmas festival, which was kept
with unusual splendour; and he also caused a proclamation to be read
in all the churches of the capital declaring it to be his will that
"all the citizens of London should enjoy their national laws as in the
days of King Edward." But his policy of friendship and conciliation
was soon changed into one of cruelty and oppression.

At the instigation of Swein, the King of Denmark, who appeared in the
Humber with a fleet, the people in the north of England and in some
other parts rose in revolt against the rule of the Conqueror in 1068.
So skilfully had the revolt been planned that even William was taken
by surprise. While he was hunting in the Forest of Dean he heard of
the loss of York and the slaughter of his garrison of 3,000 Normans,
and resolved to avenge the disaster. Proceeding to the Humber with his
horsemen, by a heavy bribe he got the King of Denmark to withdraw his
fleet; then, after some delay, spent in punishing revolters in the
Welsh border, he attacked and took the city of York. The land in
Durham and Northumberland was still quite unsubdued, and some of
William's soldiers had fared badly in their attempts to take
possession. At the Christmas feast of 1068 William made a grant of the
earldom of Northumberland to Robert of Comines, who set out with a
Norman army to take possession. But he fared no better than his
predecessors had done. The men of the land determined to withstand
him, but through the help of Bishop Æthelwine he entered Durham
peaceably. But he let his men plunder, so the men of the city rose and
slew him and his followers. And now, says Freeman,[16] William "did
one of the most frightful deeds of his life. He caused all Northern
England, beginning with Yorkshire, to be utterly laid waste, that its
people might not be able to fight against him any more. The havoc was
fearful; men were starved or sold themselves as slaves, and the land
did not recover for many years. Then King William wore his crown and
kept his Christmas at York" (1069).

Now the Conqueror set barons in different parts of the country, and
each of them kept his own miniature court and celebrated Christmas
after the costly Norman style. In his beautiful poem of "The Norman
Baron" Longfellow pictures one of these Christmas celebrations, and
tells how--

 "In the hall, the serf and vassal
  Held, that night, their Christmas wassail;
  Many a carol, old and saintly,
      Sang the minstrels and the waits.

  And so loud these Saxon gleemen
  Sang to slaves the songs of freemen,
  That the storm was heard but faintly
      Knocking at the castle-gates.

  Till at length the lays they chaunted
  Reached the chamber terror-haunted,
  Where the monk, with accents holy,
      Whispered at the baron's ear.

  Tears upon his eyelids glistened
  As he paused awhile and listened,
  And the dying baron slowly
      Turned his weary head to hear.

 'Wassail for the kingly stranger
  Born and cradled in a manger!
  King, like David, priest, like Aaron,
      Christ is born to set us free!'"


According to Strutt, the popular sports and pastimes prevalent at the
close of the Saxon era were not subjected to any material change by
the coming of the Normans. But William and his immediate successors
restricted the privileges of the chase, and imposed great penalties on
those who presumed to destroy the game in the royal forests without a
proper license. The wild boar and the wolf still afforded sport at the
Christmas season, and there was an abundance of smaller game. Leaping,
running, wrestling, the casting of darts, and other pastimes which
required bodily strength and agility were also practised, and when the
frost set in various games were engaged in upon the ice. It is not
known at what time skating made its first appearance in England, but
we find some traces of such an exercise in the thirteenth century, at
which period, according to Fitzstephen, it was customary in the
winter, when the ice would bear them, for the young citizens of London
to fasten the leg bones of animals under the soles of their feet by
tying them round their ankles; and then, taking a pole shod with iron
into their hands, they pushed themselves forward by striking it
against the ice, and moved with celerity equal, says the author, to a
bird flying through the air, or an arrow from a cross-bow; but some
allowance, we presume, must be made for the poetical figure: he then
adds, "At times, two of them thus furnished agree to start opposite
one to another, at a great distance; they meet, elevate their poles,
attack, and strike each other, when one or both of them fall, and not
without some bodily hurt; and, even after their fall, are carried a
great distance from each other, by the rapidity of the motion, and
whatever part of the head comes upon the ice it is sure to be laid

The meetings of the King and his Wise Men for the consideration of
state affairs were continued at the great festivals, and that held at
Christmas in 1085 is memorable on account of the resolution then
passed to make the Domesday survey, in reference to which Freeman
says: "One of the greatest acts of William's reign, and that by which
we come to know more about England in his time than from any other
source, was done in the assembly held at Gloucester at the Christmas
of 1085. Then the King had, as the Chronicle says, 'very deep speech
with his Wise Men.' This 'deep speech' in English is in French
_parlement_; and so we see how our assemblies came by their later
name. And the end of the deep speech was that commissioners were sent
through all England, save only the Bishopric of Durham and the earldom
of Northumberland, to make a survey of the land. They were to set down
by whom every piece of land, great and small, was held then, by whom
it was held in King Edward's day, what it was worth now, and what it
had been worth in King Edward's day. All this was written in a book
kept at Winchester, which men called _Domesday Book_. It is a most
wonderful record, and tells us more of the state of England just at
that moment than we know of it for a long time before or after."

The Domesday Book was completed in 1086, and the following year
(1087) William the Conqueror died, and his son, William Rufus,
succeeded him.

[Illustration: WESTMINSTER HALL.]


took place at Westminster on September 26, 1087, Archbishop Lanfranc
officiating. The King kept his first Christmas sumptuously at
Westminster, and, Freeman says, "it seems to have been then that he
gave back the earldom of Kent to his uncle, Bishop Odo." The character
of the Royal Christmases degenerated during the reign of Rufus, whose
licentiousness fouled the festivities. In the latter part of his reign
Rufus reared the spacious hall at Westminster, where so many Royal
Christmases were afterwards kept, and which Pope calls

  "Rufus's roaring hall."

It is a magnificent relic of the profuse hospitality of former times.
Richard the Second heightened its walls and added its noble roof of
British oak, which shows the excellence of the wood carving of that
period. Although Sir Charles Barry has shortened the Hall of its
former proportions to fit it as a vestibule to the New Houses of
Parliament, it is still a noble and spacious building, and one cannot
walk through it without in imagination recalling some of the Royal
Christmases and other stately scenes which have been witnessed there.
The last of these festal glories was the coronation of George the
Fourth, which took place in 1821. This grand old hall at Westminster
was the theatre of Rufus's feasting and revelry; but, vast as the
edifice then was, it did not equal the ideas of the extravagant
monarch. An old chronicler states that one of the King's courtiers,
having observed that the building was too large for the purposes of
its construction, Rufus replied, "This halle is not begge enough by
one half, and is but a bedchamber in comparison of that I mind to
make." Yet this hall was for centuries the largest of its kind in
Europe, and in it the Christmas feasts were magnificently kept.

After a reign of thirteen years the vicious life of William Rufus met
with a tragical close. His dead body was found by peasants in a glade
of the New Forest with the arrow either of a hunter or an assassin in
his breast. Sir Walter Tyrrel, a Norman knight, who had been hunting
with the king just before his death, fled to Normandy immediately
afterwards, and was suspected of being a regicide. The body of Rufus
was buried in Winchester Cathedral.


Henry the First's Christmas festival at Windsor, in 1126, was a
memorable one. In that year Henry's daughter Matilda became a widow by
the death of her husband, Henry V. of Germany, and King Henry
determined to appoint her his successor to the throne of England and
the Dukedom of Normandy. On Christmas Day, 1126, a general assembly of
the nobles and higher ecclesiastics of the kingdom was held at Windsor
for the purpose of declaring the Empress Matilda (as she was still
called) the legitimate successor of Henry I., and the clergy and
Norman barons of both countries swore allegiance to her in the event
of the king's death. This appointment of Matilda was made by Henry in
consequence of the calamity which occurred just before Christmas, in
1120, when he lost his much-loved son, Prince William--the only male
legitimate issue of Henry--through the wreck of _La Blanche Nef_ (the
White Ship). On board the vessel were Prince William, his half-brother
Richard, and Henry's natural daughter the Countess of Perche, as well
as about a hundred and forty young noblemen of the most distinguished
families in England and Normandy, all of whom were lost in their
passage home, only a few hours after the safe arrival of the king in
England. Henry is said to have swooned at the intelligence, and was
never afterwards seen to smile. He had returned home anticipating a
joyous Christmas festival, a season of glad tidings, but he was
closely followed by this sad news of the death of the heir apparent.
The incident has called forth one of the most beautiful poems of Mrs.
Hemans, from which we quote two verses:--

 "The bark that held a prince went down,
    The sweeping waves rolled on;
  And what was England's glorious crown
    To him that wept a son?
  He lived--for life may long be borne,
    Ere sorrow break its chain:
  Why comes not death to those who mourn?
    He never smiled again!

  *     *     *     *     *

  He sat where festal bowls went round,
    He heard the minstrel sing;
  He saw the tourney's victor crowned,
    Amidst the kingly ring;
  A murmur of the restless deep
    Was blent with every strain,
  A voice of winds that would not sleep,--
    He never smiled again!"

In 1127 Henry invited the king of the Scots to Windsor to join in the
royal celebration of Christmas, but the festivities were marred by an
unseemly quarrel between the two primates. Thurstan, Archbishop of
York, encroaching upon the privileges of his brother of Canterbury
(William de Corbeuil), insisted upon placing the crown upon the king's
head ere he set out for church. This the partisans of Canterbury would
not allow, settling the matter by turning Thurstan's chaplain and
followers out of doors, and thereby causing such strife between the
heads of the Church that they both set off to Rome to lay their
grievances before the Pope. And, subsequently, appeals to Rome became
frequent, until a satisfactory adjustment of the powers and privileges
of the two archbishops was arrived at. The Archbishop of Canterbury
was acknowledged Primate of all England and Metropolitan; but, while
the privilege of crowning the sovereign was reserved for the
Archbishop of Canterbury, that of crowning the Queen Consort was given
to the Archbishop of York.



The progress of literature under the Conqueror and his sons was very
great, many devoting themselves almost entirely to literary pursuits.
Lanfranc and Anselm, the Archbishops of Canterbury, had proved
themselves worthy of their exalted station. Their precepts and
examples had awakened the clergy and kindled an ardour for learning
unknown in any preceding age. Nor did this enthusiasm perish with its
authors: it was kept alive by the honours which were lavished on all
who could boast of literary acquirements. During the reign of Henry I.
Geoffrey of Monmouth published his History of the Britons, and William
of Malmesbury assures us that every poet hastened to the court of
Henry's Queen Matilda, at Westminster, to read his verses to the Queen
and partake of her bounty. William of Malmesbury carefully collected
the lighter ballads which embodied the popular traditions of the
English kings, and he tells an amusing story which is connected with
the festival of Christmas. In early times dancing developed into a
sort of passion, men and women continually dancing and singing
together, holding one another by the hands, and concluding the dances
with kisses. These levities were at first encouraged by the Church,
but afterwards, seeing the abuse of them, the priests were compelled
to reprimand and restrain the people. And the story told by William of
Malmesbury describes the singular punishment which came upon some
young men and women for disturbing a priest who was performing mass on
the eve of Christmas. "I, Othbert, a sinner," says the story, "have
lived to tell the tale. It was the vigil of the Blessed Virgin, and in
a town where was a church of St. Magnus. And the priest, Rathbertus,
had just begun the mass, and I, with my comrades, fifteen young women
and seventeen young men, were dancing outside the church. And we were
singing so loud that our songs were distinctly heard inside the
building, and interrupted the service of the mass. And the priest came
out and told us to desist; and when we did not, he prayed God and St.
Magnus that we might dance as our punishment for a year to come. A
youth, whose sister was dancing with us, seized her by the arm to drag
her away, but it came off in his hand, and she danced on. For a whole
year we continued. No rain fell on us; cold, nor heat, nor hunger, nor
thirst, nor fatigue affected us; neither our shoes nor our clothes
wore out; but still we went on dancing. We trod the earth down to our
knees, next to our middles, and at last were dancing in a pit. At the
end of the year release came."

Giraldus Cambrensis, amongst many ridiculous Christmas stories of
miracles, visions, and apparitions, tells of one devil who acted a
considerable time as a gentleman's butler with great prudence and
probity; and of another who was a very diligent and learned clergyman,
and a mighty favourite of his archbishop. This last clerical devil
was, it seems, an excellent historian, and used to divert the
Archbishop with telling him old stories, some of which referred to the
incarnation of our Saviour, and were related at the Christmas season.
"Before the incarnation of our Saviour," said the Archbishop's
historian, "the devils had great power over mankind, but after that
event their power was much diminished and they were obliged to fly.
Some of them threw themselves into the sea; some concealed themselves
in hollow trees, or in the clefts of rocks; and I myself plunged into
a certain fountain. As soon as he had said this, finding that he had
discovered his secret, his face was covered with blushes, he went out
of the room, and was no more seen."

The following cut (taken from MS. Harl., No. 4751, of the end of the
twelfth century) represents an elephant, with its castle and armed
men, engaged in battle. The bestiaries relate many strange things of
the elephant. They say that, though so large and powerful, and so
courageous against larger animals, it is afraid of a mouse; that its
nature is so cold that it will never seek the company of the female
until, wandering in the direction of Paradise, it meets with the plant
called the mandrake, and eats of it, and that each female bears but
one young one in her life.


Absurd as we consider such stories, they were believed by the Normans,
who were no less credulous than the Anglo-Saxons. This is evident
from the large number of miracles, revelations, visions, and
enchantments which are related with great gravity by the old



Stephen of Blois was crowned at Westminster Abbey during the Christmas
festival (December 26, 1135). As a King of Misrule, he was fitly
crowned at Christmastide, and it would have been a good thing for the
nation if his reign had been of the ephemeral character which was
customary to Lords of Misrule. The nineteen years of his reign were
years of disorder unparalleled in any period of our history. On the
landing of Henry the First's daughter, "the Empress Matilda," who
claimed the English crown for her son Henry, a long struggle ensued,
and the country was divided between the adherents of the two rivals,
the West supporting Matilda, and London and the East Stephen. For a
time the successes in war alternated between the two parties. A defeat
at Lincoln left Stephen a prisoner in the hands of his enemies; but
after his escape he laid siege to the city of Oxford, where Matilda
had assembled her followers. "The Lady" of the English (as Matilda was
then called) had retreated into the castle, which, though a place of
great strength, proved to be insufficiently victualled. It was
surrounded and cut off from all supplies without, and at Christmastide
(1142), after a siege of three months, Matilda consulted her own
safety by taking flight. On a cold December night, when the ground was
covered with snow, she quitted the castle at midnight, attended by
four knights, who as well as herself were clothed in white, in order
that they might pass unobserved through the lines of their enemies.
The adventurous "Lady" made good her escape, and crossing the river
unnoticed on the ice, found her way to Abingdon. The long anarchy was
ended by the Treaty of Wallingford (1153), Stephen being recognised as
king during his life, and the succession devolving upon Matilda's son
Henry. A year had hardly passed from the signing of the treaty, when
Stephen's death gave Henry the crown, and his coronation took place at
Christmastide, 1154, at Westminster.


it has been truly said, "initiated the rule of law," as distinct from
despotism, whether personal or tempered by routine, of the Norman
kings. And now the despotic barons began gradually to be shorn of
their power, and the dungeons of their "Adulterine" castles to be
stripped of their horrors, and it seemed more appropriate to celebrate
the season of glad tidings. King Henry the Second kept his first
Christmas at Bermondsey with great solemnity, marking the occasion by
passing his royal word to expel all foreigners from the kingdom,
whereupon William of Ypres and his Flemings decamped without waiting
for further notice. In 1158 Henry, celebrating the Christmas festival
at Worcester, took the crown from his head and placed it upon the
altar, after which he never wore it. But he did not cease to keep
Christmas. In 1171 he went to Ireland, where the chiefs of the land
displayed a wonderful alacrity in taking the oath of allegiance, and
were rewarded by being entertained in a style that astonished them.
Finding no place in Dublin large enough to contain his own followers,
much less his guests, Henry had a house built in Irish fashion of
twigs and wattles in the village of Hogges, and there held high
revelry during Christmastide, teaching his new subjects to eat cranes'
flesh, and take their part in miracle plays, masques, mummeries, and
tournaments. And a great number of oxen were roasted, so that all the
people might take part in the rejoicings.


In his description of Christian Constantinople, Benjamin of Tudela, a
Spanish Jew, who travelled through the East in the twelfth century
(1159 or 1160), describes a "place where the king diverts himself,
called the hippodrome, near to the wall of the palace. There it is
that every year, on the day of the birth of Jesus the Nazarene, the
king gives a grand entertainment. There are represented by magic arts
before the king and queen, figures of all kinds of men that exist in
the world; thither also are taken lions, bears, tigers, and wild
asses, which are made to fight together; as well as birds. There is no
such sight to be seen in all the world." At Constantinople, on the
marriage of the Emperor Manuel with Mary, daughter of the Prince of
Antioch, on Christmas Day, 1161, there were great rejoicings, and
similar spectacular entertainments to those described by Benjamin of


During the Christmas festival of 1170 (December 29th) occurred an
event memorable in ecclesiastical history--the murder of Thomas
Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1162 Becket (who had previously
been Chancellor to Henry II.) was made Archbishop, in succession to
Archbishop Theobald. The King soon found that he who had served him
faithfully as Chancellor would oppose him doggedly as Archbishop.
Henry determined to subject the Church as well as the State to the
supremacy of the law; and Becket determined to resist the King to the
end, thus manifesting his desire for martyrdom in the cause of the
Church. Henry had greatly offended the Archbishop by causing his
eldest son to be crowned by the Archbishop of York. For this violation
of the rights of Canterbury Becket threatened to lay the country under
an interdict, which he had the power from the Pope to pronounce. A
sort of reconciliation was effected between the King and the
Archbishop at Freteval on July 21, 1170, but a further dispute arose
on Becket delaying his return to England, the King being anxious to
get him out of France. The Archbishop was full of complaints against
Henry for the injuries he had done to his see, and the King stood upon
his dignity, regardless of the threatened interdiction. The Archbishop
returned to England on the 1st of December, and was joyfully received
by the people. His enemies, however, and especially the family of De
Broc, did all they could to annoy him; and on Christmas Day he uttered
a violent anathema against them. He preached from the text, "I come to
die among you," evidently anticipating what might be the personal
consequences of his action. He told his congregation that one of the
archbishops had been a martyr, and they would probably soon see
another; but before he departed home he would avenge some of the
wrongs the Church had suffered during the previous seven years. Then
he thundered forth his sentence of excommunication against Ranulph and
Robert de Broc, and Nigellus, rector of Harrow. Meanwhile news had
reached the King that Becket had excommunicated certain bishops who
had taken part in his son's coronation. In a fit of exasperation the
King uttered some hasty words of anger against the Archbishop. Acting
upon these, four of Henry's knights--Hugh de Morville, Reginald
FitzUrse, William de Tracy, and Richard Brito--crossed to England,
taking with them Ranulf de Broc and a band of men, and murdered the
Archbishop in Canterbury Cathedral. In the altercation which took
place before the consummation of the terrible deed, the Primate was
asked to absolve the bishops whom he had excommunicated, but he
refused in a defiant and insulting manner. "Then die," exclaimed
FitzUrse, striking at Becket's head with his weapon; but the devoted
cross-bearer warded off the blow with his own arm, which was badly
cut, so that the Archbishop was but slightly injured. One of the
attacking party then called out, "Fly, or thou diest!" The Archbishop,
however, clasped his hands, and, with the blood streaming down his
face, fervently exclaimed, "To God, to St. Mary, to the holy patrons
of this Church, and to St. Denis I commend my soul and the Church's
cause." He was then struck down by a second blow, and the third
completed the tragedy; whereupon one of the murderers, putting his
foot on the dead prelate's neck, cried, "Thus dies a traitor!" In 1173
the Archbishop was canonised, and his festival was appointed for the
day of his martyrdom; and for three centuries after his death the
shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury was a favourite place of
pilgrimage, so great was the impression that his martyrdom made on the
minds of the English people. As early as the Easter of 1171 Becket's
sepulchre was the scene of many miracles, if Matthew Paris, the
historian, is to be believed. What must have been the credulity of the
people in an age when an historian could gravely write, as Matthew
Paris did in 1171? "In this year, about Easter, it pleased the Lord
Jesus Christ to irradiate his glorious martyr Thomas Becket with many
miracles, that it might appear to all the world he had obtained a
victory suitable to his merits. None who approached his sepulchre in
faith returned without a cure. For strength was restored to the lame,
hearing to the deaf, sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, health to
the lepers, and life to the dead. Nay, not only men and women, but
even birds and beasts were raised from death to life."


Windsor Castle appears to have been the favourite residence of Henry
II. When, in 1175, he had united with him his son Henry in his crown
and prerogatives, the two kings held an assembly at Windsor, attended
by the judges, deputies of counties and districts, and all the great
officers of state. Henry also kept his ensuing Christmas with the
magnificence and display peculiar to the times, and all the ancient
sports and usages; in which the nobles and gentry of the surrounding
country assisted with much splendour at the hunt and tourney, and
bestowed lavish gifts on the spectators and the people. After the
kingdom was parcelled out into four jurisdictions, another assembly
was held at the castle, in 1179, by the two kings; and, in 1184, Henry
for the last time celebrated his Christmas in the same hall of state:
his son, who had shared the throne with him, being then dead.

For the festivals of this period the tables of princes, prelates, and
great barons were plentifully supplied with many dishes of meat
dressed in various ways. The Normans sent agents into different
countries to collect the most rare dishes for their tables, by which
means, says John of Salisbury, this island, which is naturally
productive of plenty and variety of provisions, was overflowed with
everything that could inflame a luxurious appetite. The same writer
says he was present at an entertainment which lasted from three
o'clock in the afternoon to midnight; at which delicacies were served
up which had been brought from Constantinople, Babylon, Alexandria,
Palestine, Tripoli, Syria, and Phoenicia. The sumptuous
entertainments which the kings of England gave to their nobles and
prelates at the festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide
diffused a taste for profuse and expensive banqueting; for the wealthy
barons, prelates, and gentry, in their own castles and mansions,
imitated the splendour of the royal entertainments. Great men had some
kinds of provisions at their tables which are not now to be found in
Britain. When Henry II. entertained his own court, the great officers
of his army, and all the kings and great men in Ireland, at the feast
of Christmas, 1171, the Irish princes and chieftains were quite
astonished at the profusion and variety of provisions which they
beheld, and were with difficulty prevailed on by Henry to eat the
flesh of cranes, a kind of food to which they had not been accustomed.
Dellegrout, maupigyrum, karumpie, and other dishes were then used, the
composition of which is now unknown, or doubtful. Persons of rank and
wealth had variety of drinks, as well as meats; for, besides wines of
various kinds, they had pigment, morat, mead, hypocras, claret, cider,
perry, and ale. The claret of those times was wine clarified and mixed
with spices, and hypocras was wine mixed with honey.

[Illustration: A COOK OF THE PERIOD.]

The profusion of viands and drinks, obtained at great expense from
different parts of the world for the gratification of the animal
appetites at such festivals as have been described, naturally led to


and from the statements and illustrations in old manuscripts it would
appear that "the merry monks" were prominent in gastronomical circles.
And extant records also state that the abbots of some of the
monasteries found it necessary to make regulations restraining the
monks, and to these regulations the monks objected. Consequently the
monks of St. Swithin at Winchester made a formal complaint to Henry
II. against their abbot for taking away three of the thirteen dishes
they used to have at dinner. The monks of Canterbury were still more
luxurious, for they had at least seventeen dishes every day besides a
dessert; and these dishes were dressed with spices and sauces which
excited the appetite as well as pleased the taste. And of course the
festive season of Christmas was an occasion of special indulgence.
Sometimes serious excesses were followed by severe discipline,
administered after the manner shown in the ancient illustration which
is reproduced here.


But these excesses were by no means confined to the monks. The Norman
barons and gentry adopted many of the manners of the English among
whom they lived, and especially was this the case in regard to the
drinking customs of Christmastide. Instead of commending the Normans
of his time for their sobriety, as he might have done their ancestors,
Peter of Blois, who was chaplain to Henry II., says: "When you behold
our barons and knights going upon a military expedition you see their
baggage horses loaded, not with iron but wine, not with lances but
cheeses, not with swords but bottles, not with spears but spits. You
would imagine they were going to prepare a great feast rather than to
make war. There are even too many who boast of their excessive
drunkenness and gluttony, and labour to acquire fame by swallowing
great quantities of meat and drink." The earliest existing carol known
to antiquaries is in the Anglo-Norman language, and contains
references to the drinking customs of the period:--

 "To English ale, and Gascon wine,
  And French, doth Christmas much incline--
          And Anjou's too;
  He makes his neighbour freely drink,
  So that in sleep his head doth sink
          Often by day.
  May joys flow from God above
  To all those who Christmas love.

  Lords, by Christmas and the host
  Of this mansion hear my toast--
         Drink it well--
  Each must drain his cup of wine,

  And I the first will toss off mine:
          Thus I advise,
  Here then I bid you all _Wassail_,
  Cursed be he who will not say Drinkhail."[17]


Proceeding with our historical narrative we come now to



surnamed Coeur de Lion, the second son of Henry II. and Eleanor of
Aquitaine, who succeeded to the English throne on the death of his
father in 1189. Richard is generally supposed to have derived his
surname from a superiority of animal courage; but, if the metrical
romance bearing his name, and written in the thirteenth century, be
entitled to credit, he earned it nobly and literally, by plucking out
the heart of a lion, to whose fury he had been exposed by the Duke of
Austria for having slain his son with a blow of his fist. In the
numerous descriptions afforded by the romance Richard is a most
imposing personage. He is said to have carried with him to the
Crusades, and to have afterwards presented to Tancred, King of Sicily,
the wonder-working sword of King Arthur--

 "The gude sword Caliburne
   that Arthur luffed so well."

He is also said to have carried a shaft, or lance, 14 feet in length,

              "An axe for the nones,
  To break therewith the Sarasyns bones.
  The head was wrought right wele,
  Therein was twenty pounds of steel."

But, without attempting to follow Richard through all the brilliant
episodes of his romantic career, there can be no doubt that he was a
king of great strength and courage, and that his valorous deeds won
the admiration of poets and chroniclers, who have surrounded him with
a splendid halo of romance. Contemporary writers tell us that while
Richard kept magnificent Christmases abroad with the King of Sicily
and other potentates, his justiciars (especially the extravagant
William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely) were no less lavish in their
expenditure for festive entertainments at home. And the old romance of
"Richard Coeur de Lion" assures us that--

 "Christmas is a time full honest;
  Kyng Richard it honoured with gret feste.
  All his clerks and barouns
  Were set in their pavylouns,
  And seryed with grete plenté
  Of mete and drink and each dainté."

There is no doubt that the Crusades had a vast influence upon our
literary tastes, as well as upon the national manners and the
festivities of Christmastide. On their return from the Holy Land the
pilgrims and Crusaders brought with them new subjects for theatrical
representation, founded on the objects of their devotion and the
incidents in their wars, and these found expression in the early
mysteries and other plays of Christmastide--that of St. George and the
Dragon, which survived to modern times, probably owing its origin to
this period. It is to Richard Coeur de Lion that we are indebted for
the rise of chivalry in England. It was he who developed tilts and
tournaments, and under his auspices these diversions assumed a
military air, the genius of poetry flourished, and the fair sex was
exalted in admiration. How delightful was it then, beneath the
inspiring gaze of the fair--

 "Sternly to strike the quintin down;
  Or fiercely storm some turf-formed town;
  To rush with valour's doughty sway,
  Against a Babylon of clay;
  A Memphis shake with furious shock,
  Or raze some flower-built Antioch!"[18]

On the death of Richard, in 1199, his brother


The youngest and favourite son of Henry II., John, was humoured in
childhood and grew to be an arrogant and petulant man, and was one of
the worst of English kings. He possessed ability, but not discipline.
He could neither govern himself nor his kingdom. He was tyrannical and
passionate, and spent a good deal of time in the gratification of his
animal appetites. He was fond of display and good living, and
extravagant in his Christmas entertainments. When, in 1201, he kept
Christmas at Guildford he taxed his purse and ingenuity in providing
all his servitors with costly apparel, and he was greatly annoyed
because the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a similar fit of sumptuary
extravagance, sought to outdo his sovereign. John, however, cunningly
concealed his displeasure at the time, but punished the prelate by a
costly celebration of the next Easter festival at Canterbury at the
Archbishop's expense. In consequence of John's frequent quarrels with
his nobles the attendance at his Christmas feasts became smaller every
year, until he could only muster a very meagre company around his
festive board, and it was said that he had almost as many enemies as
there were nobles in the kingdom.

In 1205 John spent his Christmas at the ancient town of Brill, in the
Vale of Aylesbury, and in 1213 he kept a Royal Christmas in the great
hall at Westminster.


The Christmas of 1214 is memorable in English history as the festival
at which the barons demanded from King John that document which as the
foundation of our English liberties is known to us by the name of
_Magna Charta_, that is, the Great Charter. John's tyranny and
lawlessness had become intolerable, and the people's hope hung on the
fortunes of the French campaign in which he was then engaged. His
defeat at the battle of Bouvines, fought on July 27, 1214, gave
strength to his opponents; and after his return to England the barons
secretly met at St. Edmundsbury and swore to demand from him, if
needful by force of arms, the restoration of their liberties by
charter under the king's seal. Having agreed to assemble at the Court
for this purpose during the approaching festival of Christmas they
separated. When Christmas Day arrived John was at Worcester, attended
only by a few of his immediate retainers and some foreign mercenaries.
None of his great vassals came, as was customary at Christmas, to
offer their congratulations. His attendants tried in vain to assume an
appearance of cheerfulness and festivity; but John, alarmed at the
absence of the barons, hastily rode to London and there shut himself
up in the house of the Knights Templars. On the Feast of the Epiphany
the barons assembled in great force at London and presenting
themselves in arms before the King formally demanded his confirmation
of the laws of Edward the Confessor and Henry I. At first John assumed
a bold and defiant air and met the barons with an absolute refusal
and threats; but, finding the nobles were firm, he sank to the
meanness of subterfuge, and pleaded the necessity of time for the
consideration of demands so weighty. With some reluctance the barons
granted the delay, and ultimately, in 1215, the tyrant bowed to the
inevitable, called the barons to a conference at Runnymede, and there
signed the Great Charter, whose most important clauses protect the
personal liberty and property of every freeman in the kingdom by
giving security from arbitrary imprisonment and unjust exactions.

    [16] "Short History of the Norman Conquest."

    [17] Wassail and Drinkhail are both derived from the
    Anglo-Saxon. They were the common drinking pledges of the
    age. Wassail is equivalent to the phrase, "Your health,"
    of the present day. Drinkhail, which literally signifies
    "drink health," was the usual acknowledgment of the other
    pledge. The carol from which the verses are quoted was
    evidently sung by the wandering minstrels who visited the
    castles of the Norman nobility at the festive season of

    [18] Grattan.





Soon after the disaster which overtook John's army at the Wash the
King ended his wretched career by death. He died on October 18, 1216,
in the castle of Newark on the Trent, and the old chroniclers describe
him as dying in an extremity of agony and remorse.


sometimes called "Henry of Winchester," came to the throne in
troublous times, before he was ten years of age. The tyranny of his
father had alienated every class of his subjects, and the barons who
had obtained Magna Charta from King John had called in Louis of
France. But through the conciliatory measures of the Regent Pembroke
towards the barons, and the strong support which the Roman Church gave
the boy-king (whose father had meanly done homage to the Pope), the
foreigners were expelled, and the opposition of the barons was
suppressed for a time, though in later years they again struggled with
the crown for supremacy of power. When Henry had grown to manhood and
the responsibility of government rested upon his own shoulders, he
still exulted in the protection of the Holy See, which found in him a
subservient vassal. He fasted during Lent, but feasted right royally
both at Christmas and Easter. In 1234 he kept a grand Christmas in the
Great Hall at Westminster, and other royal Christmases were celebrated
at Windsor Castle and at his palace at Winchester. He made large
additions to Windsor Castle, and some of his mandates giving minute
directions for the decoration of his palace at Winchester are still
preserved. He enjoyed the old plays and ballets of Christmastide
introduced from France at this period.


Henry the Third's most splendid Christmas was in the twentieth year of
his reign, when he welcomed Eleanor, daughter of the Count of
Provence, to whom he was married on January 14, 1236. The youthful
princess left Provence amidst the rejoicings of the whole kingdom.
She was accompanied by Henry's ambassadors and a grand cavalcade, in
which were more than three hundred ladies on horseback. Her route lay
through Navarre and France. On reaching England, at Dover, the
princess and her train proceeded to Canterbury, where Henry awaited
their coming. It was in that ancient city that the royal pair were
married by the Archbishop Edmund and the prelates who accompanied
Eleanor. From Canterbury the newly-wedded king and queen set out for
London, attended by a splendid array of nobles, prelates, knights and
ladies. On the 20th of January, Eleanor was crowned at Westminster
with great splendour. Matthew Paris, the historian, gives an
interesting description of the royal procession, and the loyal welcome
of the citizens of London: "There had assembled together so great a
number of the nobility of both sexes, so great a number of religious
orders, so great a concourse of the populace, and so great a variety
of players, that London could scarcely contain them in her capacious
bosom. Therefore was the city adorned with silk hangings, and with
banners, crowns, palls, tapers, and lamps, and with certain marvellous
ingenuities and devices; all the streets being cleaned from dirt, mud,
sticks and everything offensive. The citizens of London going to meet
the king and queen, ornamented and trapped and wondrously sported
their swift horses; and on the same day they went from the City to
Westminster, that they might discharge the service of butler to the
king in his coronation, which is acknowledged to belong to them of
ancient right. They went in well-marshalled array, adorned in silken
vestments, wrapped in gold-woven mantles, with fancifully-devised
garments, sitting on valuable horses refulgent with new bits and
saddles: and they bore three hundred and sixty gold and silver cups,
the king's trumpeters going before and sounding their trumpets; so
that so wonderful a novelty produced a laudable astonishment in the
spectators." The literary monk of St. Albans also describes the
splendour of the feast, and the order of the service of the different
vassals of the crown, many of whom were called upon at the coronation
to perform certain peculiar services. According to the ancient City
records, "these served in order in that most elegant and unheard-of
feast: the Bishop of Chichester, the Chancellor, with the cup of
precious stones, which was one of the ancient regalia of the king,
clothed in his pontificals, preceded the king, who was clad in royal
attire, and wearing the crown. Hugh de Pateshall walked before with
the patine, clothed in a dalmatica; and the Earls of Chester, Lincoln,
and Warren, bearing the swords, preceded him. But the two renowned
knights, Sir Richard Siward and Sir Nicholas de Molis, carried the two
royal sceptres before the king; and the square purple cloth of silk,
which was supported upon four silver lances, with four little bells of
silver gilt, held over the king wherever he walked, was carried by the
barons of the Cinque Ports; four being assigned to each lance, from
the diversity of ports, that one port should not seem to be preferred
before the other. The same in like manner bore a cloth of silk over
the queen, walking behind the king, which said cloths they claimed to
be theirs by right, and obtained them. And William de Beauchamp of
Bedford, who had the office of almoner from times of old, found the
striped cloth or _burel_, which was laid down under the king's feet as
he went from the hall as far as the pulpit of the Church of
Westminster; and that part of the cloth that was _within_ the Church
always fell to the sexton in whatever church the king was crowned; and
all that was _without_ the church was distributed among the poor, by
the hands of William the almoner." The ancient records contain many
other particulars respecting the ceremonies which graced the marriage
feast of Henry and Eleanor of Provence, but enough has been quoted to
show the magnificence of the celebration.

Year by year, as the Christmas festival came round, it was royally
celebrated wherever the Court happened to be, even though the king had
to pledge his plate and jewels with the citizens of London to
replenish his exchequer. But Henry's Royal Christmases did not allay
the growing disaffection of his subjects on account of his showing too
much favour to foreigners; and some of the barons who attended the
Royal Christmas at Westminster in 1241, left in high dudgeon, because
the place of honour at the banquet was occupied by the papal legate,
then about to leave England, "to the sorrow of no man but the king."
In 1252, Henry gave in marriage his beautiful daughter Margaret, to
Alexander, King of the Scots, and held his Christmas at the same time.
The city of York was the scene of the regal festivities. The marriage
took place on Christmas Day, the bridegroom and many of his nobles
receiving knighthood at the hands of the English king. Henry seems to
have conciliated the English barons for a time, for most of them were
present at the marriage festivities, and he counted a thousand knights
in his train; while Alexander brought sixty splendidly-attired
Scottish knights with him. That the banqueting was on no mean scale is
evident from the fact that six hundred fat oxen were slaughtered for
the occasion, the gift of the Archbishop of York, who also subscribed
four thousand marks (£2,700) towards the expenses. The consumption of
meats and drinks at such feasts was enormous. An extant order of
Henry's, addressed to his keeper of wines, directs him to deliver two
tuns of white and one of red wine, to make garhiofilac and claret 'as
usual,' for the king at Christmas; and upon another occasion the
Sheriffs of Gloucestershire and Sussex were called upon to supply part
of the necessary provisions; the first named being directed to get
twenty salmon, and make pies of them; while the latter was instructed
to send ten peacocks, ten brawns with their heads, and other things.
And all this provision was necessary, for while Henry feasted the
rich, he did not forget the poor. When he kept his Christmas at
Winchester in 1248, he ordered his treasurer to fill Westminster Hall
with poor people, and feast them there for a week. Twenty years
afterwards, he kept his Royal Christmas in London for fifteen days,
opening a fair meantime at Westminster, and forbidding any shop to be
opened in London as long as the festival lasted. This prohibition of
business naturally displeased the citizens of London, but the king
would not withdraw his prohibition until they agreed to make him a
present of two thousand pounds, upon the receipt of which the
prohibition was withdrawn.

We cannot pass over this period without reference to the summoning of


which was a great event of Christmastide.

The Barons' Wars interfered seriously with the Christmas festivities,
but they solved the problem of how to ensure the government of the
realm in accordance with the provisions of the Great Charter. The King
(Henry III.) had sworn again and again to observe the Charter, but his
oath was no sooner taken than it was unscrupulously broken. The
barons, with the patriotic Simon de Montfort at their head, were
determined to uphold the rights of the people, and insisted on the
king's compliance with the provisions of the Charter; and this
struggle with the Crown yielded one of the greatest events of
Christmastide: the summoning of the first national Parliament. By
summoning the representatives of the cities and boroughs to sit beside
the knights of the shires, the barons and the bishops in the
Parliament of the realm, Simon de Montfort created a new force in
English politics. This first national assembly met at Westminster, in
January, 1265, while the king was a prisoner of Earl Simon. The form
of national representation thus inaugurated had an immense influence
on the rising liberties of the people, and has endured to our own
times. It is not surprising, therefore, that the adoption of this
measure by the great Earl of Leicester invested his memory with a
lustre which has not been dimmed by the lapse of centuries. The
paltering of the king called forth the patriotism of the people. "So
may a glory from defect arise." The sevenfold lustre of the rainbow is
only seen when there is rain as well as sun.

 "Only the prism's obstruction shows aright
  The secret of a sunbeam, breaks its light
  Into the jewelled bow from blankest white;
    So may a glory from defect arise."[19]



The famous freebooter, Robin Hood, who, according to tradition,
flourished in Sherwood Forest in the distracted reign of Henry the
Third, is said to have died on Christmas Eve, in the year 1247. The
career of this hero of many popular ballads is not part of our
subject, though Hone[20] records his death as a Christmas event; and
Stowe, writing in 1590, evidently believes in Robin Hood as an
historical personage, for he says, "he suffered no woman to be
oppressed ... poor men's goods he spared, abundantly relieving them
with that which by theft he got from the abbeys, and the houses of
rich old earles."

From the doubtful doings of the romantic chief and his band of
freebooters, we now pass on to the



Edward the First was in the truest sense a national king. He was
English to the core, and he won the love of his people by his bravery,
justice, and good government. He joined freely in the national sports
and pastimes, and kept the Christmas festival with great splendour.
There was much of the chivalric in his character, and he shared to the
full his people's love of hard fighting. He was invested with the
honour of knighthood and went to foreign courts to display his
prowess. Matthew of Westminster states that while Edward was
travelling in France, he heard that a lord of Burgundy was continually
committing outrages on the persons and property of his neighbours. In
the true spirit of chivalry Edward attacked the castle of the
uncourteous baron. His prowess asserted the cause of justice, and he
bestowed the domains which he had won upon a nobler lord. For the sake
of acquiring military fame he exposed himself to great dangers in the
Holy Land, and, during his journey homeward, saved his life by sheer
fighting in a tournament at Challon. At his "Round Table of
Kenilworth" a hundred lords and ladies "clad all in silk" renewed the
faded glories of Arthur's Court, and kept Christmas with great
magnificence. In 1277, Llewellyn, Prince of Wales, bidden from his
mountain fastnesses "with a kiss of peace," sat a guest at the
Christmas feast of Edward, but he was soon to fall the last defender
of his weeping country's independence in unequal battle with the
English King. In 1281-2, Edward kept his feast of Christmas at
Worcester, and there was "such a frost and snow as no man living could
remember the like." Rivers were frozen over, even including the Thames
and Severn; fish in ponds, and birds in woods died for want of food;
and on the breaking up of the ice five of the arches of old London
bridge were carried away by the stream, and the like happened to many
other bridges. In 1286 Edward kept his Christmas at Oxford, but the
honour was accompanied by an unpleasant episode in the hanging of the
Mayor by the King's command. In 1290, 1292, and 1303, Edward the
First kept Royal Christmases in the great hall at Westminster. On
his way to Scotland, in the year 1299, the King witnessed the
Christmas ceremonial of the Boy Bishop. He permitted one of the
boy bishops to say vespers before him in his chapel at Heton, near
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and made a present to the performers of forty
shillings, no inconsiderable sum in those days. During his Scotch
wars, in 1301, Edward, on the approach of winter, took up his quarters
in Linlithgow, where he built a castle and kept his Christmas; and
during his reign he celebrated the festival at other places not
usually so honoured--namely, Bury, Ipswich, Bristol, Berwick,
Carlisle, and Lincoln.


succeeded his father in 1307, being the fourth son of Edward I. and
Eleanor of Castile. He took great delight in the Christmas revels and
expended large sums of money in the entertainment of his court
favourites. In 1311 he kept his Christmas at York, rejoicing in the
presence of Piers Gaveston, whom he had recalled from banishment in
utter disregard of advice given to him by his father (Edward I.) on
his death-bed. Edward II. kept his Christmas in the great hall at
Westminster in 1317, when, however, few nobles were present, "because
of discord betwixt them and the King;" but in 1320 the Royal Christmas
was kept at Westminster "with great honour and glorie." In 1324-5 the
King's Christmas was sumptuously observed at Nottingham, but the
following year found Edward a prisoner at Kenilworth, while his wife,
who had successfully intrigued with Roger Mortimer, leader of the
Barons, observed the Christmas festivities with her son at
Wallingford, glad at the downfall of her husband. Edward was an
irresolute and weak-minded king. He displayed singular incapacity for
government, wasting almost all his time in frivolous amusements. The
chief characteristics of his reign were defeat and disgrace abroad,
and misrule ending in misery at home. Instead of following the example
of his noble father, Edward I., who has been deservedly styled "the
greatest of the Plantagenets," he proved himself the weakest of that
line of kings, spending his time in such trifling diversions as "cross
and pile," a game of chance with coins. He was so utterly devoid of
self-respect that he even borrowed money of his barber to carry on
this frivolous pastime, such items as the following being found in his
wardrobe rolls:--"Item, paid to Henry, the king's barber, for money
which he lent the king to play at cross and pile, five shillings.
Item, paid to Pires Barnard, usher of the king's chamber, money which
he lent the king, and which he lost at cross and pile; to Monsieur
Robert Wattewille eightpence." At length the barons, tired of
Edward's misgovernment, revolted, and made the king a prisoner. During
the Christmas festival of 1326, Edward was imprisoned in Kenilworth
Castle. While there he was informed that in a Parliament held at
Westminster, during Christmas 1326-7, he was deposed, and his son
Edward, then only fourteen years of age, elected in his stead. On the
21st of September in the same year Edward II. ended his miserable
career in Berkeley Castle, being, it is supposed, cruelly murdered by
his keepers.


festivities were a sumptuous enlargement of the Christmas celebration,
which usually extended over Twelfth Night. It is said that the
banqueting cost the equivalent of forty thousand pounds of our money;
and before the young king there appeared quite a multitude of
minstrels, mimics, and gleemen. Professor Henry Morley[21] gives a
specimen of the metrical romances which were translated from the
French for recitation at the royal and noble banquets of this period.
They were "busy with action, and told with a lively freedom;" and, in
the one quoted, "The Fabliau of Sir Cleges," we catch some interesting
references to the celebration of Christmas:--

 "Every year Sir Cleges would
  At Christmás a great feast hold
    In worship of that day,
  As royál in allé thing
  As he haddé been a king
    For sooth as I you say.
  Rich and poor in the country about
  Should be there withouten doubt;
    There would no man say nay.
  Minstrels would not be behind,
  For there they might most mirthés find
    There would they be aye.

 "Minstrels when the feast was done
  Withouten giftés should not gon,
    And that both rich and good:
  Horsé, robes and riché ring,
  Gold, silver, and other thing,
    To mend with their mood.
  Ten yearé such feast be held,
  In the worship of Mary mild
    And for Him that died on the rood.
  By that his good began to slake
  For the great feasts that he did make.
    The knight gentil of blood."


Froissart, in Cap. XIIII. of his "Chronicles,"[22] gives the
following account of the Christmas Celebration at which Edward the
Third was crowned:--

"After that the most part of the company of Heynaulte were departed,
and syr John Heynaulte lorde of Beamonde taryed, the Quene gave leve
to her people to departe, savynge a certayne noble knightis the whiche
she kept styl about her and her s[=o]ne, to counsell them, and
commaunded all them that departed, to be at London the next Christmas,
for as than she was determyned to kepe open court, and all they
promysed her so to do. And whan Christmas was come, she helde a great
court. And thyther came dukes, erles, barons, knightis, and all the
nobles of the realme, with prelates, and burgesses of good townes, and
at this assemble it was advised that the realme coud nat long endure
without a head and a chief lord. Than they put in wrytynge all the
dedis of the kyng who was in prison, and all that he had done by evyll
counsell, and all his usages, and evyll behavyngis, and how evyll he
had governed his realme, the which was redde openly in playn audience,
to thentent that the noble sagis of the realme might take therof good
advyce, and to fall at acorde how the realme shuld be governed from
thensforth; and whan all the cases and dedis that the kyng had done
and c[=o]sented to, and all his behavyng and usages were red, and wel
understand, the barons and knightis and al ye co[=u]sels of the
realme, drew them aparte to co[=u]sell, and the most part of them
accorded, and namely the great lordes and nobles, with the burgesses
of ye good townes, accordyng as they had hard say, and knew themselfe
the most parte of his dedis. Wherfore they c[=o]cluded that such a man
was nat worthy to be a kyng. But they all accorded that Edward his
eldeste son who was ther present, and was ryghtful heyre, shuld be
crowned kyng in stede of his father, so that he would take good
counsell, sage and true about hym, so that the realme from thensforth
myght be better governed than it was before, and that the olde kyng
his father shuld be well and honestly kept as long as he lyved
accordyng to his astate; and thus as it was agreed by all the nobles,
so it was accomplysshed, and than was crowned with a crowne royall at
the palaice of Westminster, beside L[=o]don, the yong kyng Edward the
III. who in his dayes after was right fortunate and happy in armes.
This coronacion was in the yere of our Lorde MCCCXXVI, on Christymas
day, and as than the yong kyng was about the age of XVI., and they
held the fest tyl the c[=o]vercion of saynt Paule followyng: and in
the mean tyme greatly was fested sir John of Heynaulte and all the
princis and nobles of his co[=u]tre, and was gyven to hym, and to his
company, many ryche jewels. And so he and his company in great feast
and solas both with lordis and ladyes taried tyll the XII. day."


The Christmas of 1332 is memorable in Scottish annals as the time of
the defeat of Edward Balliol, the "phantom king" of Scotland. His
success was as unreal as a dream. He was solemnly crowned at Scone in
the month of September, 1332, fondly imagining that he had permanently
conquered the patriotic Scottish nobles who had opposed him. His
reign, however, only lasted for a few months. The leaders of the
national party suddenly assembled a force, and attacked him, while he
was feasting at Annan, in Dumfriesshire, where he had gone to keep his
Christmas. A body of horse under Sir Archibald, the young Earl of
Moray, and Sir Simon Fraser, made a dash into the town to surprise
Balliol, and he escaped only by springing upon a horse without any
saddle, leaving behind him his brother Henry slain. Balliol escaped to
England and was kindly received by Edward III., who afterwards made
fresh expeditions into Scotland to support him. "Whenever the English
king appeared the Scots retired to their mountain fastnesses, while
Edward and his army overran the country with little opposition, burnt
the houses, and laid waste the lands of those whom he styled rebels;
but whenever he returned to England they came forth again, only the
more embittered against the contemptible minion of the English king,
the more determined against the tyranny of England. The regent, Sir
Andrew Murray, pursued, with untiring activity, Balliol and his
adherents. When Edward marched homeward to spend in London the
Christmas of 1336, he left Scotland to all appearance prostrate, and
flattered himself that it was completely subdued. Never was it further
from such a condition. Only one spirit animated the Scottish
nation--that of eternal resistance to the monarch who had inflicted on
it such calamities, and set a slave on its throne."[23]


At this period the greatest of the Bishops of Winchester, William of
Wykeham, was a schoolboy. He was born of humble parents, educated at
Winchester school, and afterwards became secretary to Uvedale, Lord of
Wickham Manor, through whom he was introduced to King Edward III. In
his interesting "Story of the Boyhood of William of Wykeham," the Rev.
W. A. C. Chevalier thus pictures William's Christmas holidays:--

"Three days after William's arrival home was Christmas-eve. There were
great preparations in the cottage for spending Christmas worthily, for
if there was one thing more than another that John Longe believed in,
it was the proper keeping of Christmas. It was a part of the worthy
yeoman's faith. He was a humble and thorough believer in all the
tenets of Christianity, he worshipped the Saviour and adored His
Nativity, but his faith was a cheerful one, and he thought he best
honoured his Master by enjoying the good gifts which He sent. Hence
it was a part of his creed to be jovial at Christmas-tide. And so
Dame Alice had been busy all that day, and a part of the day before,
making Christmas pies, dressing Christmas meats, and otherwise making
ready for the great festival. John Longe, too, had not been idle. He
and his men had been working hard all day getting in huge Yule-logs
for the great kitchen fire, whilst William and little Agnes had been
employed in decorating the kitchen with evergreens and mistletoe,
displaying in great profusion the red berries of the holly bushes.
Everything was decked with evergreens, from the cups and platters on
the shelves to the hams and bacon hanging from the ceiling."

At length the preparations were completed; then came the telling of
tales and cheerful gossip round the blazing fire on Christmas Eve, and
the roasting of chestnuts on the embers. "Christmas Day passed at the
little homestead with all the social and religious honours that the
honest yeoman could think of. The little household attended the
service of Mass in the morning, and then, with clear consciences and
simple hearts, spent the rest of the day in domestic and convivial

Returning to royalty, we next see illustrated Froissart's statement
that "Edward the third was right fortunate and happy in armes."



During the invasion of France, Edward III. raised the martial glory of
England by his splendid victories at Crecy, Poictiers, and other
places; and he kept Christmas right royally with his soldiers on
French soil. After the battle of Crecy, at which the Prince of Wales
gained the celebrated title of the Black Prince, Edward marched upon
Calais, and laid siege to it; and at length he took the place. During
Edward's absence, England was invaded by David II. of Scotland, who
was defeated and taken prisoner by the army under Philippa, Edward's
Queen. The brave Queen then joined King Edward on the French
battle-ground, and they kept the Christmas of 1346 with much

During the Christmas festivities of this period the most noble Order
of the Garter was instituted by King Edward III. to excite emulation
amongst the aristocratic warriors of the time, in imitation of orders
of a similar kind, both religious and military, which had been
instituted by different monarchs of Europe; and that those who were
admitted to the order were enjoined to exalt the religion of Christ
is evident from some lines which Chaucer addressed to the Lords and

 "Do forth, do forth, continue your succour,
  Hold up Christ's banner, let it not fall."

And again--

 "Ye Lordis eke, shining in noble fame,
  To which appropered is the maintenance
  Of Christ 'is cause; in honour of his name,
  Shove on, and put his foes to utterance."

In imitation of King Arthur, Edward III. set up at Windsor a Round
Table, which was consecrated with feasts and tournaments, and baptized
with the blood of the brave. On New Year's Day, 1344, he issued his
royal letters of protection for the safe-coming and return of foreign
knights to the solemn jousts which he appointed to be held at Windsor
on St. Hilary's Day, in extension of the Christmas festivities. The
festival was opened with a splendid supper; and the next day, and
until Lent, all kinds of knightly feats of arms were performed. "The
queen and her ladies," says an old historian, "that they might with
more convenience behold this spectacle, were orderly seated upon a
firm ballustrade, or scaffold, with rails before it, running all round
the lists. And certainly their extraordinary beauties, set so
advantageously forth with excessive riches of apparel, did prove a
sight as full of pleasant encouragement to the combatants, as the
fierce hacklings of men and horses, gallantly armed, were a delightful
terror to the feminine beholders."


In 1348 Edward III. kept a grand Christmas at Guildford. "Orders were
given to manufacture for the Christmas sports eighty tunics of buckram
of different colours, and a large number of masks--some with faces of
women, some with beards, some like angel heads of silver. There were
to be mantles embroidered with heads of dragons, tunics wrought with
heads and wings of peacocks, and embroidered in many other fantastic
ways. The celebration of Christmas lasted from All Hallow's Eve, the
31st of October, till the day after the Purification, the 3rd of
February. At the court a lord of misrule was appointed, who reigned
during the whole of this period, and was called 'the master of merry
disports.' He ruled over and organised all the games and sports, and
during the period of his rule there was nothing but a succession of
masques, disguisings, and dances of all kinds. All the nobles, even
the Mayor of London, had an officer of this kind chosen in their
households. Dancing was a very favourite amusement. It was practised
by the nobility of both sexes. The damsels of London spent their
evenings in dancing before their masters' doors, and the country
lasses danced upon the village green."[24]

[Illustration: THE LORD OF MISRULE.]

A Royal Christmas was kept at Westminster, with great splendour, in
1358, when King Edward had two crowned guests at his feast; but these
were present from no choice of their own: they were the victims to the
fortune of war at Poictiers and Neville's Cross. And in
1362, King David of Scotland and the King of Cyprus met at King
Edward's grand entertainments. The later years of his life were spent
by this great warrior-king in partial retirement from public affairs,
and under the influence of his mistress, Alice Perrers, while John of
Gaunt took a leading part in the government of the state. In 1376
Edward the Black Prince died, and the same year King Edward III. kept
his last Christmas at Westminster, the festival being made memorable
by all the nobles of the realm attending to swear fealty to the son of
the Black Prince, who, by the King's desire, took precedence of his
uncles at the banquet as befitted the heir apparent to the crown. The
King died on the 21st of June, 1377, having reigned for just over half
a century.

The old chronicler, Stowe, refers to a


which he says occurred in 1362: "The King held his Christmas at
Windsore, and the XV. day following a sore and vehement south-west
winde brake forth, so hideous that it overthrew high houses, towers,
steeples, and trees, and so bowed them, that the residue which fell
not, but remained standing, were the weaker."

King Edward the Third's wardrobe accounts witness to the


that were worn at this period. And these accounts also show that Alice
Perrers was associated with the King's daughter and granddaughter in
the Christmas entertainments. There are items in 1376 stating that the
King's daughter Isabella (styled Countess of Bedford), and her
daughter (afterwards wife of Vere, Earl of Oxford), were provided with
rich garments trimmed with ermine, in the fashion of the robes of the
Garter, and with others of shaggy velvet, trimmed with the same fur,
for the Christmas festival; while articles of apparel equally costly
are registered as sent by the King to his chamber at Shene, to be
given to Alice Perrers. And at a festival at Windsor the King caused
twelve ladies (including his daughters and Alice Perrers) to be
clothed in handsome hunting suits, with ornamented bows and arrows, to
shoot at the King's deer; and a very attractive band of foresters they
made. We have also seen that eighty costly tunics were provided for
the Christmas sports and disguisings at Guildford.

We now come to a


recorded by Sir John Froissart, and which he says gave "great joye" to
the hilarious "knightes and squyers" who kept the festival with "the
Erle of Foiz":--

"So it was on a Christmas day the Erle of Foiz helde a great feest,
and a plentifull of knightes and squyers, as it is his usage; and it
was a colde day, and the erle dyned in the hall, and with him great
company of lordes; and after dyner he departed out of the hall, and
went up into a galarye of xxiiii stayres of heyght, in which galarye
ther was a great chymney, wherin they made fyre whan therle was ther;
and at that tyme there was but a small fyre, for the erle loved no
great fyre; howbeit, he hadde woode ynoughe there about, and in Bierne
is wode ynoughe. The same daye it was a great frost and very colde:
and when the erle was in the galarye, and saw the fyre so lytell, he
sayde to the knightes and squiers about hym, Sirs, this is but a small
fyre, and the day so colde: than Ernalton of Spayne went downe the
stayres, and beneth in the courte he sawe a great meny of asses, laden
with woode to serve the house: than he went and toke one of the
grettest asses, with all the woode, and layde hym on his backe, and
went up all the stayres into the galary, and dyde cast downe the asse
with all the woode into the chymney, and the asses fete upward;
wherof the erle of Foiz had great joye, and so hadde all they that
were there, and had marveyle of his strength howe he alone came up all
the stayres with the asse and the woode in his necke."


Passing on to


the son of Edward the Black Prince and Joan of Kent, who came to the
throne (in tutelage) on the death of his grandfather, Edward III.
(1377), we find that costly banquetings, disguisings, pageants, and
plays continued to be the diversions of Christmastide at court. From
the rolls of the royal wardrobe, it appears that at the Christmas
festival in 1391, the sages of the law were made subjects for
disguisements, this entry being made: "Pro XXI _coifs_ de tela linea
pro hominibus de lege contrafactis pro Ludo regis tempore natalis
Domini anno XII." That is, for twenty-one linen coifs for
counterfeiting men of the law in the King's play at Christmas. And
Strutt[25] says that in the same year (1391) the parish clerks of
London put forth a play at Skinners' Wells, near Smithfield, which
continued three days: the king, queen, and many of the nobility, being
present at the performance.

[Illustration: [On one side is the legend, MONETA NOVA ADRIANI
STVLTORV PAPE, the last E being in the field of the piece, on which is
represented the Pope, with his double cross and tiara, with a fool in
full costume approaching his bauble to the pontifical cross, and two
persons behind, who form part of his escort. On the reverse is a
"mother fool," with her bauble, attended by a grotesque person with a
cardinal's hat, with the oft-recurring legend, STVLTORV INFINITVS EST

But the miracle plays and mysteries performed by the Churchmen
differed greatly from the secular plays and interludes which at this
period "were acted by strolling companies of minstrels, jugglers,
tumblers, dancers, bourdours, or jesters, and other performers
properly qualified for the different parts of the entertainment, which
admitted of a variety of exhibitions. These pastimes are of higher
antiquity than the ecclesiastical plays; and they were much relished
not only by the vulgar part of the people, but also by the nobility.
The courts of the kings of England, and the castles of the great earls
and barons, were crowded with the performers of the secular plays,
where they were well received and handsomely rewarded; vast sums of
money were lavishly bestowed upon these secular itinerants, which
induced the monks and other ecclesiastics to turn actors themselves,
in order to obtain a share of the public bounty. But to give the
better colouring to their undertaking, they took the subjects of their
dialogues from the holy writ, and performed them in the churches. The
secular showmen, however, retained their popularity notwithstanding
the exertions of their clerical rivals, who diligently endeavoured to
bring them into disgrace, by bitterly inveighing against the
filthiness and immorality of their exhibitions. On the other hand, the
itinerant players sometimes invaded the province of the churchmen, and
performed their mysteries, or others similar to them, as we find from
a petition presented to Richard II. by the scholars of St. Paul's
School, wherein complaint is made against the secular actors, because
they took upon themselves to act plays composed from the Scripture
history, to the great prejudice of the clergy, who had been at much
expense to prepare such performances for public exhibition at the
festival of Christmas."

[Illustration: A COURT FOOL.]

In his Christmas feasts Richard the Second outdid his predecessors in
prodigal hospitality. He delighted in the neighbourhood of Eltham,
and spent much of his time in feasting with his favourites at the
royal palace there. In 1386 (notwithstanding the still prevalent
distress, which had continued from the time of the peasant revolt)
Richard kept the Christmas festivities at Eltham with great
extravagance, at the same time entertaining Leon, King of Armenia, in
a manner utterly unjustified by the state of the royal exchequer,
which had been replenished by illegal methods. And, on the completion
of his enlargements and embellishments of Westminster Hall, Richard
reopened it with "a most royal Christmas feast" of twenty-eight oxen
and three hundred sheep, and game and fowls without number, feeding
ten thousand guests for many days. Yet but a few years afterwards
(such is the fickleness of fortune and the instability of human
affairs) this same king, who had seen the "Merciless Parliament," who
had robbed Hereford of his estates, who had been robed in cloth of
gold and precious stones, and who had alienated his subjects by his
own extravagance, was himself deposed and sentenced to lifelong
banishment, his doom being pronounced in the very hall which he had
reared to such magnificence for his own glory. Thus ingloriously
Richard disappears from history, for nothing certain is known of the
time, manner, or place of his death, though it is conjectured that he
was speedily murdered. How history repeats itself! Richard's
ignominious end recalls to mind the verse in which an English poet
depicts the end of an Eastern king who was too fond of revelling:--

 "That night they slew him on his father's throne,
  The deed unnoticed and the hand unknown:
  Crownless and sceptreless Belshazzar lay,
  A robe of purple round a form of clay!"



An example of the tournaments which were favourite diversions of kings
and nobles at this period is found in that held at Christmastide in
London in 1389. Richard II., his three uncles, and the greater barons
having heard of a famous tournament at Paris at the entry of Isabel,
Queen of France, resolved to hold one of equal splendour at London, in
which sixty English knights, conducted to the scene of action by sixty
ladies, should challenge all foreign knights. They therefore sent
heralds into all parts of England, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Flanders,
Brabant, Hainault, and France to proclaim the time, place, and other
circumstances of the proposed gathering, and to invite all valorous
knights and squires to honour it with their presence. This, says the
historian, excited a strong desire in the knights and squires of all
these countries to attend to see the manners and equipages of the
English, and others to tourney. The lists were prepared in Smithfield,
and chambers erected around them for the accommodation of the king,
queen, princes, lords, ladies, heralds, and other spectators. As the
time approached many important personages of both sexes, attended by
numerous retinues, arrived in London. On the first day of the
tournament (Sunday) sixty-five horses, richly furnished for the
jousts, issued one by one from the Tower, each conducted by a squire
of honour, and proceeded in a slow pace through the streets of London
to Smithfield, attended by a numerous band of trumpeters and other
minstrels. Immediately after, sixty young ladies, elegantly attired
and riding on palfreys, issued from the same place, and each lady
leading a knight completely armed by a silver chain, they proceeded
slowly to the field. When they arrived there the ladies were lifted
from the palfreys and conducted to the chambers provided for them; the
knights mounted their horses and began the jousts, in which they
exhibited such feats of valour and dexterity as won the admiration of
the spectators. When the approach of night put an end to the jousts
the company repaired to the palace of the Bishop of London, in St.
Paul's Street, where the king and queen then staying, the supper was
prepared. The ladies, knights, and heralds who had been appointed
judges awarded one of the prizes, a crown of gold, to the Earl of St.
Paul as the best performer among the foreign knights, and the other, a
rich girdle adorned with gold and precious stones, to the Earl of
Huntingdon as the best performer of the English. After a sumptuous
supper the ladies and knights spent the remainder of the night in
dancing. The tournaments were continued in a similar manner on Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and on Saturday the Court,
with all the company, removed to Windsor, where the jousts, feasting,
and other diversions were renewed, and lasted several days longer.
Subsequently the king presented the foreign ladies, lords, and knights
with valuable gifts, and they returned to their own countries highly
pleased with the entertainment which they had enjoyed in England.


was born at Bolingbroke, in Lincolnshire, being the eldest son of John
of Gaunt and of his first wife, the heiress of the house of Lancaster,
and a grandson of Edward III. On the death of John of Gaunt in 1399,
Richard II. seized his lands, having in the previous year banished
Henry of Bolingbroke. On Henry hearing what had occurred, knowing his
own popularity and Richard's unpopularity, Henry returned from
banishment, and succeeded in an attack on Richard, whom he made a
prisoner. Then summoning a Parliament, at which Richard was formally
deposed and himself made king, Henry came to the throne with the title
of Henry IV. Soon, however, he found himself menaced by danger. Some
of the lords who had been stripped of the honours and wealth heaped
upon them by Richard entered into a conspiracy to assassinate Henry
the usurper. During the Christmas holidays they met frequently at the
lodgings of the Abbot of Westminster to plan the king's destruction.
After much deliberation they agreed to hold a splendid tournament at
Oxford on the 3rd of January, 1400. Henry was to be invited to
preside, and while intent on the spectacle a number of picked men were
to kill him and his sons. The king was keeping his Christmas at
Windsor, whither the Earl of Huntingdon presented himself and gave him
the invitation. Henry accepted it, but on the 2nd of January, the day
previous to the tournament, the Earl of Rutland, who was privy to the
plot, went secretly to Windsor and informed the king of the
arrangements which had been made for his assassination. The same
evening, after dusk, the king proceeded to London; and the next day
when the conspirators assembled at Oxford they were surprised to find
that neither the king nor their own accomplice, Rutland, had arrived.
Suspecting treachery they resolved to proceed at once to Windsor and
surprise Henry, but arrived only to find that he had escaped. They
afterwards raised the standard of revolt, but their insurrection
proved abortive, and the fate of the leaders was summary and

The favourite palace of Henry the Fourth was at Eltham, where, in the
second year of his reign, he kept a grand Christmas, and entertained
the Emperor of Constantinople. At this festival the men of London made
a "gret mummyng to him of XII. Aldermen and theire sones, for which
they had gret thanke." Similar festivities were observed at several
subsequent festivals; then the king's health gave way, and he passed
the last Christmas of his life in seclusion at Eltham, suffering from
fits of epilepsy, and lying frequently for hours in an unconscious
state. After Candlemas he was so much better as to be able to return
to his palace at Westminster, but he died there on the 20th of March
the same year (1413). The final scene and the parting words of the
king to his son, who became Henry V., have been beautifully depicted
by Shakespeare.


In connection with the Christmas festival in 1414 a conspiracy to
murder the king is alleged against the Lollards, but the charge has
never been satisfactorily proved. "If we are to believe the
chroniclers of the times the Lollards resolved to anticipate their
enemies, to take up arms and to repel force by force. Seeing clearly
that war to the death was determined against them by the Church, and
that the king had yielded at least a tacit consent to this iniquitous
policy, they came to the conclusion to kill not only the bishops, but
the king and all his kin. So atrocious a conspiracy is not readily to
be credited against men who contended for a greater purity of gospel
truth, nor against men of the practical and military knowledge of Lord
Cobham. But over the whole of these transactions there hangs a veil of
impenetrable mystery, and we can only say that the Lollards are
charged with endeavouring to surprise the king and his brother at
Eltham, as they were keeping their Christmas festivities there, and
that this attempt failed through the Court receiving intimation of the
design and suddenly removing to Westminster."[26] Lord Cobham was put
to death by cruel torture in St. Giles's Fields, London, on Christmas
Day, 1418.

In the early part of his reign Henry invaded France and achieved a
series of brilliant successes, including the famous victory at
Agincourt. The hero of this great battle did not allow the holiday
season to interfere with his military operations; but he did
generously suspend proceedings against Rouen upon Christmas Day and
supply his hungry foes with food for that day only, so that they might
keep the feast of Christmas. After his military successes in France
Henry married the Princess Katherine, the youngest daughter of Charles
VI., King of France, and the king and queen spent their first
Christmas of wedded life at Paris, the festival being celebrated by a
series of magnificent entertainments. Henry's subsequent journey to
England was "like the ovation of an ancient conqueror." He and his
queen were received with great festivity at the different towns on
their way, and on the 1st of February they left Calais, and landed at
Dover, where, according to Monstrelet, "Katherine was received as if
she had been an angel of God." All classes united to make the
reception of the hero of Agincourt and his beautiful bride a most
magnificent one. They proceeded first to Eltham, and thence, after due
rest, to London, where Katherine was crowned with great rejoicing on
the 24th of February, 1421. Henry's brilliant career was cut short by
his death on the last day of August, 1422.

 "Small time, but, in that small, most greatly liv'd
    This star of England: fortune made his sword;
  By which the world's best garden he achiev'd,
    And of it left his son imperial lord."[27]

Fabian's account of the stately feast at the coronation of
Henry the Fifth's newly-wedded consort is an interesting
picture of the


Queen Katherine was conveyed to the great hall at Westminster and
there set to dinner. Upon her right hand, at the end of the table, sat
the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Henry, surnamed the rich Cardinal of
Winchester; and upon her left hand the King of Scotland in his royal
robes; near the end sat the Duchess of York and the Countess of
Huntingdon. The Earl of March, holding a sceptre, knelt upon her right
side, and the Earl-Marshal upon her left; his Countess sat at the
Queen's left foot under the table, and the Countess of Kent at her
right foot. Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, was overlooker, and stood
before the Queen bareheaded; Sir Richard Nevill was carver, the Earl
of Suffolk's brother cupbearer, Sir John Steward server, Lord Clifford
panterer, Lord Willoughby butler, Lord Grey de Ruthyn naperer, the
Lord Audley almoner, and the Earl of Worcester, Earl-Marshal, rode
about the hall during dinner on a charger, with a number of constables
to keep order.

The bill of fare consisted of: _First course_--Brawn and mustard,
dedells in burneaux, frument with balien, pike in erbage (pike stuffed
with herbs), lamprey powdered, trout, codling, fried plaice and
marling, crabs, leche lumbard flourished, and tarts. Then came a
subtlety representing a pelican sitting on her nest with her young and
an image of St. Katherine bearing a book and disputing with the
doctors, bearing a reason (motto) in her right hand, saying, in the
French apparently of Stratford-at-the-Bow, "Madame le Royne," and the
pelican as an answer--

 "Ce est la signe
  Et lu Roy
  Pur tenir ioy
  Et a tout sa gent,
  Elle mete sa entent."

_Second course_--Jelly coloured with columbine flowers, white potage,
or cream of almonds, bream of the sea, conger, soles, cheven, barbel
with roach, fresh salmon, halibut, gurnets, broiled roach, fried
smelt, crayfish or lobster, leche damask with the king's word or
proverb flourished "_une sanz plus_." Lamprey fresh baked, flampeyn
flourished with an escutcheon royal, therein three crowns of gold,
planted with flowers de luce, and flowers of camomile wrought of
confections. Then a subtlety representing a panther with an image of
St. Katherine having a wheel in one hand and a roll with a reason in
the other, saying--

 "La royne ma file,
  In ceste ile,
  Par bon reson
  Alues renoun."

_Third course_--Dates in composite, cream mottled, carp, turbot,
tench, perch, fresh sturgeon with whelks, porpoise roasted, memis
fried, crayfish, prawns, eels roasted with lamprey, a leche called the
white leche flourished with hawthorn leaves and red haws, and a march
pane, garnished with figures of angels, having among them an image of
St. Katherine holding this reason--

 "Il est ecrit,
  Pour voir et dit
  Per mariage pur
  C'est guerre ne dure."

And lastly, a subtlety representing a tiger looking into a mirror, and
a man sitting on horseback fully armed, holding in his arms a tiger's
whelp, with this reason, "Par force sanz reson il ay pryse ceste
beste," and with his one hand making a countenance of throwing mirrors
at the great tiger, the which held this reason--

 "Gile de mirror,
  Ma fete distour."

[Illustration: "Marble Panel Florentine 1420,
S. Kensington museum."]


became king in 1422, before he was nine months old, and although the
regency of the two kingdoms to which he was heir had been arranged by
Henry V. before his death, the reign of the third king of the House of
Lancaster saw the undoing of much that had been accomplished in the
reigns of his father and grandfather. It was during the reign of
Henry VI. that Joan of Arc came forward alleging her Divine commission
to rescue France from the English invader. But it is not part of our
subject to describe her heroic career. The troublous times which made
the French heroine a name in history were unfavourable to Christmas
festivities. The Royal Christmases of Henry the Sixth were less costly
than those of his immediate predecessors. But as soon as he was old
enough to do so he observed the festival, as did also his soldiers,
even in time of war. Mills[28] mentions that, "during the memorable
siege of Orleans [1428-9], at the request of the English the
festivities of Christmas suspended the horrors of war, and the
nativity of the Saviour was commemorated to the sound of martial
music. Talbot, Suffolk, and other ornaments of English chivalry made
presents of fruits to the accomplished Dunois, who vied with their
courtesy by presenting to Suffolk some black plush he wished for as a
lining for his dress in the then winter season. The high-spirited
knights of one side challenged the prowest knights of the other, as
their predecessors in chivalry had done. It is observable, however,
that these jousts were not held in honour of the ladies, but the
challenge always declared that if there were in the other host a
knight so generous and loving of his country as to be willing to
combat in her defence, he was invited to present himself."

[Illustration: Henry IV.'s Cradle]

In 1433 Henry kept his Christmas at Bury, and in 1436 at Kenilworth
Castle. Nothing remarkable, however, is recorded respecting these
festivities. But some interesting particulars have been preserved of a


at Middleton Tower, Norfolk, the family seat of Lord Scales, one of
the early owners of Sandringham, which is now a residence of the
Prince of Wales. Mrs. Herbert Jones[29] says:--

"One winter, when he was about forty-six years old, in a quiet
interval soon after Henry the Sixth's marriage to Margaret of Anjou,
Lord Scales and his wife were living at Middleton. In a south-east
direction lay the higher ground where rose the Blackborough Priory of
nuns, founded by a previous Lady Scales; west of them, at three miles'
distance, bristling with the architecture of the Middle Ages in all
its bloom and beauty, before religious disunion had defaced it,
prosperous in its self-government, stood the town of Lynn.

"The mayor and council had organised a play to be acted on Christmas
Day, 1445, before the Lord Scales at Middleton, representing scenes
from the Nativity of our Lord. Large sums were paid by order of the
mayor for the requisite dresses, ornaments, and scenery, some of which
were supplied by the 'Nathan' of Lynn, and others prepared and bought
expressly. 'John Clerk' performed the angel Gabriel, and a lady of the
name of Gilbert the Virgin Mary. Their parts were to be sung. Four
other performers were also paid for their services, and the whole
party, headed by the mayor, set off with their paraphernalia in a
cart, harnessed to four or more horses, for Middleton on Christmas
morning. The breakfast of the carters was paid for at the inn by the
town, but the magnates from Lynn and the actors were entertained at
the castle.[30]

"It was in the courtyard that this quaint representation took place;
the musical dialogues, the songs and hymns, the profusion of
ornaments, personal and otherwise, recorded as pressed on to the
stage, the grotesque angel and virgin, must have furnished a lively
hour under the castle walls on that long-ago Christmas Day."


During the destructive wars of York and Lancaster the festivities of
Christmas were frequently interrupted by hostilities, for some of the
most bloody encounters (as, for example, the terrible battle of
Wakefield) occurred at Christmastide. The wars of the contending
factions continued throughout the reign of Henry VI., whose personal
weakness left the House of Lancaster at the mercy of the Parliament,
in which the voice of the Barons was paramount. That the country was
in a state of shameful misgovernment was shown by the attitude of the
commercial class and the insurrection under John Cade; yet Henry could
find time for amusement. "Under pretence of change of air the court
removed to Coventry that the king might enjoy the sports of the

The Christmases of Henry were not kept with the splendour which
characterised those of his rival and successor, Edward IV. Henry's
habits were religious, and his house expenses parsimonious--sometimes
necessarily so, for he was short of money. From the introduction to
the "Paston Letters" (edited by Mr. James Gairdner) it appears that
the king was in such impecunious circumstances in 1451 that he had to
borrow his expenses for Christmas: "The government was getting
paralysed alike by debt and by indecision. 'As for tidings here,'
writes John Bocking, 'I certify you all that is nought, or will be
nought. The king borroweth his expenses.'" Henry anticipated what Ben
Jonson discovered in a later age, that--

 "Christmas is near;
  And neither good cheer,
  Mirth, fooling, nor wit,
  Nor any least fit
  Of gambol or sport
  Will come at the Court,
  If there be no money."

And so rather than leave Christmas unobserved the poor king "borrowed
his expenses." Subsequently Henry's health failed, and then later
comes the record: "At Christmas [1454], to the great joy of the
nation, the king began to recover from his painful illness. He woke
up, as it were, from a long sleep. So decidedly had he regained his
faculties that on St. John's Day (27th December) he commanded his
almoner to ride to Canterbury with an offering, and his secretary to
present another at the shrine of St. Edward."[32]

The terrible battle of Wakefield at Christmastide, 1460, was one of
the most important victories won by the Lancastrians during the Wars
of the Roses. The king, Henry VI., had secretly encouraged Richard,
Duke of York, that the nation would soon be ready to assent to the
restoration of the legitimate branch of the royal family. Richard was
the son of Anne Mortimer, who was descended from Philippa, the only
daughter of the Duke of Clarence, second son of Edward III.; and
consequently he stood in the order of succession before the king
actually on the throne, who was descended from John of Gaunt, a
younger son of Edward III. The Duke of York at length openly advanced
his title as the true heir to the crown, and urged Parliament to
confer it upon him. As, however, the Lancastrian branch of the royal
family had enjoyed the crown for three generations it was resolved
that Henry VI. should continue to reign during his life and that
Richard should succeed him. This compromise greatly displeased the
queen, Margaret, who was indignant at the injury it inflicted on her
son. She therefore urged the nobles who had hitherto supported her
husband to take up arms on behalf of his son. Accordingly the Earl of
Northumberland, with Lords Dacre, Clifford, and Nevil, assembled an
army at York, and were soon joined by the Duke of Somerset and the
Earl of Devon. "Parliament being prorogued in December, the Duke of
York and the Earl of Salisbury hastened from London with a large armed
force towards York, but coming unexpectedly upon the troops of the
Duke of Somerset at Worksop, their vanguard was destroyed. On the 21st
of December, however, they reached Sandal Castle with six thousand
men, and kept their Christmas there, notwithstanding that the enemy
under the Duke of Somerset and the Earl of Northumberland were close
by at Pontefract" (_William Wyrcester_). On the 30th of December the
opposing forces met at Wakefield, and in the terrible battle which
ensued Richard, Duke of York was slain, his son, Lord Rutland, was
murdered by Lord Clifford while escaping from the battlefield, and the
Earl of Salisbury and others were taken as prisoners to Pontefract,
where they were beheaded.

Edward, son of Richard Duke of York, was afterwards joined by his
cousin, Richard, Earl of Warwick, the famous "kingmaker." They
hastened northwards and met the Lancastrians at Towton, where a
decisive battle was fought, and won by the Yorkists. Edward was then
recognised by Parliament and proclaimed king as Edward IV., and Henry
VI. was attainted of high treason.


called his first Parliament at Westminster, and concluded the session
by the unusual but popular measure of a speech from the throne to the
Commons delivered by himself. It was during this session that the
statute was passed prohibiting the great and rich from giving or
wearing any liveries or signs of companionship, except while serving
under the king; from receiving or maintaining plunderers, robbers,
malefactors, or unlawful hunters; and from allowing dice and cards in
their houses beyond the twelve days of Christmas (Parl. Rolls, 488).

The Christmas festival was kept by Edward IV. with great magnificence,
the king's natural inclinations leading him to adopt whatever was
splendid and costly. "At the Christmas festivities he appeared in a
variety of most costly dresses, of a form never seen before, which he
thought displayed his person to considerable advantage" (_Croyland
Chronicler_). Sir Frederick Madden's narrative of the visit of the
Lord of Granthuse, Governor of Holland, to Edward, in 1472, paints in
glowing colours the luxury of the English Court. On his arrival at
Windsor he was received by Lord Hastings, who conducted him to the
chambers of the King and Queen. These apartments were richly hung with
cloth of gold arras. When he had spoken with the King, who presented
him to the Queen's Grace, the Lord Chamberlain, Hastings, was ordered
to conduct him to his chamber, where supper was ready for him. "After
he had supped the King had him brought immediately to the Queen's own
chamber, where she and her ladies were playing at the marteaux [a
game played with small balls of different colours]; and some of her
ladies were playing at closheys [ninepins] of ivory, and dancing, and
some at divers other games: the which sight was full pleasant to them.
Also the King danced with my Lady Elizabeth, his eldest daughter. In
the morning when Matins was done, the King heard, in his own chapel,
Our Lady-Mass, which was most melodiously chaunted, the Lord Granthuse
being present. When the Mass was done, the King gave the said Lord
Granthuse a cup of gold, garnished with pearl. In the midst of the cup
was a great piece of unicorn's horn, to my estimation seven inches in
compass; and on the cover of the cup a great sapphire." After
breakfast the King came into the Quadrangle. "My Lord Prince, also,
borne by his Chamberlain, called Master Vaughan, which bade the Lord
of Granthuse welcome. Then the King had him and all his company into
the little Park, where he made him have great sport; and there the
King made him ride on his own horse, on a right fair hobby, the which
the King gave him." The King's dinner was "ordained" in the Lodge,
Windsor Park. After dinner they hunted again, and the King showed his
guest his garden and vineyard of pleasure. Then "the Queen did ordain
a great banquet in her own chamber, at which King Edward, her eldest
daughter the Lady Elisabeth, the Duchess of Exeter, the Lady Rivers,
and the Lord of Granthuse, all sat with her at one mess; and, at the
same table, sat the Duke of Buckingham, my Lady, his wife, with divers
other ladies, my Lord Hastings, Chamberlain to the King, my Lord
Berners, Chamberlain to the Queen, the son of Lord Granthuse, and
Master George Barthe, Secretary to the Duke of Burgundy, Louis Stacy,
Usher to the Duke of Burgundy, George Martigny, and also certain
nobles of the King's own court. There was a side table, at which sat a
great view (_show_) of ladies, all on the one side. Also, in the outer
chamber, sat the Queen's gentlewomen, all on one side. And on the
other side of the table, over against them, as many of the Lord
Granthuse's servants, as touching to the abundant welfare, like as it
is according to such a banquet. And when they had supped my Lady
Elizabeth, the King's eldest daughter, danced with the Duke of
Buckingham and divers other ladies also. Then about nine of the clock,
the King and the Queen, with her ladies and gentlewomen, brought the
said Lord of Granthuse to three chambers of plesance, all hanged with
white silk and linen cloth, and all the floors covered with carpets.
There was ordained a bed for himself of as good down as could be
gotten. The sheets of Rennes cloth and also fine fustians; the
counterpane, cloth of gold, furred with ermines. The tester and ceiler
also shining cloth of gold; the curtains of white sarcenet; as for his
head-suit and pillows, they were of the Queen's own ordonnance. In the
second chamber was likewise another state-bed, all white. Also, in the
same chamber, was made a couch with feather beds, and hanged with a
tent, knit like a net, and there was a cupboard. In the third chamber
was ordained a bayne (_bath_) or two, which were covered with tents of
white cloth. And, when the King and the Queen with all her ladies and
gentlemen had showed him these chambers, they turned again to their
own chambers, and left the said Lord Granthuse there, accompanied with
the Lord Chamberlain (Hastings), who undressed him, and they both went
together to the bath.--And when they had been in their baths as long
as was their pleasure, they had green ginger, divers syrups, comfits,
and ipocras, and then they went to bed. And in the morning he took his
cup with the King and Queen, and returned to Westminster again."

In 1465 Edward the Fourth and his Queen kept Christmas in the Abbey at
Coventry, and for six days (says _William Wyrcester_) "the Duke of
Clarence dissembled there."

In 1478 the King celebrated the Christmas festival at Westminster with
great pomp, wearing his crown, feasting his nobles, and making
presents to his household; and in 1482-3 he kept a splendid Christmas
at Eltham, more than two thousand people being fed at his expense
every day. Edward almost entirely rebuilt Eltham Palace, of which the
hall was the noblest part. In that hall he kept the Christmas
festival, "with bountiful hospitality for high and low, and abundance
of mirth and sport."

One of the continental visitors who participated in the royal
festivities of this period was Leo von Rozmital, brother of George,
King of Bohemia. His retinue included Tetzel, who, in describing the
Court of Edward the Fourth, after remarking upon Edward's own handsome
person, says, "The king has the finest set of courtiers that a man may
find in Christendom. He invited my Lord Leo and all his noble
companions, and gave them a very costly feast, and also he gave to
each of them the medal of his order, to every knight a golden one, and
to every one who was not a knight a silver one; and he himself hung
them upon their necks. Another day the king called us to court. In the
morning the queen (Elizabeth Woodville) went from child-bed to church
with a splendid procession of many priests, bearing relics, and many
scholars, all singing, and carrying burning candles. Besides there was
a great company of women and maidens from the country and from London,
who were bidden to attend. There were also a great number of
trumpeters, pipers, and other players, with forty-two of the king's
singing men, who sang very sweetly. Also, there were four and twenty
heralds and pursuivants, and sixty lords and knights. Then came the
queen, led by two dukes, and with a canopy borne over her. Behind her
followed her mother and above sixty ladies and maidens. Having heard
the service sung, and kneeled down in the church, she returned with
the same procession to her palace. Here all who had taken part in the
procession were invited to a feast, and all sat down, the men and the
women, the clergy and the laity, each in his rank, filling four large
rooms. Also, the king invited my lord and all his noble attendants to
the table where he usually dined with his courtiers. And one of the
king's greatest lords must sit at the king's table upon the king's
stool, in the place of the king; and my lord sat at the same table
only two steps below him. Then all the honours which were due to the
king had to be paid to the lord who sat in his place, and also to my
lord; and it is incredible what ceremonies we observed there. While we
were eating, the king was making presents to all the trumpeters,
pipers, players, and heralds; to the last alone he gave four hundred
nobles, and every one, when he received his pay, came to the tables
and told aloud what the king had given him. When my lord had done
eating, he was conducted into a costly ornamented room, where the
queen was to dine, and there he was seated in a corner that he might
see all the expensive provisions. The queen sat down on a golden stool
alone at her table, and her mother and the queen's sister stood far
below her. And when the queen spoke to her mother or to the king's
sister, they kneeled down every time before her, and remained kneeling
until the queen drank water. And all her ladies and maids, and those
who waited upon her, even great lords, had to kneel while she was
eating, which continued three hours(!). After dinner there was
dancing, but the queen remained sitting upon her stool, and her mother
kneeled before her. The king's sister danced with two dukes, and the
beautiful dances and reverences performed before the queen--the like I
have never seen, nor such beautiful maidens. Among them were eight
duchesses, and above thirty countesses and others, all daughters of
great people. After the dance the king's singing men came in and sang.
When the king heard mass sung in his private chapel my lord was
admitted: then the king had his relics shown to us, and many sacred
things in London. Among them we saw a stone from the Mount of Olives,
upon which there is the footprint of Jesus Christ, our Lady's girdle,
and many other relics."


The amusements of the people in the fifteenth century are referred to
by Thomas Wright, Esq., M.A., F.S.A., who says: "In England, in the
third year of the reign of Edward IV. (1463), the importation of
playing-cards, probably from Germany, was forbidden, among other
things, by Act of Parliament; and as that Act is understood to have
been called for by the English manufacturers, who suffered by the
foreign trade, it can hardly be doubted that cards were then
manufactured in England on a rather extensive scale. Cards had then,
indeed, evidently become very popular in England; and only twenty
years afterwards they are spoken of as the common Christmas game, for
Margery Paston wrote as follows to her husband, John Paston, on the
24th of December in 1483:--'Please it you to weet (_know_) that I sent
your eldest son John to my Lady Morley, to have knowledge of what
sports were used in her house in the Christmas next following after
the decease of my lord her husband; and she said that there were none
disguisings, nor harpings, nor luting, nor singing, nor none loud
disports, but playing at the tables, and the chess, and _cards_--such
disports she gave her folks leave to play, and none other.... I sent
your younger son to the lady Stapleton, and she said according to my
lady Morley's saying in that, and as she had seen used in places of
worship (_gentlemen's houses_) there as she had been.' ... After the
middle of the fifteenth century, cards came into very general use; and
at the beginning of the following century, there was such a rage for
card-playing, that an attempt was made early in the reign of Henry
VIII. to restrict their use by law to the period of Christmas. When,
however, people sat down to dinner at noon, and had no other
occupation for the rest of the day, they needed amusement of some sort
to pass the time; and a poet of the fifteenth century observes truly--

 'A man may dryfe forthe the day that long tyme dwellis
  With harpyng and pipyng, and other mery spellis,
          With gle, and wyth game.'"


Another book well known to bibliomaniacs ("Dives and Pauper," ed. W.
de Worde; 1496) says: "For to represente in playnge at Crystmasse
herodes and the thre kynges and other processes of the gospelles both
then and at Ester and other tymes also it is lefull and



succeeded his father, Edward IV., in the dangerous days of 1483. He
was at Ludlow when his father died, being under the guardianship of
his uncle, Earl Rivers, and attended by other members of the Woodville
family. Almost immediately he set out for London, but when he reached
Stony Stratford, on April 29th, he was met by his uncle Richard, Duke
of Gloucester, who had arrested Lord Rivers and Lord Richard Grey. The
young king (a boy of thirteen) renewed his journey under Gloucester's
charge, and on reaching London was lodged in the Tower. His mother, on
hearing of the arrest of Rivers and Grey, had taken sanctuary at
Westminster. Lord Hastings, a supporter of the king, was arrested and
executed because he would not sanction Gloucester's nefarious schemes
for obtaining the throne. About the same time Rivers and Grey were
beheaded at Pontefract, whither they had been taken by Gloucester's
orders. Soon afterwards the Queen was compelled to deliver up the
young Duke of York to Richard, who sent him to join his brother in the
Tower. On June 22nd, at the request of Richard, Dr. Shaw, brother of
the Lord Mayor of London, delivered a sermon at St. Paul's Cross, in
which he insisted on the illegitimacy of Edward V. and his brother. On
June 25th a deputation of nobles and citizens of London offered the
crown to Richard. He accepted it, and began to reign as Richard III.
And, according to a confession afterwards made by Sir James Tyrell,
one of Richard's officers, the two young princes remained in the
Tower, being put to death by their Uncle Richard's orders. Thus,
atrociously, began the reign of the murderous usurper,


The King kept his first Christmas at Kenilworth Castle, having
previously visited the city of Coventry, at the festival of _Corpus
Christi_, to see the plays. The accounts of Kenilworth Castle show
that in 1484 John Beaufitz was paid £20 "for divers reparacions made
in the Castell of Kyllingworth" by order of Richard III. At this time,
says Philip de Comines, "he was reigning in greater splendour and
authority than any king of England for the last hundred years." The
following year Richard kept Christmas in the great hall at
Westminster, celebrating the festival with great pomp and splendour,
encouraging the recreations usual at the season, and so attentively
observing the ancient customs that a warrant is entered for the
payment of "200 marks for certain new year's gifts bought against the
feast of Christmas." The festivities continued without interruption
until the day of the Epiphany, when they terminated with an
entertainment of extraordinary magnificence given by the monarch to
his nobles in Westminster Hall--"the King himself wearing his crown,"
are the words of the Croyland historian, "and holding a splendid feast
in the great hall, similar to that of his coronation." "Little did
Richard imagine that this would be the last feast at which he would
preside--the last time he would display his crown in peace before his
assembled peers."[33] An allusion to this Christmas festival, and to
the King's wicked nature, is contained in a note to Bacon's "Life of
King Henry VII.," which says: "Richard's wife was Anne, the younger
daughter of Warwick the King-maker. She died 16th March, 1485. It was
rumoured that her death was by poison, and that Richard wished to
marry his niece Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV. It is
said that in the festivities of the previous Christmas the Princess
Elizabeth had been dressed in robes of the same fashion and colour as
those of the Queen. Ratcliffe and Catesby, the King's confidants, are
credited with having represented to Richard that this marriage of so
near a kinswoman would be an object of horror to the people, and bring
on him the condemnation of the clergy."

At a Christmas festival at Rhedon, in Brittany, Henry of Richmond met
English exiles to the number of 500, and swore to marry Elizabeth of
York as soon as he should subdue the usurper; and thereupon the exiles
unanimously agreed to support him as their sovereign. On the 1st of
August, 1485, Henry set sail from Harfleur with an army of 3,000 men,
and a few days afterwards landed at Milford Haven. He was received
with manifest delight, and as he advanced through Wales his forces
were increased to upwards of 6,000 men. Before the close of the month
he had encountered the royal army and slain the King at Bosworth
Field, and by this memorable victory had terminated the terrible Wars
of the Roses and introduced into England a new dynasty.

    [19] Browning.

    [20] "Every-day Book," vol. ii. p. 1635.

    [21] "Shorter Poems."

    [22] Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France,
    Spain, Portugal, Scotland, Brittany, Flanders, and the
    adjoining countries; translated from the original French,
    at the command of King Henry the Eighth, by John
    Bourchier, Lord Berners. London edition, 1812.

    [23] Cassell's "History of England."

    [24] Creighton's "Life of Edward the Black Prince."

    [25] "Sports and Pastimes."

    [26] Cassell's "History of England."

    [27] Shakespeare.

    [28] "History of Chivalry."

    [29] "Sandringham Past and Present, 1888."

    [30] King's Lynn Chamberlains' Accounts Rolls, 23rd of
    Henry VI.

    [31] "Chronicles of the White Rose of York."

    [32] "Paston Letters."

    [33] Halstead's "Life of Richard III."





Was the son of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, son of Owen Tudor, a
Welsh gentleman who had married the widow of Henry V. His mother,
Margaret, was a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt by Catherine
Swynford. In early life Henry was under the protection of Henry VI.;
but after the battle of Tewkesbury he was taken by his uncle, Jasper
Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, to Brittany for safety. Edward IV. made
several unsuccessful attempts to get him into his power, and Richard
III. also sent spies into Brittany to ascertain his doings. On
Christmas Day, 1483, the English exiles, who gathered round Henry in
Brittany, took an oath in the Cathedral of Rheims to support him in
ousting Richard and succeeding him to the English throne. Henry, on
his part, agreed to reconcile the contending parties by marrying
Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter and co-heir of Edward IV., and this
promise he faithfully kept. After his defeat of Richard the Third at
Bosworth he assumed the royal title, advanced to London, and had
himself crowned King of England; and at the following Christmas
festival he married Elizabeth of York. The Archbishop who married them
(Archbishop Bourchier) had crowned both Richard III. and Henry VII.,
and Fuller quaintly describes this last official act of marrying King
Henry to Elizabeth of York as the holding of "the posie on which the
White Rose and the Red Rose were tied together." And Bacon says, "the
so-long-expected and so-much-desired marriage between the King and the
Lady Elizabeth was celebrated with greater triumph and demonstrations,
especially on the people's part, of joy and gladness, than the days
either of his entry or coronation."

The Christmas festivities were attended to with increasing zest during
the reign of Henry VII., for the King studied magnificence quite as
much as his predecessors had done. His riding dress was "a doublet of
green or white cloth of gold satin, with a long gown of purple velvet,
furred with ermine, powdered, open at the sides, and purpled with
ermine, with a rich sarpe (scarf) and garter." His horse was richly
caparisoned, and bore a saddle of estate, covered with gold. His
Majesty was attended by seven henchmen, clothed in doublets of crimson
satin, with gowns of white cloth of gold. The Queen appeared with
equal splendour, "wearing a round circle of gold, set with pearls and
precious stones, arrayed in a kirtle of white damask cloth of gold,
furred with miniver pure, garnished, having a train of the same, with
damask cloth of gold, furred with ermine, with a great lace, and two
buttons and tassels of white silk, and gold at the breast above." And
the royal apartments were kept with great splendour. At his ninth
Christmas festival (Dec. 31, 1494) the King established new rules for
the government of the royal household (preserved among the Harleian
MSS.), which he directed should be kept "in most straightest wise."
The Royal Household Book of the period, in the Chapter-house at
Westminster, contains numerous disbursements connected with Christmas
diversions. In the seventh year of this reign is a payment to Wat Alyn
(Walter Alwyn) in full payment for the disguising made at Christmas,
£14 13s. 4d., and payments for similar purposes occur in the following
years. Another book, also in the Chapter-house, called "The Kyng's
boke of paymentis," contains entries of various sums given to players
and others who assisted to amuse the King at Christmas, and among the
rest, to the Lord of Misrule (or Abbot as he is sometimes called), for
several years, "in rewarde for his besynes in Crestenmes holydays, £6
13s. 4d." The plays at this festival seem to have been acted by the
"gentlemen of the King's Chapell," as there are several liberal
payments to certain of them for playing on Twelfth Night; for
instance, an entry on January 7th, 23 Henry VII., of a reward to five
of them of £6 13s. 4d., for acting before the King on the previous
night; but there was a distinct set of players for other times.

Leland, speaking of 1489, says: "This Cristmas I saw no disgysyngs,
and but right few plays. But ther was an Abbot of Misrule, that made
much sport and did right well his office." In the following year,
however, "on neweres day at nyght, there was a goodly disgysyng," and
"many and dyvers pleyes."

That the Christmas festival did not pass unobserved by the men of this
period who navigated the high seas we know from the name of a Cuban
port which was


On Christmas Day, 1492, Christopher Columbus, the celebrated Genoese
navigator, landed at a newly-discovered port in Cuba, which he named
Navidad, because he landed there on Christmas Day.


was the event of Christmas, 1497. It broke out in the palace,
on the evening of December 21st, while the royal family were
there, and for three hours raged fiercely, destroying, with the
fairest portion of the building, the rich furniture, beds, tapestry,
and other decorations of the principal chambers. Fortunately
an alarm was given in time, and the royal and noble personages
of the Court escaped to a place of safety. In consequence of
this fire the King built the fine new palace of Richmond.


were kept by Henry VII. at Westminster Hall with great hospitality,
the King wearing his crown, and feasting numerous guests, loading the
banquet-table with peacocks, swans, herons, conger, sturgeon, brawn,
and all the delicacies of the period. At his ninth Christmas festival
the Mayor and Aldermen of London were feasted with great splendour at
Westminster, the King showing them various sports on the night
following in the great hall, which was richly hung with tapestry:
"which sports being ended _in the morning_, the king, queen, and court
sat down at a table of stone, to 120 dishes, placed by as many knights
and esquires, while the Mayor was served with twenty-four dishes and
abundance of wine. And finally the King and Queen being conveyed with
great lights into the palace, the Mayor, with his company in barges,
returned to London by break of the next day."

From the ancient records of the Royal Household it appears that on the
morning of New Year's Day, the King "sitting in his foot-sheet,"
received according to prescribed ceremony a new year's gift from the
Queen, duly rewarding the various officers and messengers, according
to their rank. The Queen also "sat in her foot-sheet," and received
gifts in the same manner, paying a less reward. And on this day, as
well as on Christmas Day, the King wore his kirtle, his surcoat and
his pane of arms; and he walked, having his hat of estate on his head,
his sword borne before him, with the chamberlain, steward, treasurer,
comptroller, preceding the sword and the ushers; before whom must walk
all the other lords except those who wore robes, who must follow the
King. The highest nobleman in rank, or the King's brother, if present,
to lead the Queen; another of the King's brothers, or else the Prince,
to walk with the King's train-bearer. On Twelfth Day the King was to
go "crowned, in his royal robes, kirtle, and surcoat, his furred hood
about his neck, and his ermines upon his arms, of gold set full of
rich stones with balasses, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and pearls."
This ornament was considered so sacred, that "no temporal man" (none
of the laity) but the King was to presume to touch it; an esquire of
the body was to bring it in a fair handkerchief, and the King was to
put it on with his own hands; he must also have his sceptre in his
right hand, the ball with the cross in his left hand, and must offer
at the altar gold, silver, and incense, which offering the Dean of the
Chapel was to send to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and this was to
entitle the Dean to the next vacant benefice. The King was to change
his mantle when going to meat, and to take off his hood and lay it
about his neck, "clasping it before with a rich _owche_." The King and
the Queen on Twelfth Night were to take the _void_ (evening repast) in
the hall; as for the wassail, the steward and treasurer were to go for
it, bearing their staves; the chapel choir to stand on the side of the
hall, and when the steward entered at the hall door he was to cry
three times, "Wassail! Wassail! Wassail!" and the chapel to answer
with a good song; and when all was done the King and Queen retired to
their chamber.

Among the special features of the banquets of this period were the
devices for the table called subtleties, made of paste, jelly, or
blanc-mange, placed in the middle of the board, with labels describing
them; various shapes of animals were frequent; and on a saint's day,
angels, prophets, and patriarchs were set upon the table in plenty.
Certain dishes were also directed as proper for different degrees of
persons; as "conies parboiled, or else rabbits, for they are better
for a lord"; and "for a great lord take squirrels, for they are better
than conies"; a whole chicken for a lord; and "seven mackerel in a
dish, with a dragge of fine sugar," was also a dish for a lord. But
the most famous dish was "the peacock enkakyll, which is foremost in
the procession to the king's table." Here is the recipe for this royal
dish: Take and flay off the skin with the feathers, tail, and the neck
and head thereon; then take the skin, and all the feathers, and lay it
on the table abroad, and strew thereon ground cinnamon; then take the
peacock and roast him, and baste him with raw yolks of eggs; and when
he is roasted, take him off, and let him cool awhile, and take him and
sew him in his skin, and gild his comb, and so serve him with the last


by a statute passed in the reign of Henry VII. A Scotch writer,[34]
referring to this prohibition, says: "A universal Christmas custom of
the olden time was playing at cards; persons who never touched a card
at any other season of the year felt bound to play a few games at
Christmas. The practice had even the sanction of the law. A
prohibitory statute of Henry VII.'s reign, forbade card-playing save
during the Christmas holidays. Of course, this prohibition extended
only to persons of humble rank; Henry's daughter, the Princess
Margaret, played cards with her suitor, James IV. of Scotland; and
James himself kept up the custom, receiving from his treasurer, at
Melrose, on Christmas Night, 1496, thirty-five unicorns, eleven French
crowns, a ducat, a _ridare_, and a _leu_, in all about equal to £42 of
modern money, to use at the card-table." Now, as the Scottish king was
not married to the English princess until 1503, it is quite clear that
he had learned to play cards long before his courtship with Margaret;
for in 1496, when he received so much card-money from his treasurer,
the English princess was but seven years of age. James had evidently
learned to play at cards with the Scottish barons who frequented his
father's Court, and whose lawlessness led to the revolt which ended in
the defeat and melancholy fate of James III. (1488), and gave the
succession to his son, James IV., at the early age of fifteen years.
The no less tragic end of James IV. at Flodden Field, in 1513, is
strikingly depicted by Sir Walter Scott, who tells:--

 "Of the stern strife, and carnage drear,
    Of Flodden's fatal field,
  Where shiver'd was fair Scotland's spear,
    And broken was her shield."



On the death of Henry VII., who had given England peace and
prosperity, and established firmly his own house on the English
throne, in 1509, his son Henry became king as Henry VIII. He was a
handsome and accomplished young man, and his accession was an occasion
of great rejoicing. Henry kept his first


with great magnificence. Proclaimed king on the 22nd of April at the
age of eighteen, and married on the 3rd of June to Katherine of
Arragon, widow of his deceased brother Arthur, Prince of Wales, the
youthful Monarch and his Queen were afterwards crowned at Westminster
Abbey by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and spent the first Christmas
of their wedded life at Richmond. "And a very pleasant time it ought
to have been to the Queen, for every species of entertainment was
there got up by the handsome young king and his gallant company of
courtiers, for her particular gratification. There was a grand
tournament on the green, before the palace, which was rendered
brilliant with pavilions, and the other gay structures always erected
for these chivalrous ceremonies. The King and Queen took their places
in the customary elevated position, surrounded by the nobles and
beauties of the Court, to witness the feats of arms of the many
gallant knights who had thronged to display their prowess before their
sovereign; these, with their esquires, the heralds, pages, and other
attendants, mounted and on foot, clad in their gay apparel, the
knights wearing handsome suits of armour, and careering on gaily
caparisoned horses, made a very inspiriting scene, in which the
interest deepened when the usual combats between individuals or select
companies commenced."[35]

 "For every knight that loved chivalry,
  And would his thanks have a passant name,
  Hath prayed that he might be of that game,
  And well was him that thereto chosen was."[36]

The spectacle presented was one of great splendour; for "the
commencement of the reign of Henry VIII., who was then styled by his
loving subjects 'the rose without a thorn,' witnessed a remarkable
revival of magnificence in personal decoration. So brilliant were the
dresses of both sexes at the grand entertainment over which the King
and Queen presided at Richmond, that it is difficult to convey an
adequate idea of their splendour. But in the first half of the
sixteenth century the principal Courts of Europe were distinguished by
a similar love of display, which, though it fostered habits of luxury,
afforded an extraordinary impulse towards art."[37] In England the
love of finery became so general among the people that several
statutes were passed during Henry's reign to restrain it. But while
the King was quite willing that his subjects should observe due
propriety in regard to their own dress and adornments, not exceeding
the regulations laid down for their particular rank or station in
life, he was lavish in his own expenditure, and it pleased the people
to see Henry dressed in kingly fashion. He greatly increased his own
popularity by taking part in the tournaments, in which "he did
exceedingly well"; and he also assisted in the several curious and
picturesque masques of Christmastide.

On one occasion the King with some of the chief nobles of his Court
appeared apparelled as Robin Hood and his foresters, in which disguise
he entered unexpectedly into the Queen's chamber, "whereat," says
Holinshed, "the Queen and her ladies were greatly amazed, as well for
the strange sight as for the sudden appearance."

The splendour of the Court festivities necessitated


notwithstanding that the King's domestic affairs were managed by "a
good number of honourable, virtuous, wise, expert, and discreet
persons of his Council." The preserved bills of fare show that the
Court diet was liberal generally, but especially sumptuous at the
grand entertainments of Christmas. And the Royal Household Accounts
also show increased expenditure for the diversions, as well as for the
banquetings, of the festival. For instance, the payments to the Lord
of Misrule, which in Henry the Seventh's time never exceeded £6 13s.
4d., were raised by Henry the Eighth in his first year to £8 6s. 8d.,
and subsequently to £15 6s. 8d. In the first year is a payment to "Rob
Amadas upon his bill for certain plate of gold stuf bought of him for
the disguisings," £451 12s. 2d.; and another to "Willm. Buttry upon
his bill for certen sylks bought of him for the disguisings," £133 7s.
5d. In the sixth year are charges "To Leonard Friscobald for diverse
velvets, and other sylks, for the disguising," £247 12s. 7d.; and "To
Richard Gybson for certen apparell, &c., for the disguysing at the
fest of Cristemes last," £137 14s. ½d. Considerable payments are
made to the same Gybson in after years for the same purpose,
particularly in the eleventh, for revels, called a Maskelyn. In the
tenth year large rewards were given to the gentlemen and children of
the King's Chapel; the former having £13 6s. 8d. "for their good
attendance in Xtemas"; and "Mr. Cornisse for playing affore the King
opon newyeres day at nyght with the children," £6 13s. 4d.

Hall, in his Chronicle, Henry VIII. folio 15b, 16a, gives the
following account of a


where the King was keeping his Christmas in 1512: "On the daie of the
Epiphanie, at night, the King with XI others, wer disguised after the
maner of Italie, called a maske, a thing not seen afore in England;
thei were appareled in garments long and brode, wrought all with gold,
with visers and cappes of gold; and after the banket doen, these
maskers came in with six gentlemen disguised in silke, bearing staffe
torches, and desired the ladies to daunce: some were content, and some
that new the fashion of it refused, because it was a thing not
commonly seen. And after thei daunced and communed together, as the
fashion of the maske is, thei tooke their leave and departed, and so
did the quene and all the ladies."

In 1521 the King kept his Christmas at Greenwich "with great nobleness
and open court," and again in 1525. In 1527, he received the French
Embassy here, and also kept his Christmas "with revels, masks,
disguisings, and banquets royal;" as he did again in 1533, in 1537,
and in 1543; the last-mentioned year "he entertained twenty-one of the
Scottish nobility whom he had taken prisoners at Salom Moss, and gave
them their liberty without ransom."[38]

On all these occasions Henry diverted his guests right royally,
spending vast sums on the masques and disguisings; but none of the
Christmas diversions proved greater attractions than


To these splendid exercises Henry gave unremitting attention, and not
to display proficiency in them was almost to lose his favour; yet some
discretion was required to rival, but not to excel the King, whose
ardent temper could not brook superiority in another. But, although
victory was always reserved for royalty, it is but fair to allow that
the King was no mean adept in those pursuits for which his bodily
powers and frequent exercise had qualified him.

Among the most distinguished Knights of Henry's Court Charles Brandon
was pre-eminent, not only for his personal beauty and the elegance
that attended every movement which the various evolutions of the game
required, but for his courage, judgment, and skill, qualities which he
displayed to great advantage at the royal festivities. This celebrated
man was the son of Sir William Brandon, who, bearing the standard of
Henry the Seventh, was slain by Richard the Third at Bosworth Field.
Three sons of the Howard family were also distinguished at the royal
tournaments. Lord Thomas Howard was one of the most promising
warriors, and, unfortunately, one of the most dissolute men at the
Court of Henry. Sir Edward and Sir Edmund Howard, the one famed for
naval exploits, the other less remarkable, but not without celebrity
for courage. Sir Thomas Knevet, Master of the Horse, and Lord Neville,
brother to the Marquis of Dorset, were also prominent in the lists of
combat. The trumpets blew to the field the fresh, young gallants and
noblemen, gorgeously apparelled with curious devices of arts and of
embroideries, "as well in their coats as in trappers for their horses;
some in gold, some in silver, some in tinsel, and divers others in
goldsmith's work goodly to behold." Such was the array in which the
young knights came forth at Richmond, in the splendid tournament which
immediately succeeded Henry's coronation, "assuming the name and
devices of the knights or scholars of Pallas, clothed in garments of
green velvet, carrying a crystal shield, on which was pourtrayed the
goddess Minerva, and had the bases and barbs of their horses
embroidered with roses and pomegranates of gold; those of Diana were
decorated with the bramble-bush, displayed in a similar manner. The
prize of valour was the crystal shield. Between the lists the
spectators were amused with a pageant, representing a park enclosed
with pales, containing fallow deer, and attended by foresters and
huntsmen. The park being moved towards the place where the queen sat,
the gates were opened, the deer were let out, pursued by greyhounds,
killed and presented by Diana's champions to the Queen and the ladies.
Thus were they included in the amusement, not only as observers, but
as participators; nor were the populace without their share of
enjoyments; streams of Rhenish wine and of claret, which flowed from
the mouths of animals sculptured in stone and wood, were appropriated
to their refreshment. Night closed on the joyous scene; but before its
approach the King, perceiving that the ardour of the combatants had
become intemperate and dangerous, wisely limited the number of
strokes, and closed the tourney.

"It was about this period that the tournament ceased to be merely a
chivalric combat; and, united with the pageant, acquired more of the
dramatic character. The pageant consisted of a temporary building,
moved on biers, generally representing castles, rocks, mountains,
palaces, gardens, or forests. The decoration of these ambulating
scenes was attended with considerable expense, but was seldom
conducted with taste or consistency. They generally contained figures,
personating a curious medley of nymphs, savages, heathen gods, and
Christian saints, giants and the nine worthies, who descended and
danced among the spectators.

"On the night of the Epiphany (1516) a pageant was introduced into the
hall at Richmond, representing a hill studded with gold and precious
stones, and having on its summit a tree of gold, from which hung roses
and pomegranates. From the declivity of the hill descended a lady
richly attired, who, with the gentlemen, or, as they were then called,
children of honour, danced a morris before the King.

"On another occasion, in the presence of the Court, an artificial
forest was drawn in by a lion and an antelope, the hides of which were
richly embroidered with golden ornaments; the animals were harnessed
with chains of gold, and on each sat a fair damsel in gay apparel. In
the midst of the forest, which was thus introduced, appeared a gilded
tower, at the gates of which stood a youth, holding in his hands a
garland of roses, as the prize of valour in a tournament which
succeeded the pageant."[39]


The royal magnificence was imitated by the nobility and gentry of the
period, who kept the Christmas festival with much display and
prodigality, maintaining such numerous retinues as to constitute a
miniature court. The various household books that still exist show the
state in which they lived. From that of the Northumberland family
(1512), it appears that the "Almonar" was often "a maker of
Interludys," and had "a servaunt to the intent for writynge the
parts." The persons on the establishment of the Chapel performed plays
from some sacred subject during Christmas; as "My lorde usith and
accustomyth to gyf yerely, if his lordship kepe a chapell and be at
home, them of his lordschipes chapell, if they doo play the Play of
the Nativitie uppon Cristynmes day in the mornnynge in my lords
chapell befor his lordship, xxs." Other players were also permitted
and encouraged, and a Master of the Revells appointed to superintend.
And "My lorde useth and accustomyth yerly to gyf hym which is ordynede
to be Master of the Revells yerly in my lordis hous in Cristmas for
the overseyinge and orderinge of his lordschips Playes, Interludes,
and Dresinge that is plaid befor his lordship in his hous in the XII
dayes of Christenmas, and they to have in rewarde for that caus yerly,
xxs." Another entry shows that 13s. 4d. was the price paid to the
chaplain, William Peres, in the 17th Henry VIII., "for makyng an
Enterlued to be playd this next Christenmas."

In this reign the working classes were allowed greater privileges at
Christmas than at any other part of the year. The Act of 11 Henry VII.
c. 2, against unlawful games, expressly forbids Artificers, Labourers,
Servants, or Apprentices, to play at any such games, except at
Christmas, and then only in their masters' houses by the permission of
the latter; and a penalty of 6s. 8d. was incurred by any householder
allowing such games, except during those holidays; which, according to
Stow, extended from All-hallows evening to the day after Candlemas
Day. The Act of 33 Henry VIII. c. 9, enacts more particularly, "That
no manner of Artificer or Craftsman of any handicraft or occupation,
Husbandman, Apprentice, Labourer, Servant at husbandry, Journeyman, or
Servant of Artificer, Mariners, Fishermen, Watermen, or any
Serving-man, shall from the said feast of the Nativity of _St. John
Baptist_, play at the Tables, Tennis, Dice, Cards, Bowls, Clash,
Coyting, Logating, or any other unlawful Game, out of _Christmas_,
under the pain of xxs. to be forfeit for every time; and in
_Christmas_ to play at any of the said Games in their Masters' houses,
or in their Masters' presence."

In his description of the "mummings and masquerades" of this period,
Strutt[40] says that the "mummeries" practised by the lower classes
of the people usually took place at the Christmas holidays; and such
persons as could not procure masks rubbed their faces over with soot,
or painted them; hence Sebastian Brant, in his "Ship of Fools"
(translated by Alexander Barclay, and printed by Pynson, in 1508)
alluding to this custom, says:

 "The one hath a visor ugley set on his face,
    Another hath on a vile counterfaite vesture,
  Or painteth his visage with fume in such case,
    That what he is, himself is scantily sure."

Sandys,[41] in reference to this period, says: "The lower classes,
still practising the ceremonies and superstitions of their
forefathers, added to them some imitations of the revelries of their
superiors, but, as may be supposed, of a grosser description; and many
abuses were committed. It was, therefore, found necessary by an Act
passed in the 3rd year of Henry VIII. to order that no person should
appear abroad like mummers, covering their faces with vizors, and in
disguised apparel, under pain of three months' imprisonment; and a
penalty of 20s. was declared against such as kept vizors in their
house for the purpose of mumming. It was not intended, however, to
debar people from proper recreations during this season, but, on the
contrary, we have reason to believe that many indulgencies were
afforded them, and that landlords and masters assisted them with the
means of enjoying the customary festivities; listening to their tales
of legendary lore, round the yule block, when weary of more boisterous
sports, and encouraging them by their presence."


In the 17th year of his reign, in consequence of the prevalence of the
plague in London, the King kept his Christmas quietly in the old
palace at Eltham, whence it was called the "still Christmas." This
suppression of the mirth and jollity which were the usual concomitants
of the festive season did not satisfy the haughty Cardinal Wolsey, who
"laye at the Manor of Richemond, and there kept open householde, to
lordes, ladies, and all other that would come, with plaies and
disguisyng in most royall maner; whiche sore greved the people, and in
especiall the Kynges servauntes, to se hym kepe an open Court and the
Kyng a secret Court."[42]


subsequently kept, however, made amends for the cessation of
festivities at the Kyng's "Still Christmas," especially the royal
celebrations at Greenwich. In 1527 the "solemne Christmas" held there
was "with revels, maskes, disguisings, and banquets; and on the
thirtieth of December and the third of January were solemne Justs
holden, when at night the King and fifteen other with him, came to
Bridewell, and there putting on masking apparell, took his barge, and
rowed to the Cardinall's (Woolsey) place, where were at supper many
Lords and Ladyes, who danced with the maskers, and after the dancing
was made a great Banquet."[43]

During the girlhood of the Princess (afterwards Queen) Mary,
entertainments were given for her amusement, especially at
Christmastide; and she gave presents to the King's players, the
children of the Chapel, and others. But, Sandys says, that "as she
grew up, and her temper got soured, she probably lost all enjoyment of
such scenes." Ellis, in his "Original Letters," gives a curious
application from the Council for the household of the Lady Mary to the
Cardinal Wolsey, to obtain his directions and leave to celebrate the
ensuing Christmas. In this letter the reader is reminded of the long
train of sports and merriment which made Christmas cheerful to our
ancestors. The Cardinal, at the same time that he established a
household for the young Duke of Richmond, had also "ordained a
council, and stablished another household for the Lady Mary, then
being _Princess of the Realm_."[44] The letter which seems to have
been written in the same year in which the household was established,
1525, is as follows:--

"Please it youre Grace for the great repaire of straungers supposed
unto the Pryncesse honorable householde this solempne fest of
Cristmas, We humbly beseche the same to let us knowe youre gracious
pleasure concernyng as well a ship of silver for the almes disshe
requysite for her high estate, and spice plats, as also for trumpetts
and a rebek to be sent, and whither we shall appoynte any Lord of
Mysrule for the said honorable householde, provide for enterluds,
disgysyngs, or pleyes in the said fest, or for banket on twelf nyght.
And in likewise whither the Pryncesse shall sende any newe yeres gifts
to the Kinge, the Quene, your Grace, and the Frensshe Quene, and of
the value and devise of the same. Besechyng yowre Grace also to pardon
oure busy and importunate suts to the same in suche behalf made. Thus
oure right syngler goode lorde we pray the holy Trynyte have you in
his holy preservacion. At Teoxbury, the xxvij day of November.

                             Youre humble orators,
                                   John Exon
"To the most reverent Father       Jeilez Grevile
in God the Lord Cardinall          Peter Burnell
his good Grace."                   John Salter
                                   G. Bromley
                                   Thomas Audeley."


The great Reformer, Martin Luther, took much interest in the
festivities of Christmastide, including, of course, the
Christmas-tree. One of his biographers[45] tells how young Luther,
with other boys of Mansfeld, a village to the north-west of Eisleben,
sang Christmas carols "in honour of the Babe of Bethlehem." And the
same writer says, "Luther may be justly regarded as the central
representative of the Reformation in its early period, for this among
other reasons--that he, more powerfully than any other, impressed upon
the new doctrine the character of glad tidings of great joy." On
Christmas Day, 1521, Martin Luther "administered the communion in both
kinds, and almost without discrimination of applicants," in the parish
church of Eisenach, his "beloved town."


In England, the desire for some reform in the Church was recognised
even by Cardinal Wolsey, who obtained from the Pope permission to
suppress thirty monasteries, and use their revenues for educational
purposes; and Wolsey's schemes of reform might have progressed further
if Henry VIII. had not been fascinated by Anne Boleyn. But the King's
amour with the "little lively brunette" precipitated a crisis in the
relations between Church and State.


Henry, who, by virtue of a papal dispensation, had married his
brother's widow, Katherine, now needed papal consent to a divorce,
that he might marry Anne Boleyn, and when he found that he could not
obtain it, he resolved to be his own Pope, "sole protector and supreme
head of the Church and clergy of England." And among the events of
Christmastide may be mentioned the resolution of the King's minister,
Thomas Cromwell, and his party, in 1533, to break the ecclesiastical
connection with Rome, and establish an independent Church in England.
The necessary Bills were framed and introduced to Parliament soon
after the Christmas holidays by Cromwell, who for his successful
services was made Chancellor of the Exchequer for life. Authority in
all matters ecclesiastical, as well as civil, was vested solely in the
Crown, and the "courts spiritual" became as thoroughly the King's
courts as the temporal courts at Westminster. The enslavement of the
clergy, the dissolution of the monasteries, and the gagging of the
pulpits followed, the years of Cromwell's administration being an
English reign of terror. But the ruthless manner in which he struck
down his victims sickened the English people, and they exhibited their
disapprobation in a manner which arrested the attention of the King.
The time of Cromwell himself was coming, for the block was the goal to
which Henry's favourite minister was surely hastening; and it is only
anticipating events by very few years, to say that he was beheaded on
Tower Hill, July 28, 1540.


That following the execution of Anne Boleyn (1536), Henry spent in the
company of his third Queen, Jane Seymour, at Richmond Palace, with a
merry party, and subsequently crossed the frozen Thames to Greenwich.
During the following summer the Queen went with her husband on a
progress, and in the autumn retired to Hampton Court, where she gave
birth to a son (who became Edward VI.), and died twelve days
afterwards, on the 14th of October, 1537.

During the married life of Queen Jane, the Princess Mary was often
with the Court at Richmond, affecting affectionate attachment for the
Queen, apparently to conciliate her father. The birth of a prince,
followed by the death of the queen, it might have been thought would
have a chastening effect upon Mary, as somewhat altering her
prospects; but after acting as chief mourner to her friendly
stepmother, she spent a pleasant Christmas at Richmond, where she
remained till February. Her losses at cards during the Christmas
festivities were very considerable, for she was fond of gambling. And
she appears to have also amused herself a good deal with her
attendant, "Jane the Fool," to whose maintenance she contributed while
staying at Richmond. One curious entry in the Household Book of the
Princess Mary is: "Item, for shaving Jane fooles hedde, iiiid."
Another is: "Item, geven Heywood, playeng an enterlude with his
children before my Ladye's grace xls."

The great event of Christmas, 1539, was


at Deal, on the 27th of December. King Henry had become alarmed at the
combination between France and Spain, and his unprincipled Chancellor,
Cromwell, desirous of regaining his lost influence with the King,
recommended a Protestant marriage. He told Henry that Anne, daughter
of John III., Duke of Cleves, was greatly extolled for her beauty and
good sense, and that by marrying her he would acquire the friendship
of the Princes of Germany, in counterpoise to the designs of France
and Spain. Henry despatched Hans Holbein to take the lady's portrait,
and, being delighted with the picture produced, soon concluded a
treaty of marriage, and sent the Lord Admiral Fitzwilliam, Earl of
Southampton, to receive the Princess at Calais, and conduct her to
England. On her arrival Henry was greatly disappointed. He did not
think the Princess as charming as her portrait; and, unfortunately for
her, she was unable to woo him with winning words, for she could speak
no language but German, and of that Henry did not understand a word.
Though not ugly (as many contemporaries testify), she was plain in
person and manners, and she and her maidens, of whom she brought a
great train, are said to have been as homely and awkward a bevy as
ever came to England in the cause of Royal matrimony. The Royal
Bluebeard, who had consorted with such celebrated beauties as Anne
Boleyn and Jane Seymour, recollecting what his queens had been, and
what Holbein and Cromwell had told him should again be, entered the
presence of Anne of Cleves with great anticipation, but was
thunderstruck at the first sight of the reality. Lord John Russell,
who was present, declared "that he had never seen his highness so
marvellously astonished and abashed as on that occasion." The marriage
was celebrated on the 6th of January, 1540, but Henry never became
reconciled to his German queen; and he very soon vented his anger upon
Cromwell for being the means of bringing him, not a wife, but "a great
Flanders mare."


The fine old tower of Magdalen College, embowered in verdure (as
though decorated for Christmas), is one of the most picturesque of the
venerable academical institutions of Oxford. It stands on the east
side of the Cherwell, and is the first object of interest to catch the
eye of the traveller who enters the city from the London Road. This
college was the scene of many Christmas festivities in the olden time,
when it was the custom of the several colleges to elect a "Christmas
Lord, or Lord of Misrule, styled in the registers _Rex Fabarum_ and
_Rex Regni Fabarum_; which custom continued till the Reformation of
Religion, and then that producing Puritanism, and Puritanism
Presbytery, the profession of it looked upon such laudable and
ingenious customs as Popish, diabolical and anti-Christian."[46]
Queen's College, Oxford (whose members have from time immemorial been
daily summoned to dine in hall by sound of trumpet, instead of by
bell as elsewhere), is noted for its ancient Christmas ceremony of
ushering in the boar's head with the singing of the famous carol--

     "_Caput afri differo
      Reddens laudes Domino._
  The boar's head in hand bring I,
  With garlands gay and rosemary,
  I pray you all sing merrily
      _Qui estis in convivio_."

Tradition says that this old custom commemorates the deliverance of a
student of the college, who, while walking in the country, studying
Aristotle, was attacked by a wild boar from Shotover Forest, whereupon
he crammed the philosopher down the throat of the savage, and thus
escaped from its tusks.


Warton[47] mentions that, "in an original draught of the Statutes of
Trinity College, at Cambridge, founded in 1546, one of the chapters is
entitled _De Præfecto Ludorum qui Imperator dicitur_, under whose
direction and authority Latin Comedies and Tragedies are to be
exhibited in the hall at Christmas. With regard to the peculiar
business and office of Imperator it is ordered that one of the Masters
of Arts shall be placed over the juniors, every Christmas, for the
regulation of their games and diversions at that season of festivity.
At the same time, he is to govern the whole society in the hall and
chapel, as a republic committed to his special charge by a set of laws
which he is to frame in Latin and Greek verse. His sovereignty is to
last during the twelve days of Christmas, and he is to exercise the
same power on Candlemas." His fee amounted to forty shillings. Similar
customs were observed at other colleges during Christmastide. In a
subsequent chapter of this work will be found an account of a grand
exhibition of the Christmas Prince, at St. John's College, Oxford, in
the year 1607.



In the time of Henry the Eighth the Christmases at the Inns of Court
became celebrated, especially those at Lincoln's Inn, which had kept
them as early as the reign of Henry VI. The Temples and Gray's Inn
afterwards disputed the palm with it. Every Corporation appointed a
Lord of Misrule or Master of Merry Disports, and, according to Stow,
there was the like "in the house of every nobleman of honour or good
worship, were he spiritual or temporal." And during the period of the
sway of the Lord of Misrule, "there were fine and subtle disguisings,
masks, and mummeries, with playing at cards for counters, nails, and
points in every house, more for pastime than for gain." Town and
country would seem to have vied with each other as to which should
exhibit the greatest extravagance in the Christmas entertainments, but
(as in the days of Massinger the poet), the town carried off the

            "Men may talk of country Christmasses--
  Their thirty-pound buttered eggs, their pies of carps' tongues,
  Their pheasants drenched with ambergris, the carcases
  Of three fat wethers bruised for gravy; to
  Make sauce for a single peacock; yet their feasts
  Were fasts, compared with the city's."

The earliest particular account of the regulations for conducting one
of these grand Christmases is in the 9th of Henry VIII.,[48] when,
besides the King for Christmas Day, the Marshal and the Master of the
Revels, it is ordered that the King of Cockneys, on Childermas Day,
should sit and have due service, and "that Jack Straw, and all his
adherents, should be thenceforth utterly banished, 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."
"Jack Straw" was a kind of masque, which was very much disliked by the
aristocratic and elder part of the community, hence the amount of the
fine imposed. The Society of Gray's Inn, however, in 1527, got into a
worse scrape than permitting Jack Straw and his adherents, for they
acted a play (the first on record at the Inns of Court) during this
Christmas, the effect whereof was, that Lord Governance was ruled by
Dissipation and Negligence, by whose evil order Lady Public Weal was
put from Governance. Cardinal Wolsey, conscience-smitten, thought this
to be a reflection on himself, and deprived the author, Sergeant Roe,
of his coif, and committed him to the Fleet, together with Thomas
Moyle, one of the actors, until it was satisfactorily explained to

It was found necessary from time to time to make regulations to limit
the extent of these revels and plays, and to provide for the expenses,
which were considerable, and they were therefore not performed every
year. In 1531 the Lincoln's Inn Society agreed that if the two Temples
kept Christmas, they would also do so, not liking to be outdone. And
later an order was made in Gray's Inn that no Comedies, commonly
called Interludes, should be acted in the refectory in the intervals
of vacation, except at the celebration of Christmas; and that then the
whole body of students should jointly contribute towards the dresses,
scenes, and decorations.

As an example of the Christmas hospitality of the period, we refer to
the establishment of John Carminow, whose family was of high repute in
the county of Cornwall in the time of Henry the Eighth. Hals says that
"he kept open house for all comers and goers, drinkers, minstrells,
dancers, and what not, during the Christmas time, and that his usual
allowance of provision for those twelve days, was twelve fat bullocks,
twenty Cornish bushels of wheat (_i.e._, fifty Winchesters),
thirty-six sheep, with hogs, lambs, and fowls of all sort, and drink
made of wheat and oat-malt proportionable; for at that time
barley-malt was little known or used in those parts."

That the beneficed clergy of this period also "made merry" with their
parishioners is quite clear from the writings of "Master Hugh
Latimer," who, in Henry's reign, held the benefice of West Kington, in
Wiltshire. A citation for heresy being issued against Latimer, he
wrote with his peculiar medley of humour and pathos: "I intend to make
merry with my parishioners this Christmas, for all the sorrow, lest
perchance I may never return to them again."

One of the most celebrated personages of this period was


This famous fool enlivened the Christmas festivities at the Court of
Henry the Eighth, and many quaint stories are told of his drolleries
and witticisms. Though a reputed fool, his sarcastic wit and sparkling
talents at repartee won him great celebrity. Very little is known of
his actual biography, but some interesting things are told about him
in a scarce tract, entitled "A pleasant History of the Life and Death
of Will Somers," &c. (which was first published in 1676, and a great
part of which is said to have been taken from Andrew Borde's
collection of "The Merry Jests and Witty Shifts of Scoggin"). "And now
who but Will Sommers, the King's Fool? who had got such an interest in
him by his quick and facetious jests, that he could have admittance to
his Majesty's Chamber, and have his ear, when a great nobleman, nay, a
privy counsellor, could not be suffered to speak with him: and
farther, if the King were angry or displeased with anything, if no man
else durst demand the cause of his discontent, then was Will Sommers
provided with one pleasant conceit or another, to take off the edge of
his displeasure. Being of an easy and tractable disposition he soon
found the fashions of the court, and obtained a general love and
notice of the nobility; for he was no carry-tale, nor flattering
insinuator to breed discord and dissension, but an honest, plain,
downright [man], that would speak home without halting, and tell the
truth of purpose to shame the devil--so that his plainness, mixed with
a kind of facetiousness, and tartness with pleasantry, made him
acceptable into the company of all men." There cannot, perhaps, be a
greater proof of the estimation in which Somers was held by King
Henry, than the circumstance of his portrait having been twice
introduced into the same piece with that of the King; once in the fine
picture by Holbein of Henry VIII. and his family, and again, in an
illuminated Psalter which was expressly written for the King, by John
Mallard, his chaplain and secretary ("_Regis Orator et Calamo_"), and
is now preserved in the British Museum. According to an ancient
custom, there is prefixed to Psalm lii., "_dixit incipens_" in the
Psalter, a miniature illumination of King David and a Fool, whose
figures, in this instance, are portraits of Henry VIII. and his
favourite Will Somers. The King is seated at a kind of altar table,
and playing on the harp, whilst Somers who is standing near him, with
his hands clasped over his breast, appears to listen with admiration.
The King wears a round flat cap, furred, and a vest of imperial purple
striped with gold, and fluted at bottom; his doublet is red, padded
with white; his hose crimson; on his right leg is a blue garter.
Somers is in a vest, with a hood thrown over the back; his stockings
are blue; at his girdle is a black pouch.

When Henry VIII. became old and inactive, his Christmases grew
gradually duller, until he did little more than sit out a play or two,
and gamble with his courtiers, his Christmas play-money requiring a
special draught upon the treasury, usually for a hundred pounds. He
died on January 28, 1547.

    [34] "Book of Days," Edinburgh.

    [35] Williams's "Domestic Memoirs of the Royal Family and
    of the Court of England."

    [36] Chaucer.

    [37] "William's Domestic Memoirs."

    [38] Nichols's "Progresses of Queen Elizabeth."

    [39] "Recollections of Royalty," by Mr. Charles C. Jones,

    [40] "Sports and Pastimes."

    [41] Introduction to "Christmas Carols."

    [42] Hall's "Chronicle."

    [43] Baker's "Chronicle."

    [44] Hall's "Chronicle."

    [45] Peter Bayne, LL. D.

    [46] Wood's "Athenæ Oxonienses."

    [47] "History of English Poetry."

    [48] Dugdale, "Origines Juridiciales."





During the short reign of the youthful monarch Edward the Sixth
(1547-1553), the splendour of the Royal Christmases somewhat abated,
though they were still continued; and the King being much grieved at
the condemnation of the Duke of Somerset, his uncle and Protector, it
was thought expedient to divert his mind by additional pastimes at the
Christmas festival, 1551-2. "It was devised," says Holinshed, "that
the feast of Christ's nativitie, commonlie called Christmasse, then at
hand, should be solemnlie kept at Greenwich, with open houshold, and
franke resort to Court (which is called keeping of the hall), what
time of old ordinarie course there is alwaise one appointed to make
sport in the court, commonlie Lord of Misrule; whose office is not
unknown to such as have been brought up in noblemen's houses, and
among great housekeepers, who use liberall feasting in that season.
There was therefore by order of the Councell, a wise gentleman, and
learned, named George Ferrers, appointed to that office for this
yeare; who, being of better credit and estimation than comonlie his
predecessors had been before, received all his commissions and
warrants by the name of the maister of the King's pastimes. Which
gentleman so well supplied his office, both in show of sundry sights
and devices of rare inventions, and in act of diverse interludes, and
matters of pastime plaied by persons, as not onlie satisfied the
common sort, but also were verie well liked and allowed by the
Councell, and other of skill in the like pastimes; but best of all by
the young King himselfe, as appeered by his princelie liberalitie in
rewarding that service." The old chronicler quaintly adds, that
"Christmas being thus passed with much mirth and pastime, it was
thought now good to proceed to the execution of the judgment against
the Duke of Somerset." The day of execution was the 22nd of January,
1552, six weeks after the passing of the sentence.

King Edward took part in some of the Christmas masques performed at
his Court, with other youths of his age and stature, all the
performers being suitably attired in costly garments. Will Somers also
figured in some of these masques. The young King seems to have found
more amusement in the pageants superintended by Master Ferrers than he
had gained from some of the solemnities of the state in which he had
been obliged to play a prominent part; but none of the diversions
restored him to good health. Large sums of money were expended on
these Christmas entertainments, and the King handsomely rewarded the
Master of his pastimes.

George Ferrers, who was a lawyer, a poet, and an historian, was
certainly well qualified for his task, and well supplied with the
means of making sport, as "Master of the King's Pastimes." He
complained to Sir Thomas Cawarden that the dresses provided for his
assistants were not sufficient, and immediately an order was given for
better provision. He provided clowns, jugglers, tumblers, men to dance
the fool's dance, besides being assisted by the "Court Fool" of the
time--John Smyth. This man was newly supplied for the occasion, having
a long fool's coat of yellow cloth of gold, fringed all over with
white, red, and green velvet, containing 7½ yards at £2 per yard,
guarded with plain yellow cloth of gold, 4 yards at 33s. 4d. per yard;
with a hood and a pair of buskins of the same figured gold containing
2½ yards at £5, and a girdle of yellow sarsenet containing one
quarter 16d., the whole value of "the fool's dress" being £26 14s. 8d.
Ferrers, as the "Lord of Misrule" wore a robe of rich stuff made of
silk and golden thread containing 9 yards at 16s. a yard, guarded with
embroidered cloth of gold, wrought in knots, 14 yards at 11s. 4d. a
yard; having fur of red feathers, with a cape of camlet thrum. A coat
of flat silver, fine with works, 5 yards at 50s., with an embroidered
garb of leaves of gold and coloured silk, containing 15 yards at 20s.
a yard. He wore a cap of maintenance, hose buskins, panticles of
Bruges satin, a girdle of yellow sarsenet with various decorations,
the cost of his dress being £52 8s. 8d., which, considering the
relative value of money, must be considered a very costly dress.

The office which George Ferrers so ably filled had been too often held
by those who possessed neither the wit nor the genius it required;
but, originally, persons of high rank and ability had been chosen to
perform these somewhat difficult duties. Ferrers received £100 for the
charges of his office; and afterwards the Lord Mayor, who probably had
been at the Royal festival, entertained him in London. The cost of the
Royal festivities exceeded £700.

Stowe, in his "Annals," thus refers to the celebration: "The King kept
his Christmasse with open houshold at Greenwich, George Ferrers,
Gentleman of Lincolnes Inne, being Lord of the merry Disports all the
12 dayes, who so pleasantly and wisely behaved himselfe, that the King
had great delight in his pastimes. On Monday the fourth of January,
the said Lord of Merry Disports came by water to London, and landed at
the Tower-wharfe, entered the Tower, and then rode through the
Tower-streete, where he was received by Sergeant Vawce, Lord of
Misrule to John Mainard, one of the Sheriffes of London, and so
conducted through the Citie with a great company of young Lords and
gentlemen, to the house of Sir George Barne, Lord Maior; where he,
with the chiefe of his company dined, and after had a great banquet;
and, at his departure, the Lord Maior gave him a standing cup, with a
cover of silver and gilt, of the value of ten pounds, for a reward;
and also set a hogs-head of wine, and a barrell of beere, at his
gate, for his traine that followed him; the residue of his gentlemen
and servants dined at other Aldermen's houses, and with the sheriffes,
and so departed to the Tower wharfe againe, and to the Court by water,
to the great commendation of the Maior and Aldermen, and highly
accepted of the King and Councell."


occupied public attention throughout the reign of Edward VI.
The young king was willing to support the reforming projects of
Archbishop Cranmer, and assented to the publication of the new Liturgy
in the Prayer Book of 1549, and the Act of Uniformity. And with the
sanction of the sovereign, Cranmer, in 1552, issued a revised Liturgy,
known as the Second Prayer Book of King Edward VI., and the Forty-two
Articles, which were markedly Protestant in tendency. On his health
failing, the King, acting on the advice of the Duke of Northumberland,
altered the settlement of the crown as arranged in the will of Henry
VIII., and made a will excluding Mary and Elizabeth from the
succession in favour of Lady Jane Grey, daughter-in-law of
Northumberland, which was sanctioned by Archbishop Cranmer and the
Privy Council. Although Cranmer had sanctioned this act with great
reluctance, and on the assurance of the judges, it sufficed to secure
his condemnation for high treason on Mary's accession. Edward sank
rapidly and died on July 6, 1553.

The Duke of Northumberland then


but the people refused to recognise the usurpation. After a brief
reign of eleven days,


daughter of Henry VIII. and Catherine of Arragon, and Lady Jane Grey
and her husband were sent to the Tower, and subsequently condemned to
death. They were kept in captivity for some time, and were not
executed until after Wyatt's rebellion in 1554.

[Illustration: Virgin & Child, Chirbury.]

Mary was a firm Roman Catholic, and she looked to her uncle, Charles
V. of Spain, for assistance and support. In January, 1554, much to the
disappointment of her subjects, she concluded a treaty of marriage
with Philip of Spain, son of Charles V. Afterwards her reign was
disturbed by insurrections, and also by the persecution of Protestants
by Cardinal Pole, who came over to England to push forward the Roman
Catholic reaction.


was not congenial to Christmas festivities, though they were still
kept up in different parts of the country. During the Christmas
festival (January 2, 1554) a splendid embassy, sent by the Emperor,
Charles the Fifth, headed by the Counts Egmont and Lalain, the Lord of
Courrieres, and the Sieur de Nigry, landed in Kent, to arrange the
marriage between Queen Mary and Philip. The unpopularity of the
proceeding was immediately manifested, for the men of Kent, taking
Egmont for Philip, rose in fury and would have killed him if they
could have got at him. Although an attempt was made to allay the fears
of the English, within a few days three insurrections broke out in
different parts of the kingdom, the most formidable being that under
Sir Thomas Wyatt, who fixed his headquarters at Rochester. In city and
court alike panic prevailed. The lawyers in Westminster Hall pleaded
in suits of armour hidden under their robes, and Dr. Weston preached
before the Queen in Whitehall Chapel, on Candlemas Day, in armour
under his clerical vestments. Mary alone seemed calm and
self-possessed. She mounted her horse, and, attended by her ladies and
her Council, rode into the City, where, summoning Sir Thomas White,
Lord Mayor, and the Aldermen, who all came clad in armour under their
civic livery, she ascended a chair of State, and with her sceptre in
her hand addressed them, declaring she would never marry except with
the leave of her Parliament. Her courage gained the day. The rebellion
was speedily quelled and the ringleaders put to death; and the
following July the marriage took place. Mary's subsequent reign was a
"reign of terror, a time of fire and blood, such as has no parallel in
the history of England."[49]


During her "reign of terror" Queen Mary was diverted by Christmas
plays and pageants, and she showed some interest in the amusements of
the people. Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes," in an article on the
"Antiquity of Tumbling," says: "It would seem that these artists were
really famous mirth-makers; for one of them had the address to excite
the merriment of that solemn bigot Queen Mary. 'After her Majesty,'
observes Strype, 'had reviewed the royal pensioners in Greenwich Park,
there came a tumbler, and played many pretty feats, the Queen and
Cardinal Pole looking on; whereat she was observed to laugh
heartily.'" Strutt also mentions that "when Mary visited her sister,
the Princess Elizabeth, during her confinement at Hatfield House, the
next morning, after mass, a grand exhibition of bear-baiting was made
for their amusement, with which, it is said, 'their highnesses were
right well content.'" The idle pageantry of the Boy-bishop, which had
been formally abrogated by proclamation from the King, in the
thirty-third year of Henry VIII., was revived by his daughter Mary.
Strutt says that "in the second year of her reign an edict, dated
November 13, 1554, was issued from the Bishop of London to all the
clergy of his diocese, to have a Boy-bishop in procession. The year
following, 'the child Bishop, of Paules Church, with his company,'
were admitted into the Queen's privy chamber, where he sang before her
on Saint Nicholas Day, and upon Holy Innocents Day. After the death of
Mary this silly mummery was totally discontinued."

The Christmas entertainments of Philip and Mary at Richmond are thus
described by Folkstone Williams:[50] "The Queen strove to entertain
her Royal husband with masques, notwithstanding that he had seen many
fair and rich beyond the seas; and Nicholas Udall, the stern
schoolmaster, was ordered to furnish the drama. An idea of these
performances may be gathered from the properties of a masque of
patrons of gallies like Venetian senators with galley-slaves for their
torch-bearers, represented at Court in Christmas of the first and
second years of Philip and Mary, with a Masque of six Venuses, or
amorous ladies, with six Cupids, and as many torch-bearers. Among them
were lions' heads, sixteen other headpieces, made in quaint fashion
for the Turkish magistrates, as well as eight falchions for them, the
sheaths covered with green velvet, and bullioned with copper. There
were eight headpieces for women-masks, goddesses and huntresses. A
masque of eight mariners, of cloth of gold and silver, and six pairs
of chains for the galley slaves. Another mask of goddesses and
huntresses, with Turks, was performed on the following Shrovetide; and
one of six Hercules, or men of war, coming from the sea with six
Mariners to their torch-bearers, was played a little later. Besides
which, we find mention of a masque of covetous men with long noses--a
masque of men like Argus--a masque of women Moors--a masque of
Amazons--one of black and tawney tinsel, with baboons' faces--one of
Polanders, and one of women with Diana hunting."

Nichols ("Progresses," vol. i. p. 18) says that in 1557 the Princess
Elizabeth was present at a Royal Christmas kept with great solemnity
by Queen Mary and King Philip at Hampton Court. "On Christmas Eve, the
great hall of the palace was illuminated with a thousand lamps
curiously disposed. The Princess supped at the same table in the hall
with the King and Queen, next the cloth of state; and after supper,
was served with a perfumed napkin and plates of confects by the Lord
Paget. But she retired to her ladies before the revels, maskings, and
disguisings began. On St. Stephen's day she heard mattins in the
Queen's closet adjoining to the chapel, where she was attired in a
robe of white sattin, strung all over with large pearls. On the 29th
day of December she sate with their majesties and the nobility at a
grand spectacle of justing, when two hundred spears were broken. Half
of the combatants were accoutred in the Almaine and half in the
Spanish fashion. Thus our chronicler, who is fond of minute
description. But these and other particularities, insignificant as
they seem, which he has recorded so carefully, are a vindication of
Queen Mary's character in the treatment of her sister; they prove that
the Princess, during her residence at Hatfield, lived in splendour and
affluence; that she was often admitted to the diversions of the Court;
and that her present situation was by no means a state of oppression
and imprisonment, as it has been represented by most of our

[Illustration: Saints and angels.]


on "Christmass-daye," at this period, are referred to in the
following translation from Naogeorgus, by Barnaby Googe:--

 "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 think 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, take 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 singe upon that solemn day,
  With offrings unto every one, that so the more may play.
  This done, a woodden childe 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 do rore aloude; and round about the parentes stande
  To see the sport, and with their voyce do helpe them and their hande."


played a prominent part in the festivities of this period, and the
following illustration shows how they went a-mumming.


Queen Mary died on November 17, 1558, and her half-sister,


in perilous times, for plots of assassination were rife, and England
was engaged on the side of Spain in war with France. But the alliance
with Spain soon came to an end, for Queen Elizabeth saw that the
defence of Protestantism at home and peace with France abroad were
necessary for her own security and the good of her subjects. She began
her reign by regarding the welfare of her people, and she soon won and
never lost their affection.

With the accession of Queen Elizabeth there was a revival of the
courtly pomp and pageantry which were marked characteristics of her
father's reign. Just before the Christmas festival (1558) the new
queen made a state entry into the metropolis, attended by a
magnificent throng of nobles, ladies, and gentlemen, and a vast
concourse of people from all the country round. At Highgate she was
met by the bishops, who kneeled by the wayside and offered their
allegiance. She received them graciously and gave them all her hand to
kiss, except Bonner, whom she treated with marked coldness, on account
of his atrocious cruelties: an intimation of her own intentions on the
score of religion which gave satisfaction to the people. In the
pageantry which was got up to grace her entry into London, a figure
representing "Truth" dropped from one of the triumphal arches, and
laid before the young Queen a copy of the Scriptures. Holinshed says
she revived the book with becoming reverence, and, pressing it to her
bosom, declared that of all the gifts and honours conferred upon her
by the loyalty of the people this was the most acceptable. Yet
Green,[51] in describing Elizabeth's reign, says: "Nothing is more
revolting in the Queen, but nothing is more characteristic, than her
shameless mendacity. It was an age of political lying, but in the
profusion and recklessness of her lies Elizabeth stood without a peer
in Christendom."

Sir William Fitzwilliam, writing to Mr. More, of Loseley, Surrey, a
few weeks after the accession of Elizabeth, as an important piece of
Court news, says: "You shall understand that yesterday, being
Christmas Day, the Queen's Majesty repaired to her great closet with
her nobles and ladies, as hath been accustomed in such high feasts;
and she, perceiving a bishop preparing himself to mass, all in the old
form, tarried there until the gospel was done, and when all the people
looked for her to have offered according to the old fashion, she with
her nobles returned again from the closet and the mass, on to her
privy chamber, which was strange unto divers. Blessed be God in all
His gifts."

During the Christmas festival (1558) preparations went on for the
coronation of Elizabeth, which was to take place on the 15th of
January. On the 12th of that month she proceeded to the Tower by
water, attended by the lord mayor and citizens, and greeted with peals
of ordnance, with music and gorgeous pageantry--a marked contrast to
her previous entrance there as a suspected traitor in imminent peril
of her life. Two days later the Queen rode in state from the Tower to
Westminster, "most honourably accompanied, as well with gentlemen,
barons, and other the nobility of this realm, as also with a notable
train of godly and beautiful ladies, richly appointed," and all riding
on horseback. The streets through which the procession passed were
adorned with stately pageants, costly decorations, and various
artistic devices, and were crowded with enthusiastic spectators, eager
to welcome their new sovereign, and to applaud "the signs they noticed
in her of a most prince-like courage, and great readiness of wit." On
the following day (Sunday, the 15th of January) Elizabeth was crowned
in Westminster Abbey, by Dr. Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle, "Queen of
England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith." The ceremonials
of the coronation were regulated according to ancient custom, and the
entertainment in Westminster Hall was on a scale of great

(_From Messrs Cassell & Co.'s "English Plays," by permission_)]

Elizabeth was particularly fond of dramatic displays, and her first
Royal Christmas was celebrated with plays and pageants of a most
costly description. Complaints, however, being made of the expense of
these entertainments, she determined to control them, and directed an
estimate to be made in the second year of her reign for the masques
and pastimes to be shown before her at Christmas and Shrovetide. Sir
Thomas Cawarden was then, as he had for some time previous been,
Master of the Revels. According to Collier, the estimate amounted to
£227 11s. 2d., being nearly £200 less than the expenses in the former
year. The control over the expenses, however, must soon have ceased,
for in subsequent years the sums were greatly enlarged.

Nichols[52] mentions that on Twelfth Day, 1559, in the afternoon, the
Lord Mayor and Aldermen, and all the crafts of London, and the
Bachelors of the Mayor's Company, went in procession to St. Paul's,
after the old custom, and there did hear a sermon. The same day a
stage was set up in the hall for a play; and after the play was over,
there was a fine mask; and, afterwards, a great banquet which lasted
till midnight.

In this reign a more decorous and even refined style of entertainment
had usurped the place of the boisterous feastings of former times, but
there was no diminution in that ancient spirit of hospitality, the
exercise of which had become a part of the national faith. This is
evident from the poems of Thomas Tusser (born 1515--died 1580) and
other writers, who show that the English noblemen and yeomen of that
time made hospitality a prominent feature in the festivities of the
Christmas season. In his "Christmas Husbandry Fare," Tusser says:--

 "Good husband and housewife, now chiefly be glad
  Things handsome to have, as they ought to be had,
  They both do provide against Christmas do come,
  To welcome their neighbour, good cheer to have some;
  Good bread and good drink, a good fire in the hall,
  Brawn pudding and souse, and good mustard withal.

  Beef, mutton, and pork, shred pies of the best,
  Pig, veal, goose, and capon, and turkey well dressed;
  Cheese, apples, and nuts, jolly carols to hear,
  As then in the country is counted good cheer.

  What cost to good husband is any of this?
  Good household provision only it is;
  Of other the like I do leave out a many,
  That costeth the husbandman never a penny."



Professor Henry Morley[53] says the first English tragedy, "Gorboduc,"
was written for the Christmas festivities of the Inner Temple in the
year 1561 by two young members of that Inn--Thomas Norton, then
twenty-nine years old, and Thomas Sackville, then aged twenty-five.
And the play was performed at this "Grand Christmass" kept by the
members of the Inner Temple. Before a "Grand Christmas" was kept the
matter was discussed in a parliament of the Inn, held on the eve of
St. Thomas's Day, December 21st. If it was resolved upon, the two
youngest of those who served as butlers for the festival lighted two
torches, with which they preceded the benchers to the upper end of the
hall. The senior bencher there made a speech; officers were appointed
for the occasion, "and then, in token of joy and good liking, the
Bench and company pass beneath the hearth and sing a carol."[54] The
revellings began on Christmas Eve, when three Masters of the Revels
sat at the head of one of the tables. All took their places to the
sound of music played before the hearth. Then the musicians withdrew
to the buttery, and were themselves feasted. They returned when dinner
was ended to sing a song at the highest table. Then all tables were
cleared, and revels and dancing were begun, to be continued until
supper and after supper. The senior Master of the Revels, after dinner
and after supper, sang a carol or song, and commanded other gentlemen
there present to join him. This form of high festivity was maintained
during the twelve days of Christmas, closing on Twelfth Night. On
Christmas Day (which in 1561 was a Thursday), at the first course of
the dinner, the boar's head was brought in upon a platter, followed by
minstrelsy. On St. Stephen's Day, December the 26th, the Constable
Marshal entered the hall in gilt armour, with a nest of feathers of
all colours on his helm, and a gilt pole-axe in his hand; with him
sixteen trumpeters, four drums and fifes, and four men armed from the
middle upward. Those all marched three times about the hearth, and the
Constable Marshal, then kneeling to the Lord Chancellor, made a
speech, desiring the honour of admission into his service, delivered
his naked sword, and was solemnly seated. That was the usual
ceremonial when a Grand Christmas was kept. At this particular
Christmas, 1561, in the fourth year of Elizabeth, it was Lord Robert
Dudley, afterwards Earl of Leicester, who was Constable Marshal, and
with chivalrous gallantry, taking in fantastic style the name of
Palaphilos, Knight of the Honourable Order of Pegasus, Pegasus being
the armorial device of the Inner Temple, he contributed to the
splendour of this part of the entertainment. After the seating of the
Constable Marshal, on the same St. Stephen's Day, December the 26th,
the Master of the Game entered in green velvet, and the Ranger of the
Forest in green satin; these also went three times about the fire,
blowing their hunting-horns. When they also had been ceremoniously
seated, there entered a huntsman with a fox and a cat bound at the end
of a staff. He was followed by nine or ten couple of hounds, who
hunted the fox and the cat to the glowing horns, and killed them
beneath the fire. After dinner, the Constable Marshal called a
burlesque Court, and began the Revels, with the help of the Lord of
Misrule. At seven o'clock in the morning of St. John's Day, December
the 27th (which was a Saturday in 1561) the Lord of Misrule was afoot
with power to summon men to breakfast with him when service had closed
in the church. After breakfast, the authority of this Christmas
official was in abeyance till the after-dinner Revels. So the
ceremonies went on till the Banqueting Night, which followed New
Year's Day. That was the night of hospitality. Invitations were sent
out to every House of Court, that they and the Inns of Chancery might
see a play and masque. The hall was furnished with scaffolds for the
ladies who were then invited to behold the sports. After the play,
there was a banquet for the ladies in the library; and in the hall
there was also a banquet for the Lord Chancellor and invited ancients
of other Houses. On Twelfth Day, the last of the Revels, there were
brawn, mustard, and malmsey for breakfast after morning prayer, and
the dinner as on St. John's Day.

The following particulars of this "Grand Christmas" at the Inner
Temple are from Nichols's "Progresses of Queen Elizabeth":--

"In the fourth year of Queen Elizabeth's reign there was kept
a magnificent Christmas here; at which the Lord Robert Dudley
(afterwards Earl of Leicester) was the chief person (his title
Palaphilos), being Constable and Marshall; whose officers were
as followeth:

  Mr. Onslow, Lord Chancellour.
  Anthony Stapleton, Lord Treasurer.
  Robert Kelway, Lord Privy Seal.
  John Fuller, Chief Justice of the King's Bench.
  William Pole, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.
  Roger Manwood, Chief Baron of the Exchequer.
  Mr. Bashe, Steward of the Household.
  Mr. Copley, Marshall of the Household.
  Mr. Paten, Chief Butler.
  Christopher Hatton, Master of the Game. (He was afterwards Lord
    Chancellor of England.)
  Mr. Blaston }
  Mr. Yorke   }
  Mr. Pension } Masters of the Revells.
  Mr. Jervise }
  Mr. Parker, Lieutenant of the Tower.
  Mr. Kendall, Carver.
  Mr. Martin, Ranger of the Forests.
  Mr. Stradling, Sewer.

"And there were fourscore of the Guard; beside divers others not here

"Touching the particulars of this Grand Feast, Gerard Leigh, in his
'Accidence of Armory,' p. 119, &c., having spoken of the Pegasus borne
for the armes of this Society, thus goes on: 'After I had travelled
through the East parts of the unknown world, to understand of deedes
of armes, and so arriving in the fair river of Thames, I landed within
half a league from the City of London, which was (as I conjecture) in
December last; and drawing neer the City, suddenly heard the shot of
double canons, in so great a number, and so terrible, that it darkened
the whole ayr; wherewith, although I was in my native country, yet
stood I amazed, not knowing what it meant. Thus, as I abode in
despair, either to return or to continue my former purpose, I chanced
to see coming towards me an honest citizen, clothed in a long garment,
keeping the highway, seeming to walk for his recreation, which
prognosticated rather peace than perill; of whom I demanded the cause
of this great shot; who friendly answered, "It is," quoth he, "a
warning shot to the Constable Marshall of the Inner Temple, to prepare
to dinner."

"'"Why," said I, "what, is he of that estate that seeketh no other
means to warn his officers than with so terrible shot in so peaceable
a country?" "Marry," saith he, "he uttereth himself the better to be
that officer whose name he beareth."

"'I then demanded, "What province did he govern, that needed such an
officer?" He answered me, "The province was not great in quantity, but
antient in true nobility. A place," said he, "privileged by the most
excellent Princess the High Governor of the whole Island, wherein are
store of Gentlemen of the whole Realm, that repair thither to learn to
rule and obey by Law, to yield their fleece to their Prince and
Commonweal; as also to use all other exercises of body and mind
whereunto nature most aptly serveth to adorn, by speaking,
countenance, gesture, and use of apparel the person of a Gentleman;
whereby amity is obtained, and continued, that Gentlemen of all
countries, in their young years, nourished together in one place, with
such comely order, and daily conference, are knit by continual
acquaintance in such unity of minds and manners as lightly never after
is severed, than which is nothing more profitable to the Commonweale."

"'And after he had told me thus much of honour of the place, I
commended in mine own conceit the policy of the Governour, which
seemed to utter in itself the foundation of a good Commonweal; for
that, the best of their people from tender years trained up in
precepts of justice, it could not choose but yield forth a profitable
People to a wise Commonweal; wherefore I determined with myself to
make proof of what I heard by report.

"'The next day I thought of my pastime to walk to this Temple, and
entring in at the gates, I found the building nothing costly; but many
comely Gentlemen of face and person, and thereto very courteous, saw I
to pass to and fro, so as it seemed a Prince's port to be at hand; and
passing forward, entred into a Church of antient building, wherein
were many monuments of noble personages armed in knightly habit, with
their cotes depainted in ancient shields, whereat I took pleasure to
behold. Thus gazing as one bereft with the rare sight, there came unto
me an Hereaught, by name Palaphilos, a King of Armes, who courteously
saluted me, saying, "For that I was a stranger, and seeming by my
demeanour a lover of honour, I was his guest of right," whose courtesy
(as reason was) I obeyed; answering, "I was at his commandment."

"'"Then," said he, "ye shall go to mine own lodging here within the
Palace, where we will have such cheer as the time and country will
yield us;" where, I assure you I was so entertained, and no where I
met with better cheer or company, &c.

"'--Thus talking, we entred the Prince his Hall, where anon we heard
the noise of drum and fyfe. "What meaneth this drum?" said I. Quoth
he, "This is to warn Gentlemen of the Houshold to repair to the
dresser; wherefore come on with me, and ye shall stand where ye may
best see the Hall served:" and so from thence brought me into a long
gallery, that stretched itself along the Hall neer the Prince's table,
where I saw the Prince set: a man of tall personage, a manly
countenance, somewhat brown of visage, strongly featured, and thereto
comely proportioned in all lineaments of body. At the nether end of
the same table were placed the Embassadors of sundry Princes. Before
him stood the carver, sewer, and cupbearer, with great number of
gentlemen-wayters attending his person; the ushers making place to
strangers, of sundry regions that came to behold the honour of this
mighty Captain. After the placing of these honourable guests, the Lord
Steward, Treasurer, and Keeper of Pallas Seal, with divers honourable
personages of that Nobility, were placed at a side-table neer
adjoining the Prince on the right hand: and at another table, on the
left side, were placed the Treasurer of the Houshold, Secretary, the
Prince his Serjeant at the Law, four Masters of the Revels, the King
of Arms, the Dean of the Chappel, and divers Gentlemen Pensioners to
furnish the same.

"'At another table, on the other side, were set the Master of the
Game, and his Chief Ranger, Masters of Houshold, Clerks of the Green
Cloth and Check, with divers other strangers to furnish the same.

"'On the other side against them began the table, the Lieutenant of
the Tower, accompanied with divers Captains of foot-bands and shot.
At the nether end of the Hall began the table, the High Butler, the
Panter, Clerks of the Kitchen, Master Cook of the Privy Kitchen,
furnished throughout with the souldiers and Guard of the Prince: all
which, with number of inferior officers placed and served in the Hall,
besides the great resort of strangers, I spare to write.

"'The Prince so served with tender meats, sweet fruits, and dainty
delicates confectioned with curious cookery, as it seemed wonder a
world to observe the provision: and at every course the trumpetters
blew the couragious blast of deadly war, with noise of drum and fyfe,
with the sweet harmony of violins, sack-butts, recorders, and
cornetts, with other instruments of musick, as it seemed Apollo's harp
had tuned their stroke.

"'Thus the Hall was served after the most ancient order of the Island;
in commendation whereof I say, I have also seen the service of great
Princes, in solemn seasons and times of triumph, yet the order hereof
was not inferior to any.

"'But to proceed, this Herehaught Palaphilos, even before the second
course came in, standing at the high table, said in this manner: "The
mighty Palaphilos, Prince of Sophie, High Constable Marshall of the
Knights Templars, Patron of the Honourable Order of Pegasus:" and
therewith cryeth, "A Largess." The Prince, praysing the Herehaught,
bountifully rewarded him with a chain to the value of an hundred

"'I assure you I languish for want of cunning ripely to utter that I
saw so orderly handled appertaining to service; wherefore I cease, and
return to my purpose.

"'The supper ended, and tables taken up, the High Constable rose, and
a while stood under the place of honour, where his achievement was
beautifully embroidered, and devised of sundry matters, with the
Ambassadors of foreign nations, as he thought good, till Palaphilos,
King of Armes, came in, his Herehaught Marshal, and Pursuivant before
him; and after followed his messenger and Calligate Knight; who
putting off his coronal, made his humble obeysance to the Prince, by
whom he was commanded to draw neer, and understand his pleasure;
saying to him; in few words, to this effect: "Palaphilos, seeing it
hath pleased the high Pallas, to think me to demerit the office of
this place; and thereto this night past vouchsafed to descend from
heavens to increase my further honour, by creating me Knight of her
Order of Pegasus; as also commanded me to join in the same Society
such valiant Gentlemen throughout her province, whose living honour
hath best deserved the same, the choice whereof most aptly belongeth
to your skill, being the watchman of their doings, and register of
their deserts; I will ye choose as well throughout our whole armyes,
as elsewhere, of such special gentlemen, as the gods hath appointed,
the number of twenty-four, and the names of them present us:
commanding also those chosen persons to appear in our presence in
knightly habit, that with conveniency we may proceed in our purpose."
This done, Palaphilos obeying his Prince's commandement, with
twenty-four valiant Knights, all apparelled in long white vestures,
with each man a scarf of Pallas colours, and them presented, with
their names, to the Prince; who allowed well his choise, and commanded
him to do his office. Who, after his duty to the Prince, bowed towards
these worthy personages, standing every man in his antienty, as he had
borne armes in the field, and began to shew his Prince's pleasure;
with the honour of the Order.'"

"_Other Particulars touching these Grand Christmasses, extracted
out of the Accompts of the House_.

"First, it hath been the duty of the Steward, to provide five fat
brawns, vessels, wood, and other necessaries belonging to the kitchen:
as also all manner of spices, flesh, fowl, and other cates for the

"The office of the Chief Butler, to provide a rich cupboard of plate,
silver and parcel gilt: seaven dozen of silver and gilt spoons: twelve
fair salt-cellers, likewise silver and gilt: twenty candlesticks of
the like.

"Twelve fine large table cloths, of damask and diaper. Twenty dozen of
napkins suitable at the least. Three dozen of fair large towels;
whereof the Gentleman Sewers, and Butlers of the House, to have every
of them one at mealtimes, during their attendance. Likewise to provide
carving knives; twenty dozen of white cups and green potts: a carving
table; torches; bread, beer, and ale. And the chief of the Butlers was
to give attendance on the highest table in the Hall, with wine, ale
and beer: and all the other Butlers to attend at the other tables in
like sort.

"The cupboard of plate is to remain in the Hall on Christmas Day, St.
Stephen's Day and New Year's Day, from breakfast time ended untill
after supper. Upon the banquetting night it was removed into the
buttry; which in all respects was very laudably performed.

"The office of the Constable Marshall to provide for his employment, a
fair gilt compleat harneys, with a nest of fethers in the helm; a fair
pole-axe to bear in his hand, to be chevalrously ordered on Christmas
Day and other days, as afterwards is shewed; touching the ordering and
settling of all which ceremonies, during the said Grand Christmas, a
solemn consultation was held at their Parliament in this house; in the
form following:

"First, at the Parliament kept in their Parliament Chamber in this
House, on the even at night of St. Thomas the Apostle, officers are to
attend, according as they had been long before that time, at a former
Parliament named and elected to undergo several offices for this time
of solemnity, honour, and pleasance; of which officers these are the
most eminent; namely, the Steward, Marshall, Constable Marshall,
Butler and Master of the Game. These officers are made known and
elected in Trinity Term next before; and to have knowledg thereof by
letters, in the country, to the end they may prepare themselves
against All-Hallow-tide; that, if such nominated officers happen to
fail, others may then be chosen in their rooms. The other officers are
appointed at other times nearer Christmas Day.

"If the Steward, or any of the said officers named in Trinity Term,
refuse or fail, he or they were fined every one, at the discretion of
the Bench; and the officers aforenamed agreed upon. And at such a
Parliament, if it be fully resolved to proceed with such a Grand
Christmas, then the two youngest Butlers must light two torches, and
go before the Bench to the upper end of the Hall; who being set down,
the antientest Bencher delivereth a speech briefly, to the whole
society of Gentlemen then present, touching their consent as afore:
which ended, the eldest Butler is to publish all the officers' names,
appointed in Parliament; and then in token of joy and good-liking, the
Bench and Company pass beneath the harth, and sing a carol, and so to

"_Christmas Eve._--The Marshall at dinner is to place at the highest
table's end, and next to the Library, all on one side thereof, the
most antient persons in the company present: the Dean of the Chappel
next to him; then an antient or Bencher, beneath him. At the other end
of the table, the Sewer, Cup-bearer, and Carver. At the upper end of
the bench-table, the King's Serjeant and Chief Butler; and when the
Steward hath served in, and set on the table the first mess, then he
is also to sit down.

"Also at the supper end of the other table, on the other side of the
Hall, are to be placed the three Masters of the Revels; and at the
lower end of the bench-table are to sit, the King's Attorney, the
Ranger of the Forest, and the Master of the Game. And at the lower end
of the table, on the other side of the Hall, the fourth Master of the
Revels, the Common Serjeant, and Constable-Marshall. And at the upper
end of the Utter Barrister's table, the Marshal sitteth, when he hath
served in the first mess; the Clark of the Kitchen also, and the Clark
of the Sowce-tub, when they have done their offices in the kitchen,
sit down. And at the upper end of the Clark's table, the Lieutenant of
the Tower, and the attendant to the Buttery are placed.

"At these two tables last rehersed, the persons they may sit upon both
sides of the table; but of the other three tables all are to sit upon
one side. And then the Butlers or Christmas Servants, are first to
cover the tables with fair linnen table-cloths; and furnish them with
salt-cellers, napkins, and trenchers, and a silver spoon. And then the
Butlers of the House must place at the salt-celler, at every the said
first three highest tables, a stock of trenchers and bread; and at the
other tables, bread onely without trenchers.

"At the first course the minstrels must sound their instruments, and
go before; and the Steward and Marshall are next to follow together;
and after them the Gentleman Sewer; and then cometh the meat. Those
three officers are to make altogether three solemn curtesies, at three
several times, between the skreen and the upper table; beginning with
the first at the end of the Bencher's table; the second at the midst;
and the third at the other end; and then standing by the Sewer
performeth his office.

"When the first table is set and served, the Steward's table is next
to be served. After him the Master's table of the Revells; then that
of the Master of the Game. The High Constable-Marshall; then the
Lieutenant of the Tower; then the Utter Barrister's table; and lastly
the Clerk's table; all which time the musick must stand right above
the harth side, with the noise of their musick; their faces direct
towards the highest table; and that done, to return into the buttry,
with their music sounding.

"At the second course every table is to be served as at the first
course, in every respect; which performed the Servitors and Musicians
are to resort to the place assigned for them to dine at; which is the
Valects or Yeoman's table, beneath the skreen. Dinner ended the
musicians prepare to sing a song, at the highest table: which ceremony
accomplished, then the officers are to address themselves every one in
his office, to avoid the tables in fair and decent manner, they
beginning at the Clerk's table; thence proceed to the next; and thence
to all the others till the highest table be solemnly avoided.

"Then, after a little repose, the persons at the highest table arise
and prepare to revells: in which time, the Butlers, and other
Servitors with them, are to dine in the Library.

"At both the doors in the hall are porters, to view the comers in and
out at meal times; to each of them is allowed a cast of bread, and a
caudle nightly after supper.

"At night before supper are revels and dancing, and so also after
supper during the twelve daies of Christmas. The antientest Master of
the Revels is, after dinner and supper, to sing a caroll or song; and
command other gentlemen then there present to sing with him and the
company; and so it is very decently performed.

"A repast at dinner is 8d.

"_Christmas Day._--Service in the Church ended, the Gentlemen
presently repair into the hall to breakfast, with brawn, mustard and

"At dinner, the Butler appointed for the Grand Christmas, is to see
the tables covered and furnished: and the Ordinary Butlers of the
House are decently to set bread, napkins, and trenchers in good form,
at every table; with spoones and knives.

"At the first course is served in a fair and large bore's-head, upon a
silver platter, with minstralsye. Two Gentlemen in gowns are to
attend at supper, and to bear two fair torches of wax, next before the
Musicians and Trumpetters, and to stand above the fire with the musick
till the first course be served in through the Hall. Which performed,
they, with the musick, are to return into the buttery. The like course
is to be observed in all things, during the time of Christmas. The
like at supper.

"At service time, this evening, the two youngest Butlers are to bear
two torches _Genealogia_.

"A repast at dinner is 12d. which strangers of worth are admitted to
take in the Hall; and such are to be placed at the discretion of the

"_St. Stephen's Day._--The Butler, appointed for Christmas, is to see
the tables covered, and furnished with salt-sellers, napkins, bread,
trenchers, and spoons. Young Gentlemen of the House are to attend and
serve till the latter dinner, and then dine themselves.

"This day the Sewer, Carver, and Cup-bearer are to serve as afore.
After the first course served in, the Constable-Marshall cometh into
the Hall, arrayed with a fair rich compleat harneys, white and bright,
and gilt, with a nest of fethers of all colours upon his crest or
helm, and a gilt pole-axe in his hand: to whom is associate the
Lieutenant of the Tower, armed with a fair white armour, a nest of
fethers in his helm, and a like pole-axe in his hand; and with them
sixteen Trumpetters; four drums and fifes going in rank before them;
and with them attendeth four men in white harneys, from the middle
upwards, and halberds in their hands, bearing on their shoulders the
Tower: which persons, with the drums, trumpets and musick, go three
times about the fire. Then the Constable-Marshall, after two or three
curtesies made, kneeleth down before the Lord Chancellor; behind him
the Lieutenant; and they kneeling, the Constable-Marshall pronounceth
an oration of a quarter of an hour's length, therby declaring the
purpose of his coming; and that his purpose is to be admitted into his
Lordship's service.

"The Lord Chancellor saith, 'He will take further advice therein.'

"Then the Constable-Marshall, standing up, in submissive manner
delivereth his naked sword to the Steward; who giveth it to the Lord
Chancellor: and thereupon the Lord Chancellor willeth the Marshall to
place the Constable-Marshall in his seat: and so he doth, with the
Lieutenant also in his seat or place. During this ceremony the Tower
is placed beneath the fire.

"Then cometh the Master of the Game, apparelled in green velvet, and
the Ranger of the Forest also, in a green suit of satten; bearing in
his hand a green bow and divers arrows, with either of them a hunting
horn about their necks; blowing together three blasts of venery, they
pace round about the fire three times. Then the Master of the Game
maketh three curtesies; as aforesaid; and kneeleth down before the
Lord Chancellor, declaring the cause of his coming; and desireth to be
admitted into his service, &c. All this time the Ranger of the Forest
standeth directly behind him. Then the Master of the Game standeth up.

"This ceremony also performed, a Huntsman cometh into the Hall, with a
fox and a purse-net; with a cat, both bound at the end of a staff; and
with them nine or ten couple of hounds, with the blowing of hunting
hornes. And the fox and cat are by the hounds set upon, and killed
beneath the fire. This sport finished the Marshall placeth them in
their several appointed places.

"Then proceedeth the second course; which done, and served out, the
Common Serjeant delivereth a plausible speech to the Lord Chancellour,
and his company at the highest table, how necessary a thing it is to
have officers at this present; the Constable-Marshall and Master of
the Game, for the better honour and reputation of the Commonwealth;
and wisheth them to be received, &c.

"Then the King's Serjeant at Law declareth and inferreth the
necessity; which heard the Lord Chancellor desireth respite of farther
advice. Then the antientest of the Masters of the Revels singeth a
song with the assistance of others there present.

"At Supper the Hall is to be served in all solemnity, as upon
Christmas Day, both the first and second course to the highest table.
Supper ended the Constable-Marshall presenteth himself with drums
afore him, mounted upon a scaffold, born by four men; and goeth three
times round about the harthe, crying out aloud, 'A Lord, a lord,' &c.
Then he descendeth and goeth to dance, &c. And after he calleth his
Court every one by name, one by one, in this manner:

"Sir _Francis Flatterer_ of _Fowlehurst_, in the county of

"Sir _Randle Rakabite_, of _Rascall-Hall_, in the county of

"Sir _Morgan Mumchance_, of _Much Monkery_, in the county of _Mad

"Sir _Bartholomew Baldbreech_, of _Buttocks-bury_, in the county of

"This done the Lord of Misrule addresseth himself to the banquet;
which ended with some minstralsye, mirth and dancing every man
departeth to rest.

"At every mess is a pot of wine allowed.

"Every repast is 6d.

"_St. John's Day._--About seaven of the clock in the morning, the Lord
of Misrule is abroad, and if he lack any officer or attendant, he
repaireth to their chambers, and compelleth them to attend in person
upon him after service in the church, to breakfast, with brawn,
mustard, and malmsey. After breakfast ended, his Lordship's power is
in suspense, until his personal presence at night; and then his power
is most potent.

"At dinner and supper is observed the diet and service performed on
St. Stephen's Day. After the second course served in, the King's
Serjeant, orator-like, declareth the disorder of the
Constable-Marshall, and of the Common-Serjeant: which complaint is
answered by the Common-Serjeant; who defendeth himself and the
Constable-Marshall with words of great efficacy. Hereto the King's
Serjeant replyeth. They rejoyn, &c., and who so is found faulty is
committed to the Tower, &c.

"If any officer be absent at dinner or supper times; if it be
complained of, he that sitteth in his place is adjudged to have like
punishment as the officer should have had being present: and then
withal he is enjoyned to supply the office of the true absent officer,
in all pointe. If any offendor escape from the Lieutenant into the
Buttery, and bring into the Hall a manchet upon the point of a knife,
he is pardoned: for the buttry in that case is a sanctuary. After
cheese served to the table not any is commanded to sing.

"_Childermas Day._--In the morning, as afore on Monday, the Hall is
served; saving that the Sewer, Carver, and Cup-bearer, do not attend
any service. Also like ceremony at supper.

"_Thursday._--At breakfast, brawn, mustard, and malmsey. At dinner,
roast beef, venison-pasties, with like solemnities as afore. And at
supper, mutton and hens roasted.

"_New Year's Day._--In the morning, breakfast as formerly. At dinner
like solemnity as on Christmas Eve.

"_The Banquetting Night._--It is proper to the Butler's office, to
give warning to every House of Court, of this banquet; to the end that
they and the Innes of Chancery, be invited thereto to see a play and
mask. The hall is to be furnished with scaffolds to sit on, for Ladies
to behold the sports, on each side. Which ended the ladyes are to be
brought into the Library, unto the Banquet there; and a table is to be
covered and furnished with all banquetting dishes, for the Lord
Chancellor, in the Hall; where he is to call to him the Ancients of
other Houses, as many as may be on the one side of the table. The
Banquet is to be served in by the Gentlemen of the House.

"The Marshall and Steward are to come before the Lord Chancellour's
mess. The Butlers for Christmas must serve wine; and the Butlers of
the House beer and ale, &c. When the banquet is ended, then cometh
into the Hall the Constable-Marshall, fairly mounted on his mule; and
deviseth some sport for passing away the rest of the night.

"_Twelf Day._--At breakfast, brawn, mustard, and malmsey, after
morning prayer ended. And at dinner, the Hall is to be served as upon
St. John's Day."

              *     *     *     *     *

The performance of "Gorboduc" at the Inner Temple was received with
such great applause, and the services of Lord Robert Dudley, first
favourite of the Queen, so highly appreciated at that particular
"grand Christmasse," that Queen Elizabeth commanded a repetition of
the play about a fortnight later, before herself, at her Court at
Whitehall. A contemporary MS. note (Cotton MSS., Vit. F. v.) says of


that "on the 18th of January, 1562, there was a play in the Queen's
Hall at Westminster by the gentlemen of the Temple after a great mask,
for there was a great scaffold in the hall, with great triumph as has
been seen; and the morrow after, the scaffold was taken down." An
unauthorised edition of the play was first published, in September of
that year, by William Griffith, a bookseller in St. Dunstan's
Churchyard; but nine years afterwards an authorised and "true copy" of
the play was published by John Day, of Aldersgate, the title being
then altered from "Gorboduc" (in which name the spurious edition had
been issued) to "Ferrex and Porrex." The title of this edition set
forth that the play was "without addition or alteration, but
altogether as the same was shewed on stage before the Queen's
Majestie, by the gentlemen of the Inner Temple." The argument of the
play was taken from Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of British Kings,"
and was a call to Englishmen to cease from strife among themselves and
become an united people, obedient to one undisputed rule:--

 "Within one land one single rule is best:
  Divided reigns do make divided hearts;
  But peace preserves the country and the prince."

It recalled the horrors of the civil wars, and forbade the like

 "What princes slain before their timely hour!
  What waste of towns and people in the land!
  What treasons heap'd on murders and on spoils!
  Whose just revenge e'en yet is scarcely ceas'd:
  Ruthful remembrance is yet raw in mind.
  The gods forbid the like to chance again."

A good description of the play, with copious extracts, is published in
Morley's "English Plays," from which it also appears that "Queen
Mary's expenditure on players and musicians had been between two and
three thousand pounds a year in salaries. Elizabeth reduced this
establishment, but still paid salaries to interlude players and
musicians, to a keeper of bears and mastiffs, as well as to the
gentlemen and children of the chapel. The Master of the Children had a
salary of forty pounds a year; the children had largesse at high
feasts, and when additional use was made of their services; and each
Gentleman of the Chapel had nineteenpence a day, with board and
clothing. The Master of the Chapel who at this time had the training
of the children was Richard Edwards, who had written lighter pieces
for them to act before her Majesty, and now applied his skill to the
writing of English comedies, and teaching his boys to act them for the
pleasure of the Queen. The new form of entertainment made its way at
Court and through the country."

[Illustration: THE FOOL OF THE OLD PLAY.
(_From a Print by Breughel._)]

At this period


were observed with much zest and jollity. Sandys (writing in 1833 of
Elizabeth's time) says:--

"The order of the usual Christmas amusements at the Inns of Court at
this period would cause some curious scenes if carried into effect in
the present day. Barristers singing and dancing before the judges,
serjeants and benchers, would 'draw a house' if spectators were
admitted. Of so serious import was this dancing considered, that by an
order in Lincoln's Inn of February, 7th James I., the under barristers
were by decimation put out of commons because the whole bar offended
by not dancing on Candlemas Day preceding, according to the ancient
order of the society, when the judges were present; with a threat that
if the fault were repeated, they should be fined or disbarred."

Sir William Dugdale makes the following reference to


"First, the solemn Revells (after dinner, and the play ended,) are
begun by the whole House, Judges, Sergeants at Law, Benchers; the
Utter and Inner Barr; and they led by the _Master of the Revells_: and
one of the Gentlemen of the Utter Barr are chosen to sing a song to
the Judges, Serjeants, or Masters of the Bench; which is usually
performed; and in default thereof, there may be an amerciament. Then
the Judges and Benchers take their places, and sit down at the upper
end of the Hall. Which done, the _Utter-Barristers_ and
_Inner-Barristers_, perform a second solemn Revell before them. Which
ended, the _Utter-Barristers_ take their places and sit down. Some of
the Gentlemen of the _Inner-Barr_, do present the House with dancing,
which is called the _Post Revells_, and continue their Dances, till
the Judges or Bench think meet to rise and depart."


gave the citizens of London an opportunity of keeping Christmas on the
ice. An old chronicler says: "From 21st December, 1564, a hard frost
prevailed, and on new year's eve, people went over and alongst the
Thames on the ise from London Bridge to Westminster. Some plaied at
the football as boldlie there, as if it had been on the drie land;
divers of the Court, being then at Westminster shot dailie at prickes
set upon the Thames, and tradition says, Queen Elizabeth herself
walked upon the ise. The people both men and women, went on the Thames
in greater numbers than in any street of the City of London. On the
third daie of January, 1565, at night it began to thaw, and on the
fifth there was no ise to be seene between London Bridge and Lambeth,
which sudden thaw caused great floods, and high waters, that bore
downe bridges and houses and drowned Manie people in England."


Nichols[55] gives the following particular account of Queen
Elizabeth's attendance at Divine worship, at the "Chappell of
Whitehall, Westminster," Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 1565:--

"Item, on Monday, the 24th of December, the Officers of Arms being
there present, the Queen's Majesty came to the evening prayer, the
sword borne by the Earle of Warwick, her trayn borne by the Lady

"Item, on Christmas Day her Majesty came to service very richly
apparelled in a gown of purple velvet embroidered with silver very
richly set with stones, with a rich collar set with stones; the Earl
of Warwick bare the sword, the Lady Strange the trayn. After the
Creed, the Queene's Majesty went down to the offering, and having a
short forme with a carpet, and a cushion laid by a gentleman usher,
the ... taken by the Lord Chamberlain, her Majesty kneeled down, her
offering given her by the Marquis of Northampton; after which she went
into her traverse, where she abode till the time of the communion, and
then came forth, and kneeled down at the cushion and carpet aforesaid;
the Gentlemen Ushers delivered the towel to the Lord Chamberlain, who
delivered the same to be holden by the Earl of Sussex on the right
hand, and the Earl of Leicester on the left hand; the Bishop of
Rochester served the Queen both of wine and bread; then the Queen went
into the traverse again; and the Ladie Cicilie, wife of the Marquis of
Baden, came out of the traverse, and kneeled at the place where the
Queen kneeled, but she had no cushion, but one to kneel on; after she
had received she returned to the traverse again; then the Archbishop
of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain received the Communion with the
Mother of the Maids; after which the service proceeded to the end, and
the Queen returned again to the Chamber of presence strait, and not
the closet. Her Majesty dined not abroad; the said Officers of Arms
had a mess of meat of seven dishes, with bread, beer, ale, and wine."


In 1568, the Earl of Shrewsbury, writing from Hampton Court to his
countess, says, "The Plage is disposed far abrode in London, so that
the Queene kepes hur Kyrsomas her, and goth not to Grenwych as it was
mete." Meet or not, Elizabeth kept many Christmases at Hampton Court,
banqueting, dancing, and dicing--the last being a favourite amusement
with her, because she generally won, thanks to her dice being so
loaded as to throw up the higher numbers. Writing from Hampton Court
at Christmas, 1572, Sir Thomas Smith says: "If ye would what we do
here, we play at tables, dance, and keep Christmasse."

[Illustration: Coat of Arms.]


The Christmas entertainments of Queen Elizabeth were enlivened by the
beautiful singing of the children of her Majesty's Chapel. From the
notes to Gascoigne's _Princely Pleasures_ (1821) it appears that Queen
Elizabeth retained on her Royal establishment four sets of singing
boys; which belonged to the Cathedral of St. Paul, the Abbey of
Westminster, St. George's Chapel, Windsor, and the Household Chapel.
For the support and reinforcement of her musical bands, Elizabeth,
like the other English Sovereigns, issued warrants for taking "up
suche apt and meete children, as are fitt to be instructed and framed
in the Art and Science of Musicke and Singing." Thomas Tusser, the
well-known author of "Five Hundreth Points of Good Husbandrye," was in
his youth a choir boy of St. Paul's. Nor is it astonishing, that
although masses had ceased to be performed, the Queen should yet
endeavour to preserve sacred melody in a high state of perfection;
since, according to Burney, she was herself greatly skilled in musical
learning. "If her Majesty," says that eminent author, "was ever able
to execute any of the pieces that are preserved in a MS. which goes
under the name of Queen Elizabeth's Virginal-book, she must have been
a very great player, as some of the pieces which were composed by
Tallis, Bird, Giles, Farnaby, Dr. Bull, and others, are so difficult
that it would be hardly possible to find a master in Europe who would
undertake to play any of them at the end of a month's practice."[56]
But the children of the chapel were also employed in the theatrical
exhibitions represented at Court, for which their musical education
had peculiarly qualified them. Richard Edwards, an eminent poet and
musician of the sixteenth century, had written two comedies; Damon and
Pythias, and Palemon and Arcite, which, according to Wood, were often
acted before the Queen, both at Court and at Oxford.

(_By permission, from Messrs Cassell & Co's "Illustrated History of

With the latter of these Queen Elizabeth was so much delighted that
she promised Edwards a reward, which she subsequently gave him by
making him first Gentleman of her Chapel, and in 1561 Master of the
Children on the death of Richard Bowyer. As the Queen was particularly
attached to dramatic entertainments, about 1569 she formed the
children of the Royal Chapel into a company of theatrical performers,
and placed them under the superintendence of Edwards. Not long after
she formed a second society of players under the title of the
"Children of the Revels," and by these two companies all Lyly's plays,
and many of Shakespeare's and Jonson's, were first performed. Jonson
has celebrated one of the chapel children, named Salathiel Pavy, who
was famous for his performance of old men, but who died about 1601,
under the age of thirteen. In his beautiful epitaph of Pavy, Jonson

 "'Twas a child that did so thrive
    In grace and feature,
  As heaven and nature seem'd to strive
    Which own'd the creature.
  Years he number'd scarce thirteen
    When fates turn'd cruel,
  Yet three fill'd Zodiacs had he been
    The stage's jewel;
  And did act, what now we moan.
    Old men so duly,
  That the Parcoe thought him one
    He played so truly."

The Shakespearian period had its grand Christmases, for


at the Court of Queen Elizabeth included England's greatest dramatist,
William Shakespeare; and the Queen not only took delight in witnessing
Shakespeare's plays, but also admired the poet as a player. The
histrionic ability of Shakespeare was by no means contemptible, though
probably not such as to have transmitted his name to posterity had he
confined himself exclusively to acting. Rowe informs us that "the
tip-top of his performances was the ghost in his own _Hamlet_;" but
Aubrey states that he "did act exceedingly well"; and Cheetle, a
contemporary of the poet, who had seen him perform, assures us that he
was "excellent in the quality he professed." An anecdote is preserved
in connection with Shakespeare's playing before Queen Elizabeth. While
he was taking the part of a king, in the presence of the Queen,
Elizabeth rose, and, in crossing the stage, dropped her glove as she
passed the poet. No notice was taken by him of the incident; and the
Queen, desirous of finding out whether this was the result of
inadvertence, or a determination to preserve the consistency of his
part, moved again towards him, and again dropped her glove.
Shakespeare then stooped down to pick it up, saying, in the character
of the monarch whom he was playing--

 "And though now bent on this high embassy,
  Yet stoop we to take up our cousin's glove."

He then retired and presented the glove to the Queen, who was highly
pleased with his courtly performance.


In 1594 there was a celebrated Christmas at Gray's Inn, of which an
account was published in 1688 under the following title:--

"Gesta Grayorum: or the History of the High and Mighty Prince, Henry
Prince of Purpoole, Arch-Duke of Stapulia and Bernardia, Duke of High
and Nether Holborn, Marquis of St. Giles and Tottenham, Count
Palatine of Bloomsbury and Clerkenwell, Great Lord of the Cantons of
Islington, Kentish-Town, Paddington, and Knights-bridge, Knight of the
most Heroical Order of the Helmet, and Sovereign of the same; Who
Reigned and Died, A.D. 1594. Together with a Masque, as it was
presented (by his Highness's Command) for the entertainment of Q.
Elizabeth; who, with the Nobles of both Courts, was present thereat.
London, Printed for W. Canning, at his shop in the Temple-Cloysters,
MDCLXXXVIII. Price one shilling." 4to nine sheets, dedicated "To the
most honourable Matthew Smyth, Esq., Comptroller of the honourable
society of the Inner Temple."

The Prince of Purpoole was Mr. Henry Helmes, a Norfolk gentleman, "who
was thought to be accomplished with all good parts, fit for so great a
dignity; and was also a very proper man of personage, and very active
in dancing and revelling." His coffers were filled by voluntary
contributors, amongst whom the lord treasurer, Sir William Cecil, sent
him ten pounds, and a purse of rich needlework.

The performers were highly applauded by Queen Elizabeth, who expressed
satisfaction in her own peculiar style. When the actors had performed
their Masque, some of her Majesty's courtiers danced a measure,
whereupon the Queen exclaimed: "What! shall we have bread and cheese
after a banquet?" Finally the Prince and his Officers of State were
honoured by kissing her fair hands, and receiving the most flattering
commendations. The whole amusement terminated in fighting at barriers;
the Earl of Essex, and others, challengers; the Earl of Cumberland and
company defendants, "into which number," says the narrator, "our
Prince was taken, and behaved himself so valiantly and skilfully
therein, that he had the prize adjudged due unto him, which it pleased
her Majesty to deliver him with her own hands; telling him, that it
was not her gift, for if it had, it should have been better; but she
gave it to him, as that prize which was due to his desert, and good
behaviour in those exercises; and that hereafter he should be
remembered with a better reward from herself. The prize was a jewel,
set with seventeen diamonds and four rubies; in value accounted worth
a hundred marks."

The following is the Gray's Inn list of performers, which included
some gentlemen who were afterwards "distinguished members in the law."

[From "Gesta Grayorum," page 6.]

"The order of the Prince of Purpoole's proceedings, with his
officers and attendants at his honourable inthronization; which
was likewise observed in all his solemn marches on grand days,
and like occasions; which place every officer did duly attend,
during the reign of his highness's government.

                 A Marshal.}      {A Marshal.
                 Trumpets. }      {Trumpets.

Pursuevant at Arms         _Lanye._

Townsmen in the Prince's Livery}      {Yeomen of the Guard
      with Halberts.           }      {three couples.

Captain of the Guard                         _Grimes._

Baron of the Grand Port                      _Dudley._

Baron of the Base Port                       _Grante._

Gentlemen for Entertainment, three couples   _Binge, &c._

Baron of the Petty Port                      _Williams._

Baron of the New Port                        _Lovel._

Gentlemen for Entertainment, three couples  {_Zukenden._

Lieutenant of the Pensioners      _Tonstal._

Gentlemen Pensioners, twelve couples, viz.:
      Lawson.   }      {Rotts.   }      {Davison.
      Devereux. }      {Anderson.}      {
      Stapleton.}      {Glascott.}      {
      Daniel.   }      {Elken.   }      {cum reliquis.

Chief Ranger and Master of the Game          _Forrest._

Master of the Revels                         _Lambert._

Master of the Revellers                      _Tevery._

Captain of the Pensioners                    _Cooke._

Sewer                                        _Archer._

Carver                                       _Moseley._

Another Sewer                                _Drewery._

Cup-bearer                                   _Painter._

Groom-porter                                 _Bennet._

Sheriff                                      _Leach._

Clerk of the Council                         _Jones._

Clerk of the Parliament.

Clerk of the Crown                           _Downes._

Orator                                       _Heke._

Recorder                                     _Starkey._

Solicitor                                    _Dunne._

Serjeant                                     _Goldsmith._

Speaker of the Parliament                    _Bellen._

Commissary                                   _Greenwood._

Attorney                                     _Holt._

Serjeant                                     _Hitchcombe._

Master of the Requests                       _Faldo._

Chancellor of the Exchequer                  _Kitts._

Master of the Wards and Idiots               _Ellis._

Reader                                       _Cobb._

Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer            _Briggs._

Master of the Rolls                          _Hetlen._

Lord Chief Baron of the Common Pleas         _Damporte._

Lord Chief Justice of the Princes Bench      _Crew._

Master of the Ordnance                       _Fitz-Williams._

Lieutenant of the Tower                      _Lloyd._

Master of the Jewel-house                    _Darlen._

Treasurer of the House-hold                  _Smith._

Knight Marshal                               _Bell._

Master of the Ward-robe                      _Conney._

Comptroller of the House-hold                _Bouthe._

Bishop of St. Giles's in the Fie             _Dandye._

Steward of the House-hold                    _Smith._

Lord Warden of the four Ports                _Damporte._

Secretary of State                           _Jones._

Lord Admiral                                 _Cecil (Richard)._

Lord Treasurer                               _Morrey._

Lord Great Chamberlain                       _Southworth._

Lord High Constable.

Lord Marshal                                 _Knapolck._

Lord Privy Seal                              _Lamphew._

Lord Chamberlain of the House-hold           _Markham._

Lord High Steward                            _Kempe._

Lord Chancellor                              _Johnson._

Archbishop of St. Andrews in Holborn         _Bush._

Serjeant at Arms, with the Mace              _Flemming._

Gentleman-Usher                              _Chevett._

The Shield of Pegasus, for the Inner-Temple  _Scevington._

Serjeant at Arms, with the Sword             _Glascott._

Gentleman-Usher                              _Paylor._

The Shield of the Griffin, for Gray's-Inn    _Wickliffe._

The King at Arms                             _Perkinson._

The great Shield of the Prince's Arms        _Cobley._

The Prince of Purpoole                       _Helmes._

A Page of Honour                             _Wandforde._

Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber, six couples.

A Page of Honour                             _Butler (Roger)._

Vice-Chamberlain                             _Butler (Thomas)._

Master of the Horse                          _Fitz-Hugh._

Yeomen of the Guard, three couples.
Townsmen in Liveries.

        The Family and Followers."


is the subject of an old song preserved in the Roxburgh Collection of
Ballads in the British Museum. The full title is: "Christmas's
Lamentation for the losse of his acquaintance; showing how he is forst
to leave the country and come to London." It appears to have been
published at the end of the sixteenth or the beginning of the
seventeenth century. The burden of the song is that Christmas "charity
from the country is fled," and the first verse will sufficiently
indicate the style of the writing:--

  Christmas is my name, far have I gone,
  Have I gone, have I gone, have I gone, without regard,
  Whereas great men by flocks there be flown,
  There be flown, there be flown, there be flown, to London-ward;
  Where they in pomp and pleasure do waste
  That which Christmas was wonted to feast, Welladay!
  Houses where music was wont for to ring
  Nothing but bats and owlets do sing.
      Welladay! Welladay! Welladay! where should I stay?


is the title of a lively Christmas ditty which is a kind of reply to
the preceding ballad. It is preserved in the collection formed by
Samuel Pepys, some time Secretary to the Admiralty, and author of the
famous diary, and by him bequeathed to Magdalene College, Cambridge.
The full title and first verse of the old song are as follows:--

"Old Christmas returned, or Hospitality revived; being a Looking-glass
for Rich Misers, wherein they may see (if they be not blind) how much
they are to blame for their penurious house-keeping, and likewise an
encouragement to those noble-minded gentry, who lay out a great part
of their estates in hospitality, relieving such persons as have need

 'Who feasts the poor, a true reward shall find,
  Or helps the old, the feeble, lame, and blind.'"

 "All you that to feasting and mirth are inclined,
  Come, here is good news for to pleasure your mind;
  Old Christmas is come for to keep open house,
  He scorns to be guilty of starving a mouse;
  Then come, boys, and welcome, for diet the chief,
  Plum-pudding, goose, capon, minc'd pies, and roast beef."


was revived in accordance with the commands of Queen Elizabeth, who
listened sympathetically to the "Lamentations" of her lowlier
subjects. Their complaint was that the royal and public pageants at
Christmastide allured to the metropolis many country gentlemen, who,
neglecting the comforts of their dependents in the country at this
season, dissipated in town part of their means for assisting them, and
incapacitated themselves from continuing that hospitality for which
the country had been so long noted. In order to check this practice,
the gentlemen of Norfolk and Suffolk were commanded by Queen Elizabeth
to depart from London before Christmas, and "to repair to their
counties, and there to keep hospitality amongst their neighbours." The
presence of the higher classes was needed among the country people to
give that assistance which was quaintly recommended by Tusser in his
"Hundreth good Points of Husbandrie":

 "At Christmas be mery, and thanke God of all:
  And feast thy pore neighbours, the great with the small.
  Yea al the yere long have an eie to the poore:
  And God shall sende luck to kepe open thy doore."

Henry Lord Berkeley, who had a seat in Warwickshire,
appears to have set a good example in this respect to the
noblemen of the period, for, according to Dugdale, "the greatest
part of this lord's abydinge after his mother's death, happenynge
in the sixth yeare of Queen Elizabeth, was at Callowdon, till his
own death in the eleventh of Kinge James, from whence, once
in two or three yeares, hee used in July to come to Berkeley."
The historic house of Berkeley essentially belongs to Gloucestershire;
but on the death of Edward VI., Henry Lord Berkeley,


 "With a good old fashion, when Christmas was come,
  To call in all his old neighbours with bagpipe and drum."]

by descent from the Mowbrays and the Segraves, became possessed of the
ancient Manor and castellated mansion of Caludon, near Coventry, where
he lived in splendour, and kept a grand retinue, being profuse in his
hospitalities at Christmas, as well as in his alms to the poor
throughout the year. "As touchinge the Almes to the poore of 5 & six
country p'ishes & villages hard adjoyninge to Callowdon were relieved,
with each of them a neepe of holsome pottage, with a peece of beoffe
or mutton therin, halfe a cheate loafe, & a kan of beere, besides the
private Almes that dayly went out of his purse never without eight or
ten shillings in single money of ijd iijd & groates, & besides
his Maundy & Thursday before Ester day, wherein many poore men and
women were clothed by the liberality of this lord and his first wife,
whilest they lived; and besides twenty markes, or twenty pound, or
more, which thrice each yeare, against the feaste of Christmas, Ester,
and Whitsontide, was sent by this Lord to two or three of the chiefest
Inhabitants of these villages, and of Gosford Street at Coventry, to
bee distributed amongst the poore accordinge to their discretions.
Such was the humanity of this Lord, that in tymes of Christmas and
other festyvalls, when his neighbor townships were invited and feasted
in his Hall, hee would, in the midst of their dynner, ryse from his
owne, & goynge to each of their tables in his Hall, cheerfully bid
them welcome. And his further order was, having guests of Honour or
remarkable ranke that filled his owne table, to seate himselfe at the
lower end; and when such guests filled but half his bord, & a meaner
degree the rest of his table, then to seate himselfe the last of the
first ranke, & the first of the later, which was about the midst of
his large tables, neare the salt."

Another home of Christmas hospitality in the days of "Good Queen Bess"
was Penshurst in Kent, the birthplace of the distinguished and
chivalrous Sir Philip Sidney. "All who enjoyed the hospitality of
Penshurst," says Mills's _History of Chivalry_, "were equal in
consideration of the host; there were no odious distinctions of rank
or fortune; 'the dishes did not grow coarser as they receded from the
head of the table,' and no huge salt-cellar divided the noble from the
ignoble guests." That hospitality was the honourable distinction of
the Sidney family in general is also evident from Ben Jonson's lines
on Penshurst:

              "Whose liberal board doth flow
  With all that hospitality doth know!
  Where comes no guest but is allow'd to eat,
  Without his fear, and of thy Lord's own meat
  Where the same beer and bread, and self-same wine,
  That is His Lordship's, shall be also mine."[57]

A reviewer of "The Sidneys of Penshurst," by Philip Sidney, says there
is a tradition that the Black Prince and his Fair Maid of Kent once
spent their Christmastide at Penshurst, whose banqueting hall, one of
the finest in England, dates back to that age of chivalry. At
Penshurst Spenser wrote part of his "Shepherd's Calendar," and Ben
Jonson drank and rhymed and revelled in this stateliest of English
manor houses.


  "A man might then behold,
    At Christmas, in each hall,
  Good fires to curb the cold,
    And meat for great and small."]

Queen Elizabeth died on March 23, 1603, after nominating James VI. of
Scotland as her successor, and


as James I. of England, united the crowns of England and Scotland,
which had been the aim of Mary Queen of Scots before her death.

    [49] Cassell's "History of England."

    [50] "Domestic Memoirs of the Royal Family."

    [51] "History of the English People."

    [52] "Progresses."

    [53] "English Plays."

    [54] Sir William Dugdale's "Origines Juridiciales."

    [55] "Progresses."

    [56] "History of Music," vol iii. p. 15.

    [57] Gifford's "Ben Jonson," vol. viii. p. 254.






The Court entertainments of Christmastide in the reign of James the
First consisted chiefly of the magnificent masques of Ben Jonson and
others, who, by their training in the preceding reign, had acquired a
mastery of the dramatic art. The company to which Shakespeare belonged
(that of Lord Chamberlain's players) became the King's players on the
accession of James, and several of Shakespeare's plays were produced
at Court. But very early in this reign plays gave place to the more
costly and elaborate entertainments called masques, but which were
very different from the dumb-show masques of Elizabeth's reign, the
masquerades of Henry the Eighth, and the low-buffoonery masques of
earlier times. At the Court of James thousands of pounds were
sometimes expended on the production of a single masque. To the aid of
poetry, composed by poets of the first rank, came the most skilful
musicians and the most ingenious machinists. Inigo Jones, who became
architect to the Court in 1606, shared honours with Ben Jonson in the
production of the Court masques, as did also Henry Lawes, the eminent
musician. In some of the masques the devices of attire were the work
of "Master Jones," as well as the invention and the architecture of
the whole of the scenery. D'Israeli[58] says:--"That the moveable
scenery of these masques formed as perfect a scenical illusion as any
that our own age, with all its perfection and decoration, has attained
to, will not be denied by those who have read the few masques that
have been printed. They usually contrived a double division of the
scene; one part was for some time concealed from the spectator, which
produced surprise and variety. Thus in the Lord's Masque, at the
marriage of the Palatine, the scene was divided into two parts from
the roof to the floor; the lower part being first discovered, there
appeared a wood in perspective, the innermost part being of "releeve
or whole round," the rest painted. On the left a cave, and on the
right a thicket from which issued Orpheus. At the back of the scene,
at the sudden fall of a curtain, the upper part broke on the
spectators, a heaven of clouds of all hues; the stars suddenly
vanished, the clouds dispersed; an element of artificial fire played
about the house of Prometheus--a bright and transparent cloud reaching
from the heavens to the earth, whence the eight maskers descended with
the music of a full song; and at the end of their descent the cloud
broke in twain, and one part of it, as with a wind, was blown athwart
the scene. While this cloud was vanishing, the wood, being the under
part of the scene, was insensibly changing: a perspective view opened,
with porticoes on each side, and female statues of silver, accompanied
with ornaments of architecture, filled the end of the house of
Prometheus, and seemed all of goldsmith's work. The women of
Prometheus descended from their niches till the anger of Jupiter
turned them again into statues. It is evident, too, that the size of
the procenium accorded with the magnificence of the scene; for I find
choruses described, 'and changeable conveyances of the song,' in
manner of an echo, performed by more than forty different voices and
instruments in various parts of the scene."

The masque, as Lord Bacon says, was composed for princes, and by
princes it was played. The King and Queen, Prince Henry, and Prince
Charles (afterwards Charles the First) all appeared in Court masques,
as did also the nobility and gentry of the Court, foreign ambassadors,
and other eminent personages.

In his notes to "The Masque of Queens," Ben Jonson refers several
times to "the King's Majesty's book (our sovereign) of Demonology."
The goat ridden was said to be often the devil himself, but "of the
green cock, we have no other ground (to confess ingenuously) than a
vulgar fable of a witch, that with a cock of that colour, and a bottom
of blue thread, would transport herself through the air; and so
escaped (at the time of her being brought to execution) from the hand
of justice. It was a tale when I went to school."

That there was no lack of ability for carrying out the Court commands
in regard to the Christmas entertainments of this period is evident
from the company of eminent men who used to meet at the "Mermaid."
"Sir Walter Raleigh," says Gifford,[59] "previously to his unfortunate
engagement with the wretched Cobham and others, had instituted a
meeting of _beaux esprits_ at the Mermaid, a celebrated tavern in
Friday Street. Of this club, which combined more talent and genius,
perhaps, than ever met together before or since, Jonson was a member;
and here, for many years, he regularly repaired with Shakespeare,
Beaumont, Fletcher, Selden, Cotton, Carew, Martin, Donne, and many
others, whose names, even at this distant period, call up a mingled
feeling of reverence and respect." Here, in the full flow and
confidence of friendship, the lively and interesting "wit-combats"
took place between Shakespeare and Jonson; and hither, in probable
allusion to them, Beaumont fondly lets his thoughts wander in his
letter to Jonson from the country.

                   "What things have we seen,
  Done at the Mermaid? heard words that have been,
  So nimble, and so full of subtle flame,
  As if that every one from whom they came,
  Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest," &c.

Masques, however, were not the only Christmas diversions of royalty at
this period, for James I. was very fond of hunting, and Nichols[60]
says that, in 1604, the King kept


at his new hunting seat there, and "between the 18th of December and
22nd of January he there knighted Sir Richard Hussey, of Salop; Sir
Edward Bushell, of Gloucestershire; Sir John Fenwick, of
Northumberland; Sir John Huet, of London; Sir Robert Jermyn, of
Suffolk; Sir Isaac Jermyn, of Suffolk; Sir John Rowse; Sir Thomas
Muschamp, of Surrey. Mr. Chamberlaine, in a letter to Mr. Winwood from
London, December 18th, says: 'The King came back from Royston on
Saturday; but so far from being weary or satisfyed with those sports,
that presently after the holy-days he makes reckoning to be there
againe, or, as some say, to go further towards Lincolnshire, to a
place called _Ancaster Heath_.'"

In this letter Mr. Chamberlaine also refers to


for, proceeding, he says:--

"In the meantime here is great provision for Cockpit, to entertaine
him at home, and of Masks and Revells against the marriage of Sir
Philip Herbert and the Lady Susan Vere, which is to be celebrated on
St. John's Day. The Queen hath likewise a great Mask in hand against
Twelfth-tide, for which there was £3,000 delivered a month ago. Her
brother, the Duke of Holst, is here still, procuring a levy of men to
carry into Hungary. The Tragedy of 'Gowry,' with all the action and
actors, hath been twice represented by the King's Players, with
exceeding concourse of all sorts of people; but whether the matter or
manner be not well handled, or that it be thought unfit that Princes
should be played on the stage in their lifetime, I hear that some
great Councellors are much displeased with it, and so 'tis thought
shall be forbidden. And so wishing a merry Christmas and many a good
year to you and Mrs. Winwood, I committ you to God. Yours, most
assuredly, John Chamberlaine."

"On the 26th of January, Mr. Chamberlaine writes thus to Mr. Winwood:
'I doubt not but Dudley Carleton hath acquainted you with all their
Christmas-games at Court, for he was a spectator of all the sports and
shows. The King went to Royston two days after Twelfth-tide, where and
thereabout he hath continued ever since, and finds such felicity in
that hunting life, that he hath written to the Councill that it is the
only means to maintain his health, which being the health and welfare
of us all, he desires them to take the charge and burden of affairs,
and foresee that he be not interrupted or _troubled with too much

Campion's Masque in honour of Lord Hayes and his bride was presented
before King James, at Whitehall, on Twelfth Night, 1606; and in
reference to the Christmas festivities at Court the following year
(1607), Mr. Chamberlaine, writing to Sir D. Carleton, on the 5th of
January, says:

"The Masque goes forward at Court for Twelfth-day, though I doubt the
New Room will be scant ready. All the Holidays there were Plays; but
with so little concourse of strangers, that they say they wanted
company. The King was very earnest to have one on Christmas-night; but
the Lords told him it was not the fashion. Which answer pleased him
not a whit; but he said, 'What do you tell me of the fashion? I will
make it a fashion.' Yesterday he dined in the Presence in great pomp,
with two rich cupboards of plate, the one gold, the other that of the
House of Burgundy pawned to Queen Elizabeth by the States of Brabant,
and hath seldom been seen abroad, being exceeding massy, fair, and
sumptuous. I could learn no reason of this extraordinary bravery, but
that he would show himself in glory to certain Scots that were never
here before, as they say there be many lately come, and that the Court
is full of new and strange faces. Yesterday there were to be shewn
certain rare fire-works contrived by a Dane, two Dutchmen, and Sir
Thomas Challoner, in concert."

On January 8th, another letter of Mr. Chamberlaine thus refers to
gaming at Court: "On the Twelfth-eve there was great golden play at
Court. No Gamester admitted that brought not £300 at least. Montgomery
played the King's money, and won him £750, which he had for his
labour. The Lord Montegle lost the Queen £400. Sir Robert Cary, for
the Prince, £300; and the Earl Salisbury, £300; the Lord Buckhurst,
£500; _et sic de cæteris_. So that I heard of no winner but the King
and Sir Francis Wolley, who got above £800. The King went a
hawking-journey yesterday to Theobalds and returns to-morrow.

"Above Westminster the Thames is quite frozen over; and the Archbishop
came from Lambeth, on Twelfth-day, over the ice to Court. Many
fanciful experiments are daily put in practice; as certain youths
burnt a gallon of wine upon the ice, and made all the passengers
partakers. But the best is, of an honest woman (they say) that had a
great longing to encrease her family on the Thames" (Nichols's


dates from Christmas Day, 1607, when he knighted Robert Carr, or Ker,
a young border Scot of the Kers of Fernihurst, the first of the
favourites who ruled both the King and the kingdom. Carr had been some
years in France, and being a handsome youth--"straight-limbed,
well-formed, strong-shouldered, and smooth-faced"--he had been led to
believe that if he cultivated his personal appearance and a
courtliness of address, he was sure of making his fortune at the Court
of James. "Accordingly he managed to appear as page to Lord Dingwall
at a grand tilting match at Westminster, in 1606. According to
chivalric usage it became his duty to present his lord's shield to his
Majesty; but in manoeuvring his horse on the occasion it fell and
broke his leg. That fall was his rise. James was immediately struck
with the beauty of the youth who lay disabled at his feet, and had him
straightway carried into a house near Charing Cross, and sent his own
surgeon to him.... On Christmas Day, 1607, James knighted him and made
him a gentleman of the bedchamber, so as to have him constantly about
his person. Such was his favour that every one pressed around him to
obtain their suits with the King. He received rich presents; the
ladies courted his attention; the greatest lords did him the most
obsequious and disgusting homage."[61] He afterwards formed that
connection with Frances Howard, Countess of Essex, which resulted in
her divorce from her husband, and, subsequently, on his marrying Lady
Essex, the King made him Earl of Somerset, that the lady might not
lose in rank. On the circumstances attending the murder of Sir Thomas
Overbury being brought to light, the complicity of Somerset was
thought to be involved in the ascertained guilt of his wife. In May,
1616, the Countess was convicted; a week later her husband shared her
fate. After a long imprisonment Somerset was pardoned, and ended his
life in obscurity.

In this reign the Court revels and shows of Christmas were imitated at
the country seats of the nobility and gentry, and at the Colleges of
Oxford and Cambridge. An account has been preserved of one of the most
remarkable exhibitions of this kind, entitled--


It took place in the year 1607, at St. John's College, Oxford, and the
authentic account was published from the original manuscript, in 1816,
by Robert Tripbook, of 23, Old Bond Street, London: "To the
President, Fellows, and Scholars of St. John Baptist College, in the
University of Oxford, this curious Record of an ancient custom in
their Society, is respectfully inscribed by the Publisher." Of the
authenticity of this description the Publisher says "no doubt can
possibly exist, it was written by an eye-witness of, and performer in,
the sports; and is now printed, for the first time, from the original
manuscript preserved in the College Library.

"From the Boy Bishop, the Christmas Prince may be supposed to derive
his origin. Whilst the former was bearing sway in the ecclesiastical
foundations, the latter was elected to celebrate the festivities of
Christmas in the King's palace, at the seats of the nobility, at the
universities, and in the Inns of Court. The custom prevailed till the
ascendancy of the Puritans during the civil war; and some idea of the
expense, and general support it received, may be formed from the
account of the Gray's Inn Prince and an extract from one of the
Strafford Papers. The latter is from a letter written by the Rev. G.
Garrard to the Earl of Strafford, dated Jan. 8, 1635: 'The Middle
Temple House have set up a prince, who carries himself in great state;
one Mr. Vivian a Cornish gentleman, whose father Sir Francis Vivian
was fined in the Star-Chamber about a castle he held in Cornwall,
about three years since. He hath all his great officers attending him,
lord keeper, lord treasurer, eight white staves at the least, captain
of his pensioners, captain of his guard, two chaplains, who on Sunday
last preached before him, and in the pulpit made three low legs to his
excellency before they began, which is much laughed at. My lord
chamberlain lent him two fair cloths of state, one hung up in the hall
under which he dines, the other in his privy chamber; he is served on
the knee, and all that come to see him kiss his hand on their knee. My
lord of Salisbury hath sent him pole-axes for his pensioners. He sent
to my lord of Holland, his justice in Eyre, for venison, which he
willingly sends him; to the lord mayor and sheriffs of London for
wine, all obey. Twelfth-day was a great day, going to the chapel many
petitions were delivered him, which he gave to his masters of the
requests. He hath a favourite, whom with some others, gentlemen of
great quality, he knighted at his return from church, and dined in
great state; at the going out of the chambers into the garden, when he
drank the King's health, the glass being at his mouth he let it fall,
which much defaced his purple satten suit, for so he was clothed that
day, having a cloak of the same down to his foot, for he mourns for
his father who lately died. It cost this prince £2,000 out of his own
purse. I hear of no other design, but that all this is done to make
them fit to give the prince elector a royal entertainment with masks,
dancings, and some other exercises of wit, in orations or
arraignments, that day that they invite him.'

"The writer, or narrator, of the events connected with the Christmas
Prince of St. John's was Griffin Higgs, who was descended of a
respectable and opulent family in Gloucestershire, though he was
himself born at Stoke Abbat, near Henley on Thames, in 1589. He was
educated at St. John's, and thence, in 1611, elected fellow of Merton
college, where he distinguished himself, in the execution of the
procuratorial duties, as a man of great courage, though, says Wood, of
little stature. In 1627 he was appointed chaplain to the Queen of
Bohemia, by her brother Charles the First, and during his absence, in
the performance of his duties, was created a doctor of divinity at
Leyden by the learned Andrew Rivet. He returned, after a residence
abroad of about twelve years, when he had the valuable rectory of
Clive or Cliff, near Dover, and shortly after the deanery of
Lichfield, conferred upon him. During the civil wars he was a sufferer
for the royal cause, and, losing his preferment, retired to the place
of his birth, where he died in the year 1659, and was buried in the
chancel of the church of South Stoke.

"Thomas Tucker, the elected Prince, was born in London, in 1586,
entered at St. John's in 1601, became fellow of that house and took
holy orders. He afterwards had the vicarage of Pipping-burge, or
Pemberge, in Kent, and the rectory of Portshead, near Bristol, and
finally obtained the third stall in the cathedral church of Bristol,
in which he was succeeded, August 25, 1660, by Richard Standfast."

The following explanation is given of "the apparently strange titles
of the Prince of St. John's: 'The most magnificent and renowned
Thomas, by the favour of Fortune, Prince of _Alba Fortunata_, Lord St.
Johns, high Regent of the Hall, Duke of St. Giles, Marquis of
Magdalens, Landgrave of the Grove, County Palatine of the Cloisters,
Chief Bailiff of the Beaumonts, High Ruler of Rome, Master of the
Manor of Waltham, Governor of Gloucester Green, Sole Commander of all
Tilts,' &c. The Prince of _Alba Fortunata_ alludes, as may be readily
conjectured, to the name of the founder, Sir Thomas _White_; St.
John's, and the Hall, are equally clear; Magdalens is the parish in
which a portion of the college stands, and a part of which belongs to
the society; the Grove and the Cloisters are again parts of the home
domain of the college; Beaumonts is the name of a portion of land
belonging to the college, on which stands the ruin of the palace of
Beaumonts, built about the year 1128 by King Henry the First; Rome is
a piece of land so called, near to the end of the walk called _Non
Ultra_, on the north side of Oxford. The manor of Waltham, or Walton,
is situate in the north suburb of Oxford, and is the property of the
college, as is a considerable portion of Gloucester-green, which
though now better known as the site of an extensive bridewell, was in
1607 literally a meadow, and without any building more contiguous than
Gloucester-hall, from which house it derived its name."

Then follows "A true and faithfull relation of the rising and fall of
Thomas Tucker, Prince of _Alba Fortunata_, Lord St. Johns, &c., with
all the occurrents which happened throughout his whole domination."

"It happened in the yeare of our Lord 1607, the 31 of October, beinge
All Sayntes Eve, that at night a fier was made in the Hall of St. John
Baptist's Colledge, in Oxon, accordinge to the custome and statuts of
the same place, at which time the whole companye or most parte of the
Students of the same house mette together to beginne their Christmas,
of which some came to see sports, to witte the Seniors as well
Graduates, as Under-graduates. Others to make sports, viz., Studentes
of the seconde yeare, whom they call Poulderlings, others to make
sporte with all, of this last sorte were they whome they call
Fresh-menn, Punies of the first yeare, who are by no meanes admitted
to be agents or behoulders of those sports, before themselves have
been patient perfourmers of them. But (as it often falleth out) the
Freshmen or patients, thinkinge the Poulderlings or Agentes too buysie
and nimble, They them too dull and backwarde in theyr duety, the
standers by findinge both of them too forwarde and violente, the
sportes for that night for feare of tumultes weare broken upp, everye
mann betakinge himself to his reste.

"The next night followinge, beinge the feast of All Sayntes, at nighte
they mett agayne together; And whereas it was hoped a night's sleepe
would have somewhat abated their rage, it contraryewise sett a greater
edge on theyr furye, they havinge all this while but consulted how to
gett more strength one agaynst another, and consequently to breed newe
quarrells and contradictions, in so much that the strife and
contentions of youthes and children had like to have sett Men together
by the eares, to the utter annihilatinge of all Christmas sportes for
the whole yeare followinge.

"Wherfore for the avoydinge both the one, and the other, some who
studied the quiet of all, mentioned the choosinge of a Christmas Lord,
or Prince of the Revells, who should have authorytie both to appoynt &
moderate all such games, and pastimes as should ensue, & to punishe
all offenders which should any way hinder or interrupte the free &
quiet passage of any antient & allowed sporte.

"This motion (for that the person of a Prince or Lorde of the Revells
had not been knowen amongst them for thirty yeares before, and so
consequentlye the danger, charge and trouble of such jestinge was
cleane forgotten) was presentlye allowed and greedilye apprehended of
all; Wher upon 13 of the senior Under graduates (7 of the bodye of the
House & 6 Comoners, Electors in such a case) withdrew themselves into
the parlour, where after longe debatinge whether they should chouse a
Graduate or an Under Graduate, thinkinge the former would not
vouchsafe to undertake it at theyr appoyntmentes, the latter should
not be upheld & backed as it was meete & necessary for such a place,
they came forth rather to make triall what would be done, than to
resolve what should be done. And therefore at their first entrance
into the Hall meeting Sir Towse a younge man (as they thought) fitt
for the choyse, they laid handes on him, and by maine strength
liftinge him upp, _viva voce_, pronounced him Lord. But hee as
stronglye refusinge the place as they violentlye thrust it upon him,
shewing with all reasons why hee could by no meanes undergoe such a
charge, they gott onlye this good by their first attempt, that they
understood heer by how that the whole Colledge was rather willinge a
Seniour Batchelour at least, if not a junior Master should be chosen
in to the place rather than any Under graduate, because they would
rather an earnest sporte than a scoffinge jest should be made of it.
Wher fore the Electors returninge againe into the Parlour and
shuttinge the dore close upon themselves begaune more seriously to
consult of the matter, and findinge some unable, some unwillinge to
take the place, at length they concluded to make the 2 weird printing
error?] assay but with more formalitie and deliberation; resolvinge,
if they were not now seconded of all handes, to meddle no more with
it. Wherfore, enteringe the second time in to the Hall they desired
one of the 10 Seniors & one of the Deanes of the Colledge to hold the
Scrutinye and the Vice-President to sitt by as overseer, who willingly
harkeninge to their request, sate all 3 downe at the highe table: Then
the Electors went up one by one in senioritye to give their voyce by
writinge. In the meane time there was great expectation who should bee
the Man. Some in the lower ende of the Hall, to make sporte, had theyr
Names loudest in their mouthes whome they least thought of in their
mindes, & whome they knew should come shortest of the place. At length
all the voyces being given and, accordinge to custome, the Scrutinie
at large being burned, the Vice-president with the rest stoode upp,
and out of the abstract the Deane read distinctly in the hearinge of
all present as followeth

 "_Nominantur in hoc Scrutinio duo quorum_
    { 1 Joanes Towse, _habet suffragia sex_.
    { 2us Thomas Tucker, _habet suffragia septem_.

"These wordes were not out of his mouthe before a generall and loud
crie was made of Tucker, Tucker, Vivat, Vivat, &ct. After which all
the younger sorte rane forth of the Colledge crieinge the same in the
streets; which Sir Tucker beinge then howsde not farr from the
Colledge, over hearinge, kept himself close till the companye were
past, and then, as soone and secretly as he could, gott him to his
Chamber; where (after he had been longe sought for abroad in the
Towne, and at home in the Colledge, haste and desire out runinge it
self, and seekinge there last where it might first finde) he was in a
manner surprised, and more by violence than any will of his owne,
taken upp & with continuall & joyfull outcries, carried about the
Hall, and so backe to his Chamber, as his owne request was, where for
that night he rested, dismissinge the Company and desiringe some time
to think of their loves and goodwill, and to consider of his owne
charge and place.

"About 3 or 4 dayes after, on the 5 of November the Lord Elect with
the Batchelours, and some of the Senior Under-graduates came into the
Hall where every man beinge seated in his order, many speaches were
made by diverse of diverse matters, some commendinge a monarchicall
state of Governmente, and the sometimes suddayne necessitye of
Dictators, others discommendinge both. Some again extollinge sportes &
revells, others mainely disallowinge them, all of them drawinge some
conclusion concerninge the like or dislike of the government newly
begune, and like for a little space to continue amongst them. In the
ende the Lord Elect himselfe, to conclude all, delivered his owne
minde in manner followinge:--

"Quæ beneficia (Viri Electores clarissimi) plus difficultatis atque,
oneris apportant collacata, qu[=a] debite administrata; poterunt honoris,
cautè magis primo in limine credo excipienda qu[=a] aut imensæ dignitatis
expectatione appetenda auidè, aut boni incogniti coeco appetitu
app'hendenda temere. Quor[=u] in albo (Electores conscripti) c[=u] semper
dignitates istiusmodi serio retulerim, Vos (pace dic[=a] vestræ diligentiæ)
non tam mihi videmini gratias debere expectare, qua ipse istud onus
suscepturus videor promereri. N[=a] illud demum gratijs excipitur
benefici[=u] (pro tempor[=u] ratione loquor) quod nec sollicitudo vrget nec
offici[=u]--Infinitæ autem adeo sunt anxietates, quæ vel istam dominatus
[Greek: anatypôsin] circumcingunt, vt pauci velint ipsas c[=u] dominatu
lubentèr amplecti, nulli possint euitare, nulli sustinere. N[=a] vbi veri
imperij facies est repræsentanda expectanda semper est aliqua curar[=u]
proportio. Veru cum dignitas Electoria, amicitia suffragatoria, populi
applausus, [=o]ni[=u] consensus Democratiæ tollendæ causâ ad primatum
euocauerint, lubens animi nostri strenuæ renuentis temperabo impet[=u],
et sedulò impendà curam, vt Reip: (si vobis minus possim singulis) toti
satisfaci[=a]. Hic ego non ità existimo opportun[=u] progressu[=u]
nostror[=u] aduersarijs cur[=a] imperij promiscuam et indigestam
collaudantibus respondere, aut status Monarchici necessitat[=e]
efferentibus assentari: Disceptation[=u] vestrar[=u] non accessi judex,
accersor imperator; Amori vestro (Viri nobis ad prime chari) lubens
tribuo gloriæ nostræ ort[=u]; progress[=u] august[=u] atque, gloriosu a
vobis ex officio vestro exigere, præter amor[=e] nostrum fore no arbitror.
Tyra[=u]idem non profiteor, imperi[=u] exercebo. Cujus foeliciores
processus vt promoueantur, atque indies stabiliant æris magis quam oris
debetis esse prodigi. Quarè primitias amoris, atque officij vestri statuo
extemplo exigendas, nè aut ipse sinè authoritate imperare, aut imperium
sinè gloriâ capessisse videar [Greek: Politeian] Atheniensem sequimur,
cujus ad norman Ego ad munus regui jam suffectus, Mineruæ, Vulcano et
Prometheo sacra c[=u] ludorum curatoribus pro moris vsu, primâ meâ in his
sacris authoritate fieri curabo. Interim vero (Viri nostrâ authoritate
adhuc majores) juxta prædictæ Reipublicæ jmagin[=e] choragos, seu adjutores
desidero, qui n[=o] tantum ludis præponantur, sed et liberalitate pro
op[=u] ratione in Reipublicæ impensas vtentes, ex ære publico præmia partim
proponant, partim de suo insumant, hoc nomine quod illor[=u] sint præfecti.
Quæ alia vestri sunt officij moniti præstabitis, quæ amoris, vltro (vti
Spero) offeretis.

"This was counted sufficient for his private installmente, but with
all it was thought necessary that some more publicke notice hereof
should be given to the whole Universitie, with more solemnitie and
better fashion; yet before they would venter to publish their private
intendements, they were desirous to knowe what authoritie and
jurisdiction would be graunted to them, what money allowed them
towards the better going through with that they had begune. And not
long after the whole company of the Batchelours sent 2 bills to the
Masters fire, the one cravinge duety and alleageance, the other money
and maintenance in manner & forme followinge:

  "The coppye of a Bill sent by the Lord Elect, and the whole
     Company of the Batchelours to the Masters fire, cravinge their
     duety and alleageance.

"Not doubtinge of those ceremonious and outward duetyes which
yourselves (for example sake) will performe, Wee _Thomas Tucker_ with
the rest of the Bacchelours are bold to entreat, but as _Thomas, Lord
Elect_, with the rest of our Councell are ready to expect, that no
Tutor or Officer whatsoever shall at any time, or upon any occasion,
intermeddle, or partake with any scholler, or youth whatsoever, but
leavinge all matters to the discretion of our selves, stand to those
censures and judgementes which wee shall give of all offenders that
are under our govermente in causes appertaininge to our government.
All wayes promisinge a carefull readinesse to see schollerlike
excercise performed, and orderly quietnesse mayntained in all sortes;
This as Wee promise for our owne partes, so Wee would willingly desire
that you should promise the performance of the rest of your partes,
accordinge to that bountye & love which allready you have shewed us.

      Yours,    Thomas Tucker
  Joseph Fletcher     Thomas Downer
  John Smith          Rouland Juxon
  Richard Baylye      John Huckstepp
  Richard Holbrooke   James Bearblocke
  John Towse          John English

"This Bill subscribed with all their handes was seene and allowed by
all the Masters, who promised rather more than lesse than that which
was demanded. But concerninge the other Bill for Subsidyes, it was
answered that it was not in their power to grant it without the
President, whose cominge home was every day expected: against which
time it was provided, and delivered unto him; who together with the 10
Seniors, was loath to grant any thinge till they were certified what
sportes should bee, of what quality & charge, that so they might the
better proportion the one to the other, the meanes to the matter: They
were allso willinge to knowe what particular Men would take upon them
the care of furnishinge particular nightes. For they would by no
meanes relye upon generall promises because they were not ignorant how
that which concerneth all in generall is by no man in speciall
regarded. Wherfore they beinge somewhat, although not fully, satisfied
in their demaundes by some of the Masters, whom they seemed cheefly to
trust with the whole businesse, the Bill was againe perused, and every
man ceazed in manner and forme followinge:

 "'The coppye of an auncient Act for taxes and subsidyes made in the
     raygne of our Predecessor of famous memorye, in this Parliament
     held in Aula Regni the vi^{th} of November 1577 and now for Our
     Self new ratified and published, anno regni jº November 7º 1607.

"'Because all lovinge & loyall Subjects doe owe not onely themselves,
but allso their landes, livinges, goodes, and what soever they call
theirs, to the good of the Commonwealth, and estate under which they
peaceably enjoy all, It is further enacted that no man dissemble his
estate, or hide his abilitye, but be willinge at all times to pay such
duetyes, taxes, and subsidies, as shall be lawfully demaunded &
thought reasonable without the hinderance of his owne estate, upon
payne of forfettinge himself and his goodes whatsoever.'

  [List of contributions amounting to 52^{li} xiii^{s.} vii]

"Though the whole company had thus largely contributed towards the
ensuinge sportes, yet it was found that when all thinges necessary
should be layed toegether, a great sum of money would be wantinge, and
therfore a course was thought upon of sendinge out privie Seales to
able & willinge Gentlemen which had been sometimes Fellowes or
commoners of the Colledge that it would please them to better the
stocke, and out of their good will contribute somewhat towardes the
Prince's Revells."

Then followed the form of the writ issued, "To our trustye and
welbeloved Knight, or Esquire," &c. "Given under our privye Seale at
our Pallace of St. John's in Oxen, the seventh of December in the
first yeare of our rayne, 1607." Then follow "the names of those who
were served with this writt, and who most willingly obeyed upon the
receipt thereof," contributing altogether xvi^{li} x^{s} 0.
"Others were served and bragd of it, as though they had given, but
sent nothing."

"For all these Subsidies at home, and helpes abroad, yet it was founde
that in the ende there would rather be want (as indeed it happened)
than any superfluitye, and therfore the Prince tooke order with the
Bowsers to send out warrantes to all the Tenantes & other friendes of
the Colledge, that they should send in extraordinary provision against
every Feast, which accordingly was performed; some sendinge money,
some wine, some venison, some other provision, every one accordinge to
his abilitye.

"All thinges beinge thus sufficiently (as it was thought) provided
for, the Councell table, with the Lord himself, mett together to
nominate officers & to appoint the day of the Prince's publike
installment which was agreed should be on St. Andrews Day at night;
because at that time the Colledge allso was to chouse their new
officers for the yeare followinge.

"Now for that they would not playnely and barely install him without
any farther ceremonies, it was thought fitt that his whole ensuinge
Regiment (for good lucke sake) should be consecrated to the _Deitie of
Fortune_, as the sole Mistres and Patronesse of his estate, and
therfore a schollerlike devise called _Ara Fortunæ_ was provided for
his installment; which was performed in manner & forme followinge:



Rebellis Primus.
---- Secundus.
---- Tertius.
---- Quartus.

*     *     *     *     *

[The Drama is not given on account of its length. And it will be
remarked that, whenever asterisks are substituted, some portion of the
MS. has been omitted.]

"This showe by ourselves was not thought worthye of a stage or
scaffoldes, and therfore after supper the tables were onlye sett
together, which was not done with out great toyle & difficulty, by
reason of the great multitude of people (which, by the default of the
dorekeepers, and divers others, every man bringinge in his friends)
had filled the Hall before wee thought of it. But for all this it
began before 8 of clock, and was well liked by the whole audience,
who, how unrulye so ever they meante to bee afterwardes, resolved I
think at first with their good applause and quiet behaviour to drawe
us on so farr, as wee should not bee able to returne backwardes
without shame & discreditt. They gave us at the ende 4 severall &
generall plaudites; at the 2 wherof the Canopie which hunge over the
Altare of Fortune (as it had been frighted with the noise, or meante
to signifie that 2 plaudites were as much as it deserved) suddenly
fell downe; but it was cleanly supported by some of the standers by
till the company was voyded, that none but our selves took notice of

"Some upon the sight of this Showe (for the better enoblinge of his
person, and drawinge his pedigree even from the Godes because the
Prince's name was Tucker, and the last Prince before him was Dr. Case)
made this conceipt that _Casus et Fortuna genuerunt [Greek: Tycheron]
Principem Fortunatum_--so the one his father, and the other his

"Another accident worthy observation (and which was allso then
observed) was that the Foole carelesly sittinge downe at the Prince's
feete brake his staff in the midst, whence wee could not but directly
gather a verye ill omen, that the default and follye of some would bee
the very breaknecke of our ensueing sports, which how it fell out, I
leave to the censures of others; our selves (I am sure) were guilty to
our selves of many weaknesses and faultes, the number wherof were
increased by the crossinge untowardnesse, and backwardnesse of divers
of the Prince's neerest followers, nay the Prince himself had some
weaknesses which did much prejudice his state, wherof the chiefest
weere his openesse, and familiaritye with all sortes, beinge
unwillinge to displease eny, yet not able to please all. But to
proceede:--On St. Thomas day at night the officers before elect were
solemnly proclaimed by a Sergeant at armes, and an Herauld, the
trumpetts soundinge beetwixt every title. This proclamation after it
was read, was for a time hunge up in the Hall, that every man might
the better understande the qualitie of his owne place, and they that
were of lower, or no place, might learne what duety to performe to

"The manner wherof was as followeth:

 "Whereas by the contagious poyson, and spreadinge malice
  of some ill disposed persons, hath been threatned not
  onelye the danger of subvertinge peaceable & orderlye proceedinges,
  but the allmost utter annihilatinge of auncient &
  laudable customes--It hath been thought convenient, or
  rather absolutely necessarye for the avoydinge of a most
  dangerous ensuinge Anarchie, a more settled order of
  goverment, for the better safetye of all well meaninge
  Subjects, and curbinge of discontented, headstronge persons,
  should bee established. And whereas through wante of good
  lawes by wise and discreet Magistrates to bee duely and
  truely executed, a giddye conceipt hath possest the
  mindes of manye turbulent spirites, of endueringe no
  superiour, hardly an equall, whereby the common-wealth
  might growe to bee a manye-headed monster--It hath
  been provided by the staide and mature deliberations of
  well-experienced governours and provident counsellours, that
  one whose highe deserts might answere his high advancement
  should bee sett over all to the rulinge and directinge
  of all--Therefore by these presentes bee it knowne unto
  all of what estate or condicion soever whome it shall
  concerne that Thomas Tucker, an honorable wise & learned
  Gentleman to the great comeforte of the weale-publique from
  hence-forth to be reputed, taken and obayed for the true,
  onely and undoubted Monarche of this revellinge Climate,
  whom the generall consent and joynte approbation of the
  whole Common-wealth hath invested and crowned with
  these honours and titles followinge:

 "The most magnificent and renowned Thomas by the favour
  of Fortune, Prince of Alba Fortunata, Lord St. Johns,
  high Regent of the Hall, Duke of St. Giles, Marquesse
  of Magdalens, Landgrave of the Grove, County Palatine
  of the Cloisters, Chiefe Bailiffe of the Beaumonts, high
  Ruler of Rome, Maister of the Manor of Waltham, Governour
  of Gloster-greene, sole Commaunder of all Titles, Tourneaments,
  and Triumphes, Superintendent in all Solemnities

"Now because they whom the unknowne cares, & unweildie burdens of a
sole regiment shall relie upon, neede extraordinary helpe in the more
than ordinarye affaires, Hee hath as well for the better discharge &
ease of those royall duetyes (as it were) which attend on his place,
as for the avoidinge the odious & ingratefull suspition of a single
dominion, and private Tyranye, selected and chosen unto himself a
grave and learned assistance both for Councell and government, whom,
and every of which, his princely will is, shall in their severall
places & dignities bee both honoured and obeid, with no lesse respect
and observance than if himself were there present in person. And that
carelesse ignorance may bee no lawfull excuse for the breach of his
will therin hee hath appointed their severall names and titles, with
their subordinate officers and deputies to be signified & proclaimed
to all his lovinge and leige Subjects, in manner followinge:

"The right gracious John Duke of Groveland, Earle de Bello-Monte,
  Baron Smith, chiefe Ranger of the Woods & Forests, great Master of
  the Prince's Game, hath for his subordinate officers--

    Sir Frauncis Hudson, Keeper of the Parkes, & Warder of the

    Sir Thomas Grice, Forrester & Sargeaunt of the Woodhowse.

"The right honourable Rowland Lord Juxon, Lord Chauncelour, Keeper of
  the Great Seale, Signer of all publicke Charters, Allower of all
  Priviledges, hath for his subordinate officers.

    Sir William Dickenson, Master of the Requests, & the Prince's

    Sir Owen Vertue, Clerke of the Signet, and Chafer of Waxe.

"The right honourable Thomas Lord Downer, Lord high Treasurer,
  Receaver General of all Rents, Revenues, Subsidies, belonginge by
  Nature, custome or accident to the Prince; the great Payemaster
  of all necessary charges appertayninge to the Court, hath for his
  subordinate Officers--

    Sir John Williamson, Steward of the Household, Disburser for the

    Sir Christopher Wren, Cofferer, and Clerke of the Exchequer.

"The right honourable Joseph Lord Fletcher, Lord high Admirall,
  great Commaunder of all the narrow seas, floods and passages;
  Surveyor of the Navye, Mayster of the Ordinance, hath for his
  subordinate Officers,

    Sir Stephen Angier, Warden of the Cinque Ports, and
      Victualler of the Fleet.

    Sir Anthony Steevens, Captayne of the Guard.

"The right honourable Richard Lord Baylie, Lord high Marshall,
  President of all Titles, and Tourneaments, Commander in all
  Triumphes, Suppressor of suddayne tumultes, Supervisor of all
  games, and publique pastimes, hath for his subordinate Officers,

    Sir William Blagrove, Master of the Revells.

    Sir John Hungerford, Knight Marshall, severe Commander of the
      Wayes for the Prince's passage.

"The right honourable John Lord Towse, Lord high Chamberlayne,
  Purveyor for the Prince's pallace, Overseer of all feasts and
  banquets, furnisher of all Chambers, and Galleries, Examiner
  of all private pastimes, hath for his subordinate Officers,

    Sir Richard Swinerton} the Prince's Wards and
    Sir William Cheyney  } Squiers of his bodye.

    Mr. Edward Cooper, Groome-Porter.

"The right honourable Richard Lord Holbrooke, Comptroller
  Generall, Chiefe overseer of all Purseavants, Orderer of all
  household Servaunts, hath for his subordinate officers,

    Sir Thomas Stanley} Sergeaunts at Armes & Gentlemen Ushers
    Mr. John Alford   } to the Prince

    Mr. Brian Nailor, Master of the Robes of State, Keeper of the
      Wardrobe, and Surveyor of Liveries.

"The right honourable James Lord Berbloke, principall Secretarye,
  Lord privye Seale, designer of all Embasies, Drawer of all Edicts
  and Letters, Scribe to the State, hath for his subordinate Officers,

    Sir Thomas Clarke, Master of the Roles, & Prothonotarye.

    Mr. Marcheaumount Nedham, Clerke of the Councell-table.

"The right honourable John Lord English, Lord Chiefe Justice, Examiner
  of all causes Capitall; Sessor upon life and death, Judge of
  controversies criminall, hath for his subordinate Officers,

    Sir John Alder, Attourney Generall, and the Prince's Solicitor.

    Mr. John Sackevile, Baylife Erraunt.

"Now because good Governours without good laws, carefull Magistrates
without wholesome Statutes are like dumb (though paynted) images, or
unweapon'd soldiers--Hee of his absolute authoritye, conferred upon
him in the late free election, doth ratifie and establish all such
Decrees and Statutes, as Hee now findeth wisely and warely ordayned of
his famous Predecessor; promisinge onely by a full and severe
execution to put life in their dead remembrance, Adding moreover some
few cautions to be observed in his ensuinge Triumphs."

These statutes were ratified and established by the Prince "at our
Manor of Whites-Hall, December the 21st in the first of our Raygne."

"The same night the Prince, with the rest of his Councell meetinge at
the high table in the Hall, a Bill was preferred by the Lord Treasurer
for the advancement of Mr. Henery Swinarton to the Earldome of
Cloyster-sheere, and the over-seeinge of the Princes great Librarye."
After due consideration, "the Prince at length graunted the request,
and his title was presently drawne by the Clerke of the
Councell-table, and pronounced in manner followinge:

"The right honourable Henry Lord Swinarton, Earle of Cloister-Sheer,
  Barron of the Garden, chiefe Master of the Presse, and overseer of
  the Prince's great Librarye, hath for his subordinate Officers,

    Mr. William Rippin, Surveyor of the Walkes.

    Mr. Christopher Riley, Corrector of the Printe.

"From this time forward, and not before, the Prince was thought fully
to be instal'd, and the forme of government fully established,
in-so-much that none might or durst contradict anything which was
appoynted by himself, or any of his officers.

"The Holy-dayes beinge now at hand, his privye-chamber was provided
and furnisht, wherein a chayre of state was placed upon a carpett with
a cloth of state hanged over it, newly made for the same purpose. On
Christmas Day in the morninge he was attended on to prayers by the
whole companye of the Bacchelours, and some others of his Gentlemen
Ushers, bare before him. At dinner beinge sett downe in the Hall at
the high table in the Vice-president's place (for the President
himself was then allso present) he was served with 20 dishes to a
messe, all which were brought in by Gentlemen of the Howse attired in
his Guard's coats, ushered in by the Lord Comptroller, and other
Officers of the Hall. The first messe was a Boar's Head, which was
carried by the tallest and lustiest of all the Guard, before whom (as
attendants) wente first, one attired in a horseman's coate, with a
Boars-speare in his hande, next to him an other Huntsman in greene,
with a bloody faucion drawne; next to him 2 Pages in tafatye sarcenet,
each of them with a messe of mustard; next to whome came hee that
carried the Boares-head crost with a greene silk scarfe, by which
hunge the empty scabbard of the faulcion which was carried before him.
As they entered the Hall, he sang this Christmas Caroll, the three
last verses of everie staffe beinge repeated after him by the whole

  1. The Boare is dead,
     Loe, here is his head,
       What man could have done more
     Than his head off to strike,
     Meleager like,
       And bringe it as I doe before?

  2. He livinge spoyled
     Where good men toyled,
       Which made kinde Ceres sorrye;
     But now dead and drawne,
     Is very good brawne,
       And wee have brought it for you.

  3. Then sett downe the Swineyard,
     The foe to the Vineyard,
       Lett Bacchus crowne his fall,
     Lett this Boare's-head and mustard
     Stand for Pigg, Goose, and Custard,
       And so you are wellcome all.

"At this time, as on all other Holy-dayes, the Princes allowed
Musitions (which were sent for from Readinge, because our owne Town
Musick had given us the slipp, as they use to doe at that time when we
had most need of them) played all dinner time, and allso at supper.
The Prince as ofte as hee satt in the Hall was attended on by a
Commoner and Scholler of the Colledge in tafaty sarcenett. After
supper there was a private Showe performed in the manner of an
Interlude, contayninge the order of the Saturnalls, and shewinge the
first cause of Christmas-candles, and in the ende there was an
application made to the Day and Nativitie of Christ, all which was
performed in manner followinge:



*     *     *     *     *

"This shew was very well liked of our selves, and the better: first,
because itt was the voluntary service of a younge youth; nexte,
because there were no strangers to trouble us.

"St. Steevens day was past over in silence, and so had St. John's day
also; butt that some of the Prince's honest neighbours of St. Giles's
presented him with a maske, or morris, which though it were but
rudely performed, yet itt being so freely and lovingly profered, it
could not but bee as lovingly received.

"The same nighte, the twelve daies were suddenly, and as it were
extempore, brought in, to offer their service to the Prince, the
holy-daies speaking Latine, and the working-daies English, the
transition was this:

  Yee see these working-daies they weare no satten,
  And I assure you they can speake no Latten;
  But if you please to stay a-while,
  Some shepheard for them will change the style.

"After some few daunces the Prince, not much liking the sporte (for
that most of them were out both in their speeches and measures, having
but thought of this devise some few houres before) rose, and lefte the
hall, after whose departure, an honest fellow to breake of the sportes
for that night, and to void the company made suddenly this Epilogue:

  These daunces were perform'd of yore
  By many worthy Elfes,
  Now if you will have any more
  Pray shake your heeles your selves.

"The next day being Innocents-day, it was expected, and partly
determined by our selves, that the Tragedy of _Philomela_ should have
been publickly acted, which (as wee thought) would well have fitted
the day, by reason of the murder of Innocent Itis. But the carpenters
being no way ready with the stage, or scaffolds (whereof
notwithstanding some were made before Christmas), wee were constrained
to deferre it till the nexte day, which was the 29th of December.


Tereus, Rex Thraciæ.
Progne, Regina, Uxor Terei,
Eugenes, a consilijs Terei.
Phaulus, Seruus Terei,
Tres Socii Terei a Classe,
Ancilla Prognes.
Philomela, Soror Prognes
Itis, Filius Pronges et Terei
Ancilla Philomelæ.
Faustulus, Pastor Regius.
Faustula, Pastoris Filia.



*     *     *     *     *

"The whole play was wel acted and wel liked.

"New-yeare's eve was wholly spent in preparation for the Prince's
triumphs, so that nothing was done or expected that night.

"Next day in the morning (beeing New-yeare's-day) the Prince sent Mr.
Richard Swinnerton, one of the Squires of his body to Mr. President
with a paire of gloves, charging him to say nothing but these two

  The Prince and his Councell, in signe of their loves,
  Present you, their President, with these paire of gloves.

"There was some what else written in the paper which covered them, but
what it is uncertaine.

"At night were celebrated the Prince's triumphs, at which time onely
and never before nor after he was carryed in full state from his
pallace to the hall, where in the sight of the whole University a
supplication was presented unto him by Time and seconded with a shew
called _Times Complaint_. It was performed in manner and forme


Veritas, the Daughter of Time.
Opinion } Seducers of Veritas.
Error   }
Studioso, a Scholler.
Manco, a lame Souldiour.
Clinias, a poore Country-man.
Humphry Swallow, a drunken Cob
Goodwife Spiggot, an Ale-wife.
Philonices, a rangling Lawyer.
Seruus Philonices.
Bellicoso, a Casheere Corporall.


  "Worthelie heere wee bring you Time's Complaint
  Whom we have most just cause for to complaine of,
  For hee hath lent us such a little space
  That what wee doe wants much of its true grace.
  Yet let your wonted love that kindelie take,
  Which we could wish were better for your sake.

_Enter_ Time _with the Musicians to place them._


  O wellsaid, wellsaid; wellcome, wellcome, faith!
  It doth mee good to see I have some friends.
  Come, true observers of due time, come on:
  A fitt of musicke, but keepe time, keepe time
  In your remembrance still, or else you jarre:
  These for my sake too much neglected are.
  The world termes them beggars, fidling roagues,
  But come my fidling friends, I like you well,
  And for my sake I hope this company,
  Naie more the Prince himselfe, will like your tunes.
  Here take your place and shew your greatest skill,
  All now is well that is not verie ill.

Time _expecting the comming of the Prince (to whom hee preferreth a
petition) placeth himselfe on the stage till the traine bee past._

  This waie hee comes, here will I place my selfe,
  They saie hee is an honourable Prince,
  Respectfull, curteous, liberall, and learn'd:
  If hee bee soe hee will not choose but heare mee.
  Poore aged Time was never so abused,
  And in these daies Princes themselves are wrong'd.
  If not for my sake, yet for his owne good,
  Hee will read over my petition.
  Oft hath the like beene drawne and given up
  To his nobilitie; But carelesse they
  In theire deepe pockets swallow good men's praiers.
  This his owne hand shall have, or I will keepe it:--
  But here they come, stand close and viewe the traine.

Enter first six Knighte Marshalls men in suitable liveries with
  links and truncheons two by two.

Next the Knighte Marshall alone in armour and bases with a truncheon.

Then fower other of his men as before.

After these fower Knightes in rich apparell with hats and feathers,
  rapiers and daggers, bootes and spurres, everie one his Lackie
  attending on him with torch-light, all two by two.

After these the Master of the Requests, the Master of the Robes in
  vaste velvet gownes, with Lackies and torches before them.

After these fower Barons in velvet cloakes, likewise attended with
  Lackies and torches.

After these an Herald at Armes bare, with two Lackies attendant
  bearing torches.

After these six of the privie Counsell in Schollars gownes and civill
  hoods, everie one attended on by a Footman bearing on his jacket both
  behind and before his Lord's armes according to his office (as it is
  before mentioned) with torches alsoe in theire hands.

After those two Sergeants at armes, with great Maces, and two Squiers
  before them with torches, all bare.

After these two Hench-men, the one with a sword, the other with a
  scepter, likewise attended by two Squiers with torch lights, all

After these the Prince himselfe in a scholler's gowne and civill hood,
  with a coronett of laurell about his hat, attended on by fower
  footmen in suitable liveries with torches.

After these the Captaine of the guard alone in hose and dublett, hatt
  and feather, etc., and following him, twenty of the guard in suitable
  guards' coats and halberds in their hands, and lightes intermingled
  here and there.

"When this traine first entered out of the Prince's palace there was a
volye of shotte to the number of fiftie or three-score gunnes, and
once againe as it passed through the quadrangle, and the third time
when the Prince was readie to enter uppon the stage in the hall, after
which third peale ended, the nobilitie having past along some parte of
the stage, the rest of the traine disposed in places provided for
them, and the Prince himselfe newlie entered, the showe went forward.

*     *     *     *     *

"It hath beene observed if they which performe much in these kinde of
sportes must needs doe something amisse, or at the least such is the
danger and trouble of them, that something in the doing will miscarry,
and so be taken amisse, and such was our fortune at this time; for the
Prologue (to the great prejudice of that which followed) was most
shamefully out, and having but halfe a verse to say, so that by the
very sense the audience was able to prompt him in that which followed,
yet hee could not goe forward, but after long stay and silence, was
compelled abruptly to leave the stage, whereupon beeing to play
another part, hee was so dasht, that hee did nothing well that night.

"After him Good-wife Spiggot, comming forth before her time, was most
miserably at a non plus & made others so also, whilst her selfe
staulked in the middest like a great Harry-Lion (as it pleased the
audience to terme it), either saying nothing at all, or nothing to the

"The drunken-man, which in the repetitions had much pleased and done
very well, was now so ambitious of his action, that he would needs
make his part much longer than it was, and stood so long upon it all,
that he grew most tedious, whereuppon it was well observed and said by
one that

      ----'twas pitty there should bee
  In any pleasing thing satiety.

"To make up the messe of absurdities the company had so fil'd the
stage, that there was no roome to doe any thing well, to bee sure many
thinges were mistaken and therefore could not but bee very
distastfull, for it was thought that particular men were aymed at, and
disciphered by the drunken-man, and Justice Bryar, though it was fully
knowne to our-selves that the author had no such purpose.

"In fine, expectation the devourer of all good endeavours had
swallowed more in the very name and title of the interlude than was
either provided or intended in the whole matter, for wee onely
proposed to our selves a shew, but the towne expected a perfect and
absolute play, so that all things mett to make us unhappy that night,
and had not Time him selfe (whose lines and actions were thought good)
somewhat pleased them, they would never have endured us without
hissing, howsoever in the end they gave us two or three cold
plaudites, though they departed no way satisfyed, unlesse it were in
the shew about the quadrangle, wherein the Prince was carryd to his
chamber in the same state that hee came from thence in the beginning
(as is above mentioned), the whole company of actors beeing added to
his traine who immediately followed him before the guard in this

First, Time alone, attended, with two pages and lightes.

Next, Veritas alone, likewise attended.

Then Error and Opinion, which all the way they went pull'd Veritas by
  the sleeve, one by one and the other by the other, but shee would not
  harken to them.

After these came Studioso and Philonices, both pleading the case, one
  upon his ringers and the other with both his hands.

Then came Manco, the lame souldiour and Philonices his man; the
  souldiour haulting without his cruch, the other beating him with the
  cruch for counterfeyting.

After these came Clinias and Bellicoso houlding the halter betwixt
  them, which Bellicoso had found in Clinias his pocket.

Last after these came Humphry Swallow and good wife Spiggot, hee
  reeling uppon her, she pulling and hayling him for the money he
  ought her.

After these came the guard as before, and so the Prince in full state
  was conveyed to his pallace.

"Here wee were all so discouraged that wee could have found in our
heartes to have gone no farther. But then consulting with our selves
wee thought it no way fitt to leave when thinges were at the worst,
and therefore resolved by more industry and better care of those
things which should follow, to sue out a fine of recovery for our
credites. Whereuppon the comedy which was already a foote and
appointed to bee done on 12 day, was revewed and corrected by the best
judgments in the house, & a Chorus by their direction inserted, to
excuse former faults, all which was a cause that Twelfe eve & Twelfe
day past away in silence, because the comedy beeing wholy altered
could not bee so soone acted, neyther could any other thing bee so
suddenly provided to furnish those nights.

"Heere the Lord-treasurer made a complaint to the King and the rest of
his councell that his treasure was poore and almost exhausted, so that
without a fresh supply or new subsidy nothing more could bee done. And
that this might not seem an idle complaint, a bill of some of the
particulars and chiefe expences was exhibited, wherein it might
appeare how costly the presedent revels had beene."

The "Bill of Expences" amounted to lxiiij^{li} v^{s} o^{d}.

"This bill beeing seene and allowed, they begane to cast about for
more money, whereuppon a new privy seale was drawn in Latin." "Those
which were served with this writte and obey'd" contributed a total sum
of 5^{li}.

"This beeing not as yet sufficient there was a new subsedy levyed by
the Junior Masters and the rest of the Colledge to the summe of Six
Poundes three shillings, whereuppon finding themselves againe before
hand, and resolving to save nothing for a deare yeare, they proceeded
to new expences and new troubles.

"The Suneday after, beeing the last day of the Vacation and tenth day
of the moneth, two shewes were privately performed in the Lodging, the
one presently after dinner called _Somnium Fundatoris_, viz., the
tradition that wee have concearning the three trees that wee have in
the President his garden. This interlude by the reason of the death of
him that made it, not long after was lost, and so could not bee heere
inserted; but it was very well liked, and so wel deserved, for that it
was both wel penned and well acted.

"Now because before were divers youths whose voyces or personages
would not suffer them to act any thing in publicke, yet withall it was
thought fitt, that in so publicke a buisnes every one should doe some
thing, therefore a mocke play was provided called _The 7 Dayes of the
Weeke_, which was to be performed by them which could do nothing in
earnest, and, that they should bee sure to spoyle nothing, every man's
part was sorted to his person, and it was resolved that the worse it
was done, the better it would be liked, and so it fell out; for the
same day after supper it was presented by one who bore the name of the
Clerke of St. Gyleses, and acted privately in the lodging in manner
and forme following:



The Clerke of St. Gyleses.


A Woman
A Paire of Snuffers.

_Enter the Clerke with all his Acteurs._



  "I am the poore, though not unlettered, Clerke,
  And these your subjects of St. Gyles his parishe,
  Who in this officious season would not sharke
  But thought to greet your highnesse with a morrice,
    Which since my riper judgement thought not fitt,
    They have layd down their wisedomes to my witt.

  And that you might perceive (though seeminge rude)
  Wee savour somewhat of the Academie,
  Wee had adventur'd on an enterlude
  But then of actors wee did lacke a manye;
    Therefore we clipt our play into a showe,
    Yet bigg enough to speake more than wee knowe.

  The subject of it was not farr to seeke
  Fine witts worke mickle matter out of nifle:
  Nam'd it I have _The Seven Dayes of the Weeke_,
  Which though perchaunce grave heads may judge a trifle,
    Yet if their action answere but my penninge,
    You shall heare that, that will deserve a hemminge.

  To tell the argument, were to forstalle
  And sour the licquour of our sweete conceate;
  Here are good fellowes that will tell you all
  When wee begin once, you shall quickely ha'te,
    Which if your grace will grace with your attention,
    You shall soone sounde the depth of our invention."

[Then follows the mock play in seven Acts.]

"Nothing, throughout the whole yeare, was better liked and more
pleasant than this shewe, in so much that, although it were more
privately done before our selves onely or some few friends, yet the
report of it went about all the towne, till it came to the
Vice-chauncellours and L. Clifford's eares, who were very desyrous to
see it acted againe, and so it was as heereafter shal bee specifyed.

"The next day beeing Munday the 11 of January the terme should have
begun in the house, but because of the extreame cold and froast which
had now continued full six weekes and better without any intermission,
as also by reason the hall was still pestered with the stage and
scaffolds which were suffered to stand still in expectation of the
Comedy, therefore it was agreed by the President and the officers that
the terme should bee prorogued for 7 dayes longer in which time it was
agreed the Comedy should bee publickely acted on Friday, the 15th day
of January.

"But heere the President and some of the Seniors in abundance of care
were affrayd to put any thing againe to the publicke view of the
University, because their last paines at _The Complaint of Time_ had
so ill thriving. Besides the season was so severe and tempestuous with
wind and snow, which had continued some dayes without ceasing, and the
complaint of the poore was so grievious for want of wood and meate,
which by this time were growne very scant and deere, that they urged
it was a time rather to lament and weepe than make sports in,
whereupon a streight inhibition was sent out from the officers, that
no man should thinke of playing that night or any time after, till the
weather should breake up and bee more temperate, for they thought it
no way fitt publickly to revell at a time of such generall wo and

"But yet because all thinges were in a readinesse and the expectation
of the whole towne was set uppon that night, the younger men of the
Colledge went forward with their buisnes, intending to take no notice
of what the officers had aggreed uppon, wherefore some of the officers
were fayne to come in person to forbid the worke-men, and to undo some
things which were already done, to the great griefe and discouragement
of all the youth, who, though the weather was extreame cold, were
themselves most hotte uppon the matter in hand, resolving now or never
to recover their losse credit.

"And, as though the heavens had favoured their designes, so it
happened that about noone the weather brake up and it begann to thaw,
whereuppon the President was agayne importun'd by the Prince himselfe
and his councell for the performance of the Comedy that night; who
(seeing they were all so earnest) did not so much graunt, as not deny
them, their request, whereuppon they begann againe to sett forward the
buisnes, and what they wanted in time they made up by their
willingnesse and paynes, so that for all these crosses they begann the
play before 7 a clocke and performed it in manner following:





Motus       Locus.
Quies       Vacuum.

Philomathes.                                  Sophia.
Chrysophilos, Senex Avarus.                   Antarchia.
Phantasta, Stolidus Generosus.                Anthadia.
[Greek: Aphronios], Filius Chrysophili.       Anæa, Mulier Inepta.

Chrestophilos, Socius Philomathis.
Crito, Senex, Pater Sophiæ.
Critonis Seruus.
Cerdoos, Seruus Chrysophili.
Petinus, Seruus Phantastæ.

*     *     *     *     *

"This play was very well acted, but especially the Chorus, the stage
was never more free, the audience never more quiett and contented, so
that they went away many of them crieing--_Abundè satisfactum est!_
itt was so well liked and applauded of all that saw itt.

"Here the stage & scaffold were pul'd downe which had stood from
Cristmas, and it was resolved that upon the chaunge of the weather,
the terme should begin on the Munday following.

"But in the meane time on Sunday nighte, being the Seventeenth of
January, the Vice-chancelor, and the L. Clifford, with many other
Doctors and Gentlemen were invited to supper in the President's
lodging, where after supper they were entertained with a shew before
mentioned, to witt, _The Seven Dayes in the Weeke_, to which, by this
time, there was somewhat added, but not much: all was most kindly
accepted, and the nighte was spent in great mirth. For the straungenes
of the matter, and rarity of the fashion of their action pleased above

"At the end of this shew for the more rarity, there was one brought in
my Lord's Stockes with this speech made uppon itt:

"'My Lord, I which am the lowest, am now become the lowdest, though
(I hope) not the lewdest of your Lordshippe's servauntes. And though I
come _pridie Calendas_, before I am cald, yet (I hope) my audacity
shall have audience, and my faithfulnes favor. I am your Lordshippe's
Elephaunt and heere is your castell, so that where other Lords are
brought to their castells, heere your castell is brought to you. _Est
locus in carcere_, there is a locke upon your Lordshippe's castell,
which was committed unto my trust, how faithfull I have been therein
they can tell who have taken an exact measure of my office by the
foote: the matter of which your castell is builded is so precious,
that there is none amongst company but is contented to wear of it
within his buttons, the end for which it was builded is very
commendable, that they may bee kepte in order with wood, which
otherwise would not bee kepte in order, heere is _fons latus pedibus
tribus_, a fountaine to wash three mens legs, that they which have
bene _aurium tenus_, over shoes, heere may be _crurum tenus_ over
bootes too, This your Lordshippe's oracle or Tripos, out of which
malefactors tell the truth and foretell of their amendment. Nay, I wil
bee bould to compare it to your Lordshippe's braine, for what is there
designed is heere executed. In these sells or ventricles are fancy,
understanding, and memory. For such as your Lordshippe doth not fancy
are put in the first hole, such as were dull and without understanding
were put in the second hole, but such as your Lordshippe threatned
(remember this) or I'le remember you, were put in the last and lowest
dungeon, _cum nemini obtrudi potest itur ad me_. When they cannot bee
ruled otherwise they are brought unto mee, and my entertainment is
_strato discumbitur ostro_, they straite sett downe att this oister
table, where they are fast and doe fast, ffor _vinitur exiguo melius_,
they make small meales, till the flames of clemency doe mitigate the
Salamanders of your Lordshippe's severity. Now, my Lord, since I have
told you what I am, I will bee bold to tell you what you may bee--You
are mortall--Ergo you must die, the three sisters will not spare you,
though you were their owne brother, and therefore while you have your
good witts about you, _fac quid vobis_, make your will, that wee may
know amongst so many well deserving men, that doe lay claime to this
your castell, to whome as rightfull heire itt shall lawfully descend,
that so all controversies being ended, before your Lordshippe's
deceasse, hereafter your bones may ly, and wee your subjects live, in
all rest and quietnes.


"To make an end of this nighte's sporte, all departed merry and very
well pleased, the actors were much commended, and the terme for their
sakes prorogued one day longer.

"On the Thursday following the Prince was solemnly invited by the
Canons of Christchurch to a comedy called _Yuletide_, where many
thinges were either ill ment by them, or ill taken by us, but wee had
very good reason to think the former, both for that the whole towne
thought so, and the whole play was a medley of Christmas sportes, by
which occasion Christmas Lords were much jested at, and our Prince was
soe placed that many thinges were acted upon him, but yet, Mr. Deane
himselfe, then vice-chancelor, very kindly sent for the Prince and
some others of our howse, and laboured to satisfie us, protesting that
no such thing was mente, as was reported, whereupon wee went away
contented, and forebore the speaking of many things which otherwise
were afterwards intended, for aunswering of them in their owne kind.

"On Candlemas nighte it was thoughte by our selves, and reported in
the towne, that the Prince should resigne his place, but nothing being
in readines for that purpose itt was deferred, but yet, least nothing
should bee done, there was a Vigilate (as they terme it) a watching
nighte procured by the Prince and his Counsell, and graunted by the
officers of the Colledge, which was performed in manner following.


"First, about eighte of the Clocke (for then itt was to begin, and to
continue till fowre in the morning) the Colledge gates were shutt, and
all the students summon'd by the sounding of a Trumpett three times,
to make their personall appearance in the greate Hall, where after
they were all come together, that the Prince's pleasure might bee the
better knowne, this proclamation was publikely pronounced by a
Serjeant att Armes, in the hearing of them all.

"The high and mighty Thomas by the favour of Fortune Prince of Alba
  Fortunata, Lord St. Johns, High Regent of the Hall, &c. To all
  Presidents, Vice Presidents, Officers, Readers, Masters, Batchelors,
  Felowes, Schollers, Commoners, Under-commoners, Servaunts, Scruitors,
  sendeth greeting.

Whereas of late by the turbulent spirits of seditious minded persons
hath bene buzzed into the eares of many of our loving and liege
subjectes a fearefull and dangerous report of our sudden downefall,
which according to their libelling speeches should att this nighte
fall upon us--We have thought it necessary not so much for our owne
feares which are none at all, as for satisfieing and strengthening our
welmeaning friends in their love and duty, to publish and by these
presents to all our loyal subjects of what state and condicion soever,
that they make their personall appearance to the setting and
furnishing of a most strong guarde and carefull watch as well for
their security as the safety of our owne royall person, & the whole
Common-wealth; In the which generall watch for the better comfort and
ease of all men, our selfe, with our honourable privy Counsell, and
the rest of our Nobility, intend to bee personally present.

"But because wee are no way minded to oppresse any man above his
power, on our princely bounty, wee give licence to such as (for age or
infirmity) are not able to perform that duty, to forfaite for their
absence, yf they plead age ijs. vi^{d}.; if infirmity, xii^{d}., towards
the furnishing of his Highnes with a tall and sufficient watchman.

"Now because that which wee have wisely thought, and for our peace and
safety, may not proove the cause of new troubles and dissentions, wee
have thought good to adjoine some few cautions, in way of admonitions
to bee observed.

"First, for that the disorders of an unruly and mutinous watch
   doe often open as it were the gate of danger and outrage,
   our princely will and pleasure is, that each man keepe his
   station with out murmuring, performing cheerefully all such
   offices and duties, as shal bee lawfully enjoin'd by us, or
   our offices, upon paine of forfeiting ijs. vi^{d}., as for age.

"Secondly, because sloth is a kind of disease in a well-ordered
   Common-wealth wee further charge and command by the
   vertue of our absolute authority, that no man bee found
   winking, or pincking, or nodding, much lesse snorting,
   upon paine of forfaiting twelve pence, as for infirmity.

"Thirdly, for the avoiding of a sudden dearth, or lingring famine
   which may ensue and justly follow the free and undoubted
   liberty of a riotous and luxurious time, yt is by us thought
   necessary that no man should in hugger mugger eate or
   drincke more than is publickly seene and allowed by the
   face of the body civill and politicke, upon paine of paieing
   twise, for such is in a manner stolen provision, and the
   second paiement to bee arbitrary.

        "Given att our Mannor of Whites-hall, the seacond of
            February, and in the first of our Raigne.

"This proclamation being read and set up in the great hall, the Prince
called for his officers and servants about him, charging every man
carefully to execute his office. First the steward and buttler (who
for their auncient fidelity kept their places according as they had
long before beene appointed by the Colledge) were commaunded to bring
their bookes, and by them to call up all the howse, whereupon (every
one beeing first charged to aunswere to his name) it presently
appeared who were present and who were absent.

"After this the Master of the Revels and the Knight Marshall were
willed to appoint severall sportes that no man might bee seene idle
upon payne of the Prince's high displeasure whereupon presently some
went to cardes, some to dice, some to dauncing, every one to some

"Not long after, for more variety sake, there was brought in a maske;
the devise was sudden and extempore, videl: a little page attired in
his long coats, with these six verses which were spoke as soone as he
entered the hall.

 "These are six carpet knights, and I one page
  Can easily bring in six that bee of age,
  They come to visite this your highnes court,
  And if they can, to make your honour sport.
  Nay, this is all, for I have seene the day
  A richer maske had not so much to say.

"After these maskers had finished the measures, and some few other
daunces, the said page waved them forth with his wan, and spake these
two verses:

 "There are three they say would shew you an anticke,
  But when you see them, you'll thinke them franticke.

"Then there came in three in an anticke which were well attyred for
that purpose, and daunced well to the great delite of the beholders.

"After these had stollen away one by one, as the manner is, it pleased
the Prince to aske what was a clocke, it beeing aunswered almost
twelve hee presently called in for supper. But first the bill of those
which were before noted to bee absent was called, to see whether any
of them would yet appeare, and the Prince would deale favourably with
them. It was also examined whether any of those which were present
before were now gon to bed, and accordingly authority was given by the
Prince to the marshalls of the hall and other officers to search the
chambers for sleepers, and where they made aunswere to aske the reason
of their slothfull neglect or wilfull contempt of the Prince's
commands, and if they pleaded either infirmity or age to take their
fine, and so quietly to depart, first causing them faithfull to give
their words that they harboured no other idle or suspicious parsons.
But if they knoct at any of the chambers of those that were absent and
nobody would answer, then they had full authority to breake open the
dores and to make a privy search, and if they found any abed they
tooke them as they were in their shirts and carryed them downe in
state to the hall after this manner:--

"First went the marshals with lights to make room.

Then came one squire carrying the goune of him whom they
     brought and another that carryed his hatt & band.

Then came two other squires whereof one carryed his dublet
     the other his breeches.

Then came two with lights.

Next came he that was in his shirt carryed by two in a chaire
     and covered with a blanket.

Last behind came one squire more that carryed his shoes &

"All these beeing entered the hall, the squires made their attendance
about him, with great observance, every one reaching him his apparrell
as it pleased him to call for it, and then also helping him on with
it. And this was the punishment of those that were found a bed.

"Others which were found up in their chambers & would not answer were
violently brought downe with bills and staves as malefactors and by
the Knight Marshals appointment were committed close prisoners to the
Prince's castle, videl. the stocks, which were placed upon a table to
that purpose, that those which were punished might bee seene to the
terrour of others.

"By this time supper was ready and the sewer called to the
dresser whereupon the buttery bell was presently rung, as it
uses to bee at other ordinary meales, besides a trumpet was
sounded at the kitchen hatch to call the wayters together.

"After the first messe was served in, the Prince with the rest
of his councell satt downe, then all the rest of the howse in

"Towardes the end of supper two gentlemen of the second table fell out,
wee could never distinctly know about what, it was verely supposed
themselves scarsly knew, but from wordes they fell suddenly to blowes,
and ere any man was aware, one of them had stabbed the other into the
arme with his knife to the great prejudice of the mirth, which should or
would have followed that night. But the offender was presently
apprehended (and though a gentleman of some worth) put into my Lord's
stocks, where hee lay most part of that night with shame and blame
enough. And yet for all that punishment the next day he was convented
before the officers of the Colledge, and there agayne more grievously
punished; for the fault was much agravated by the circumstances of the
time, place and person that was hurt, who was a very worshipfull
knight's sonne and heyre.

"After this the Prince with some of the better sort of the
howse beeing much disconted with the mischaunce that had
happened, retyred themselves into the president lodging, where
privatly they made themselves merry, with a wassall called the
five bells of Magdalen Church, because it was an auncient note
of those bells, that they were almost never silent. This shew
for the better grace of the night was performed by some of the
Masters and officers themselves in manner following:

"_Enter the Clerke of Magdalens alone,_

 "Your kind acceptance of the late devise
  Presented by St. Gyles's clerke, my neighbour,
  Hath hartned mee to furnish in a trice
  This nights up sitting with a two houres labour:
      For any thing I hope, though ne're so naghty
      Wil be accepted in a Vigilate.

  I have observed as your sportes did passe all
  (A fault of mine to bee too curious)
  The twelfe night slipt away without a wassall,
  A great defect, to custome most injurious:
      Which I to mend have done my best endeavour
      To bring it in, for better late than never.

  And more, for our more tuneable proceeding,
  I have ta'ne downe the five bells in our towre,
  Which will performe it, if you give them heeding,
  Most musically, though they ring an houre.--
      Now I go in to oyle my bells and pruin them,
      When I come downe Ile bring them downe & tune them.


"After a while he returned with five others presenting his five bells,
and tyed with five bell-ropes, which after he had pulled one by one,
they all began a peale, and sang in Latin as followeth:--

 "Jam sumus lætis dapibus repleti,
  Copiam vobis ferimus fluentem,
  Gaudium vobis canimus jocose
                          Vivite læti.

  Te deum dicunt (venerande Bacche)
  Te deum dicunt (reverenda mater)
  Vos graves vobis removete luctus:
                          Vivite læti.

  Dat Ceres vires, hominumque firmat
  Corpora, et Bacchus pater ille vini
  Liberat curis animos molestis:
                          Vivite læti.

  Ne dolor vestros animos fatiget,
  Vos jubet læta hæc removere curas
  Turba, lætari feriæque suadent
                          Vivite læti.

  En Ceres lætæ segetis creatrix,
  Et pater vini placidique somni
  Pocula hæc vobis hilares ministrant
                          Sume (

_Bibunt omnes ordine dum, actores hæc ultima carmina sæpius repetunt;
max singuli toti conventui sic ordine gratulantur._


  Reddere fælicem si quemquam copia possit
    Copia fælicis nomen habere jubet,
  Copia læte jubet tristes depellere curas,
    Copia quam cingit Bacchus et alma Ceres.


  Quem non delectant moderatè pocula sumpta?


    Cujus non animum dulcia vina juvant?
  Dulcia vina juvant dulcem dant vina soporem,
    Magnificas ornant dulcia vina dapes.


  Frugibus alma Ceres mortalia pectora nutrit,
    Exornant campurn frugibus alma Ceres.
  Si cuiquam desint Cerelia dona, nec illi
    Lenæi patris munera grata placent.

  Nec vobis Cereris nec Bacchi munera desint,
    Annuat et votis Jupiter ipse meis.


  Alma Ceres vestris epulis lætatur, et ecce
    Copia cum Baccho gaudia læta canunt
                 _Mox omnes cantantes Exeunt._

  Gaudium lætum canimus, canemus
  Hoc idem semper, nec enim dolere
  Jam licet, lætae feriæ hic aguntur
                              Vivite læti.

  Sæpius nobis reriæ revertant,
  Sæpius vinum liceat potare,
  Sæpius vobis hilares cánamus
                            Vivite læti.

"This then was suddenly and extempore clapt together for want of a
better, but notwithstanding was as willingly and chearefully receaved
as it was proferd.

"By this time it was foure a clocke and liberty was given to every one
to goe to bed or stay up as long as they pleased. The Prince with his
councell brake up their watch, so did most of the Masters of the
house, but the younger sort stayed up till prayers time, and durst not
goe to bed for feare of one another. For some, after they had licence
to depart, were fetcht out of their beds by their fellowes, and not
suffered to put on their clothes till they came into the hall. And
thus the day came and made an end of the night's sport.

"On the sixt of February, beeing egge Satterday, it pleased some
gentlemen schollers in the towne to make a dauncing night of it. They
had provided many new and curious daunces for the maske of Penelope's
Woers, but the yeare beeing far spent and Lent drawing on and many
other thinges to bee performed, the Prince was not able to bestow that
state upon them which their love & skill deserved. But their good will
was very kindely received by the Prince in this night's private
travels. They had some apparell suddenly provided for them, and these
few Latin verses for their induction:

 "Isti fuere credo Penelopes proci
  Quos justa forsan ira Telemachi domo
  Expulit Ulyssis.

"After all this sport was ended the Prince entertayned them very
royally with good store of wine and a banquet, where they were very
merry and well pleased all that night.

"Against the next Tuesday following, beeing Shrovetuesday, the great
stage was againe set up and the scaffolds built about the hall for the
Prince's resignation, which was performed that night with great state
and solemnity in manner and forme following:



Magister Ludorem.
Anteambulo Primus.
Anteambulo Secundus.



*     *     *     *     *

"Many straungers of all sorts were invited to this shew, and many more
came together, for the name's sake only of a resignacon, to see the
manner and solemnity of it, for that it was reported (and truly) that
there was nothing els to bee done or seene beside the resignacon and
no man thought so much could have beene said of so little matter.

"The stage was never so oppressed with company, insomuch that it was
verely thought it could not bee performed that night for want of
roome; but the audience was so favourable as to stand as close and
yeeld as much backe as was possible; so that for all tumults it began
about 7 a clocke, and was very well liked of all.

"Only some few, more upon their owne guilty suspicion than our plaine
intention, thinking themselves toucht at that verse of _Momus_:

 "Dixi et quem dederat cursum fortuna peregi,

laboured to raise an hissing, but it was soon smothered, and the whole
company in the end gave us good applause and departed very well

"After the shew was ended, the sometimes Lord was carried in state to
his owne private chamber after this manner:

First went two Squires with lights.

Next Euphemia and Tolmæa.

Then 2 other Squires with lightes.

Next Minerva and Fortuna.

Then came 4 other Squires with lightes, and in the midst of
    them 4 schollers bearing on their shoulders a tombe
    or sepulcher adorned with scutchions and little flagges,
    wherein all the Prince's honours had bene buried before.

After this came the Prince alone in his schollers gowne and
    hood as the chiefe mourner.

Then all the rest of his Counsell and company likewise in
    blacke gownes and hoodes, like mourners, two by two.

"All these were said to goe to the Temple of Minerva there to
consecrate and erecte the sepulcher, and this state was very well
liked of all that saw itt.

"Heere wee thought to have made an end of all, and to have puld downe
the scaffolds and stage, but then many said that so much preparacon
was too much for so small a show. Besides there was an English Tragedy
almost ready, which they were very earnest should bee performed, but
many arguments were alledged against it: first, for the time, because
it was neere Lent, and consequently a season unfitt for
plaies--Secondly, the stile for that itt was English, a language
unfitt for the Universitie, especially to end so much late sporte with
all--Thirdly, the suspicon of some did more hinder it than all the
rest, for that it was thought that some particulars were aimed att in
the Chorus, which must needs bee distastfull--Lastly, the ill lucke,
which wee had before with English, made many very loth to have any
thing done againe in that straine.

"But these objections being aunswered all well as might bee, and
faithfull promise being made and taken that if any word were thought
personall, it should be presently put out, the stage was suffered to
stand, and the scaffolds somewhat enlarged against the Saturday
following. Att which time such a concourse of people from all places,
and of all sorts came together presently after dinner, that itt was
thought impossible any thing should have beene done that night for
tumults. Yet in the beginning such order and care was taken (every one
being willing att the last cast to helpe towardes the making a good
end,) that the stage was kept voide of all company, and the scaffoldes
were reserved for straungers and men sorte, better than ever they were
before, so that it began very peaceably somewhat before six a clocke,
and was performed in manner following:



The Master of the Revels.         Detraction.
The Master of the Revels Boy.     Resolution.
          Ingenuity a Doctor of Physicke.


Periander, Tyrannus Corinthi.
Cypsilus, Hæres Periandri, Stultus.
Lycophron Frater Cypsili.
Neotinos, Puer, Satelles Lycoph.
Aristhæus } Nobiles et a Consilijs Periandri.

Eriterus  } Juuenes Nobiles in Aulâ Periandri.
Symphilus }

Cratæa Mater Periandri.
Melissa Uxor Periandri.
Melissæ Umbra.
Eugenia Filia Periandri.

Pronæa }
Zona   } Duæ Meritriculæ Periandri.

Larissæa Soror Philarchis.
Europe Aristhæi Filia.
Fæminæ Quatuor Corinthiæ cum 4 or Pueris Inseruientibus.
Arion Celebris Musicus.
Nantæ Quatuor.
Cines Duo Togati.
Vigiles Duo.
Calistus   }
Stratocles } Satellites Periandri.
Borius     }
Tres Aut 4 or Alij Satellites.

*     *     *     *     *


      "Gentlemen, welcome! our great promises
  Wee would make upp, your selves must needs confesse,
  But our small timbred actors, narrow roome,
  Necessity of thrifte make all short come
  Of our first apprehensions; wee must keepe
  Our auntient customes though wee after creepe.
  But wee forgett times limitts, Nowe tis Lente--
  Old store this weeke may lawfully be spente
  Our former shewes were giv'n to our cal'd Lorde,
  This, and att his request, for you was storde.
          By many hands was Periander slaine,
          Your gentler hands will give him live againe.


"A certain gentlewoman, upon the hearing of these two last verses,
made two other verses, and in way of an aunswer sent them to the
Prince, who having first plaied Periander afterwards himselfe also
pronounced the Epilogue.

"The verses were these

  If that my hand or hart him life could give,
  By hand and hart should Periander live.

"But it is almost incredible to thinke how well this Tragedy was
performed of all parties, and how well liked of the whole, which (as
many of them as were within the hall) were very quiet and attentive.
But those that were without and could not get in made such an hideous
noice, and raised such a tumult with breaking of windows all about the
colledge, throwinge of stones into the hall and such like ryott, that
the officers of the coll: (beeing first dar'd to appeare) were faine
to rush forth in the beginning of the play, with about a dozen
whiflers well armed and swords drawne, whereat the whole company
(which were gathered together before the chapell doore to try whether
they could breake it open) seeing them come behind them out of the
lodging, presently gave backe, and ranne away though itt was thought
they were not so few as 4 or 500.

"The officers gave some faire words and some fowle as they saw
occasion, the whiflers were very heedfull to marke who were the
ringleaders of the rest, and having some notice given of them by some
of our friendes, they took some of them and committed them to the
Porter's lodge, where they lay close prisoners till the play was done,
and then they were brought forth and punished, and so sente home.

"After this all was quiet only some were so thrust in the hall, that
they were carried forth for dead but soone recovered, when they came
into the aire.

"The Chorus of this Tragedy much pleased for the rarity of it.
_Detraction_ beeing taken from among the company, where hee had liked
to have been beaten for his sawsines (as it was supposed) for nobody
at first toke him for an actor. The chiefest in the hall commaunded
that notice should be taken of him, that hee might afterwards bee
punished for his boldnes;--but as soone as it at once appeared that he
was an actor, their disdaine and anger turned to much pleasure and

"All were so pleased att the whole course of this play, that there
were at least eight generall plaudites given in the midst of it in
divers places and to divers persons.

"In the end, they clapped their hands so long, that they went forth of
the colledge clapping.

"But in the midst of all this good liking wee were neere two
mischaunces, the one from Lycophron who lost a faire gold ring from
his finger, which notwithstanding all the hurleburly in the end of the
play, was soone found againe; the other from Periander, who, going to
kill his daughter Eugenia, did not so couch his dagger within his
hand, but that hee prickt her through all her attire, but (as God
would have it) it was onely a scratch and so it passed.


"Many other thinges were in this yeare intended which neither were nor
could be performed. As the maske of Penelope's Wooer, with the State
of Telemachus, with a Controversie of Jrus and his ragged Company,
whereof a great parte was made. The devise of the Embassage from
Lubber-land, whereof also a parte was made. The Creation of White
Knights of the order of Aristotle's Well, which should bee sworne to
defend Aristotle against all authors, water against wine, footemen
against horsemen, and many more such like injunctions. A lottery for
those of the colledge or straungers as itt pleased them to draw, not
for matters of wealth, but only of mirth and witt. The triumph of all
the founders of the colledges in Oxford, a devise much thought on, but
it required more invention, more cost than the time would affoord. The
holding of a court leet and baron for the Prince, wherein there should
have beene leasses drawne, copies taken, surrenders made, all which
were not so much neglected as prevented by the shortnes of time and
want of money, better wits and richer daies may hereafter make upp
which was then lefte unperfect.

"Here some letters might be inserted, and other gratulatory messages
from divers friends to the Prince, but it is high time to make an end
of this tedious and fruitelesse relation, unlesse the knowledge of
trouble and vanity bee fruitefull.

"Wee intended in these exercises the practise and audacity of our
youth, the credit and good name of our colledge, the love and favor of
the University; but instead of all these (so easie a thing it is to be
deceived in a good meaning) wee met with peevishnesse at home,
perversnes abroad, contradictions everywhere; some never thought
themselves entreated enough to their owne good and creditt; others
thought themselves able to doe nothing if they could not thwarte and
hinder something; most stood by and gave aime, willing to see much and
doe nothing, nay perchaunce they were ready to procure most trouble,
which would bee sure to yield least helpe. And yet wee may not so much
grudge at faults at home as wee may justly complaine of hard measure
abroad; for instead of the love and favour of the Universitie, wee
found our selves (wee will say justly) taxed for any the least error
(though ingenious spirits would have pardoned many things, where all
things were intended for their owne pleasure) but most unjustly
censured, and envied for that which was done (wee dare say)
indifferently well: so that, in a word, wee paide deere for trouble,
and in a manner hired and sent for men to doe us wrong.

"Let others herafter take heed how they attempte the like, unlesse
they find better meanes at home, and better mindes abroad. And yet wee
cannot complaine of all, some ment well and said well, and those tooke
good will for good paiment, good endevors for good performaunce, and
such (in this kind) shall deserve a private favour, when other shal
bee denied a common benefitt.

 "_Seria vix recte agnoscit, qui ludicra nescit._



During the reign of James the First there was a revival of chivalric
exercises, especially in connection with the training of the young
Prince Henry. Almost as soon as he could wield a lance and manage his
horse when clothed in complete armour, he insisted on taking his place
at the lists; and from this time no great tournament took place in
England in which his Royal Highness did not take part. The most
important of these exhibitions was


which took place on Twelfth Night, 1610, at the palace of Whitehall,
in the presence of King James I. and his queen, and a brilliant
assemblage of lords, ladies, and gentlemen, among whom were several
foreign ambassadors, when the heir-apparent, Prince Henry, was in the
16th year of his age, and therefore arrived at the period for claiming
the principality of Wales and the duchy of Cornwall. It was granted to
him by the king and the High Court of Parliament, and the 4th of June
following appointed for his investiture: "the Christmas before which,"
Sir Charles Cornwallis says, "his highnesse, not onely for his owne
recreation, but also that the world might know what a brave prince
they were likely to enjoy, under the name of Meliades, lord of the
isles, (an ancient title due to the first born of Scotland,) did, in
his name, by some appointed for the same purpose, strangely attired,
accompanied with drummes and trumpets, in the presence, before the
king and queene, and in the presence of the whole Court, deliver a
challenge to all knights of Great Britaine." The challenge was to this
effect, "That Meliades, their noble master, burning with an earnest
desire to trie the valour of his young yeares in foraigne countryes,
and to know where vertue triumphed most, had sent them abroad to espy
the same, who, after their long travailes in all countreys, and
returne," had nowhere discovered it, "save in the fortunate isle of
Great Britaine: which ministring matter of exceeding joy to their
young Meliades, who (as they said) could lineally derive his pedegree
from the famous knights of this isle, was the cause that he had now
sent to present the first fruits of his chivalrie at his majesties'
feete: then after returning with a short speech to her majestie, next
to the earles, lords, and knights, excusing their lord in this their
so sudden and short warning, and, lastly, to the ladies; they, after
humble delivery of their chartle concerning time, place, conditions,
number of weapons and assailants, tooke their leave, departing
solemnly as they entered."

Then preparations began to be made for this great fight, and each was
happy who found himself admitted for a defendant, much more an
assailant. "At last to encounter his highness, six assailants, and
fifty-eight defendants, consisting of earles, barons, knights, and
esquires, were appointed and chosen; eight defendants to one
assailant, every assailant being to fight by turnes eight several
times fighting, two every time with push and pike of sword, twelve
strokes at a time; after which, the barre for separation was to be let
downe until a fresh onset." The summons ran in these words:

"To our verie loving good ffreind sir Gilbert Loughton, knight, geave
theis with speed:

"After our hartie commendacions unto you. The prince, his highnes,
hath commanded us to signifie to you that whereas he doth intend to
make a challenge in his owne person at the Barriers, with six other
assistants, to bee performed some tyme this Christmas; and that he
hath made choice of you for one of the defendants (whereof wee have
comandement to give you knowledge), that theruppon you may so repaire
hither to prepare yourselfe, as you may bee fitt to attend him.
Hereunto expecting your speedie answer wee rest, from Whitehall this
25th of December, 1609. Your very loving friends,

Nottingham.    T. Suffolke.    E. Worcester."

On New Year's Day, 1610, or the day after, the Prince's challenge was
proclaimed at court, and "his highnesse, in his own lodging, in the
Christmas, did feast the earles, barons, and knights, assailants and
defendants, until the great Twelfth appointed night, on which this
great fight was to be performed."

On the 6th of January, in the evening, "the barriers" were held at the
palace of Whitehall, in the presence of the king and queen, the
ambassadors of Spain and Venice, and the peers and ladies of the land,
with a multitude of others assembled in the banquetting-house: at the
upper end whereof was the king's chair of state, and on the right a
sumptuous pavilion for the prince and his associates, whence, "with
great bravery and ingenious devices, they descended into the middell
of the roome, and there the prince performed his first feates of
armes, that is to say, at _Barriers_, against all commers, being
assisted onlie with six others, viz., the duke of Lenox, the earle of
Arundell, the earle of Southampton, the lord Hay, sir Thomas Somerset,
and sir Richard Preston, who was shortly afterwards created lord

To answer these challengers came fifty-six earles, barons, knights,
and esquiers. They were at "the lower end of the roome, where was
erected a very delicat and pleasant place, where in privat manner they
and their traine remained, which was so very great that no man
imagined that the place could have concealed halfe so many." Thence
they issued in comely order, "to the middell of the roome, where sate
the king and the queene, and the court, to behold the barriers, with
the several showes and devices of each combatant." Every challenger
fought with eight several defendants two several combats at two
several weapons, viz. at push of pike, and with single sword. "The
prince performed this challenge with wonderous skill and courage, to
the great joy and admiration of the beholders," he "not being full
sixteene yeeres of age until the 19th of February." These feats, and
other "triumphant shewes," began before ten o'clock at night, and
continued until three o'clock in the morning, "being Sonday." The
speeches at "the barriers" were written by Ben Jonson. The next day
(Sunday) the prince rode in great pomp to convoy the king to St.
James', whither he had invited him and all the court to supper, the
queen alone being absent; and then the prince bestowed prizes to the
three combatants best deserving; namely, the Earl of Montgomery, Sir
Thomas Darey (son of Lord Darey), and Sir Robert Gourdon. Thus ended
the Twelftide court festivities in 1610.

During the early years of James's reign tournaments divided with
masques the favour of the Court; and, as we have just seen when Prince
Henry reached his sixteenth year, he put himself forth in a more
heroic manner than usual with princes of his time to engage in "feats
of armes" and chivalric exercises; but after his death (1612) these
sports fell quite out of fashion, and George Wither, a poet of the
period, expresses, in the person of Britannia, the feelings of the

 "Alas! who now shall grace my tournaments,
  Or honour me with deeds of chivalry?
  What shall become of all my merriments,
  My ceremonies, shows of heraldry,
  And other rites?"


Religious matters received a good deal of attention from James I. in
the later years of his reign, and his Majesty's proposals raised the
question of the observance of


In 1617 the King made a journey to Scotland with the object of
establishing the English Church in all its forms and authority as the
State Church of Scotland for ever. One of the famous Five Articles in
which the King set forth his will proposed "That the festivals of
Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day, and Whit Sunday, should
be observed in Scotland just as in England." The Articles were
received with unequivocal marks of displeasure, many of the churches
refusing to obey the royal command, and the revival of the festival of
Christmas was denounced as the return of the ancient Saturnalia. Three
years later the King obtained an Act of Parliament enforcing the
Articles on the repugnant spirit of the people. "Dr. Laud, whose name
we now meet for the first time, afterwards to become so notorious,
even urged James to go further lengths; but his fatal advice was
destined to act with more force on the next generation."[63]

The King returned to London very much displeased with the religious
views of his Scotch subjects, and his sourness seems to have
manifested itself even at Christmastide, for on December 20th of this
year Mr. Chamberlaine thus wrote to Sir Dudley Carleton: "The King
hath been at Theobald's ever since Wednesday, and came to town this
day. I am sorry to hear that he grows every day more froward, and with
such a kind of morosity, that doth either argue a great discontent in
mind, or a distemper of humours in his body. Yet he is never so out of
tune but the very sight of my Lord of Buckingham doth settle and quiet

So soothed and softened was the King by "my Lord of Buckingham" that
Mr. Chamberlaine, writing again on the 3rd of January, says that on
New Year's Day the earl was created "Marquis of Buckingham, a dignity
the King hath not bestowed since his coming to this crown." And, says
the same writer, "This night was the Lord Marquiss's [Buckingham's]


with Lords and Ladies _sans nombre_. You may guess at the rest of the
cheer by this scantling, that there were said to be seventeen dozen of
pheasants, and twelve partridges in a dish throughout; which methinks
was rather spoil than largess; yet for all the plenty of presents, the
supper cost £600. Sir Thomas Edmondes undertook the providing and
managing of all, so that it was much after the French. The King was
exceedingly pleased, and could not be satisfied with commending the
meat and the Master; and yet some stick not to say, that young Sir
Henry Mildmay, a son of George Brooke, that was executed at
Winchester, and a son of Sir William Monson's, begins to come into


interfered somewhat with the celebration of the subsequent Royal
Christmases of this reign; and Nichols, referring to the Court
celebrations of Twelfth Day, 1620-1, says:

"'On Twelfth Day the King went to Chappel, but they had much ado to
support him. He offered gold, frankincence, and myrrhe, and touched 80
of the evil.'[65] In the evening 'the French Ambassador and his choise
followers were brought to court by the Earle of Warwick to be present
at a Maske; he seated as before with the King, the better sort of the
other on a fourme behind the Lords, the Lord Treasurer onely and the
Marquesse of Hamilton sitting at the upper end of it, and all the rest
in a box, and in the best places of the scaffolds on the right hand of
his Majesty. No other Ambassadors were at that time present or

As to


of the next year (1621-2) Nichols[66] says Mr. Meade wrote thus to Sir
Martin Stuteville:--

"'The Lieutenant of Middle Temple played a game this Christmas-time,
whereat his Majesty was highly displeased. He made choise of some
thirty of the civillest and best-fashioned gentlemen of the House to
sup with him; and, being at supper, took a cup of wine in one hand,
and held his sword drawn in the other, and so began a health to the
distressed Lady Elizabeth [the Queen of Bohemia], and having drunk,
kissed his sword, and laying his hand upon it, took an oath to live
and die in her service; then delivered the cup and sword to the next,
and so the health and ceremonie went round.

"'The Gentlemen of Graye's Inne, to make an end of Christmas on
Twelfe-night, in the dead time of the night, shot off all the chambers
they had borrowed from the Tower, being as many as filled four carts.
The King, awakened with this noise, started out of his bed, and cryed,
"Treason, treason," &c., and that the Cittie was in an uprore, in such
sort (as it is told) that the whole court was raised and almost in
armes, the Earle of Arundell running to the Bed-chamber with his sword
drawne as to rescue the King's person.'"

In this reign many accomplished writers assisted in the Christmas
festivities. Professor Henry Morley[67] mentions that in December,
1623, the name of Philip Massinger, poet and dramatist, first appeared
in the office book of the Master of the Revells, when his "Bondman"
was acted, and the play was first printed in 1624.

King James I. died at Theobald's, Herts, on the 27th March, 1625, and
was buried in Westminster Abbey.


The remarkable fact that Bishop Andrewes preached seventeen sermons on
the Nativity before James I. gives an unusual interest to the
Christmas Day services of this reign. Nichols makes the following
references to them:--

1605. "On Christmas Day the King attended Divine Service at Whitehall,
where Dr Lancelot Andrews, then recently promoted to the Bishoprick of
Chichester, preached before his Majesty, on the Epistle of St. Paul to
the Hebrews, ii. 16."

1606. "On Christmas Day, the King attended Divine Service at
Whitehall, where Bishop Andrews, now decidedly the King's favourite
Preacher, discoursed on Esaias ix. 6."

1607. "On Thursday, being Christmas Day, the King attended Divine
Service at Whitehall, and there heard Bishop Andrews preach on 1 Tim.
iii. 16."

1609. "Monday, December 25, being Christmas Day, the King attended
Divine Service at Whitehall, and there heard the Bishop of Ely, Dr.
Andrews, on Galat. iv. 4, 5." In a note Nichols says: "This sermon was
much admired by the King. This was probably the reason that it was
printed in 1610, together with that the Bishop preached on the same
occasion in that year, under the following title: 'Two Sermons
preached before the King's Majestie at Whitehall; of the Birth of
Christ; the one on Christmas Day, anno 1609, the other on Christmas
Day last, anno 1610. By the Bishop of Elie, his Majestie's Almoner.
Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, Printer to the King's most
excellent Majestie, anno 1610.'"

1610. "On Tuesday, the 25th December, Christmas Day, the King attended
Divine Service at Whitehall, where Bishop Andrews preached on Luke ii.
9, 10."

1611. "On Christmas Day the King attended Divine Service at Whitehall,
and Bishop Andrews preached on John. i. 14."

1612. "On Friday, 25th December, Christmas Day was kept as usual at
Whitehall; where the King attended Divine Service, and Bishop Andrews
(as usual) preached."

1613. "Saturday, 25th December, being Christmas Day, was kept with the
usual solemnities; the King attended Divine service at Whitehall, and
Bishop Andrews preached."

1614. "His Majesty returned to keep Christmas Day, as was customary,
at Whitehall. Bishop Andrews addressed him from the pulpit as usual."

1615. "'On Christmas Day, the King, being sorely troubled with the
gout, was not able to go to Divine service; but heard a sermon in
private, and took the Sacrament.' The Preacher was, as usual, Bishop

1616. "On Christmas Day, Thomas, Earl of Arundel, who was educated
from his youth in the Popish Religion, and had lately travelled all
over Italy detesting the abuses of the Papists, embraced the
Protestant religion, and received the Sacrament in the King's Chapel
at Whitehall, where Bishop Andrews preached, as was customary, a
sermon suited to the Festival of the Nativity."

1618. "On the 25th [December], Bishop Andrews resumed his post as
preacher on Christmas Day, before the King at Whitehall. His text was
from Luke ii. 12, 13."

1619. "Christmas was kept by the King at Whitehall, as had ever been
his practice; and Bishop Andrews preached then before him, on
Saturday, the 25th."

1620. "During the month of December, before the King left the country,
he knighted at Newmarket, Sir Francis Michell, afterward degraded in
June 1621; and at Theobalds, Sir Gilbert Cornwall. On the 23rd, his
Majestie 'came to Westminster, but went not to Chappel, being
prevented by the gout.' On Monday, the 25th, however, being Christmas
Day, Bishop Andrews preached before him at Whitehall, on Matt. ii. 1,
2; and during Christmas, Sir Clement Cotterell and Sir Henry Carvell
were there knighted."

1622. "On the 25th [December] Bishop Andrews resumed his Christmas
station in the pulpit at Whitehall, and thence preached to the King
and his Court on the same text as he had adopted on the same occasion
two years before, Matt. ii. 1, 2."

1623. "The King kept inviolate his old custom of being at Whitehall on
Christmas Day, and hearing there a sermon from Bishop Andrews, who
this year preached on Ephes. i. 10."

1624. "On Saturday, the 25th of December, Bishop Andrews preached
before his Majesty at Whitehall, on Psalm ii. 7, it being at least the
seventeenth, as it was the last, Christmas Day on which King James
heard that favourite preacher."

The unique series of "Seventeen Sermons on the Nativity, preached
before King James I. at Whitehall, by the Right Honourable and
Reverend Father in God, Lancelot Andrewes, sometime Lord Bishop of
Winchester," were preserved to posterity by an order of Charles I.,
who, after Bishop Andrewes's death, commanded Bishops Laud and
Buckeridge to collect and publish his sermons. This series of sermons
on the Nativity have recently been reprinted in "The Ancient and
Modern Library of Theological Literature," and the editor, after
referring to the ability and integrity of Bishop Andrewes, says: "An
interest apart from that which must be created by his genius,
learning, and character, belongs to him as the exponent of the mind
and practice of the English Church in the years that intervened
between the Reformation and the Revolution."


at this period are thus enumerated by Robert Burton in his "Anatomy of
Melancholy," published in 1621:--

"The ordinary recreations which we have in winter are cards, tables
and dice, shovelboard, chess-play, the philosopher's game, small
trunks, billiards, music, masks, singing, dancing, ule games, catches,
purposes, questions; merry tales of errant knights, kings, queens,
lovers, lords, ladies, giants, dwarfs, thieves, fairies, goblins,
friars, witches, and the rest."

The following curious cut is from the title-page of the amusing story
of the great "Giant Gargantua" of this period:--

[Illustration: "Giant Gargantua"]

The legends of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Bevis of
Southampton, Guy of Warwick, Adam Bell, and Clymme of Clough, were
favourites among the lovers of romance; but the people of this age,
being very superstitious, were very fond of stories about ghosts and
goblins, believing them to be founded on fact, and also attributing
feats performed by conjurors and jugglers to supernatural agency. The
King himself was equally superstitious, for Strutt in describing the
tricks of jugglers says: "Our learned monarch, James I., was perfectly
convinced that these, and other inferior feats exhibited by the
tregetours, could only be performed by the agency of the devil, 'who,'
says he, 'will learne them many juglarie tricks, at cardes and dice,
to deceive men's senses thereby, and such innumerable false
practiques, which are proved by over-many in this age.'"[68]

Looking back to the ancient superstitions about ghosts and fairies,
Dryden, the poet, has some lines which may fitly close this chapter:--

 "I speak of ancient times, for now the swain
  Returning late may pass the woods in vain,
  And never hope to see the mighty train;
  In vain the dairy now with mint is dressed,
  The dairy-maid expects no fairy guest,
  To skim the bowls and after pay the feast.
  She sighs and shakes her empty shoes in vain,
  No silver penny to reward her pain:
  For priests, with prayers and other godly gear,
  Have made the merry goblins disappear."

    [58] "Curiosities of Literature."

    [59] "Memoirs of Ben Jonson."

    [60] "Progresses of King James the First."

    [61] Cassell's "History of England."

    [62] This portion is inserted to introduce _the Prince's
    Triumph_, as they are termed.

    [63] Cassell's "History of England."

    [64] Nichols's "Progresses."

    [65] "Camden's Annals."

    [66] "Progresses."

    [67] "Library of English Literature."

    [68] "Dæmonologie," by King James I.





was the second son of James I. and of Anne, daughter of Frederick
III., King of Denmark, and he came to the throne on the death of his
father in March 1625. As Prince Charles he had taken part in the Court
entertainments of Christmastide, and had particularly distinguished
himself in Ben Jonson's masque, "The Vision of Delight." These
magnificent Christmas masques were continued after Charles's accession
to the throne until the troubles of his reign stopped them.
Gifford[69] mentions that Jonson's "Masque of Owls" was presented at
Kenilworth Castle, "By the Ghost of Captain Cox mounted on his
Hobby-horse, in 1626":--

"_Enter_ Captain Cox, _on his Hobby-horse._

  Room! room! for my horse will wince,
  If he come within so many yards of a prince;
  And though he have not on his wings,
  He will do strange things,
  He is the Pegasus that uses
  To wait on Warwick Muses;
  And on gaudy-days he paces
  Before the Coventry Graces;
  For to tell you true, and in rhyme,
  He was foal'd in Queen Elizabeth's time,
  When the great Earl of Lester
  In this castle did feast her."

[Illustration: THE HOBBY-HORSE.]

Jonson's "The Fortunate Isles, and Their Union," a masque designed for
the Court, was presented on Twelfth Night, 1626; and "Love's Triumph
through Callipolis" (a masque invented by Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones)
was presented at Court in 1630.


also made merry at Christmas at this period; but it sometimes happened
that when he went forth with his band of merry men, they got into
trouble. An instance of this, which occurred in 1627, is recorded in
one of Meade's letters to Sir Martin Stuteville. The letter is worth
reprinting as an illustration of the manners of the age, and as
relating to what was probably the last Lord of Misrule elected by the
barristers. Meade writes:--"On Saturday the Templars chose one Mr.
Palmer their Lord of Misrule, who, on Twelfth-eve, late in the night,
sent out to gather up his rents at five shillings a house in Ram-alley
and Fleet Street. At every door they came to they winded the
Temple-horn, and if at the second blast or summons they within opened
not the door, then the Lord of Misrule cried out, 'Give fire, gunner!'
His gunner was a robustious Vulcan, and the gun or petard itself was a
huge overgrown smith's hammer. This being complained of to my Lord
Mayor, he said he would be with them about eleven o'clock on Sunday
night last; willing that all that ward should attend him with their
halberds, and that himself, besides those that came out of his house,
should bring the watches along with him. His lordship, thus attended,
advanced as high as Ram-alley in martial equipage: when forth came the
Lord of Misrule, attended by his gallants, out of the Temple-gate,
with their swords all armed _in cuerpo_. A halberdier bade the Lord of
Misrule come to my Lord Mayor. He answered, No! let the Lord Mayor
come to me! At length they agreed to meet halfway: and, as the
interview of rival princes is never without danger of some ill
accident, so it happened in this: for first, Mr. Palmer being
quarrelled with for not pulling off his hat to my Lord Mayor, and
giving cross answers, the halberds began to fly about his ears, and he
and his company to brandish their swords. At last being beaten to the
ground, and the Lord of Misrule sore wounded, they were fain to yield
to the longer and more numerous weapon. My Lord Mayor taking Mr.
Palmer by the shoulder, led him to the Compter, and thrust him in at
the prison-gate with a kind of indignation; and so, notwithstanding
his hurts, he was forced to lie among the common prisoners for two
nights. On Tuesday the King's attorney became a suitor to my Lord
Mayor for their liberty: which his lordship granted, upon condition
that they should repay the gathered rents, and do reparations upon
broken doors. Thus the game ended. Mr. Attorney-General, being of the
same house, fetched them in his own coach, and carried them to the
court, where the King himself reconciled my Lord Mayor and them
together with joining all hands; the gentlemen of the Temple being
this Shrovetide to present a Mask to their majesties, over and besides
the King's own great Mask, to be performed at the Banquetting-house by
an hundred actors."

We get other glances at


through contemporary writers of the period. Nicholas Breton,[70]
writing in merry mood, says: "It is now Christmas, and not a cup of
drink must pass without a carol; the beasts, fowl, and fish come to a
general execution, and the corn is ground to dust for the bakehouse
and the pastry: cards and dice purge many a purse, and the youth show
their agility in shoeing of the wild mare: now, good cheer, and
welcome, and God be with you, and I thank you:--and against the New
Year provide for the presents:--The Lord of Misrule is no mean man for
his time, and the guests of the high table must lack no wine: the
lusty bloods must look about them like men, and piping and dancing
puts away much melancholy: stolen venison is sweet, and a fat coney is
worth money: pit-falls are now set for small birds, and a woodcock
hangs himself in a gin: a good fire heats all the house, and a full
alms-basket makes the beggar's prayers:--the maskers and the mummers
make the merry sport, but if they lose their money their drum goes
dead: swearers and swaggerers are sent away to the ale-house, and
unruly wenches go in danger of judgment; musicians now make their
instruments speak out, and a good song is worth the hearing. In sum it
is a holy time, a duty in Christians for the remembrance of Christ and
custom among friends for the maintenance of good fellowship. In brief
I thus conclude it: I hold it a memory of the Heaven's love and the
world's peace, the mirth of the honest, and the meeting of the
friendly. Farewell."

In 1633, William Prynne, a Puritan lawyer, published his
"Histriomastix," against plays, masques, balls, the decking of houses
with evergreens at Christmas, &c., for which he was committed to the
Tower, prosecuted in the Star Chamber, and sentenced to pay a fine to
the King of £5,000, to be expelled from the University of Oxford, from
the Society of Lincoln's Inn, and from his profession of the law; to
stand twice in the pillory, each time losing an ear; to have his book
burnt before his face by the hangman; and to suffer perpetual
imprisonment: a most barbarous sentence, which Green[71] says, "showed
the hard cruelty of the Primate."

Milton's masque of "Comus" was produced the following year (1634) for
performance at Ludlow Castle, in Shropshire, which was the seat of
government for the Principality of Wales, the Earl of Bridgewater
being then the Lord President, and having a jurisdiction and military
command that comprised the English counties of Gloucester, Worcester,
Hereford and Shropshire. Ludlow Castle was to the Lord President of
Wales of that period what Dublin Castle is to the Lord Lieutenant of
Ireland in the present day; and, as hospitality was one of the duties
of the Lord President's office, the Earl and Countess of Bridgewater
gave a grand entertainment to the country people, in which the masque
of "Comus" was an important feature. The music was composed by the
eminent musician Henry Lawes, and the masque was adapted for
performance by the family of the earl and countess, who then had ten
children--eight daughters and two sons.

It is quite refreshing to think of the author of "Paradise Lost," with
his friend Lawes, the musician, among the country dancers, listening
to the song of the attendant spirit:--

 "Back, shepherds, back; enough your play
  Till next sun-shine holiday:
  Here be, without duck or nod,
  Other trippings to be trod
  Of lighter toes, and such court guise
  As Mercury did first devise
  With the mincing Dryades,
  On the lawns, and on the leas."

"But Milton was a courtier when he wrote the Masque at Ludlow Castle,"
says Charles Lamb, "and still more of a courtier when he composed the
'Arcades'" (a masque, or entertainment presented to the Countess
Dowager of Derby, at Harefield, by some noble persons of her family).
"When the national struggle was to begin, he becomingly cast these
varieties behind him."

From "Archæologia" (vol. xviii. p. 335), we learn that "Richard
Evelyn, Esq., High Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex in 1634, held a
splendid Christmas at his mansion at Wotton, having a regular Lord of
Misrule for the occasion: and it appears it was then the custom for
the neighbours to send presents of eatables to provide for the great
consumption consequent upon such entertainments. The following is a
list of those sent on this occasion: two sides of venison, two half
brawns, three pigs, ninety capons, five geese, six turkeys, four
rabbits, eight partridges, two pullets, five sugar loaves, half a
pound of nutmeg, one basket of apples, two baskets of pears."

Hone[72] states that "in the ninth year of King Charles I. the four
Inns of Court provided a Christmas mask, which cost £2,400, and the
King invited a hundred and twenty gentlemen of the four Inns to a mask
at Whitehall on Shrove Tuesday following." And Sandys says that on the
13th December, 1637, a warrant under Privy Seal was issued to George
Kirke, for £150 to provide masking apparel for the King; and on the
1st of the same month Edmund Taverner had a warrant for £1,400 towards
the charge of a mask to be presented at Whitehall the next Twelfth
Night. A similar sum for a similar purpose was granted to Michael
Oldisworth on the 3rd of January, 1639.

In connection with the entertainments at the Inns of Court, Sandys
mentions that by an order, 17th November, 4th Charles I., all playing
at dice, cards, or otherwise was forbidden at Gray's Inn, except
during the 20 days in Christmas.

As indicating the prolongation of the Christmas revels at this period,
it is recorded that in February, 1633, there was a celebrated masque,
called "The Triumph of Peace," presented jointly by the two Temples,
Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn, which cost the Societies about £20,000.
Evelyn, in his "Memoirs," relates, that on the 15th December, 1641, he
was elected one of the Comptrollers of the Middle Temple revellers,
"as the custom of ye young students and gentlemen was, the Christmas
being kept this yeare with greate solemnity"; but he got excused.

An order still existed directing the nobility and gentry who had
mansions in the country "to repair to them to keep hospitality meet to
their degrees;" for a note in Collier's History states that Sir J.
Astley, on the 20th of March, 1637, in consequence of ill-health,
obtained a license to reside in London, or where he pleased, at
Christmas, or any other times; which proves such license to have been

At this period noblemen and gentlemen lived like petty princes, and in
the arrangement of their households copied their sovereign, having
officers of the same import, and even heralds wearing their coat of
arms at Christmas, and other solemn feasts, crying largesse thrice at
the proper times. They feasted in their halls where many of the
Christmas sports were performed. When coals were introduced the hearth
was commonly in the middle, whence, according to Aubrey, is the
saying, "Round about our coal-fire." Christmas was considered as the
commemoration of a holy festival, to be observed with cheerfulness as
well as devotion. The comforts and personal gratification of their
dependants were provided for by the landlords, their merriment
encouraged, and their sports joined. The working man looked forward to
Christmas as the time which repaid his former toils; and gratitude for
worldly comforts then received caused him to reflect on the eternal
blessings bestowed on mankind by the event then commemorated.


Of all our English poets, Robert Herrick, a writer of the seventeenth
century, has left us the most complete contemporary picture of the
Christmas season. He was born in Cheapside, London, and received his
early education, it is supposed, at Westminster School, whence he
removed to Cambridge, and after taking his M.A. degree in 1620, left
Cambridge. He afterwards spent some years in London in familiar
intercourse with the wits and writers of the age, enjoying those
"lyric feasts" which are celebrated in his "Ode to Ben Jonson":--

                 "Ah Ben!
             Say how or when
           Shall we, thy guests
         Meet at those lyric feasts
             Made at the Sun,
        The Dog, the Triple Tun;
       Where we such clusters had
     As made us nobly wild, not mad?
       And yet each verse of thine
   Outdid the meat, outdid the frolic wine."

In 1629 he accepted the living of Dean Prior, in Devonshire, where he
lived as a bachelor Vicar, being ejected by the Long Parliament,
returning on the Restoration under Charles the Second, and dying at
length at the age of eighty-four. He was buried in the Church at Dean
Prior, where a memorial tablet has latterly been erected to his
memory. And it is fitting that he should die and be buried in the
quiet Devonshire hamlet from which he drew so much of his happiest
inspiration, and which will always be associated now with the endless
charm of the "Hesperides."

In "A New Year's Gift, sent to Sir Simeon Steward," included in his
"Hesperides," Herrick refers to the Christmas sports of the time, and

 "No new device or late-found trick

  *     *     *     *     *

  We send you; but here a jolly
  Verse crowned with ivy and with holly;
  That tells of winter's tales and mirth,
  That milk-maids make about the hearth,
  Of Christmas sports, the Wassail bowl,
  That's tossed up after Fox-i'-th'-hole;
  Of Blind-man's-buff, and of the care
  That young men have to shoe the Mare;
  Of Twelfth-tide cake, of peas and beans,
  Wherewith ye make those merry scenes,
  When as ye choose your king and queen,
  And cry out, 'Hey for our town green.'
  Of ash-heaps in the which ye use
  Husbands and wives by streaks to choose:
  Of crackling laurel, which fore-sounds
  A plenteous harvest to your grounds;
  Of these, and such like things, for shift,
  We send instead of New-year's gift.
  Read then, and when your faces shine
  With bucksome meat and cap'ring wine,
  Remember us in cups full crowned,
  And let our city's health go round,
  Quite through the young maids and the men,
  To the ninth number, if not ten,
  Until the firèd chestnuts leap
  For joy to see the fruits ye reap,
  From the plump chalice and the cup
  That tempts till it be tossèd up.
  Then as ye sit about your embers,
  Call not to mind those fled Decembers;
  But think on these, that are t' appear,
  As daughters to the instant year;
  Sit crowned with rose-buds and carouse,
  Till _Liber Pater_ twirls the house
  About your ears, and lay upon
  The year, your cares, that's fled and gone.
  And let the russet swains the plough
  And harrow hang up resting now;
  And to the bagpipe all address
  Till sleep takes place of weariness.
  And thus, throughout, with Christmas plays,
  Frolic the full twelve holy-days."


at Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, was the most important Christmas event
of the memorable year which saw the outbreak of the Civil War (1642).
In the year of the Restoration he entered Cambridge, where the
teaching of Isaac Barrow quickened his genius for mathematics, and
from the time he left College his life became a series of wonderful
physical discoveries. As early as 1666, he discovered the law of
gravitation, but it was not till the eve of the Revolution that his
"Principia" revealed to the world his new theory of the universe.


"A Christmas Carol," by George Wither, a well-known poet of this
period, contains many allusions to the customs of Christmastide:--

  So, now is come our joyful'st 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' chimneys smoke,
    And Christmas blocks are burning;
  Their ovens they with baked meats choke,
    And all their spits are turning.
  Without the door let sorrow lie;
  And if for cold it hap to die,
  We'll bury 't in a Christmas pie,
    And ever more be merry.

  Now every lad is wondrous trim,
    And no man minds his labour;
  Our lasses have provided them
    A bag-pipe and a tabour;
  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[73] out of France;
  And Jack shall pipe, and Jill shall dance,
    And all the town be merry.

  Ned Squash hath fetched his bands from pawn,
    And all his best apparel;
  Brisk Nell hath bought a ruff of lawn
    With droppings 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 roys'ters 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 other 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! how 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 wassail bowls
    About the streets are singing;
  The boys are come to catch the owls,
    The wild mare in is bringing.
  Our kitchen-boy hath broke his box,[74]
  And to the dealing of the ox
  Our honest neighbours come by flocks,
    And here they will be merry.

  Now kings and queens poor sheep cotes have,
    And mate with everybody;
  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-ho
  And twenty other gambols mo,
    Because they will be merry.

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

The preceding poem was evidently written by Wither before the Civil
War troubles of the reign of Charles the First had interfered to damp
the national hilarity, or check the rejoicings at the festive season
of Christmas.


the overthrow of the monarchy, and the changes resulting therefrom at
Christmastide are alluded to in "The Complaint of Christmas, written
after Twelftide, and printed before Candlemas, 1646," by old John
Taylor, the Water Poet, who says: "All the liberty and harmless
sports, the merry gambols, dances and friscols, with which the toiling
ploughman and labourer once a year were wont to be recreated, and
their spirits and hopes revived for a whole twelvemonth, are now
extinct and put out of use, in such a fashion as if they never had
been. Thus are the merry lords of bad rule at Westminster; nay, more,
their madness hath extended itself to the very vegetables; senseless
trees, herbs, and weeds, are in a profane estimation amongst
them--holly, ivy, mistletoe, rosemary, bays, are accounted ungodly
branches of superstition for your entertainment. And to roast a
sirloin of beef, to touch a collar of brawn, to take a pie, to put a
plum in the pottage pot, to burn a great candle, or to lay one block
the more in the fire for your sake, Master Christmas, is enough to
make a man to be suspected and taken for a Christian, for which he
shall be apprehended for committing high Parliament Treason and mighty
malignancy against the general Council of the Directorian private
Presbyterian Conventicle."

With the success of the Parliamentarians, certain changes came in the
ruling manners of the age; but


was, of course, a signal failure. The event commemorated made it
impossible for the commemoration to cease. Men may differ as to the
mode of celebration, but the Christ must and will be celebrated.

"In 1642," says Sandys, "the first ordinances were issued to suppress
the performance of plays, and hesitation was expressed as to the
manner of keeping Christmas. Some shops in London were even opened on
Christmas Day, 1643, part of the people being fearful of a Popish
observance of the day. The Puritans gradually prevailed, and in 1647
some parish officers were committed for permitting ministers to preach
upon Christmas Day, and for adorning the church. On the 3rd of June in
the same year, it was ordained by the Lords and Commons in Parliament
that the feast of the Nativity of Christ, with other holidays, should
be no longer observed, and that all scholars, apprentices, and other
servants, with the leave and approbation of their masters, should have
such relaxation from labour on the second Tuesday in every month as
they used to have from such festivals and holy days; and in
Canterbury, on the 22nd of December following, the crier went round by
direction of the Mayor, and proclaimed that Christmas Day and all
other superstitious festivals should be put down, and a market kept
upon that day."

In describing "The First Christmas under the Puritan Directory," the
_Saturday Review_ (December 27, 1884) says:--"It must have been taken
as a piece of good luck by the Parliamentary and Puritanical masters
of England, or, as they would have said, as 'a providence,' that the
Christmas Day of 1645 fell upon a week-day. It was the first Christmas
Day after the legislative abolition of the Anglican Prayer-book and
the establishment of 'the Directory' in its stead; and, if it had
fallen upon a Sunday, the Churches must have been opened. A 'Sabbath'
could not be ignored, even though it chanced to be the 25th of
December. There can be small doubt that, if the Presbyterian and
Independent preachers who held all the English parishes subject to the
Parliament had been obliged to go into the pulpits on the 25th of
December 1645, they would again have irritated the masses of the
people by ferociously 'improving the occasion.' The Parliament had not
the courage to repeat the brutal experiment of the previous year. It
was easy to abolish the feast by an ordinance; but it was risky to
insist by an ordinance that the English people and English families
should keep the dearest and most sacred of their festivals as a fast.
The rulers knew that such an ordinance would not be obeyed. They
resolved simply to ignore the day, or treat it as any ordinary
Thursday. Doubtless many of the members kept up some sort of
celebration of the old family festival in their own private houses.
But the legislators marched solemnly to the Lower House, and the
'divines' marched as solemnly to the Assembly in the Jerusalem
Chamber, affecting to take no notice of the unusual aspect of the
shops and streets, which everywhere bore witness to the fact that
there was a deep and fundamental estrangement between 'the State' and
'the people,' and that the people were actually keeping the festival
which the 'Synod' had declared to be profane and superstitious, and
which the Parliament to please the Scots, the Nonconformists, and the
Sectaries, had abolished by law. 'Notwithstanding the Ordinance,'
wrote a Member of the House of Commons, the Erastian Whitelock, in his
'Memorials,' 'yet generally this day, in London, the shops were shut
and the day observed.' The Christmas number of the _Mercurius
Academicus_ (December 25 to 31, 1645), states that General Browne, who
was a Presbyterian zealot, 'proclaimed' the abolition of Christmas
Day at Abingdon, and 'sent out his warrants for men to work on
that day especially.' ... The Parliamentary newspaper, _The Weekly
Account_, (LIII. week, 1645), has the bald record: 'Thursday, Decemb.
25. The Commons sate in a Grand Committee concerning the privileges of
members of their House.' The news in the Tuesday paper, _The
Kingdome's Weekly Intelligencer_ (No. 152), is equally thin:
'Thursday, Decemb. 25, vulgarly known by the name of Christmas Day,
both Houses sate. The House of Commons more especially debated some
things in reference to the privileges of that House, and made some
orders therein.' ... The Presbyterian and Independent divines spent
Christmas Day in the 'Synod' of Westminster. December the 25th, 1645,
was entered in their minutes as 'Session 561.' ... The City newspaper
of that period, _Mercurius Civicus, or London's Intelligencer_, in
what we may call its Christmas number (No. 135, December 18 to
December 24, 1645), printed an article explaining to the citizens of
London the absurdity, if not the impiety, of keeping Christmas Day.
Every good citizen was expected to open his shop as usual on the
coming Thursday, and compel his apprentices to keep behind the
counter. The City newspaper stated, that it was more probable that the
Saviour was born in September than in December, and quotes 'a late
reverend minister's opinion, that God did conceale the time when
Christ was borne, upon the same reason that He tooke away the body of
Moses, that they might not put an holinesse upon that day.' If the
apprentices want a holiday, 'let them keep the fift of November, and
other dayes of that nature, or the late great mercy of God in the
taking of Hereford, which deserves an especiall day of thanksgiving.'
The mass of the English folk meanwhile protested by all such ways as
were open to them against the outlandish new religion which was being
invented for them. The _Mercuricus Civicus_ complained that, 'Many
people in these times are too much addicted to the superstitious
observance of this day, December 25th, and other saints days, as they
are called.' It was asked in a 'Hue and Cry after Christmas,'
published anonymously at the end of the year 1645, 'Where may
Christmas be found?' The answer is, 'In the corner of a translator's
shop, where the cobbler was wont so merrily to chant his carols.' _The
Moderate Intelligencer_, which devoted itself to 'impartially
communicating martiall affaires,' in its forty-third number (December
25, 1645, to January 1, 1646), expressed itself as scandalized at the
zeal with which the English people, in spite of Parliament and the
Assembly, had kept their Christmas. Social phenomena lay beyond the
usual ken of the military chroniclers; but 'we shall only observe,'
they wrote, 'the loathnesse of the People to part with it, which
certainly argues a greater adoration than should have been. Hardly
forty shops were open within the lines upon that day. The State hath
done well to null it out of this respect, as Moses did the Brazen
Serpent.' The Scriptural knowledge of the Puritan military newsmen was
curiously at fault; they evidently confounded Moses with Hezekiah,
unless they substituted the lawgiver for the king, because they
thought it unwise to represent the King as the foe of idolatry. The
traditional scorn of the Pharisee for the common people which know not
the law comes out in the ironical passage with which the 'martiall'
organ concludes its reference to the distressing social symptom; 'Sure
if there were an ordinance for recreation and labour upon the Lord's
Day, or Sabbath (like the prelatical Book of Sports), these would want
no observers. Unwillingness to obey, in a multitude, argues generally
the goodnesse of a law, readinesse the contrary, especially in those
laws which have anything of religion in them.' Hence the puritanical
tyrants thought the observation of Christmas Day should be visited in
future years with more severe penalties. A few days after Christmas a
pamphlet was issued under the title of 'The Arraignment, Conviction,
and Imprisonment of Christmas.' A letter from a 'Malignant scholar' in
Oxford, where Christmas had been observed as usual, to 'a Malignant
lady in London,' had contained the promise or threat, according to the
pamphleteer, that the King would shortly appear in London, and restore
to his poor people their old social and religious liberties. 'We shall
soon be in London, and have all things as they were wont.' There was
small chance, six months after Naseby, of the fulfilment of the
prediction. The puritanical pamphleteer, however, owns that it would
be welcome to 'every 'prentice boy,' because the return of the King
would have meant the return of a free Christmas, which he sorely
missed. 'All popish, prelatical, Jesuitical, ignorant, Judaical, and
superstitious persons,' said he, 'ask after the old, old, old, very
old grey-bearded gentleman called Christmas, who was wont to be a very
familiar ghest (_sic_). Whoever finds him again shall be rewarded with
a benediction from the Pope, a hundred oaths from the Cavaliers, forty
kisses from the wanton wenches, and be made pursuivant to the next
Archbishop.' 'The poor,' he added, 'are sorry for it. They go to every
door a-begging, as they were wont to do, 'Good Mistress, somewhat
against this good time.' Instead of going to the alehouse to be
drunke, they are fain to work all the holy dayes.' Again, 'The
schollars come into the hall, where their hungry stomacks had thought
to have found good brawne and Christmas pie, roast-beef and
plum-porridge. But no such matter. Away, ye profane! These are
superstitious meats; your stomacks must be fed with sound doctrine.'"

In the _National Magazine_ (1857), Dr. Doran, on "The Ups and Downs of
Christmas," remarks upon the stout resistance given by the citizens of
London to the order of the Puritan Parliament, that shops should be
opened and churches closed on Christmas Day. "We may have a sermon on
any other day," said the London apprentices, who did not always go to
hear it, "why should we be deprived on this day?" "It is no longer
lawful for the day to be kept," was the reply. "Nay," exclaimed the
sharp-witted fellows, "you keep it yourselves by thus distinguishing
it by desecration." "They declared," says Dr. Doran, "they would go to
church; numerous preachers promised to be ready for them with prayer
and lecture; and the porters of Cornhill swore they would dress up
their conduit with holly, if it were only to prove that in that
orthodox and heavily-enduring body there was some respect yet left for
Christianity and hard drinking--for the raising of the holly was ever
accompanied by the lifting of tankards.

"Nor was the gallant Christmas spirit less lively in the country than
in the capital. At Oxford there was a world of skull-breaking; and at
Ipswich the festival was celebrated by some loss of life. Canterbury
especially distinguished itself by its violent opposition to the
municipal order to be mirthless. There was a combat there, which was
most rudely maintained, and in which the mayor got pummelled until he
was as senseless as a pocket of hops. The mob mauled him terribly,
broke all his windows, as well as his bones, and, as we are told,
'burnt the stoupes at the coming in of his door.' So serious was the
riot, so complete the popular victory, and so jubilant the exultation,
that thousands of the never-conquered men of Kent and Kentish men met
in Canterbury, and passed a solemn resolution that if they could not
have their Christmas Day, they were determined to have the King on his
throne again."

Of the Canterbury riot an account is given in a rare tract, published
in 1647 (preserved in the British Museum), and entitled--

"The Declaration of many thousands of the city of Canterbury, or
county of Kent. Concerning the late tumult in the city of Canterbury,
provokt by the Mayor's violent proceedings against those who desired
to continue the celebration of the Feast of Christ's Nativity, 1,500
years and upwards maintained in the Church. Together with their
Resolutions for the restitution of His Majestie to his Crown and
dignity, whereby Religion may be restored to its ancient splendour,
and the known Laws of this Kingdom maintained. As also their desires
to all His Majesties loyall subjects within his Dominions, for their
concurrence and assistance in this so good and pious a work."

The resolutions of the Canterbury citizens were not couched in the
choicest terms, for the tract states that the two Houses of Parliament
"have sate above seven years to hatch Cocatrices and Vipers, they have
filled the kingdom with Serpents, bloodthirsty Souldiers, extorting
Committees, Sequestrators, Excisemen; all the Rogues and scumme of the
kingdom have they set on work to torment and vex the people, to rob
them, and to eat the bread out of their mouthes; they have raised a
causelesse and unnaturall Warre against their own Soveraigne Lord and
King, a most pious Christian Prince, contrary to their allegiance and
duty, and have shed innocent blood in this Land. Religion is onely
talkt of, nothing done; they have put down what is good," &c., &c. And
further on the tract says:--"The cause of this so sudden a posture of
defence which we have put our selves into was the violent proceedings
of the Mayor of this city of Canterbury and his uncivill carriage in
persuance of some petty order of the House of Commons for hindering
the celebration of Christ's Nativity so long continued in the Church
of God. That which we so much desired that day was but a Sermon, which
any other day of the weeke was tollerable by the orders and practise
of the two Houses and all their adherents, but that day (because it
was Christ's birth day) we must have none; that which is good all the
yeer long, yet is this day superstitious. The Mayor causing some of us
to be beaten contrary to his oath and office, who ought to preserve
the peace, and to that purpose chiefly is the sword of justice put
into his hands, and wrongfully imprisoned divers of us, because we did
assemble ourselves to hear the Word of God, which he was pleased to
interpret a Ryot; yet we were unarmed, behaved ourselves civilly,
intended no such tumult as afterwards we were forc'd unto; but at
last, seeing the manifest wrong done to our children, servants, and
neighbours, by beating, wounding, and imprisoning them, and to release
them that were imprisoned, and did call unto our assistance our
brethren of the county of Kent, who very readily came in to us, as
have associated themselves to us in this our just and lawfull defence,
and do concurre with us in this our Remonstrance concerning the King
Majestie, and the settlement of the peace in this Kingdome." And the
tract afterwards expresses the desire that "all his Majesties loyall
subjects within his Dominions" will "readily and cheerfully concurre
and assist in this so good and pious a work."

Among the single sheets in the British Museum is an order of
Parliament, dated the 24th of December, 1652, directing,

"That no observation shall be had of the five and twentieth day of
December, commonly called Christmas Day; nor any solemnity used or
exercised in churches upon that day in respect thereof."

Referring to the celebration of Christmas Day in 1657, Evelyn says:--

"I went to London with my wife to celebrate Christmas Day, Mr. Gunning
preaching in Exeter Chapel, on Micah vii. 2. Sermon ended; as he was
giving us the Holy Sacrament the chapel was surrounded with soldiers,
and all the communicants and assembly surprised and kept prisoners by
them, some in the house, others carried away. It fell to my share to
be confined to a room in the house, where yet I was permitted to dine
with the master of it, the Countess of Dorset, Lady Hatton, and some
others of quality who invited me. In the afternoon came Colonel
Whalley, Goffe, and others from Whitehall to examine us one by one;
some they committed to the Marshal, some to prison. When I came before
them they took my name and abode, examined me why, contrary to the
ordinance made that none should any longer observe the superstitious
time of the Nativity (as esteemed by them), I durst offend, and
particularly be at Common Prayers, which they told me was but the mass
in English, and particularly pray for Charles Stuart, for which we had
no Scripture. I told them we did not pray for Charles Stuart, but for
all Christian kings, princes, and governors. They replied, in so doing
we prayed for the King of Spain too, who was their enemy and a Papist;
with other frivolous and ensnaring questions and much threatening,
and, finding no colour to detain me, they dismissed me with much pity
of my ignorance. These were men of high flight and above ordinances,
and spake spiteful things of our Lord's Nativity. As we went up to
receive the sacrament the miscreants held their muskets against us, as
if they would have shot us at the altar, but yet suffering us to
finish the office of communion, as perhaps not having instructions
what to do in case they found us in that action; so I got home late
the next day, blessed be God!"

Notwithstanding the adverse acts of the Puritans, however, and the
suppression of Christmas observances in high places, the old customs
and festivities were still observed in different parts of the country,
though with less ostentation than formerly; and various publications
appeared which plainly showed that the popular sentiments were in
favour of the festivities. The motto of No. 37 of _Mercurius
Democritus_, from December 22, 1652, begins:

 "Old Christmas now is come to town
    Though few do him regard,
  He laughs to see them going down
    That have put down his Lord."

In "The Vindication of Father Christmas," 1653, a mock complaint in
the character of Father Christmas, he laments the treatment he had
received for the last twelve years, and that he was even then but
coolly received. "But welcome, or not welcome, I am come," he says,
and then states that his "best and freest welcome was with some kinde
of country farmers in Devonshire," thus describing his entertainment
among them:--"After dinner we arose from the boord, and sate by the
fire, where the harth was imbrodered all over with roasted apples,
piping hot, expecting a bole of ale for a cooler, which immediately
was transformed into warm lamb wool. After which we discoursed merily,
without either prophaneness or obscenity; some went to cards; others
sung carols and pleasant songs (suitable to the times), and then the
poor laboring Hinds, and maid-servants, with the plow-boys, went
nimbly to dancing; the poor toyling wretches being glad of my
company, because they had little or no sport at all till I came
amongst them; and therefore they skipped and leaped for joy, singing a
carol to the tune of hey,

 "Let's dance and sing, and make good chear,
    For Christmas comes but once a year:
  Draw hogsheads dry, let flagons fly,
    For now the bells shall ring;
  Whilst we endeavour to make good
    The title 'gainst a King.

"Thus at active games, and gambols of hot cockles, shooing the wild
mare, and the like harmless sports, some part of the tedious night was



were not brought to an end by the execution of Charles I. on the 30th
of January, 1649. In addition to the rioting caused by the attempt to
abolish the festival of Christmas by law, the Lord Protector (Oliver
Cromwell) had to struggle against discontented republicans and also
against fresh outbreaks of the Royalists; and, although able to carry
on the Protectorate to the end of his own life, Cromwell was unable to
secure a strong successor. He died on September 3, 1658, having on his
deathbed nominated his son Richard to succeed him. Richard Cromwell
was accepted in England and by the European Powers, and carried
himself discreetly in his new position. A Parliament was assembled on
January 17, 1659, which recognised the new Protector, but the
republican minority, headed by Vane and Haselrig, united with the
officers of the army, headed by Lambert, Fleetwood, and Desborough, to
force him to dissolve Parliament (April 22, 1659). The Protector's
supporters urged him to meet force by force, but he replied, "I will
not have a drop of blood spilt for the preservation of my greatness,
which is a burden to me." He signed a formal abdication (May, 1659),
in return for which the restored Rump undertook the discharge of his
debts. After the Restoration Richard Cromwell fled to the Continent,
where he remained for many years, returning to England in 1680. A
portion of his property was afterwards restored to him. He died at
Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, in 1712.

On Richard Cromwell declining to uphold the Protectorate by force of
arms, the only hope of establishing a settled form of government and
of saving the country from a military despotism seemed to be in the
restoration of the monarchy; therefore, chiefly through the
instrumentality of General Monk, Charles, the son of Charles I. and
Henrietta Maria, was invited to return to England. He at once
responded, and entered London in triumph as Charles II., on May 29,
1660, having previously signed the declaration of Breda. By this
declaration the King granted a free and general pardon to all "who
within forty days after the publishing hereof shall lay hold upon this
our grace and favour, and shall by any public act declare their doing
so," except such as the Parliament of both houses should except.

    [69] "Works of Ben Jonson."

    [70] "Fantasticks," 1626.

    [71] "History of the English People."

    [72] "Year Book."

    [73] Fiddlers.

    [74] An allusion to the Christmas money-box, made of
    earthenware which required to be broken to obtain
    possession of the money it held.







under Charles II., sometimes styled the "Merry Monarch," was an
occasion of great rejoicing, and the spirit in which the
so-long-fugitive Prince, who once eluded his pursuers by hiding in an
oak, was now welcomed as "Charles our King" by "the roaring, ranting"
portion of the populace is set forth in the following ballad, written
for the first Christmas after the Restoration, printed in London, the
same year, and now copied from a collection of illustrated broadsides
preserved in the Library of the British Museum:--



The Milk-maid's New Year's Gift.

  When Lads and Lasses take delight,
    together for to be;
  They pass away the Winter night,
    and live most merrily.

    To the tune of, _Hey boys up go we_.

  Come, come my roaring ranting boys
    lets never be cast down,
  We'l never mind the female toys,
    but Loyal be to th' Crown:
  We'l never break our hearts with care,
    nor be cast down with fear,
  Our bellys then let us prepare
    to drink some Christmas Beer.

  Then here's a health to Charles our King,
    throughout the world admir'd,
  Let us his great applauses sing,
    that we so much desir'd,
  And wisht amongst us for to reign,
    when Oliver rul'd here,
  But since he's home return'd again,
    come fill some Christmas Beer.

  These holidays we'l briskly drink,
    all mirth we will devise,
  No Treason we will speak or think,
    then bring us brave minc'd pies
  Roast Beef and brave Plum porridge,
    our Loyal hearts to chear,
  Then prithee make no more ado,
    but bring us Christmas Beer.

[Illustration: "THE HACKIN"]

[In these Times all the Spits were sparkling the _Hackin_ must be boiled
by Daybreak or else two young Men took the Maiden by the Arms and run
her round the Market Place till she was ashamed of her laziness.--_Round
about our Coal Fire or Christmas Entertainments_ published in 1740.]

Many of the popular songs of this period complain of the decline of
the Christmas celebrations during the time of the Commonwealth, and
some of them contrast the present with former celebrations. In a
ballad called "The Old and Young Courtier," printed in 1670, comparing
the times of Queen Elizabeth with those of her successors, the fifth
and twelfth verses contain the following parallel respecting


 "With a good old fashion, when Christmasse was come,
  To call in all his old neighbours with bagpipe and drum,
  With good chear enough to furnish every old room,
  And old liquor, able to make a cat speak, and man dumb
          Like an old Courtier of the Queen's,
          And the Queen's old Courtier"


 "With a new fashion, when Christmas is drawing on,
  On a new journey to London straight we all must begone,
  And leave none to keep house, but our new porter John,
  Who relieves the poor with a thump on the back with a stone,
          Like a young courtier of the King's,
          And the King's young courtier"

(_Percy's Reliques_)

Another called "Time's Alteration, or, the Old Man's Rehearsal, what
brave dayes he knew a great while agone, when his old cap was new,"

 "A man might then behold,
    At Christmas, in each hall,
  Good fires to curb the cold
    And meat for great and small;
  The neighbours were friendly bidden,
    And all had welcome true,
  The poor from the gates were not chidden,
    When this old cap was new

  Black jacks to every man
    Were filled with wine and beer,
  No pewter pot nor can
    In those days did appear
  Good cheer in a nobleman's house
    Was counted a seemly shew,
  We wanted no brawn nor souse,
     When this old cap was new."

(_Evans's Ballads_)

Referring to the Restoration of the monarchy, and contrasting it with
the Protectorate period, _Poor Robin's Almanack_, 1685, says--

 "Now thanks to God for Charles' return,
  Whose absence made old Christmas mourn,
  For then we scarcely did it know,
  Whether it Christmas were or no

*    *    *    *    *

  To feast the poor was counted sin,
  When treason that great praise did win
  May we ne'er see the like again,
  The roguish Rump should o'er us reign."

After the Restoration an effort was made to revive the Christmas
entertainments of the Court at Whitehall, but they do not appear to
have recovered their former splendour. The habits of Charles the
Second were of too sensual a nature to induce him to interest himself
in such pursuits; besides which the manners of the country had been
changed during the sway of the Puritans. Pepys states that Charles II.
visited Lincoln's Inn to see the Christmas revels of 1661, "there
being, according to an old custom, a Prince and all his nobles, and
other matters of sport and charge." And the diary of the Rev. John
Ward, vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon, extending from 1648 to 1679,
states: "The Duke of Norfolk expended £20,000 in keeping Christmas.
Charles II. gave over keeping that festival on this account; his
munificence gave great offence at Court." Sandys mentions that a
pastoral called _Calisto_, written by Crowne, was acted by the
daughters of the Duke of York and the young nobility. About the same
time the Lady Anne, afterwards Queen, acted the part of Semandra in
Lee's "Mithridates." Betterton and his wife instructed the performers,
in remembrance of which, when Anne came to the throne, she gave the
latter a pension of £100 a year.

The Inns of Court also had their Christmas feasts; but the conduct of
them was evidently not so much coveted as in former times, for there
is an entry in the records of Gray's Inn on November 3, 1682, "That
Mr. Richard Gipps, on his promise to perform the office of Master of
the Revels, this and the next Term, be called to the Bar of Grace,"
_i.e._, without payment of the usual fees: thus holding out a reward
for his services, instead of allowing him, as in former times, to
spend a large portion of his private fortune unrequited, except by the
honour of the temporary office.

Among the principal of the royal amusements in the time of Charles the
Second were horse-racing and theatrical performances. The King kept an
establishment at Newmarket, where, according to Strutt, "he entered
horses and ran them in his name." And the author of some doggerel
verses, referring to Burford Downs, says:--

 "Next for the glory of the place,
  Here has been rode many a race,--
  King Charles the Second I saw here;
  But I've forgotten in what year."


The Rev. Henry Teonge, chaplain of an English ship of war, gives in
his diary a description of the manner in which the Christmas was spent
on board, in 1675:--"Dec. 25, 1675.--Crismas day wee keepe thus. At 4
in the morning our trumpeters all doe flatt their trumpetts, and begin
at our Captain's cabin, and thence to all the officers' and
gentlemen's cabins; playing a levite at each cabine door, and bidding
good morrow, wishing a merry Crismas. After they goe to their station,
viz., on the poope, and sound 3 levitts in honour of the morning. At
10 wee goe to prayers and sermon; text, Zacc. ix. 9. Our Captaine had
all his officers and gentlemen to dinner with him, where wee had
excellent good fayre: a ribb of beife, plumb-puddings, minct pyes, &c.
and plenty of good wines of severall sorts; dranke healths to the
King, to our wives and friends, and ended the day with much civill



at this period, is referred to by different writers.

Among the Garrick Plays in the British Museum is "_The Christmas
Ordinary, a Private Show_; wherein is expressed the jovial Freedom of
that Festival: as it was acted at a Gentleman's House among other
Revels. By W. R., Master of Arts, 4 to. London, 1682."

The Memoirs of the hospitable Sir John Reresby (Camden Society)
contain references to the Christmas festivities at Thrybergh. In 1682,
there assembled on Christmas Eve nineteen of the poorer tenants from
Denby and Hooton; on Christmas Day twenty-six of the poorer tenants
from Thrybergh, Brinsford, and Mexborough; on St. Stephen's Day
farmers and better sort of tenants to the number of fifty-four; on St.
John's-day forty five of the chief tenants; on the 30th of December
eighteen gentlemen of the neighbourhood with their wives; on the 1st
of January sixteen gentlemen; on the 4th twelve of the neighbouring
clergymen; and on the 6th seven gentlemen and tradesmen. Among the
guests who lodged at the house were "Mr. Rigden, merchant of York, and
his wife, a handsome woman," and "Mr. Belton, an ingenious clergyman,
but too much a good fellow." How the "ingenious clergyman" became "too
much of a good fellow" may be easily guessed from Sir John's further
observation that "_the expense of liquor_, _both of wine & others, was
considerable_, as of other provisions, and my friends appeared well
satisfied." In 1684, writes Sir John, "I returned to Thrybergh, by
God's mercy, in safety, to keep Christmas amongst my neighbours and
tenants. I had more company this Christmas than heretofore. The four
first days of the new year all my tenants of Thrybergh, Brinsford,
Denby, Mexborough, Hooton Roberts, and Rotterham dined with me; the
rest of the time some four-score of gentlemen and yeomen with their
wives were invited, besides some that came from York; so that all the
beds in the house and most in the town were taken up. There were
seldom less than four-score, counting all sorts of people, that dined
in the house every day, and some days many more. On New Year's-day
chiefly there dined above three hundred, so that whole sheep were
roasted and served up to feed them. For music I had four violins,
besides bagpipes, drums, and trumpets."

At Houghton Chapel, Nottinghamshire, says an old writer, "the good Sir
William Hollis kept his house in great splendour and hospitality. He
began Christmas at All Hallowtide, and continued it till Candlemas,
during which time any man was permitted to stay three days without
being asked who he was, or from whence he came." This generous knight
had many guests who rejoiced in the couplet:--

  "If I ask'not my guest whence and whither his way,
  'Tis because I would have him here with me to stay."

It is no part of our purpose to enter into details of the events which
led up to the Revolution. Suffice it to say, that during the reign of
Charles II. began the great struggle between the King and the people,
but Charles steadily refused to alter the succession by excluding his
brother James. He died on the 6th of February, 1685, and


in the midst of an unsettled state of affairs. James made a bold, but
unsuccessful, attempt to restore the power of Romanism in England,
and, ultimately, consulted his own safety by fleeing to France,
landing at Ambleteuse, in Brittany, on Christmas Day, 1688,


The flight of James put an end to the struggle between Crown and
people, and the offering of the Crown, with constitutional
limitations, to William, Prince of Orange, and his wife Mary, daughter
of King James II. and granddaughter of King Charles I. of England,
speedily followed.


accepted the invitation of the English people, and began their reign
on February 13, 1689. They both took an interest in the sports and
pastimes of the people. Strutt says William patronised horse-racing,
"and established an academy for riding; and his queen not only
continued the bounty of her predecessors, but added several plates to
the former donations." The death of Queen Mary, from small-pox, on the
28th of December, 1694, cast a gloom over the Christmas festivities,
and left King William almost heart-broken at her loss. As to


Brand says that in "Batt upon Batt," a Poem by a Person of Quality
(1694), speaking of Batt's carving knives and other implements, the
author asks:--

 "Without their help, who can good Christmas keep?
  Our teeth would chatter and our eyes would weep;
  Hunger and dullness would invade our feasts,
  Did not Batt find us arms against such guests.
  He is the cunning engineer, whose skill
  Makes fools to carve the goose, and shape the quill:
  Fancy and wit unto our meals supplies:
  Carols, and not minc'd-meat, make Christmas pies.
  'Tis mirth, not dishes, sets a table off;
  Brutes and Phanaticks eat, and never laugh.

  *     *     *     *     *

  When _brawn, with powdred wig_, comes swaggering in,
  And mighty serjeant ushers in the Chine,
  What ought a wise man first to think upon?
  Have I my Tools? if not, I am undone:
  For 'tis a law concerns both saint and sinner,
  He that hath no knife must have no dinner.
  So he falls on; pig, goose, and capon, feel
  The goodness of his stomach and Batt's steel.
  In such fierce frays, alas! there no remorse is;
  All flesh is grass, which makes men feed like horses:
  But when the battle's done, _off goes the hat_,
  And each man sheaths, with God-a-mercy Batt.'"

"Batt upon Batt" also gives the following account of the Christmas
Gambols in 1694:--

 "O mortal man! is eating all you do
  At Christ-Tide? or the making Sing-songs? No:
  Our Batt can _dance_, play at _high Jinks with Dice_,
  At any primitive, orthodoxal Vice.
  _Shooing the wild Mare, tumbling the young Wenches,
  Drinking all Night_, and sleeping on the Benches.
  Shew me a man can _shuffle fair and cut_,
  Yet always _have three Trays in hand at Putt_:
  Shew me a man can _turn up Noddy_ still,
  And _deal himself three Fives too_ when he will:
  Conclude with _one and thirty, and a Pair_,
  Never fail _Ten in stock_, and yet play fair,
  If Batt be not that Wight, I lose my aim."

Another enumeration of the festive sports of this season occurs (says
Brand) in a poem entitled Christmas--

              "Young Men and Maidens, now
  At _Feed the Dove_ (with laurel leaf in mouth)
  Or _Blindman's Buff_, or _Hunt the Slipper_ play,
  Replete with glee. Some, haply, _Cards_ adopt;
  Of it to _Forfeits_ they the Sport confine,
  The happy Folk, adjacent to the fire,
  Their Stations take; excepting one alone.
  (Sometimes the social Mistress of the house)
  Who sits within the centre of the room,
  To cry the pawns; much is the laughter, now,
  Of such as can't the Christmas Catch repeat,
  And who, perchance, are sentenc'd to salute
  The jetty beauties of the chimney black,
  Or Lady's shoe: others, more lucky far,
  By hap or favour, meet a sweeter doom,
  And on each fair-one's lovely lips imprint
  The ardent kiss."

_Poor Robin's Almanack_ (1695) thus rejoices at the return of the

 "Now thrice welcome, Christmas,
    Which brings us good cheer,
  Minc'd-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.

  *     *     *    *    *

  But as for curmudgeons,
    Who will not be free,
  I wish they may die
    On the three-legged tree."

At Christmastide, 1696, an Act of Attainder was passed against Sir
John Fenwick, one of the most ardent of the Jacobite conspirators who
took part in the plot to assassinate the King. He was executed on
Tower Hill, January 28, 1697. This was the last instance in English
history in which a person was attainted by Act of Parliament, and
Hallam's opinion of this Act of Attainder is that "it did not, like
some acts of attainder, inflict a punishment beyond the offence, but
supplied the deficiency of legal evidence."

Peter the Great, of Russia, kept the Christmas of 1697 in England,
residing at Sayes Court, a house of the celebrated John Evelyn, close
to Deptford Dockyard.



[From _Poor Robin's Almanack_.]

  Now enter Christmas like a man,
  Armed with spit and dripping-pan,
  Attended with pasty, plum-pie,
  Puddings, plum-porridge, furmity;
  With beef, pork, mutton of each sort
  More than my pen can make report;
  Pig, swan, goose, rabbits, partridge, teal,
  With legs and loins and breasts of veal:
  But above all the minced pies
  Must mention'd be in any wise,
  Or else my Muse were much to blame,
  Since they from Christmas take their name.
  With these, or any one of these,
  A man may dine well if he please;
  Yet this must well be understood,--
  Though one of these be singly good,
  Yet more the merrier is the best
  As well of dishes as of guest.
    But the times are grown so bad
  Scarce one dish for the poor is had;
  Good housekeeping is laid aside,
  And all is spent to maintain pride;
  Good works are counted popish, and
  Small charity is in the land.
  A man may sooner (truth I tell ye)
  Break his own neck than fill his belly.
  Good God amend what is amiss
  And send a remedy to this,
  That Christmas day again may rise
  And we enjoy our Christmas pies.

The Christmas customs of this period are thus referred to by the
"Bellman, on Christmas Eve":--

 "This night (you may my Almanack believe)
  Is the return of famous Christmas Eve:
  Ye virgins then your cleanly rooms prepare,
  And let the windows bays and laurels wear;
  Your _Rosemary_ preserve to dress your _Beef_,
  Not forget me, which I advise in chief."



was magnificently kept in the early part of the eighteenth century.
The amount of good cheer that was required for the table may be
readily imagined from the magnitude of the culinary furniture in the
kitchen--two vast fireplaces, with irons for sustaining a surprising
number of spits, and several enormous chopping-blocks--which survived
to the nineteenth century. John, the ninth Earl and first Duke of
Rutland (created Marquis of Granby and Duke of Rutland in 1703),
revived in the ancient spirit the hospitality of Christmastide. He
kept sevenscore servants, and his twelve days' feasts at Christmas
recalled the bountiful celebrations of the "King of the Peak," Sir
George Vernon--the last male heir of the Vernon family in Derbyshire
who inherited the manor of Haddon, and who died in the seventh year of
Queen Elizabeth's reign. "The King of the Peak" was the father of the
charming Dorothy Vernon, the fair heiress, whose romantic elopement is
thus depicted in "Picturesque Europe":--"In the fullness of time
Dorothy loved, but her father did not approve. She determined to
elope; and now we must fill, in fancy, the Long Gallery with the
splendour of a revel and the stately joy of a great ball in the time
of Elizabeth. In the midst of the noise and excitement the fair young
daughter of the house steals unobserved away. She issues from _her_
door, and her light feet fly with tremulous speed along the darkling
Terrace, flecked with light from the blazing ball-room, till they
reach a postern in the wall, which opens upon the void of the night
outside dancing Haddon. At that postern some one is waiting eagerly
for her; waiting with swift horses. That some one is young Sir John
Manners, second son of the House of Rutland, and her own true love.
The anxious lovers mount, and ride rapidly and silently away; and so
Dorothy Vernon transfers Haddon to the owners of Belvoir; and the
boar's head of Vernon becomes mingled, at Haddon, with the peacock of
Manners. We fancy with sympathetic pleasure that night-ride and the
hurried marriage; and--forgetting that the thing happened 'ages long
agone'--we wish, with full hearts, all happiness to the dear and
charming Dorothy!"

From the boar's head of Vernon and the peacock of Manners, thought
passes quite naturally to the boar's head and peacock, which were
principal items of Christmas fare in the olden time.

In her "Collected Writings," Janetta, Duchess of Rutland, gives an
interesting account of a revival of some of the ancient glories of

"In the winter of 1872 the late Duke entertained the Prince and
Princess of Wales in the banqueting hall at luncheon, when the boar's
head and peacock in pride were carried in, and formed part of the
fare, as in olden days: while once more musicians filled the
minstrels' gallery, great logs blazed in the huge fireplace, and
scarlet hangings were spread over the walls."


On the 20th of February, 1702, King William III. fell from his horse,
breaking his collar-bone and sustaining other serious injuries, which
terminated fatally on Sunday, the 8th of March. He was succeeded by
Queen Anne, who was the second daughter of King James II., and the
last of the Stuart sovereigns.


at Windsor, in 1703, and entertained the new King of Spain, who
arrived at Spithead on the 26th of December. "The Queen dispatched the
Dukes of Somerset and Marlborough to conduct him to Windsor, and
Prince George met him on the way at Petworth, the seat of the Duke of
Somerset, and conducted him to Windsor on the 29th. The King was
entertained in great state for three days at Windsor, during which
time he was politic enough to ingratiate himself with the Duchess of
Marlborough. When the Duchess presented the basin and napkin after
supper to the Queen for her to wash her hands, the King gallantly took
the napkin and held it himself, and on returning it to the Queen's
great favourite, he presented her with a superb diamond ring. After
three days the King returned to Portsmouth, and on the 4th of January,
1704, he embarked on board the fleet commanded by Sir George Rooke,
for Portugal, accompanied by a body of land forces under the Duke of
Schomberg. The voyage was, however, a most stormy one, and when the
fleet had nearly reached Cape Finisterre, it was compelled to put back
to Spithead, where it remained till the middle of February. His next
attempt was more successful, and he landed in Lisbon amid much popular
demonstration, though the court itself was sunk in sorrow by the death
of the Infanta, whom he went to marry."[75]

At the Christmas festivities the following year (1704) there were
great rejoicings over the return home of the Duke of Marlborough from
the continental wars. "He arrived in England in the middle of
December, carrying with him Marshal Tallard and the rest of the
distinguished officers, with the standards and other trophies of his
victories. He was received with acclaim by all classes, except a few
Ultra Tories, who threatened to impeach him for his rash march to the
Danube. As Parliament had assembled, Marlborough took his seat in the
House of Peers the day after his arrival, where he was complimented on
his magnificent success by the Lord Keeper. This was followed by a
deputation with a vote of thanks from the Commons, and by similar
honours from the City. But perhaps the most palpable triumph of
Marlborough was the transferring of the military trophies which he had
taken from the Tower, where they were first deposited, to Westminster
Hall. This was done by each soldier carrying a standard or other
trophy, amid the thunders of artillery and the hurrahs of the people;
such a spectacle never having been witnessed since the days of the
Spanish Armada. The Royal Manor of Woodstock was granted him, and
Blenheim Mansion erected at the cost of the nation."


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 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 fireside, 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

 "This is Yuletide! Bring the holly boughs,
    Deck the old mansion with its berries red;
  Bring in the mistletoe, that lover's vows
    Be sweetly sealed the while it hangs o'erhead.
  Pile on the logs, fresh gathered from the wood,
    And let the firelight dance upon the walls,
  The while we tell the stories of the good,
    The brave, the noble, that the past recalls."[77]

Many interesting tales respecting the manners and customs of the
eighteenth century are given by Steele and Addison in their well-known
series of papers entitled the _Spectator_. Charity and hospitality are
conspicuous traits of the typical country gentleman of the period, Sir
Roger de Coverley. "Sir Roger," says the _Spectator_, "after the
laudable custom of his ancestors, always keeps open house at
Christmas. I learned from him, that he had killed eight fat hogs for
this season; that he had dealt about his chines very liberally amongst
his neighbours; and that in particular he had sent a string of hog's
puddings with a pack of cards to every poor family in the parish. 'I
have often thought,' says Sir Roger, 'it happens well that Christmas
should fall out in the middle of winter. It is the most dead
uncomfortable time of the year, when the poor people would suffer very
much from their poverty and cold, if they had not good cheer, warm
fires, and Christmas gambols to support them. I love to rejoice their
poor hearts at this season, and to see the whole village merry in my
great hall. I allow a double quantity of malt to my small beer, and
set it running for twelve days to every one that calls for it. I have
always a piece of cold beef and a mince-pie upon the table, and am
wonderfully pleased to see my tenants pass away a whole evening in
playing their innocent tricks, and smutting one another. Our friend
Will Wimble is as merry as any of them, and shows a thousand roguish
tricks upon these occasions."

Puppet-shows and other scenic exhibitions with moving figures were
among the Christmas amusements in the reign of Queen Anne. Strutt
quotes a description of such an exhibition "by the manager of a show
exhibited at the great house in the Strand, over against the Globe
Tavern, near Hungerford Market; the best places at one shilling and
the others at sixpence each: 'To be seen, the greatest Piece of
Curiosity that ever arrived in England, being made by a famous
engineer from the camp before Lisle, who, with great labour and
industry, has collected into a moving picture the following figures:
first, it doth represent the confederate camp, and the army lying
intrenched before the town; secondly, the convoys and the mules with
Prince Eugene's baggage; thirdly, the English forces commanded by the
Duke of Marlborough; likewise, several vessels laden with provisions
for the army, which are so artificially done as to seem to drive the
water before them. The city and the citadel are very fine, with all
its outworks, ravelins, horn-works, counter-scarps, half-moons, and
palisades; the French horse marching out at one gate, and the
confederate army marching in at the other; the prince's travelling
coach with two generals in it, one saluting the company as it passes
by; then a trumpeter sounds a call as he rides, at the noise whereof a
sleeping sentinel starts, and lifts up his head, but, not being
espied, lies down to sleep again; beside abundance more admirable
curiosities too tedious to be inserted here.' He then modestly adds,
'In short, the whole piece is so contrived by art that it seems to be
life and nature.'"


Tumbling and feats of agility were also fashionable during the
Christmas festival at this period, for in one of the _Tatlers_ (No.
115, dated January 3, 1709) the following passage occurs: "I went on
Friday last to the Opera, and was surprised to find a thin house at
so noble an entertainment, 'till I heard that the tumbler was not to
make his appearance that night." The sword-dance--dancing "among the
points of swords and spears with most wonderful agility, and even with
the most elegant and graceful motions"--rope-dancing, feats of
balancing, leaping and vaulting, tricks by horses and other animals,
and bull-baiting and bear-baiting were also among the public
amusements. And _Hot Cockles_ was one of the favourite indoor
amusements of Christmastide. Strutt, in his "Sports and Pastimes,"
says, _Hot Cockles_ is from the French _hautes-coquilles_, "a play in
which one kneels, and covering his eyes, lays his head in another's
lap and guesses who struck him." John Gay, a poet of the time, thus
pleasantly writes of the game:--

 "As at Hot Cockles once I laid me down,
  And felt the weighty hand of many a clown,
  Buxoma gave a gentle tap, and I
  Quick rose, and read soft mischief in her eye."


On the death of Queen Anne (August 11, 1714) Prince George Louis of
Hanover was proclaimed King of England as


There was little change in the Christmas festivities in this reign,
for, as Mr. Thackeray says in his lively sketch of George I.: "He was
a moderate ruler of England. His aim was to leave it to itself as much
as possible, and to live out of it as much as he could. His heart was
in Hanover." The most important addition to the plays of the period


[Illustration: A NEST OF FOOLS]

In his "English Plays," Professor Henry Morley thus records the
introduction of the modern English pantomime, which has since been the
great show of Christmastide:--

"The theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, which Christopher Rich had been
restoring, his son, John Rich, was allowed to open on the 18th of
December, 1714. John Rich was a clever mimic, and after a year or two
he found it to his advantage to compete with the actors in a fashion
of his own. He was the inventor of the modern English form of
pantomime, with a serious part that he took from Ovid's Metamorphosis
or any fabulous history, and a comic addition of the courtship of
harlequin and columbine, with surprising tricks and transformations.
He introduced the old Italian characters of pantomime under changed
conditions, and beginning with 'Harlequin Sorcerer' in 1717, continued
to produce these entertainments until a year before his death in 1761.
They have since been retained as Christmas shows upon the English

In a note to "The Dunciad," Pope complains of "the extravagancies
introduced on the stage, and frequented by persons of the first
quality in England to the twentieth and thirtieth time," and states
that "_all_ the extravagances" in the following lines of the poem
actually appeared on the stage:--

 "See now, what Dulness and her sons admire!
  See what the charms, that smite the simple heart
  Not touch'd by nature, and not reach'd by art.
  His never-blushing head he turn'd aside,
  (Not half so pleased when Goodman prophesied)
  And look'd, and saw a sable Sorcerer rise,
  Swift to whose hand a winged volume flies:
  All sudden, gorgons hiss, and dragons glare,
  And ten-horn'd fiends and giants rush to war.
  Hell rises, Heaven descends, and dance on earth:
  Gods, imps, and monsters, music, rage, and mirth,
  A fire, a jig, a battle, and a ball,
  Till one wide conflagration swallows all.
    Thence a new world, to nature's laws unknown,
  Breaks out refulgent, with a heaven its own:
  Another Cynthia her new journey runs,
  And other planets circle other suns.
  The forests dance, the rivers upward rise,
  Whales sport in woods, and dolphins in the skies;
  And last, to give the whole creation grace,
  Lo! one vast egg produces human race."

David Garrick, the eminent actor, wrote in a similar strain, finding
it hard to hold his own against the patrons of the pantomime:--

 "They in the drama find no joys,
  But doat on mimicry and toys.
  Thus, when a dance is in my bill,
  Nobility my boxes fill;
  Or send three days before the time,
  To crowd a new-made pantomime."


at this period, is sketched by a writer in _Poor Robin's Almanack_,
for 1723, thus:--"Now comes on old merry plentiful Christmas. The
Husbandman lays his great Log behind the fire, and with a few of his
neighbours, over a good fire, taps his Christmas beer, cuts his
Christmas cheese, and sets forward for a merry Christmas. The Landlord
(for we hope there are yet some generous ones left) invites his
Tenants and Labourers, and with a good Sirloin of Roast Beef, and a
few pitchers of nappy ale or beer, he wisheth them all a merry
Christmas. The beggar begs his bread, sells some of it for money to
buy drink, and without fear of being arrested, or call'd upon for
parish duties, has as merry a Christmas as any of them all."

[Illustration: "THE MASK DANCE."]

So the people made merry at Christmas throughout the reign of George
I., who died on June 10, 1727, and was succeeded by his son,


In this reign the customs of Christmas were kept up with unabated
heartiness, and liberality to the poor was not forgotten. The
customary distributions of creature comforts on Christmas Eve were
continued, and, in some instances, provision for the maintenance of
them was made in the wills of worthy parishioners. An instance of this
kind is recorded in Devonshire. "It appears, from a statement of
charities in an old book, that John Martyn, by will, 28th of November,
1729, gave to the churchwardens and overseers of the poor of the
parish of St. Mary Major, Exeter, twenty pounds, to be put out at
interest, and the profits thereof to be laid out every Christmas Eve
in twenty pieces of beef, to be distributed to twenty poor people of
the parish, such as had no relief on that day, for ever."[78]



at this period, was excellent, both as to quantity and quality, is
evident, from a contribution made to _Read's Weekly Journal_, of
Saturday, January 9, 1731, by Mr. Thomas North, who thus describes the
Christmas entertainment and good cheer he met with in London at the
house of a friend: "It was the house of an eminent and worthy
merchant, and tho', sir, I have been accustomed in my own country to
what may very well be called good housekeeping, yet I assure you I
should have taken this dinner to have been provided for a whole
parish, rather than for about a dozen gentlemen: 'Tis impossible for
me to give you half our bill of fare, so you must be content to know
that we had turkies, geese, capons, puddings of a dozen sorts more
than I had ever seen in my life, besides brawn, roast beef, and many
things of which I know not the names, minc'd pyes in abundance, and a
thing they call plumb pottage, which may be good for ought I know,
though it seems to me to have 50 different tastes. Our wines were of
the best, as were all the rest of our liquors; in short, the God of
plenty seemed to reign here, and to make everything perfect, our
company was polite and every way agreeable; nothing but mirth and
loyal healths went round. If a stranger were to have made an estimate
of London from this place, he would imagine it not only the most rich
but the most happy city in the world."

Another interesting item of this period is the following--


which has been cut from some publication and (by the late Mr. Joseph
Haslewood) inserted between pages 358 and 359 of the British Museum
large paper copy of Brand's "Antiquities," and dated December, 1739:--

"This day is published, Price 6d.

"THE TRIAL OF OLD FATHER CHRISTMAS for encouraging his Majesty's
subjects in Idleness, Drunkenness, Gaming, Rioting, and all manner of
Extravagance and Debauchery, at the Assizes held in the city of
Profusion before the Lord Chief Justice Churchman, Mr. Justice Feast,
Mr. Justice Gambol, and several other his Majesty's Justices of Oyer
and Terminer, and Gaol-Delivery.

"To which is added a Diary found in the Pocket of Old Father
Christmas, with Directions to all Lovers of him how to welcome their
neighbours; likewise the Judge's sentence and Opinion how Christmas
ought to be kept; and further Witty Tales and Merry Stories designed
for Christmas Evenings Diversion, when round about our Coal Fire.

By Josiah King,

Printer for T. Cooper, at the Globe in Pater-noster Row; and sold by
the Pamphlet-shops of London and Westminster."

Now we come to a quaintly interesting account of


The manner of observing the Christmas festival in the time of George
the Second is described in an amusing little book entitled "Round
about our Coal Fire, or Christmas Entertainments," published in 1740,
and "illustrated with many diverting cuts." We quote the following



 "O you merry, merry souls,
    Christmas is a coming,
  We shall have flowing Bowls,
    Dancing, piping, drumming.


 "Delicate minced Pies,
    To feast every Virgin,
  Capon and Goose likewise,
    Brawn and a dish of Sturgeon.


 "Then for your Christmas Box,
    Sweet Plumb-cakes and money,
  Delicate Holland Smocks,
    Kisses sweet as Honey.


 "Hey for the Christmas Ball,
    Where we shall be jolly,
  Jigging short and tall,
    Kate, Dick, Ralph, and Molly.


 "Then to the Hop we'll go,
    Where we'll jig and caper,
  Maidens all-a-row,
    Will shall pay the Scraper.


 "Hodge shall dance with Prue,
    Keeping Time with Kisses
  We'll have a jovial Crew,
    Of sweet smirking Misses.


"First acknowledging the sacredness of the Holy Time of _Christmas_, I
proceed to set forth the Rejoicings which are generally made at that
great Festival.

"You must understand, good People, that the manner of celebrating this
great Course of Holydays is vastly different now to what it was in
former days: There was once upon a time Hospitality in the land; an
_English_ gentleman at the opening of the great Day, had all his
Tenants and Neighbours enter'd his Hall by Day-break, the strong Beer
was broach'd, and the Black Jacks went plentifully about with Toast,
Sugar, Nutmeg, and good Cheshire Cheese; the Rooms were embower'd with
Holly, Ivy, Cypress, Bays, Laurel, and Missleto, and a bouncing
_Christmas_ Log in the Chimney glowing like the cheeks of a country
Milk-maid; then was the pewter as bright as _Clarinda_, and every bit
of Brass as polished as the most refined Gentleman; the Servants were
then running here and there, with merry Hearts and jolly Countenances;
every one was busy welcoming of Guests, and look'd as smug as
new-lick'd Puppies; the Lasses as blithe and buxom as the maids in
good Queen _Bess's_ Days, when they eat Sir-Loins of Roast Beef for
Breakfast; _Peg_ would scuttle about to make a Toast for _John_, while
_Tom_ run _harum scarum_ to draw a Jug of Ale for _Margery_: Gaffer
_Spriggins_ was bid thrice welcome by the 'Squire, and Gooddy _Goose_
did not fail of a smacking Buss from his Worship while his Son and
Heir did the Honours of the House: in a word, the Spirit of Generosity
ran thro' the whole House.

"In these Times all the Spits were sparkling, the _Hackin_ must be
boiled by Day-break, or else two young Men took the Maiden by the
Arms, and run her round the Market-place, till she was ashamed of her
Laziness. And what was worse than this, she must not play with the
Young Fellows that Day, but stand Neuter, like a Girl doing penance in
a Winding-sheet at a Church-door.

"But now let us enquire a little farther, to arrive at the Sense of
the Thing; this great Festival was in former Times kept with so much
Freedom and Openness of Heart, that every one in the Country where a
Gentleman resided, possessed at least a Day of Pleasure in the
_Christmas_ Holydays; the Tables were all spread from the first to the
last, the Sir-Loyns of Beef, the Minc'd-Pies, the Plumb-Porridge, the
Capons, Turkeys, Geese, and Plumb-Puddings, were all brought upon the
board; and all those who had sharp stomachs and sharp Knives eat
heartily and were welcome, which gave rise to the Proverb--

  _Merry in the Hall, when Beards wag all._"

"There were then Turnspits employed, who by the time Dinner was over,
would look as black and as greasy as a Welch Porridge-pot, but the
Jacks have since turned them all out of Doors. The Geese which used to
be fatted for the honest Neighbours, have been of late sent to
_London_, and the Quills made into Pens to convey away the Landlord's
Estate; the Sheep are drove away to raise Money to answer the Loss of
a Game at Dice or Cards, and their Skins made into Parchment for Deeds
and Indentures; nay even the poor innocent Bee, who used to pay its
Tribute to the Lord once a Year at least in good Metheglin, for the
Entertainment of the Guests, and its Wax converted into beneficial
Plaisters for sick Neighbours, is now used for the sealing of Deeds to
his Disadvantage.

"But give me the Man _who has a good Heart_, and has Spirit enough to
keep up the Old way of Hospitality, feeds his People till they are as
plump as Partridges, and as fat as Porpoises that every Servant may
appear as jolly as the late Bishop of _Winchester's_ Porter at

"The News-Papers however inform us, that the Spirit of Hospitality has
not quite forsaken us; for three or four of them tell us, that several
of the Gentry are gone down to their respective Seats in the Country,
in order to keep their _Christmas_ in the Old Way, and entertain their
Tenants and Trades-folks as their Ancestors used to do and I wish them
a merry _Christmas_ accordingly. I must also take notice to the stingy
Tribe, that if they don't at least make their Tenants or Tradesmen
drink when they come to see them in the Christmas Holydays, they have
Liberty of retaliating which is a Law of very ancient Date.

"A merry Gentleman of my Acquaintance desires I will insert, that the
old Folks in Days of yore kept open House at _Christmas_ out of
Interest; for then, says he, they receive the greatest Part of their
Rent in Kind; such as Wheat, Barley or Malt, Oxen, Calves, Sheep,
Swine, Turkeys, Capon, Geese, and such like; and they not having Room
enough to preserve their Grain, or Fodder enough to preserve their
Cattle or Poultry, nor Markets to sell off the Overplus, they were
obliged to use them in their own Houses; and by treating the People of
the Country, gained Credit amongst them, and riveted the Minds and
Goodwill of their Neighbours so firmly in them, that no one durst
venture to oppose them. The 'Squire's Will was done whatever came on
it; for if he happened to ask a Neighbour what it was a Clock, they
returned with a low Scrape, it is what your Worship pleases.

"The Dancing and Singing of the Benchers in the great Inns of Court in
_Christmas_, is in some sort founded upon Interest; for they hold, as
I am informed, some Priviledge by Dancing about the Fire in the middle
of their Hall, and singing the Song of _Round about our Coal Fire_,

"This time of year being cold and frosty generally speaking, or when
Jack-Frost commonly takes us by the Nose, the Diversions are within
Doors, either in Exercise or by the Fire-side.

"Country-Dancing is one of the chief Exercises....

"Then comes Mumming or Masquerading, when the 'Squire's Wardrobe is
ransacked for Dresses of all Kinds, and the coal-hole searched
around, or corks burnt to black the Faces of the Fair, or make
Deputy-Mustaches, and every one in the Family except the 'Squire
himself must be transformed from what they were....

"Or else there is a Match at _Blind-Man's-Buff_, and then it is lawful
to set anything in the way for Folks to tumble over....

"As for _Puss in the Corner_, that is a very harmless Sport, and one
may romp at it as much as one will....

"The next game to this is _Questions and Commands_, when the Commander
may oblige his Subject to answer any lawful Question, and make the
same obey him instantly, under the penalty of being smutted, or paying
such Forfeit as may be laid on the Aggressor; but the Forfeits being
generally fixed at some certain Price, as a Shilling, Half a Crown,
&c., so every one knowing what to do if they should be too stubborn to
submit, make themselves easy at discretion.

"As for the Game of _Hoop and Hide_, the Parties have the Liberty of
hiding where they will, in any part of the House; and if they happen
to be caught, the Dispute ends in Kissing, &c.

"Most of the other Diversions are Cards and Dice, but they are seldom
set on foot, unless a Lawyer is at hand, to breed some dispute for him
to decide, or at least have some Party in.

"And now I come to another Entertainment frequently used, which is of
the Story-telling Order, _viz._ of Hobgoblins, Witches, Conjurers,
Ghosts, Fairies, and such like common Disturbers."

At this period


won him great applause. At Christmas, 1741, he brought out at
Goodman's Fields a Christmas Farce, written by himself, entitled "The
Lying Valet," wherein the great actor took the part of "Sharp." It was
thought the most diverting farce ever performed. "There was a general
roar from beginning to end. So great was his versatility that people
were not able to determine whether he was best in tragedy or comedy."
On his benefit, when his real name was placed on the bills for the
first time, there was an immense gathering, and the applause was quite

The Christmas festivities of 1745 were marred by the


under the romantic "Prince Charlie," whose attempted invasion of
England speedily collapsed.

Pointer, in his _Oxoniensis Academia_ (1749) refers to


of this period. He states that at Merton College, Oxford, the Fellows
meet together in the Hall, on Christmas Eve, to sing a Psalm and drink
a grace-cup to one another (called _Poculum Charitatis_), wishing one
another health and happiness.

The Christmas of 1752 was


and many refused to observe the festival eleven days earlier than
usual, but insisted on keeping "Old Christmas Day." Why should they be
robbed of eleven days by a new Act of Parliament? It was of no use to
tell them that it had been discovered that the fractional few minutes
which are tailed on to the days and hours which make up the year had,
by neglect through many centuries, brought us into a wrong condition,
and that to set us right it would be necessary to give credit for
eleven days which nobody was conscious of having enjoyed. The law,
however, had said that it should be so. Accordingly, the day after the
2nd of September, 1752, was called the 14th, to the great indignation
of thousands, who reckoned that they had thus been cut off from nearly
a fortnight of life which honestly belonged to them. These persons
sturdily refused to acknowledge the Christmas Eve and Day of the new
calendar. They averred that the true festival was that which now began
on the 5th of January _next year_. They would go to church, they said,
on no other day; nor eat mince-pies nor drink punch but in reference
to this one day. The clergy had a hard time of it with these
recusants. It will be well, therefore, to quote one singular example
to show how this recusancy was encountered. It is from a collection of
pamphlet-sermons preserved by George III., none of which, however,
have anything curious or particularly meritorious about them save this
one, which was preached on Friday, January 5, 1753, "Old Christmas
Day." Mr. Francis Blackburne, "one of the candid disquisitors," opened
his church on that day, which was crowded by a congregation anxious to
see the day celebrated as that of the anniversary of the Nativity. The
service for Christmas Day, however, was not used. "I will answer your
expectations so far," said the preacher in his sermon, "as to give you
a _sermon on the day_; and the rather because I perceive you are
disappointed of _something else_ that you expected." The purport of
the discourse is to show that the change of style was desirable, and
that it having been effected by Act of Parliament, with the sanction
of the King, there was nothing for it but acquiescence. "For," says
the preacher, "had I, to oblige you, disobeyed this Act of Parliament,
it is very probable I might have lost my benefice, which, you know, is
all the subsistence I have in the world; and I should have been
rightly served; for who am I that I should fly in the face of his
Majesty and the Parliament? These things are left to be ordered by the
higher powers; and in any such case as that, I hope not to think
myself wiser than the King, the whole nobility, and principal gentry
of Great Britain"!!

The peasants of Buckinghamshire, however, pitched upon a very pretty
method to settle the question of Christmas, left so meekly by Mr.
Blackburne to the King, nobility, and most of the gentry. They
bethought themselves of a blackthorn near one of their villages; and
this thorn was for the nonce declared to be the growth of a slip from
the Christmas-flowering thorn at Glastonbury. If the Buckinghamshire
thorn, so argued the peasants, will only blossom in the night of the
24th of December, we will go to church next day, and allow that the
Christmas by Act of Parliament is the true Christmas; but no blossom
no feast, and there shall be no revel till the eve of old Christmas
Day. They watched the thorn and drank to its budding; but as it
produced no promise of a flower by the morning, they turned to go
homewards as best they might, perfectly satisfied with the success of
the experiment. Some were interrupted in their way by their respective
"vicars," who took them by the arm and would fain have persuaded them
to go to church. They argued the question by field, stile, and
church-gate; but not a Bucks peasant would consent to enter a pew till
the parson had promised to preach a sermon to, and smoke a pipe with,
them on the only Christmas Day they chose to acknowledge.

Now, however, this old prejudice has been conquered, and the "new
style" has maintained its ground. It has even done more, for its
authors have so arranged the years and leap years that a confusion in
the time of Christmas or any other festival is not likely to occur

    [75] Cassell's "History of England."

    [76] Grose.

    [77] Herbert H. Adams.

    [78] "Old English Customs and Charities," 1842.




[Illustration: THE WAITS.]


came to the throne on the death of his grandfather, George II.
(October 25, 1760), and the first Christmas of his reign "was a high
festival at Court, when his Majesty, preceded by heralds, pursuivants,
&c., went with their usual state to the Chapel Royal, and heard a
sermon preached by his Grace the Archbishop of York; and it being a
collar day, the Knights of the Garter, Thistle and Bath, appeared in
the collars of their respective orders. After the sermon was over,
his Majesty, Prince Edward and Princess Augusta went into the Chapel
Royal, and received the sacrament from the hands of the Bishop of
Durham; and the King offered the byzant, or wedge of gold, in a purse,
for the benefit of the poor, and the royal family all made offerings.
His Majesty afterwards dined with his royal mother at Leicester House,
and in the evening returned to St. James's."[79]

At this period


was card-playing. The King himself spent a great deal of his time in
playing at cards with the ladies and gentlemen of his court. In doing
so, however, he was but following the example of George II., of whom
the biographer already quoted (Mr. Huish) says:--

"After the death of Queen Caroline, the King was very fond of a game
at cards with the Countess of Pembroke, Albemarle, and other
distinguished ladies. His attachment to cards was transferred to his
attachment for the ladies, and it was said that what he gained by the
one he lost by the other." Cards were very much resorted to at the
family parties and other social gatherings held during the twelve days
of Christmas. Hone makes various allusions to card-playing at
Christmastide, and Washington Irving, in his "Life of Oliver
Goldsmith," pictures the poet "keeping the card-table in an uproar."
Mrs. Bunbury invited Goldsmith down to Barton to pass the Christmas
holidays. Irving regrets "that we have no record of this Christmas
visit to Barton; that the poet had no Boswell to follow at his heels,
and take notes of all his sayings and doings. We can only picture him
in our minds, casting off all care; enacting the Lord of Misrule;
presiding at the Christmas revels; providing all kinds of merriment;
keeping the card-table in an uproar, and finally opening the ball on
the first day of the year in his spring-velvet suit, with the Jessamy
Bride for a partner."

From the reprint additions made in the British Museum large paper copy
of Brand's "Antiquities," by the late Mr. Joseph Haslewood, and dated
January, 1779, we quote the following verses descriptive of the
concluding portion of the Christmas festivities at this period:--


  Now the jovial girls and boys,
    Struggling for the cake and plumbs,
  Testify their eager joys,
    And lick their fingers and their thumbs.

  Statesmen like, they struggle still,
    Scarcely hands kept out of dishes,
  And yet, when they have had their fill,
    Still anxious for the loaves and fishes.

  Kings and Queens, in petty state,
    Now their sovereign will declare,
  But other sovereigns' plans they hate,
    Full fond of peace--detesting war.

  One moral from this tale appears,
    Worth notice when a world's at stake;
  That all our hopes and all our fears,
    Are but a _struggling for the_ Cake.

Other particulars of the


in the latter part of the eighteenth century are gleaned from
contemporary writers:--

"At Ripon, on Christmas Eve, the grocers, send each of their customers
a pound or half of currants and raisins to make a Christmas pudding.
The chandlers also send large mould candles, and the coopers logs of
wood, generally called _Yule clogs_, which are always used on
Christmas Eve; but should it be so large as not to be all burnt that
night, which is frequently the case, the remains are kept till old
Christmas Eve."[80]

In Sinclair's Account of Scotland, parish of Kirkden, county of Angus
(1792), Christmas is said to be held as a great festival in the
neighbourhood. "The servant is free from his master, and goes about
visiting his friends and acquaintance. The poorest must have beef or
mutton on the table, and what they call a dinner with their friends.
Many amuse themselves with various diversions, particularly with
shooting for prizes, called here _wad-shooting_; and many do but
little business all the Christmas week; the evening of almost every
day being spent in amusement." And in the account of Keith, in
Banffshire, the inhabitants are said to "have no pastimes or holidays,
except dancing on Christmas and New Year's Day."

Boyhood's Christmas Breaking-up is thus described in a poem entitled
"Christmas" (Bristol, 1795):--

 "A school there was, within a well-known town,
  (Bridgwater call'd), in which the boys were wont,
  At _breaking-up_ for Christmas' lov'd recess,
  To meet the master, on the happy morn,
  At early hour; the custom, too, prevail'd,
  That he who first the seminary reach'd
  Should, instantly, perambulate the streets
  With sounding horn, to rouse his fellows up;
  And, as a compensation for his care,
  His flourish'd copies, and his chapter-task,
  Before the rest, he from the master had.
  For many days, ere breaking-up commenced,
  Much was the clamour, 'mongst the beardless crowd,
  Who first would dare his well-warm'd bed forego,
  And, round the town, with horn of ox equipp'd,
  His schoolmates call. Great emulation glow'd
  In all their breasts; but, when the morning came,
  Straightway was heard, resounding through the streets,
  The pleasing blast (more welcome far, to them,
  Than is, to sportsmen, the delightful cry
  Of hounds on chase), which soon together brought
  A tribe of boys, who, thund'ring at the doors
  Of those, their fellows, sunk in Somnus' arms,
  Great hubbub made, and much the town alarm'd.
  At length the gladsome, congregated throng,
  Toward the school their willing progress bent,
  With loud huzzas, and, crowded round the desk,
  Where sat the master busy at his books,
  In reg'lar order, each receiv'd his own,
  The youngsters then, enfranchised from the school,
  Their fav'rite sports pursued."

A writer in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ for February, 1795, gives the
following account of a Christmas Eve custom at the house of Sir ----
Holt, Bart., of Aston, near Birmingham:

"As soon as supper is over, a table is set in the hall. On it is
placed a brown loaf, with twenty silver threepences stuck on the top
of it, a tankard of ale, with pipes and tobacco; and the two oldest
servants have chairs behind it, to sit as judges if they please. The
steward brings the servants, both men and women, by one at a time,
covered with a winnow-sheet, and lays their right hand on the loaf,
exposing no other part of the body. The oldest of the two judges
guesses at the person, by naming a name, then the younger judge, and
lastly the oldest again. If they hit upon the right name, the steward
leads the person back again; but, if they do not, he takes off the
winnow-sheet, and the person receives a threepence, makes a low
obeisance to the judges, but speaks not a word. When the second
servant was brought, the younger judge guessed first and third; and
this they did alternately, till all the money was given away. Whatever
servant had not slept in the house the preceding night forfeited his
right to the money. No account is given of the origin of this strange
custom, but it has been practised ever since the family lived there.
When the money is gone, the servants have full liberty to drink,
dance, sing, and go to bed when they please."

Brand quotes the foregoing paragraph and asks: "Can this be what
Aubrey calls the sport of 'Cob-loaf stealing'?"


A New Song by R. P.

(Tune--"Since Love is my Plan.")

_In the Poor Soldier._

  When Christmas approaches each bosom is gay,
  That festival banishes sorrow away,
  While Richard he kisses both Susan and Dolly,
  When tricking the house up with ivy and holly;
  For never as yet it was counted a crime,
  To be merry and cherry at that happy time.
                            For never as yet, &c.

  Then comes turkey and chine, with the famous roast beef,
  Of English provisions still reckon'd the chief;
  Roger whispers the cook-maid his wishes to crown,
  O Dolly! pray give me a bit of the brown;
  For never as yet it was counted a crime,
  To be merry and cherry at that happy time.
                            For never as yet, &c.

  The luscious plum-pudding does smoking appear,
  And the charming mince pye is not far in the rear,
  Then each licks his chops to behold such a sight,
  But to taste it affords him superior delight;
  For never as yet it was counted a crime,
  To be merry and cherry at that happy time.
                            For never as yet, &c.

  Now the humming October goes merrily round,
  And each with good humour is happily crown'd,
  The song and the dance, and the mirth-giving jest,
  Alike without harm by each one is expressed;
  For never as yet it was counted a crime,
  To be merry and cherry at that happy time.
                            For never as yet, &c.

  Twelfth Day next approaches, to give you delight,
  And the sugar'd rich cake is display'd to the sight,
  Then sloven and slut and the king and the queen,
  Alike must be present to add to the scene;
  For never as yet it was counted a crime,
  To be merry and cherry at that happy time.
                            For never as yet, &c.

  May each be found thus as the year circles round,
  With mirth and good humour each Christmas be crown'd,
  And may all who have plenty of riches in store
  With their bountiful blessings make happy the poor;
  For never as yet it was counted a crime,
  To be merry and cherry at that happy time.
                            For never as yet, &c.[81]


In his essay on "Recollections of Christ's Hospital," Charles Lamb
thus refers to the Christmas festivities of his schoolboy days:--

"Let me have leave to remember the festivities at Christmas, when the
richest of us would club our stock to have a gaudy day, sitting round
the fire, replenished to the height with logs, and the pennyless, and
he that could contribute nothing, partook in all the mirth, and in
some of the substantialities of the feasting; the carol sung by night
at that time of the year, which, when a young boy, I have so often
lain awake to hear from seven (the hour of going to bed) till ten when
it was sung by the older boys and monitors, and have listened to it,
in their rude chaunting, till I have been transported in fancy to the
fields of Bethlehem, and the song which was sung at that season, by
angels' voices to the shepherds."

In a sonnet sent to Coleridge, in 1797, Lamb says:--

 "It were unwisely done, should we refuse
  To cheer our path, as featly as we may--
  Our lonely path to cheer, as travellers use,
  With merry song, quaint tale, or roundelay.
  And we will sometimes talk past troubles o'er,
  Of mercies shown, and all our sickness heal'd,
  And in His judgments God remembering love:
  And we will learn to praise God evermore,
  For those 'glad tidings of great joy,' reveal'd
  By that sooth messenger, sent from above."

(_From an old print._)]

Writing to Southey, in 1798, Lamb tells the poet that Christmas is a
"glorious theme"; and addressing his "dear old friend and absentee,"
Mr. Manning, at Canton, on December 25, 1815, Lamb says:--"This is
Christmas Day, 1815, with us; what it may be with you I don't know,
the 12th of June next year perhaps; and if it should be the
consecrated season with you, I don't see how you can keep it. You have
no turkeys; you would not desecrate the festival by offering up a
withered Chinese bantam, instead of the savoury grand Norfolcian
holocaust, that smokes all around my nostrils at this moment from a
thousand firesides. Then what puddings have you? Where will you get
holly to stick in your churches, or churches to stick your dried
tea-leaves (that must be the substitute) in? Come out of Babylon, O my

(_From a sketch of that period._)]

 "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."[82]


at the beginning of the nineteenth century include the old Christmas
game of _Forfeits_, for every breach of the rules of which the players
have to deposit some little article as a forfeit, to be redeemed by
some sportive penalty, imposed by the "Crier of the Forfeits" (usually
a bonnie lassie). The "crying of the forfeits" and paying of the
penalties creates much merriment, particularly when a bashful youth is
sentenced to "kiss through the fire-tongs" some beautiful romp of a
girl, who delights playing him tricks while the room rings with

Some of the old pastimes, however, have fallen into disuse, as, for
instance, the once popular game of _Hot Cockles_, _Hunt the Slipper_,
and "the vulgar game of _Post and Pair_"; but _Cards_ are still
popular, and Snapdragon continues such Christmas merriment as is set
forth in the following verses:--



 "Here he comes with flaming bowl,
  Don't he mean to take his toll,
                    Snip! Snap! Dragon!
  Take care you don't take too much,
  Be not greedy in your clutch,
                    Snip! Snap! Dragon!

  With his blue and lapping tongue
  Many of you will be stung,
                    Snip! Snap! Dragon!
  For he snaps at all that comes
  Snatching at his feast of plums,
                    Snip! Snap! Dragon!

  But old Christmas makes him come,
  Though he looks so fee! fa! fum!
                    Snip! Snap! Dragon!
  Don't 'ee fear him, be but bold--
  Out he goes, his flames are cold,
                    Snip! Snap! Dragon!"

"Don't 'ee fear him, be but bold," accords with the advice of a writer
in "Pantalogia," in 1813, who says that when the brandy in the bowl is
set on fire, and raisins thrown into it, those who are unused to the
sport are afraid to take out, but the raisins may be safely snatched
by a quick motion and put blazing into the mouth, which being closed,
the fire is at once extinguished. The game requires both courage and
rapidity of action, and a good deal of merriment is caused by the
unsuccessful efforts of competitors for the raisins in the flaming


A favourite game of Christmastide, is thus described by Thomas
Miller, in his "Sports and Pastimes of Merry England":--

"The very youngest of our brothers and sisters can join in this old
English game: and it is selfish to select only such sports as they
cannot become sharers of. Its ancient name is 'hoodman-blind'; and
when hoods were worn by both men and women--centuries before hats and
caps were so common as they are now--the hood was reversed, placed
hind-before, and was, no doubt, a much surer way of blinding the
player than that now adopted--for we have seen Charley try to catch
his pretty cousin Caroline, by chasing her behind chairs and into all
sorts of corners, to our strong conviction that he was not half so
well blinded as he ought to have been. Some said he could see through
the black silk handkerchief; others that it ought to have been tied
clean over his nose, for that when he looked down he could see her
feet, wherever she moved; and Charley had often been heard to say that
she had the prettiest foot and ankle he had ever seen. But there he
goes, head over heels across a chair, tearing off Caroline's gown
skirt in his fall, as he clutches it in the hope of saving himself.
Now, that is what I call retributive justice; for she threw down the
chair for him to stumble over, and, if he has grazed his knees, she
suffers under a torn dress, and must retire until one of the maids
darn up the rent. But now the mirth and glee grow 'fast and furious,'
for hoodman blind has imprisoned three or four of the youngest boys in
a corner, and can place his hand on whichever he likes. Into what a
small compass they have forced themselves! But the one behind has the
wall at his back, and, taking advantage of so good a purchase, he
sends his three laughing companions sprawling on the floor, and is
himself caught through their having fallen, as his shoulder is the
first that is grasped by Blindman-buff--so that he must now submit to
be hooded."

[Illustration: BLINDMAN'S BUFF.
(_In the last century_.)]


 "Again the ball-room is wide open thrown,
    The oak beams festooned with the garlands gay;
  The red dais where the fiddlers sit alone,
    Where, flushed with pride, the good old tunes they play.
  Strike, fiddlers, strike! we're ready for the set;
    The young folks' feet are eager for the dance;
  We'll trip Sir Roger and the minuet,
    And revel in the latest games from France."[83]

"Man should be called a dancing animal," said _Old Florentine_; and
Burton, in his "Anatomy of Melancholy," says, "Young lasses are never
better pleased than when, upon a holiday, after _even-song_, they may
meet their sweethearts and dance." And dancing is just as popular at
Christmas in the present day, as it was in that mediæval age when
(according to William of Malmesbury) the priest Rathbertus, being
disturbed at his Christmas mass by young men and women dancing outside
the church, prayed God and St. Magnus that they might continue to
dance for a whole year without cessation--a prayer which the old
chronicler gravely assures us was answered.

[Illustration: THE CHRISTMAS DANCE.]


    And well our Christian sires of old
  Loved when the year its course had roll'd,
  And brought blithe Christmas back again,
  With all his 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 mistletoe.
  Then open'd wide the Baron's hall
  To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
  Power laid his rod of rule aside,
  And Ceremony doffed 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 hail'd, with uncontroll'd 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 supplied,
  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 frowned on high,
  Crested with bays and rosemary.
  Well can the green-garbed ranger tell
  How, when, and where the monster fell;
  What dogs before his death he tore,
  And all the baiting of the boar.
  The wassail round in good brown bowls,
  Garnish'd with ribbons, blithely trowls.
  There the huge sirloin reek'd; hard by
  Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas-pye;
  Nor fail'd old Scotland to produce,
  At such high tide, her savoury goose.
  Then came the merry masquers in,
  And carols roar'd with blithesome 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 supplied the masquerade,
  And smutted cheeks the visors 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 broached the mightiest ale,
  'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
  A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
  The poor man's heart through half the year.


Lyson's "Magna Britannia" (1813) states the following as an


"At Cumnor the parishioners, who paid vicarial tithes, claimed a
custom of being entertained at the vicarage on the afternoon of
Christmas Day, with four bushels of malt brewed into ale and beer, two
bushels of wheat made into bread, and half a hundred weight of cheese.
The remainder was given to the poor the next morning after divine

Mason ("Statistical Account of Ireland," 1814) records the following


"At Culdaff, previous to Christmas, it is customary with the labouring
classes to raffle for mutton, when a sufficient number can subscribe
to defray the cost of a sheep. During the Christmas holidays they
amuse themselves with a game of kamman, which consists in impelling a
wooden ball with a crooked stick to a given point, while an adversary
endeavours to drive it in a contrary direction."


A writer in "Time's Telescope" (1822) states that in Yorkshire at
eight o'clock on Christmas Eve the bells greet "Old Father Christmas"
with a merry peal, the children parade the streets with drums,
trumpets, bells, or perhaps, in their absence, with the poker and
shovel, taken from their humble cottage fire; the yule candle is
lighted, and--

        "High on the cheerful fire
  Is blazing seen th' enormous Christmas brand."

Supper is served, of which one dish, from the lordly mansion to the
humblest shed, is invariably furmety; yule cake, one of which is
always made for each individual in the family, and other more
substantial viands are also added.


of Christmastide are sketched by a contributor to the _New Monthly
Magazine_, December 1, 1825, who says:--

"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
manorhouse it is pretty much the same as elsewhere. Girls, although
they be ladies, are kissed under the mistletoe. 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 the snow on the
ground, contrasted with the sudden return to warmth, light, and

"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 mistletoe; 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 chestnuts, 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 that 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 chestnuts, if anybody 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?'"




From Grant's "Popular Superstitions of the Highlands" Hone gathered
the following account:--

"As soon as the brightening glow of the eastern sky warns the anxious
house-maid 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,[84] 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 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 tu 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_,'[85] 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
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."


Hone's "Table Book" (vol. i.), 1827, contains a letter descriptive of
the pitmen of Northumberland, which says:--

"The ancient custom of sword-dancing at Christmas is kept up in
Northumberland exclusively by these people. They may be constantly
seen at that festive season with their fiddler, bands of swordsmen,
Tommy and Bessy, most grotesquely dressed, performing their annual
routine of warlike evolutions."

And the present writer heard of similar festivities at Christmastide
in the Madeley district of Shropshire, accompanied by grotesque
imitations of the ancient hobby-horse.



"A. W. R.," writing to Hone's "Year Book," December 8,
1827, says:--

"Nowhere does the Christmas season produce more heart-inspiring
mirth than among the inhabitants of Cumberland.

"With Christmas Eve commences a regular series of 'festivities and
merry makings.' Night after night, if you want the farmer or his
family, you must look for them anywhere but at home; and in the
different houses that you pass at one, two, or three in the morning,
should you happen to be out so late, you will find candles and fires
still unextinguished. At Christmas, every farmer gives two 'feasts,'
one called 't' ould foaks neet,' which is for those who are married,
and the other 't' young foaks neet,' for those who are single. Suppose
you and I, sir, take the liberty of attending one of these feasts
unasked (which by the bye is considered no liberty at all in
Cumberland) and see what is going on. Upon entering the room we behold
several card parties, some at 'whist,' others at 'loo' (there called
'lant'), or any other game that may suit their fancy. You will be
surprised on looking over the company to find that there is no
distinction of persons. Masters and servants, rich and poor, humble
and lofty, all mingle together without restraint--all cares are
forgotten--and each one seems to glory in his own enjoyment and in
that of his fellow-creatures. It is pleasant to find ourselves in such
society, especially as it is rarely in one's life that such
opportunities offer. Cast your eyes towards the sideboard, and there
see that large bowl of punch, which the good wife is inviting her
guests to partake of, with apples, oranges, biscuits, and other
agreeable eatables in plenty. The hospitable master welcomes us with a
smiling countenance and requests us to take seats and join one of the

"In due time some one enters to tell the company that supper is
waiting in the next room. Thither we adjourn, and find the raised and
mince pies, all sorts of tarts, and all cold--except the welcomes and
entreaties--with cream, ale, &c., in abundance; in the midst of all a
large goose pie, which seems to say 'Come and cut again.'

"After supper the party return to the card room, sit there for two or
three hours longer, and afterwards make the best of their way home, to
take a good long nap, and prepare for the same scene the next night.
At these 'feasts' intoxication is entirely out of the question--it
never happens.

"Such are the innocent amusements of these people."

 "With gentle deeds and kindly thoughts,
    And loving words withal,
  Welcome the merry Christmas in
    And hear a brother's call."[86]



By the will of John Popple, dated the 12th of March, 1830, £4 yearly
is to be paid unto the vicar, churchwardens, and overseers of the poor
of the parish of Burnham, Buckinghamshire, to provide for the poor
people who should be residing in the poorhouse, a dinner, with a
proper quantity of good ale and likewise with tobacco and snuff on
Christmas Day.[87]

This kindly provision of Mr. Popple for the poor shows that he wished
to keep up the good old Christmas customs which are so much admired by
the "old man" in Southey's "The Old Mansion" (a poem of this period).
In recalling the good doings at the mansion "in my lady's time" the
"old man" says:--

                        "A woful day
 'Twas for the poor when to her grave she went!

          *     *     *     *     *

                         Were they sick?
  She had rare cordial waters, and for herbs
  She could have taught the doctors. Then at winter,
  When weekly she distributed the bread
  In the poor old porch, to see her and to hear
  The blessings on her! And I warrant them
  They were a blessing to her when her wealth
  Had been no comfort else. At Christmas, sir!
  It would have warmed your heart if you had seen
  Her Christmas kitchen; how the blazing fire
  Made her fine pewter shine, and holly boughs
  So cheerful red; and as for mistletoe,
  The finest bough that grew in the country round
  Was mark'd for madam. Then her old ale went
  So bountiful about! a Christmas cask,--
  And 'twas a noble one!--God help me, sir!
  But I shall never see such days again."



In the reigns of George IV. and William IV., though not kept with the
grandeur of earlier reigns, were observed with much rejoicing and
festivity, and the Royal Bounties to the poor of the metropolis and
the country districts surrounding Windsor and the other Royal Palaces
were dispensed with the customary generosity. In his "Sketch Book,"
Washington Irving, who was born in the reign of George III. (1783),
and lived on through the reigns of George IV., and William IV., and
the first two decades of the reign of Queen Victoria, gives delightful
descriptions of the


of the period, recalling the times when the old halls of castles and
manor houses resounded with the harp and the Christmas Carol and their
ample boards groaned under the weight of hospitality. He had travelled
a good deal on both sides of the Atlantic and he gives a picturesque
account of an old English stage coach journey "on the day preceding
Christmas." The coach was crowded with passengers. "It was also loaded
with hampers of game, and baskets and boxes of delicacies; and hares
hung dangling their long ears about the coachman's box, presents from
distant friends for the impending feast. I had three fine rosy-cheeked
schoolboys for my fellow-passengers inside, full of the buxom health
and manly spirit which I have observed in the children of this
country. They were returning home for the holidays in high glee, and
promising themselves a world of enjoyment. It was delightful to hear
the gigantic plans of the little rogues, and the impracticable feats
they were to perform during their six weeks' emancipation from the
abhorred thraldom of book, birch, and pedagogue."

Then follows Irving's graphic sketch of the English stage coachman,
and the incidents of the journey, during which it seemed "as if
everybody was in good looks and good spirits.

"Game, poultry, and other luxuries of the table, were in brisk
circulation in the villages; the grocers,' butchers,' and fruiterers'
shops were thronged with customers. The house-wives were stirring
briskly about, putting their dwellings in order; and the glossy
branches of holly, with their bright red berries, began to appear at
the windows."

*     *     *     *     *

"In the evening we reached a village where I had determined to pass
the night. As we drove into the great gateway of the inn, I saw on one
side the light of a rousing kitchen fire beaming through a window. I
entered, and admired, for the hundredth time, that picture of
convenience, neatness, and broad, honest enjoyment, the kitchen of an
English inn. It was of spacious dimensions, hung round with copper and
tin vessels highly polished, and decorated here and there with a
Christmas green.... The scene completely realised poor Robin's [1684]
humble idea of the comforts of mid-winter:

 'Now trees their leafy hats do bare
  To reverence winter's silver hair;
  A handsome hostess, merry host,
  A pot of ale now and a toast,
  Tobacco and a good coal fire,
  Are things this season doth require.'"

Mr. Irving afterwards depicts, in his own graphic style, the Christmas
festivities observed at an old-fashioned English hall, and tells how
the generous squire pointed with pleasure to the indications of good
cheer reeking from the chimneys of the comfortable farmhouses, and low
thatched cottages. "I love," said he, "to see this day well kept by
rich and poor; it is a great thing to have one day in the year, at
least, when you are sure of being welcome wherever you go, and of
having, as it were, the world all thrown open to you; and I am almost
disposed to join with poor Robin, in his malediction on every churlish
enemy to this honest festival:

 "'Those who at Christmas do repine,
     And would fain hence despatch him,
   May they with old Duke Humphry dine,
     Or else may Squire Ketch catch 'em.'

"The squire went on to lament the deplorable decay of the games and
amusements which were once prevalent at this season among the lower
orders, and countenanced by the higher; when the old halls of castles
and manor-houses were thrown open at daylight; when the tables were
covered with brawn, and beef, and humming ale; when the harp and the
carol resounded all day long, and when rich and poor were alike
welcome to enter and make merry. 'Our old games and local customs,'
said he, 'had a great effect in making the peasant fond of his home,
and the promotion of them by the gentry made him fond of his lord.
They made the times merrier, and kinder and better; and I can truly
say with one of our old poets:

 "'I like them well--the curious preciseness
   And all-pretended gravity of those
   That seek to banish hence these harmless sports,
   Have thrust away much ancient honesty.'"



have been kept with much bountifulness, but after the gracious manner
of a Christian Queen who cares more for the welfare of her beloved
subjects than for ostentatious display. Her Majesty's Royal bounties
to the poor of the metropolis and its environs, and also to others in
the country districts surrounding the several Royal Palaces are well
known, the ancient Christmas and New Year's gifts being dispensed with
great generosity. The number of aged and afflicted persons usually
relieved by the Lord High Almoner in sums of 5s. and 13s. exceeds an
aggregate of 1,200. Then there is the distribution of the beef--a most
interesting feature of the Royal Bounty--which takes place in the
Riding School at Windsor Castle, under the superintendence of the
several Court officials. The meat, divided into portions of from three
pounds to seven pounds, and decorated with sprigs of holly, is
arranged upon a table placed in the middle of the Riding School, and
covered with white cloths from the Lord Steward's department of the
palace. During the distribution the bells of St. John's Church ring a
merry peal. There are usually many hundreds of recipients and the
weight of the beef allotted amounts to many thousands of pounds. Coals
and clothing and other creature comforts are liberally dispensed,
according to the needs of the poor. In times of war and seasons of
distress hospitable entertainments, Christmas-trees, &c., are also
provided for the wives and children of soldiers and sailors on active
service; and in many other ways the Royal Bounty is extended to the
poor and needy at Christmastide.


is thus referred to in the "Life of the Prince Consort" (by Theodore

"When Christmas came round with its pleasant festivities and its
shining Christmas-trees, it had within it a new source of delight for
the Royal parents. 'To think,' says the Queen's 'Journal,' 'that we
have two children now, and one who enjoys the sight already, is like a
dream!' And in writing to his father the Prince expresses the same
feeling. 'This,' he says, 'is the dear Christmas Eve, on which I have
so often listened with impatience for your step, which was to usher us
into the present-room. To-day I have two children of my own to give
presents to, who, they know not why, are full of happy wonder at the
German Christmas-tree and its radiant candles.'

"The coming year was danced into in good old English fashion. In the
middle of the dance, as the clock finished striking twelve, a flourish
of trumpets was blown, in accordance with a German custom. This, the
Queen's 'Journal' records, 'had a fine solemn effect, and quite
affected dear Albert, who turned pale, and had tears in his eyes, and
pressed my hand very warmly. It touched me too, for I felt that he
must think of his dear native country, which he has left for me.'"


Writing from Cowes, on Christmas Eve, in reference to the Christmas
festivities at Osborne in the last decade of the nineteenth century, a
correspondent says:--

"After transacting business the Queen drove out this afternoon,
returning to Osborne just as the setting sun illumines with its rosy
rays the Paladin Towers of her Majesty's marine residence. The Queen
desires to live, as far as the cares of State permit, the life of a
private lady. Her Majesty loves the seclusion of this lordly estate,
and here at Christmas time she enjoys the society of her children and
grandchildren, who meet together as less exalted families do at this
merry season to reciprocate the same homely delights as those which
are experienced throughout the land.

"This afternoon a pleasant little festivity has been celebrated at
Osborne House, where her Majesty, with an ever-kindly interest in her
servants and dependants, has for many years inaugurated Christmas in a
similar way, the children of her tenantry and the old and infirm
enjoying by the Royal bounty the first taste of Christmas fare. The
Osborne estate now comprises 5,000 acres, and it includes the Prince
Consort's model farm. The children of the labourers--who are housed in
excellent cottages--attend the Whippingham National Schools, a pretty
block of buildings, distant one mile from Osborne. About half the
number of scholars live upon the Queen's estate, and, in accordance
with annual custom, the mistresses of the schools, the Misses Thomas,
accompanied by the staff of teachers, have conducted a little band of
boys and girls--fifty-four in all--to the house, there to take tea and
to receive the customary Christmas gifts. Until very recently the
Queen herself presided at the distribution; but the Princess Beatrice
has lately relieved her mother of the fatigue involved; for the
ceremony is no mere formality, it is made the occasion of many a
kindly word the remembrance of which far outlasts the gifts. All sorts
of rumours are current on the estate for weeks before this Christmas
Eve gathering as to the nature of the presents to be bestowed, for no
one is supposed to know beforehand what they will be; but there was a
pretty shrewd guess to-day that the boys would be given gloves, and
the girls cloaks. In some cases the former had had scarves or cloth
for suits, and the latter dresses or shawls. Whatever the Christmas
presents may be, here they are, arranged upon tables in two long
lines, in the servants' hall. To this holly-decorated apartment the
expectant youngsters are brought, and their delighted gaze falls upon
a huge Christmas-tree laden with beautiful toys. Everybody knows that
the tree will be there, and moreover that its summit will be crowned
with a splendid doll. Now, the ultimate ownership of this doll is a
matter of much concern; it needs deliberation, as it is awarded to the
best child, and the judges are the children themselves. The trophy is
handed to the keeping of Miss Thomas, and on the next 1st of May the
children select by their votes the most popular girl in the school to
be elected May Queen. To her the gift goes, and no fairer way could be
devised. The Princess Beatrice always makes a point of knowing to whom
the prize has been awarded. Her Royal Highness is so constantly a
visitor to the cottagers and to the school that she has many an
inquiry to make of the little ones as they come forward to receive
their gifts.

"The girls are called up first by the mistress, and Mr. Andrew Blake,
the steward, introduces each child to the Princess Beatrice, to whom
Mr. Blake hands the presents that her Royal Highness may bestow them
upon the recipients with a word of good will, which makes the day
memorable. Then the boys are summoned to participate in the
distribution of good things, which, it should be explained, consist
not only of seasonable and sensible clothing, but toys from the tree,
presented by the Queen's grandchildren, who, with their parents, grace
the ceremony with their presence and make the occasion one of family
interest. The Ladies-in-Waiting also attend. Each boy and girl gets in
addition a nicely-bound story-book and a large slice of plum pudding
neatly packed in paper, and if any little one is sick at home its
portion is carefully reserved. But the hospitality of the Queen is not
limited to the children. On alternate years the old men and women
resident on the estate are given, under the same pleasant auspices,
presents of blankets or clothing. To-day it was the turn of the men,
and they received tweed for suits. The aged people have their pudding
as well. For the farm labourers and boys, who are not bidden to this
entertainment, there is a distribution of tickets, each representing a
goodly joint of beef for the Christmas dinner. The festivity this
afternoon was brought to a close by the children singing the National
Anthem in the courtyard.

"The Queen is accustomed to spend Christmas Day very quietly,
attending service at the Chapel at Osborne in the morning, and in the
evening the Royal family meeting at dinner. There are Christmas trees
for the children, and for the servants too, but the houshold reserves
its principal festivity for the New Year--a day which is specially set
aside for their entertainment."


are observed with generous hospitality by their Royal Highnesses the
Prince and Princess of Wales, who take special interest in the
enjoyment of their tenants, and also remember the poor. A
time-honoured custom on Christmas Eve is the distribution of prime
joints of meat to the labourers employed on the Royal estate, and to
the poor of the five parishes of Sandringham, West Newton, Babingley,
Dersingham, and Wolferton. From twelve to fifteen hundred pounds of
meat are usually distributed, and such other gifts are made as the
inclemency of the season and the necessities of the poor require. In
Sandringham "Past and Present," 1888, Mrs. Herbert Jones
says:--"Sandringham, which is the centre of a generous hospitality,
has not only been in every way raised, benefited, and enriched since
it passed into the royal hands, which may be said to have created it
afresh, but rests under the happy glow shed over it by the preference
of a princess

 "'Whose peerless feature joinèd with her birth,
   Approve her fit for none but for a king.'
                         Shakespeare's _Henry VI_."

The Christmas Generosity of the late Duke of Edinburgh.

In a letter to the press a lieutenant of Marines makes the following
reference to a Christmas entertainment given by H.R.H. the Duke of
Edinburgh, in 1886: "Last night a large party, consisting of many
officers of the Fleet, including all the 'old ships' of the Duke, and
three or four midshipmen from every ship in the Fleet, were invited to
a Christmas-tree at S. Antonio Palace. In the course of the evening
two lotteries were drawn, all the numbers being prizes, each guest
consequently getting two. I have had an opportunity of seeing many of
these, and they are all most beautiful and useful objects, ranging in
value from five shillings to perhaps three or four pounds. I should
think that at least half the prizes I have seen were worth over one


The good example set by royalty is followed throughout the land.
Friendly hospitalities are general at Christmastide, and in London and
other large centres of population many thousands of poor people are
provided with free breakfasts, dinners, teas, and suppers on Christmas
Day, public halls and school-rooms being utilised for purposes of
entertainment; children in hospitals are plentifully supplied with
toys, and Christmas parties are also given to the poor at the private
residences of benevolent people. As an illustrative instance of
generous Christmas hospitality by a landowner we cite the following:--


On Christmas Eve, 1887, Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, Bart., the largest
landowner in the Principality of Wales, gave his annual Christmas
gifts to the aged and deserving poor throughout the extensive mining
districts of Ruabon, Rhosllanerchrugog, Cern, and Rhosymedre,
Denbighshire, where much distress prevailed in consequence of the
depression in trade. Several fine oxen were slain in Wynnstay Park,
and the beef was distributed in pieces ranging from 4lb. to 7lb.,
according to the number of members in each family. A Christmas dinner
was thus provided for upwards of 5,000 persons. In addition to this,
Lady Williams Wynn provided thousands of yards of flannel and cloth
for clothing, together with a large number of blankets, the aged men
and women also receiving a shilling with the gift. The hon. baronet
had also erected an elaborate spacious hospital to the memory of his
uncle, the late Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, M.P., and presented it to
the parish.


are liberally made from various centres in different parts of London,
and thus many thousands of those who have fallen below the poverty
line share in the festivities of Christmastide.

This illustration of Christian caterers dispensing creature comforts
to the poor children may be taken as representative of many such
Christmas scenes in the metropolis. For over forty years the St.
Giles' Christian Mission, now under the superintendence of Mr. W. M.
Wheatley, has been exercising a beneficial influence among the needy
poor, and, it is stated, that at least 104,000 people have through
this Mission been enabled to make a fresh start in life. Many other
Church Missions are doing similar work. In addition to treats to poor
children and aged people at Christmastide, there are also great
distributions of Christmas fare:--Joints of roasting meat,
plum-puddings, cakes, groceries, warm clothing, toys, &c., &c.


At a recent distribution of a Christmas charity at Millbrook,
Southampton, the Rev. A. C. Blunt stated that one of the recipients
had nearly reached her 102nd year. She was born in Hampshire, and down
to a very recent period had been able to do needlework.

In many cities and towns Christmas gifts are distributed on St.
Thomas's Day, and as an example we cite the Brighton distribution in
1886, on which occasion the Brighton Police Court was filled by a
congregation of some of the "oldest inhabitants." And there was a
distribution from the magistrates poor-box of a Christmas gift of half
a sovereign to 150 of the aged poor whose claims to the bounty had
been inquired into by the police. Formerly 100 used to be cheered in
this way, but the contributions to the box this year enabled a wider
circle to share in the dole. There was a wonderful collection of old
people, for the average age was over 83 years. The oldest was a
venerable widow, who confessed to being 96 years old, the next was
another lady of 94 years, and then came two old fellows who had each
attained 93 years. Many of the recipients were too infirm to appear,
but the oldest of them all, the lady of 96 came into court despite the
sharpness of the wind and the frozen roads.


kept with generous liberality by the Duke of Rutland, in 1883, may be
cited as an example of Christmas customs continued by the head of a
noble house:

"The usual Christmas gifts were given to the poor of Knipton,
Woolsthorpe, and Redmile--nearly two hundred in number--consisting of
calico, flannel dresses, stockings, and handkerchiefs, each person at
the same time receiving a loaf of bread and a pint of ale. Twenty-one
bales of goods, containing counterpanes, blankets, and sheets, were
also sent to the clergy of as many different villages for distribution
amongst the poor. The servants at the Castle and workmen of the
establishment had their Christmas dinner, tea, and supper, the servants'
hall having been beautifully decorated. At one end of the room was a
coronet, with the letter 'R'; and at the opposite end three coronets,
with the 'peacock in pride,' being the crest of the Rutland family.
The following mottoes, in large letters, were conspicuous, 'Long live
the Duke of Rutland,' 'Long live Lord and Lady John Manners and
family,' and 'A Merry Christmas to you all.' These were enclosed in a
neat border. From the top of the room were suspended long festoons of
linked ribbons of red, white, blue, and orange. All present thoroughly
enjoyed themselves, as it was the wish of his Grace they should do."

Similar hospitalities are dispensed by other noblemen and gentlemen in
different parts of the country at Christmas.

*     *     *     *     *

The lordly hospitality of Lincolnshire is depicted in


A Christmas Rhyme; by Thomas Cooper, the Chartist" (1846); which is
inscribed to the Countess of Blessington, and in the advertisement the
author offers "but one apology for the production of a metrical essay,
composed chiefly of imperfect and immature pieces: The ambition to
contribute towards the fund of Christmas entertainment." The scene of
the Baron's Yule Feast is depicted in Torksey's Hall, Torksey being
one of the first towns in Lincolnshire in the Saxon period. After some
introductory verses the writer says:

 "It is the season when our sires
    Kept jocund holiday;
  And, now, around our charier fires,
    Old Yule shall have a lay:--
  A prison-bard is once more free;
  And, ere he yields his voice to thee,
  His song a merry-song shall be!

  Sir Wilfrid de Thorold freely holds
    What his stout sires held before--
  Broad lands for plough and fruitful folds,--
    Though by gold he sets no store;
  And he saith, from fen and woodland wolds
    From marish, heath, and moor,--
      To feast in his hall
      Both free and thrall,
    Shall come as they came of yore.

  *     *     *     *     *

  Now merrily ring the lady-bells
    Of the nunnery by the Fosse:--
  Say the hinds their silver music swells
  'Like the blessed angels' syllables,
    At His birth who bore the cross.'

  And solemnly swells Saint Leonard's chime
    And the great bell loud and deep:--
  Say the gossips, 'Let's talk of the holy time
    When the shepherds watched their sheep;
  And the Babe was born for all souls' crime
    In the weakness of flesh to weep.'--
  But, anon, shrills the pipe of the merry mime
    And their simple hearts upleap.

  'God save your souls, good Christian folk!
    God save your souls from sin!--
  Blythe Yule is come--let us blythely joke!'--
    Cry the mummers ere they begin.

  Then, plough-boy Jack, in kirtle gay,--
    Though shod with clouted shoon,--
  Stands forth the wilful maid to play
  Who ever saith to her lover, 'Nay'--
    When he sues for a lover's boon.

  While Hob the smith with sturdy arm
    Circleth the feigned maid;
  And, spite of Jack's assumed alarm,
  Busseth his lips, like a lover warm,
    And will not 'Nay' be said

  Then loffe the gossips, as if wit
    Were mingled with the joke:
  Gentles,--they were with folly smit,--
  Natheless, their memories acquit
    Of crime--these simple folk!

  No harmful thoughts their revels blight,--
  Devoid of bitter hate and spite,
    They hold their merriment;--
  And, till the chimes tell noon at night,
    Their joy shall be unspent!

  Come haste ye to bold Thorold's hall,
    And crowd his kitchen wide;
  For there, he saith, both free and thrall
    Shall sport this good Yule-tide."

In subsequent verses the writer depicts the bringing in of the yule
log to the Baron's Hall,

            "Where its brave old heart
            A glow shall impart
  To the heart of each guest at the festival.

       *     *     *     *     *

  They pile the Yule-log on the hearth,--
    Soak toasted crabs in ale;
  And while they sip, their homely mirth
  Is joyous as if all the earth
    For man were void of bale!

  And why should fears for future years,
  Mix jolly ale with thoughts of tears
    When in the horn 'tis poured?
  And why should ghost of sorrow fright
  The bold heart of an English knight
    When beef is on the board?

  De Thorold's guests are wiser than
    The men of mopish lore;
  For round they push the smiling can
    And slice the plattered store.

  And round they thrust the ponderous cheese,
    And the loaves of wheat and rye;
  None stinteth him for lack of ease--
  For each a stintless welcome sees
    In the Baron's blythesome eye.

  The Baron joineth the joyous feast--
    But not in pomp or pride;
  He smileth on the humblest guest
  So gladsomely--all feel that rest
    Of heart which doth abide
  Where deeds of generousness attest
  The welcome of the tongue professed
    Is not within belied."

*     *     *     *     *

In subsequent verses a stranger minstrel appears on the festive scene,
and tells his tale of love in song, acquitting himself

 "So rare and gentle, that the hall
  Rings with applause which one and all
  Render who share the festival."


Some of the poets of this period have dealt playfully with the
festivities of Christmastide, as, for example, Laman Blanchard (1845)
in the following effusion:--


In a Large Family Circle.

  "The day of all days we have seen
  Is Christmas," said Sue to Eugene;
  "More welcome in village and city
  Than Mayday," said Andrew to Kitty.
  "Why 'Mistletoe's' twenty times sweeter
  Than 'May,'" said Matilda to Peter;
  "And so you will find it, if I'm a
  True prophet," said James to Jemima.
  "I'll stay up to supper, no bed,"
  Then lisped little Laura to Ned.
  "The girls all good-natured and dressy,
  And bright-cheeked," said Arthur to Jessie;
  "Yes, hoping ere next year to marry,
  The madcaps!" said Charlotte to Harry.
  "So steaming, so savoury, so juicy,
  The feast," said fat Charley to Lucy.
  "Quadrilles and Charades might come on
  Before dinner," said Martha to John.
  "You'll find the roast beef when you're dizzy,
  A settler," said Walter to Lizzy.
  "Oh, horrid! one wing of a wren,
  With a pea," said Belinda to Ben.
  "Sublime!" said--displaying his leg--
  George Frederick Augustus to Peg.
  "At Christmas refinement is all fuss
  And nonsense," said Fan to Adolphus.
  "Would romps--or a tale of a fairy--
  Best suit you," said Robert to Mary.
  "At stories that work ghost and witch hard,
  I tremble," said Rosa to Richard.
  "A ghostly hair-standing dilemma
  Needs 'bishop,'" said Alfred to Emma;
  "What fun when with fear a stout crony
  Turns pale," said Maria to Tony;
  "And Hector, unable to rally,
  Runs screaming," said Jacob to Sally.
  "While you and I dance in the dark
  The polka," said Ruth unto Mark:
  "Each catching, according to fancy,
  His neighbour," said wild Tom to Nancy;
  "Till candles, to show what we can do,
  Are brought in," said Ann to Orlando;
  "And then we all laugh what is truly a
  Heart's laugh," said William to Julia.
  "Then sofas and chairs are put even,
  And carpets," said Helen to Stephen;
  "And so we all sit down again,
  Supping twice," said sly Joseph to Jane.
  "Now bring me my clogs and my spaniel,
  And light me," said Dinah to Daniel.
  "My dearest, you've emptied that chalice
  Six times," said fond Edmund to Alice.
  "We are going home tealess and coffeeless
  Shabby!" said Soph to Theophilus;
  "To meet again under the holly,
  _Et cetera_," said Paul to fair Polly.
  "Dear Uncle, has ordered his chariot;
  All's over," said Matthew to Harriet.
  "And pray now be all going to bedward,"
  Said kind Aunt Rebecca to Edward!


is the time of Robert Browning's beautiful poem of "Christmas Eve and
Easter Day," in which the poet sings the song of man's immortality,
proclaiming, as Easter Day breaks and Christ rises, that

  "Mercy every way is infinite."


And, in his beautiful poem of "In Memoriam," Lord Tennyson
associates some of his finest verses with the ringing of


 "Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
    The flying cloud, the frosty light:
    The year is dying in the night;
  Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

  Ring out the old, ring in the new,
    Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
    The year is going, let him go;
  Ring out the false, ring in the true.

  *     *     *     *     *

  Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
    Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
    Ring out the thousand wars of old,
  Ring in the thousand years of peace.

  Ring in the valiant man and free,
    The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
    Ring out the darkness of the land,
  Ring in the Christ that is to be."


[Illustration: THE CHRISTMAS BELLS.]

As the poet Longfellow stood on the lofty tower of Bruges
Cathedral the belfry chimes set him musing, and of those
chimes he says:

  "Then most musical and solemn, bringing back the olden times,
  With their strange, unearthly changes, rang the melancholy chimes,
  Like the psalms from some old cloister, when the nuns sing in the
  And the great bell tolled among them, like the chanting of a friar.
  Visions of the days departed, shadowy phantoms filled my brain:
  They who live in history only seemed to walk the earth again."


were first circulated in England in 1846. That year not more than a
thousand copies were printed, and that was considered a large sale.
The numbers distributed annually soon increased to tens and hundreds
of thousands, and now there are millions of them. Mr. J. C. Horsley,
a member of the Royal Academy, designed this first card which
was sent out in 1846. It represents a family party of three
generations--grandfather and grandmother, father and mother, and
little children--and all are supposed to be joining in the sentiment,
"A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you." The card was issued
from the office of one of the periodicals of the time, _Felix
Summerley's Home Treasury_. It was first lithographed, and then it was
coloured by hand.

Christmas and New Year Cards became very popular in the decade
1870-1880. But then, however, simple cards alone did not suffice. Like
many other things, they felt the influence of the latter-day
_renaissance_ of art, and by a sort of evolutionary process developed
cards monochrome and coloured, "Christmas Bell" cards, palettes,
scrolls, circular and oval panels, stars, fans, crescents, and other
shaped novelties; embossed cards, the iridescent series, the rustic
and frosted cards, the folding series, the jewel cards, the crayons,
and private cards on which the sender's name and sentiments are
printed in gold, silver, or colours; hand-painted cards with
landscapes, seascapes, and floral decorations; paintings on porcelain;
satin cards, fringed silk, plush, Broché, and other artistically
made-up novelties; "art-gem" panels; elaborate booklets, and other
elegant souvenirs of the festive season. Many of the Christmas
booklets are beautifully illustrated editions of popular poems and

"Quartette" cards, "Snap" cards, and other cards of games for the
diversion of social gatherings are also extensively used at



In compliance with a wish expressed by the Lady Londesborough, a
Masque, entitled, "Recollections of Old Christmas," was performed at
Grimston at Christmas, 1850, the following prologue being contributed
by Barry Cornwall:--

 "When winter nights grow long,
   And winds without blow cold,
  We sit in a ring round the warm wood-fire,
   And listen to stories old!
  And we try to look grave (as maids should be),
  When the men bring in boughs of the laurel tree.
      O the laurel, the evergreen tree!
      The poets have laurels--and why not we?

  How pleasant when night falls down,
   And hides the wintry sun,
  To see them come in to the blazing fire,
   And know that their work is done;
  Whilst many bring in, with a laugh or rhyme,
  Green branches of holly for Christmas time!
      O the holly, the bright green holly!
      It tells (like a tongue) that the times are jolly!

  Sometimes--(in _our_ grave house
    Observe this happeneth not;)
  But at times, the evergreen laurel boughs,
    And the holly are all forgot!
  And then! what then? Why the men laugh low,
  And hang up a branch of--the misletoe!
      Oh, brave is the laurel! and brave is the holly!
      But the misletoe banisheth melancholy!
  Ah, nobody knows, nor ever _shall_ know,
  What is done under the misletoe!"

A printed copy of the Masque, which bears date, "Tuesday, XXIV
December, MDCCCL.," is preserved in the British Museum.


(Which speak)

"Old Father Christmas         Hon. Mr. Thelluson
Young Grimston                Hon. Mr. Denison
Baron of Beef                 Hon. Miss Thelluson
Plum-Pudding                  Hon. Miss Denison
Mince-Pie                     Hon. Miss Selina Denison
Wassail-Bowl                  Hon. Miss Isabella Denison


(Which do not speak, or say as little as possible--all that they are
requested to do)

Ursa Minor                     Hon. Miss Ursula Denison
Baby Cake                      Hon. Henry Charles Denison."



  Ye who have scorn'd each other
  Or injured friend or brother,
    In this fast fading year;
  Ye who, by word or deed,
  Have made a kind heart bleed,
    Come gather here.
  Let sinn'd against and sinning,
  Forget their strife's beginning;
  Be links no longer broken,
  Be sweet forgiveness spoken,
    Under the holly bough.

  Ye who have lov'd each other,
  Sister and friend and brother,
    In this fast fading year:
  Mother, and sire, and child,
  Young man and maiden mild,
    Come gather here;
  And let your hearts grow fonder,
  As memory shall ponder
    Each past unbroken vow.
  Old loves and younger wooing,
  Are sweet in the renewing,
    Under the holly bough.

  Ye who have nourished sadness,
  Estranged from hope and gladness,
    In this fast fading year.
  Ye with o'er-burdened mind
  Made aliens from your kind,
    Come gather here.
  Let not the useless sorrow
  Pursue you night and morrow,
    If e'er you hoped--hope now--
  Take heart: uncloud your faces,
  And join in our embraces
    Under the holly bough.

_Charles Mackay, LL.D._

The author of this beautiful poem (Dr. Charles Mackay) was born at
Perth in 1814, and died on Christmas Eve, 1889, at his residence,
Longridge Road, Earl's Court, Brompton.


Everybody knows that Christmas is the time for ghost stories, and that
Charles Dickens and other writers have supplied us with tales of the
true blood-curdling type. Thomas Hood's "Haunted House," S. T.
Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner," and some other weird works of poetry
have also been found serviceable in producing that strange chill of
the blood, that creeping kind of feeling all over you, which is one of
the enjoyments of Christmastide. Coleridge (says the late Mr. George
Dawson)[88] "holds the first place amongst English poets in this
objective teaching of the vague, the mystic, the dreamy, and the
imaginative. I defy any man of imagination or sensibility to have
'The Ancient Mariner' read to him, by the flickering firelight on
Christmas night, by a master mind possessed by the mystic spirit of
the poem, and not find himself taken away from the good regions of
'ability to account for,' and taken into some far-off dreamland, and
made even to start at his own footfall, and almost to shudder at his
own shadow. You shall sit round the fire at Christmas time, good men
and true every one of you; you shall come there armed with your patent
philosophy; that creak you have heard, it is only the door--the list
is not carefully put round the door, and it is the wintry wind that
whistles through the crevices. Ghosts and spectres belong to the olden
times; science has waved its wand and laid them all. We have no
superstition about us; we walk enlightened nineteenth-century men; it
is quite beneath us to be superstitious. By and bye, one begins to
tell tales of ghosts and spirits; and another begins, and it goes all
round; and there comes over you a curious feeling--a very
unphilosophical feeling, in fact, because the pulsations of air from
the tongue of the storyteller ought not to bring over you that
peculiar feeling. You have only heard words, tales--confessedly by the
storyteller himself only tales, such as may figure in the next monthly
magazine for pure entertainment and amusement. But why do you feel so,
then? If you say that these things are mere hallucinations, vague
air-beating or tale-telling, why, good philosopher, do you feel so
curious, so all-overish, as it were? Again, you are a man without the
least terror in you, as brave and bold a man as ever stepped: living
man cannot frighten you, and verily the dead rise not with you. But
you are brought, towards midnight, to the stile over which is gained a
view of the village churchyard, where sleep the dead in quietness.
Your manhood begins just to ooze away a little; you are caught
occasionally whistling to keep your courage up; you do not expect to
see a ghost, but you are ready to see one, or to make one." At such a
moment, think of the scene depicted by Coleridge:--

"'Twas night, calm night, the moon was high;
  The dead men stood together.

  All stood together on the deck,
    For a charnel-dungeon fitter:
  All fixed on me their stony eyes,
    That in the moon did glitter.

  The pang, the curse, with which they died,
    Had never passed away:
  I could not draw my eyes from theirs,
    Nor turn them up to pray."

With this weird tale in his mind in the mystic stillness of midnight
would an imaginative man be likely to deny the reality of the spirit
world? The chances are that he would be spellbound; or, if he had
breath enough, would cry out--

  "Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!"

"In the year 1421, the widow of Ralph Cranbourne, of Dipmore End, in
the parish of Sandhurst, Berks, was one midnight alarmed by a noise in
her bedchamber, and, looking up, she saw at her bedfoot the appearance
of a skeleton (which she verily believed was her husband) nodding and
talking to her upon its fingers, or finger bones, after the manner of
a dumb person. Whereupon she was so terrified, that after striving to
scream aloud, which she could not, for her tongue clave to her mouth,
she fell backward as in a swoon; yet not so insensible withal but she
could see that at this the figure became greatly agitated and
distressed, and would have clasped her, but upon her appearance of
loathing it desisted, only moving its jaw upward and downward, as if
it would cry for help but could not for want of its parts of speech.
At length, she growing more and more faint, and likely to die of fear,
the spectre suddenly, as if at a thought, began to swing round its
hand, which was loose at the wrist, with a brisk motion, and the
finger bones being long and hard, and striking sharply against each
other, made a loud noise like to the springing of a watchman's rattle.
At which alarm, the neighbours running in, stoutly armed, as against
thieves or murderers, the spectre suddenly departed."[89]

 "His shoes they were coffins, his dim eye reveal'd
    The gleam of a grave-lamp with vapours oppress'd;
  And a dark crimson necklace of blood-drops congeal'd
    Reflected each bone that jagg'd out of his breast."[90]




  He comes--the brave old Christmas!
    His sturdy steps I hear;
  We will give him a hearty welcome,
    For he comes but once a year!

  And of all our old acquaintance
    'Tis he we like the best;
  There's a jolly old way about him--
    There's a warm heart in his breast.

  He is not too proud to enter
    Your house though it be mean;
  Yet is company fit for a courtier,
    And is welcomed by the Queen!

  He can tell you a hundred stories
    Of the Old World's whims and ways,
  And how they merrily wish'd him joy
    In our fathers' courting days.

  He laughs with the heartiest laughter
    That does one good to hear;
  'Tis a pity so brave an old fellow
    Should come but once a year!

  But once, then, let us be ready,
    With all that he can desire--
  With plenty of holly and ivy,
    And a huge log for the fire;

  With plenty of noble actions,
    And plenty of warm good-will;
  With our hearts as full of kindness
    As the board we mean to fill.

  With plenty of store in the larder,
    And plenty of wine in the bin;
  And plenty of mirth for the kitchen;
    Then open and let him in!

  Oh, he is a fine old fellow--
    His heart's in the truest place;
  You may know that at once by the children,
    Who glory to see his face.

  For he never forgets the children,
    They all are dear to him;
  You'll see that with wonderful presents
    His pockets are cramm'd to the brim.

  Nor will he forget the servants,
    Whether you've many or one;
  Nor the poor old man at the corner;
    Nor the widow who lives alone.

  He is rich as a Jew, is Old Christmas,
    I wish he would make me his heir;
  But he has plenty to do with his money,
    And he is not given to spare.

  Not he--bless the good old fellow!
    He hates to hoard his pelf;
  He wishes to make all people
    As gay as he is himself.

  So he goes to the parish unions--
    North, south, and west and east--
  And there he gives the paupers,
    At his own expense a feast.

  He gives the old men tobacco,
    And the women a cup of tea;
  And he takes the pauper children,
    And dances them on his knee.

  I wish you could see those paupers
    Sit down to his noble cheer,
  You would wish, like them, and no wonder,
    That he stay'd the livelong year.

  Yes, he is the best old fellow
    That ever on earth you met;
  And he gave us a boon when first he came
    Which we can never forget.

  So we will give him a welcome
    Shall gladden his old heart's core!
  And let us in good and gracious deeds
    Resemble him more and more!

_December 21, 1850._


Writing on this subject, in the _Antiquary_, March, 1895, Mr. Harry
Hems, of Exeter, introduces the reduced copy of an illustration which
appears on the following page, and which he states was published in
the _Illustrated London News_, January 11, 1851.

The picture (says Mr. Hems) "presents, as will be seen, a frosty,
moonlight night, with a brilliantly-lit old farmhouse in the
background. In the fore are leafless fruit-trees, and three men firing
guns at them, whilst the jovial farmer and another man drink success
to the year's crop from glasses evidently filled from a jug of cider,
which the latter also holds a-high. A crowd of peasants--men, women
and children--are gathered around, and the following description is

"'Amongst the scenes of jocund hospitality in this holiday season,
that are handed down to us, is one which not only presents an
enlivening picture, but offers proof of the superstition that still
prevails in the Western counties. On Twelfth-even, in Devonshire, it
is customary for the farmer to leave his warm fireside, accompanied by
a band of rustics, with guns, blunderbusses, &c., presenting an
appearance which at other times would be somewhat alarming. Thus
armed, the band proceeds to an adjoining orchard, where is selected
one of the most fruitful and aged of the apple-trees, grouping round
which they stand and offer up their invocations in the following
quaint doggerel rhyme:--

    "'Here's to thee,
      Old apple-tree!
  Whence thou mayst bud,
  And whence thou mayst blow,
  And whence thou mayst bear
      Apples enow:
      Hats full,
      Caps full,
  Bushels, bushels, sacks full,
  And my pockets full too!
      Huzza! huzza!'"


The cider-jug is then passed round, and, with many a hearty shout, the
party fire off their guns, charged with powder only, amidst the
branches, sometimes frightening the owl from its midnight haunt. With
confident hopes they return to the farmhouse, and are refused
admittance, in spite of all weather, till some lucky wight guesses
aright the peculiar roast the maidens are preparing for their comfort.
This done, all enter, and soon right merrily the jovial glass goes
round, that man who gained admittance receiving the honour of King for
the evening, and till a late hour he reigns, amidst laughter, fun, and
jollity. The origin of this custom is not known, but it is supposed to
be one of great antiquity.

"'The illustration is from a sketch by Mr. Colebrooke, Stockdale.'"

We may add that, in the seventeenth century, a similar custom seems to
have been observed in some places on Christmas Eve, for in Herrick's
_Hesperides_ the wassailing of fruit trees is among the Christmas Eve

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


Writing from Exeter, in 1852, a correspondent says "the custom of
welcoming this season of holy joy with 'psalms and hymns and spiritual
songs' lingers in the cathedral city of Exeter; where, during
Christmas Eve, the parish choirs perambulate the streets singing
anthems, with instrumental accompaniments. The singing is protracted
through the night, when the celebration often assumes a more secular
character than is strictly in accordance with the festival. A more
sacred commemoration is, however, at hand.

"At a quarter-past seven o'clock on Christmas morning the assemblage
of persons in the nave of Exeter Cathedral is usually very numerous:
there are the remnants of the previous vigil, with unwashed faces and
sleepy eyes; but a large number are early risers, who have left their
beds for better purposes than a revel. There is a great muster of the
choir, and the fine Old Hundredth Psalm is sung from the gallery to a
full organ, whose billows of sound roll through the vaulted edifice.
The scene is strikingly picturesque: all is dim and shadowy; the red
light from the flaring candles falling upon upturned faces, and here
and there falling upon a piece of grave sculpture, whilst the grey
light of day begins to stream through the antique windows, adding to
the solemnity of the scene. As the last verse of the psalm peals
forth, the crowd begins to move, and the spacious cathedral is soon
left to the more devout few who remain to attend the morning service
in the Lady-chapel."


From the "Christmas Chronicles of Llanfairpwllycrochon," by R. P.
Hampton Roberts, in _Notes and Queries_, December 21, 1878, we quote
the following:

"Now Thomas Thomas, and Mary Jones, and all their neighbours, had
great veneration for Christmas, and enjoyed much pleasure in
looking forward to the annual recurrence of the feast. Not that
they looked upon it as a feast in any ecclesiastical sense, for
Llanfairpwllycrochon was decidedly Calvinistically Methodist, and
rejected all such things as mere popish superstition.

"The Christmas goose was a great institution at Llanfairpwllycrochon.
The annual goose club had no existence there, it is true, but the
annual goose had nevertheless. Thomas Thomas, after his memorable
visit to London, came home imbued with one English idea which startled
the villagers more than anything had done since the famous bonfire on
the outlying hill when the heir came of age, and it was a long time
before they recovered from their surprise. It was nothing less
than a proposition to substitute beef for the Christmas dinner
instead of a goose. Here was a sad falling off from the ways of
Llanfairpwllycrochon! And Thomas Thomas was a man who persisted in an
idea once it entered his mind--an event of rare occurrence, it is
true, and consequently all the more stubborn whenever it did occur.
Thomas Thomas had, however, sufficient respect for the opinion of his
neighbours to make him compromise matters by providing for himself
alone a small beefsteak as an adjunct to the time-honoured goose.

"Another Christmas institution at Llanfairpwllycrochon was the
universal pudding, mixed as is wont by every member of the family.
Then there was the bun-loaf, or _barabrith_, one of the grand
institutions of Llanfairpwllycrochon. Many were the pains taken over
this huge loaf--made large enough to last a week or fortnight,
according to the appetites of the juvenile partakers--and the combined
"Christmas-boxes" of the grocer and baker went to make up the
appetising whole, with much more in addition.

"Christmas Eve was a day of exceeding joy at Llanfairpwllycrochon. The
manufacture of paper ornaments and 'kissing bushes,' radiant with
oranges, apples, paper roses, and such like fanciful additions as
might suit the taste or means of the house-holder, occupied most of
the day. And then they had to be put up, and the house in its
Christmas decorations looked more resplendent than the imagination of
the most advanced villager--at present at school, and of the mature
age of five and a half years, the rising hope of the schoolmaster, and
a Lord Chancellor in embryo in fine--could have pictured. As a reward
for the day's toil came the night's sweet task of making _cyflath_,
_i.e._, toffee. Thomas Thomas, and those who spoke the Saxon tongue
among the villagers, called it 'taffy.' Once had Thomas Thomas been
corrected in his pronunciation, but the hardy Saxon who ventured on
the bold proceeding was silenced when he heard that he was not to
think he was going to persuade a reasonable man into mutilating the
English tongue. 'Taffy it iss, and taffy I says,' and there was an end
of the matter. Without taffy the inhabitants of Llanfairpwllycrochon,
it was firmly believed by the vicar, would not have known the
difference between Christmas and another time, and it is not therefore
matter for surprise that they should so tenaciously cling to its
annual making. At midnight, when the syrupy stuff was sufficiently
boiled, it would be poured into a pan and put into the open air to
cool. Here was an opportunity for the beaux of the village which could
not be missed. They would steal, if possible, the whole, pan and all,
and entail a second making on the unfortunate victims of their
practical joke.

"Sometimes the Christmas Eve proceedings would be varied by holding a
large evening party, continued all night, the principal amusement of
which would be the boiling of toffee, one arm taking, when another was
tired, the large wooden spoon, and turning the boiling mass of sugar
and treacle, this process being continued for many hours, until
nothing would be left to partake of but a black, burnt sort of crisp,
sugary cinder. Sometimes the long boiling would only result in a soft
mass, disagreeable to the taste and awkward to the hand, the combined
efforts of each member of the party failing to secure consistency or
strength in the mixed ingredients.

"And then there were the carols at midnight, and many more were the
Christmas customs at Llanfairpwllycrochon."


  "These Christmas decorations are _so_ jolly!"
     She cried, zeal shining in her orbs of blue.
  "_Don't_ you like laurel gleaming under holly?"
     He answered, "_I_ love mistletoe over _yew_!"--_Punch._

[Illustration: "ST. GEORGE" IN COMBAT WITH "ST. PETER."]


Under this title, Mr. T. M. Fallow, M.A., F.S.A., writing in the
_Antiquary_, May, 1895, gives an account of rustic performances which
were witnessed at Christmastide in the neighbourhood of Leeds about
fifteen years earlier, and he illustrates the subject with a series of
pictures from photographs taken at the time, which are here
reproduced. The play depicted is that of the "Seven Champions of
Christendom," and in the picture on the preceding page "St. George" is
shown engaged in combat with "St. Peter," while "St. Andrew" and "St.
Denys" are each kneeling on one knee, a sign of their having been

"It may be well to point out," says Mr. Fallow, "that in the West
Riding, or at any rate in the neighbourhood of Leeds, the sword-actors
were quite distinct from the 'mummers.' They generally numbered nine
or ten lads, who, disguised by false beards as men, were dressed in
costume as appropriate to the occasion as their knowledge and finances
would permit, and who acted, with more or less skill, a short play,
which, as a rule, was either the 'Peace Egg' or the 'Seven Champions
of Christendom.' The following illustration shows two of the
'champions,' as photographed at the time stated:--

[Illustration: "ST. PETER." "ST. DENYS."]

"There was a little indefiniteness," says Mr. Fallow, "as to the
characters represented in the play, but usually they were the King of
Egypt, his daughter, a fool or jester, St. George, St. Andrew, St.
Patrick, St. David, St. Denys, St. James, and a St. Thewhs, who
represented a Northern nation--Russia, or sometimes Denmark--and whose
exact identity seems obscure. The seven champions occasionally
included St. Peter of Rome, as in the group whose photograph is given.
St. George engaged in mortal combat with each champion in succession,
fighting for the hand of the King of Egypt's daughter. When at length
each of the six was slain, St. George, having vanquished them all, won
the fair lady, amid the applause of the bystanders. Then, at the
conclusion, after a general clashing and crossing of swords, the fool
or jester stepped forward, and wound up the performance with an appeal
for pecuniary recognition."


In a Christmas article, published in 1869, Dr. Rimbault mentions the
performance of "St. George and the Dragon" in the extreme western and
northern parts of the country. The following five characters are
given: Father Christmas, Turkish Knight, King of Egypt, St. George,
Doctor. Other writers mention similar plays, with variations of
characters, as seen in the rural parts of Northamptonshire,
Warwickshire, and Staffordshire, and the present writer has himself
seen such plays at Madeley, in Shropshire.

S. Arnott, of Turnham Green, writing in _Notes and Queries_, December
21, 1878, says: "When I was living at Hollington, near Hastings, in
the year 1869, the village boys were in the habit of visiting the
houses of the gentry at Christmas time to perform a play, which had
been handed down by tradition." The description of the play which then
followed shows that it was another variation of the well-known
Christmas play, and included the "Turkish Knight," the "Bold Slasher,"
and other familiar characters.


Writing on "Mid-winter Customs in the North," Mr. Edward Garrett says
"it is not easy to write of 'Christmas customs in the North,' because
many of them, even though connected with the Christmas festival, do
not take place till January 6th, that being Christmas Day, Old Style,
while most of them are associated with the New Year, either Old or New
Style, one of the most striking celebrations coming off on January
11th, regarded as 'New Year's Eve.'

"Christmas itself has never been a national Scottish festival since
the Reformation. On its purely festive side, it has become somewhat of
a 'fashion' of late years, but its ancient customs have only lingered
on in those districts where Episcopacy has taken deep root. Such a
district is 'Buchan'--a track of country in the north-east of
Aberdeenshire--a place which cannot be better described than in the
words of one of its own gifted sons, Dr. Walter Smith:--

 "'A treeless land, where beeves are good,
     And men have quaint, old-fashioned ways,
   And every burn has ballad lore,
     And every hamlet has its song,
   And on its surf-beat, rocky shore
     The eerie legend lingers long.
   Old customs live there, unaware
     That they are garments cast away,
   And what of light is lingering there
     Is lingering light of yesterday.'"



The inherent Scandinavianism of the Shetlander, which leads him to
repudiate the appellation of Scotchman, and to cherish in secret the
old customs and superstitions of his ancestors, asserts itself yearly
in the high jinks with which he continues to honour the old holy days
of Yule. Until within the last two or three years, he pertinaciously
adhered to the old style in his observance of these festivities. On
Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, and Uphelya--the twenty-fourth day
after Yule, and that on which the holy or holidays are supposed to be
"up"--the youths of Lerwick, attired in fantastic dresses, go
"guising" about the town in bands, visiting their friends and
acquaintances and reproducing in miniature the carnival of more
southern climes. On one or other of these occasions a torchlight
procession forms part of the revelry. Formerly blazing tar barrels
were dragged about the town, and afterwards, with the first break of
morning, dashed over the Knab into the sea. But this ancient and
dangerous custom has very properly been discontinued. The dresses of
the guisers are often of the most expensive and fanciful description.
Highlanders, Spanish cavaliers, negro minstrels, soldiers in the
peaked caps, kerseymere breeches, and scarlet coats turned up with
buff, of the reign of George II., Robin Hoods, and Maid Marians were
found in the motley throng. Some, with a boldness worthy of
Aristophanes himself, caricature the dress, the walk, or some other
eccentricity of leading personages in the town; others--for the spirit
of "the Happy Land" has reached these hyperborean regions--make
pleasant game of well-known political characters. Each band of guisers
has its fiddler, who walks before it, playing "Scalloway Lasses," or
"The Foula Reel," or "The Nippin' Grund," or some other archaic tune.
Thus conducted, and blowing a horn to give notice of their approach,
the maskers enter the doors of all houses which they find open, dance
a measure with the inmates, partake of and offer refreshment, and then
depart to repeat the same courtesies elsewhere. At daylight the horn
of the Most Worthy Grand Guiser, a mysterious personage, whose
personality and functions are enveloped in the deepest concealment, is
heard summoning all the bands to end their revels, and when, in the
cold grey dawn of the winter morning, the worthy citizens of Lerwick
awake to pursue their wonted avocations, not a trace remains of the
saturnalia of the night before.--Sheriff Rampini, in _Good Words_.

Now, passing from the islands to the sea itself, it is pleasant to
note that in recent years Christian hearts have carried


Through the "Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen" twelve thousand brave and
hardy fishermen have been cheered at Christmastide, for to their
fleets the Mission's vessels now take medical and surgical aid, books
and magazines, woollen garments and tobacco, which, as adjuncts to
higher religious aid, are turning the once wild and desperate
ocean roughs into clean-living sailors and good husbands and
fathers--therefore are these days on the North Sea better far than
those that are gone. Thousands of these brave men turn at Christmas to
the M.D.S.F. flag as to the one bright link which binds them to
friendly hearts ashore, assuring them that in England's Christmas
festivities they and their like have a real part, and are no longer

Some facts recorded by the Rev. John Sinclair[91] illustrate the
dangers of the wild winter sea, and also set forth some


They were related to Mr. Sinclair by Mr. Traill, chief of the clan,
with whom he stayed on the occasion of his visit to the island of
Pappa Westra. The first of the two incidents was as follows:--"One
Christmas Day," says Mr. Traill, "during a heavy gale, I wrapped my
cloak about me, and started off with my telescope to walk upon the
cliffs. Coming to the other side of the island, on which the surf was
beating violently, I observed a vessel a few miles off fire a signal
of distress. I hastened to the nearest point, and with the help of my
glass perceived that she was Dutch built, and that, having lost her
rudder, she was quite unmanageable. She fired several guns at short
intervals, and my people came in large numbers to give assistance. But
the surf was so fearful that nothing could be done. No boat could have
lived a moment in such a sea. We were all utterly helpless. As the
vessel drifted towards us, I could see the whole tragedy as distinctly
as if it had been acted on the stage. Immediately below me were a
number of my fellow-creatures, now alive and in health, and in a few
moments they would all be mangled corpses. I could make out the
expression of their features, and see in what manner each was
preparing for inevitable death. But whether they climbed up into the
shrouds, or held by ropes on deck while the sea was washing over the
bulwarks, their fate was the same. The first wave lifted the vessel so
high that I almost thought it would have placed her upon the land. She
fell back, keel upwards. The next wave struck her with such terrific
force against the cliffs that she was shivered at once into a thousand
pieces; hardly two planks held together. It seemed as if she had been
made of glass. Not a soul escaped. One or two bodies, with a few
planks and casks, were all that ever reached the shore." Well might
Mr. Traill add, "I was haunted for months by the remembrance of that
heartrending sight."

The other story related by Mr. Traill shows that a Christmas party may
be detained indefinitely in one of these remote islands, should the
weather prove unfavourable. At Christmastide, a former Laird of Westra
"collected a numerous party from all the neighbouring islands to
celebrate the christening of his eldest son." His hospitalities cost
him dear. A storm arose; his guests could not get away; instead of
enjoying their society for a few days, he was obliged to entertain
them at a ruinous expense for many weeks. His larder, his cellar, and
his barns, were by degrees exhausted. His farm stock had all

been slaughtered, except the old bull, which he was reserving as a
last resource, when at length the wind abated, and a calm delivered
him from this ruinous situation.

Thus it appears that in these remote islands of Scotland Christmas is
not forgotten. But a writer in a well-known Scotch journal says the
surest sign of the general joy is "Christmas in the Workhouse":--

 "Christmas was gay in the old squire's hall,
    Gay at the village inn,
  Cheery and loud by the farmer's fire,
    Happy the manse within;
  But the surest signs of the general joy,
    And that all the world was happy--very,
  Were the sounds that proved at the workhouse door
    That even 'the paupers' were merry."


The Greenwich Hospital for Sick Seamen of all Nations presented on
Christmas Day, 1880, a remarkable gathering of national
representatives. There were 179 sailors, representing 31
nationalities, belonging to ships of 19 distinct nations. They were
summed up thus:--England, 77; Wales, 3; Scotland, 9; Ireland, 11;
Norway, 10; Sweden, 9; Finland, 6; United States, 5; Denmark, 5;
British India, 4; France, 3; Germany, 3; Nova Scotia, 3; Russia, 2;
Austria, 2; Italy, 2; Cape de Verd Islands, 2; Chili, 2; Jamaica, 2;
Barbadoes, 2; St. Thomas, 2; Spain, 1; Portugal, 1; Canada, 1; New
Brunswick, 1; Transvaal, 1; Gold Coast, 1; Brazil, 1; St. Kitts, 1;
Mauritius, 1; Society Islands, 1. The mercantile marines represented
were no bad index to the proportion of the carrying trade of the world
each nation undertakes:--England, 96 vessels; Ireland, 3; Scotland,
16; Wales, 4; Norway, 7; Sweden, 5; United States, 6; Denmark, 2;
France, 2; Germany, 3; Nova Scotia, 7; Russia, 2; Netherlands, 4;
Channel Islands, 2; New Brunswick, 2; Italy, 1; Zanzibar, 1; Spain, 1.

The early morning brought warm Christmas wishes to the patients. Each
found by his bedside a packet addressed to him by name. Some good lady
had taken the enormous pains to work a pretty, and, at the same time,
stout and serviceable wallet, with the inscription, "My letters,"
embroidered thereupon, and to accompany this little gift, in every
case, with a short and seasonable letter of Christmas wishes, using
other languages than English, to suit the convenience of every
recipient. The initials under which these offerings came were "N. C.
H." Other gifts, Christmas cards and Christmas reading, in the shape
of magazines and illustrated papers were gladly welcomed.

The decorations of the corridors and rooms had given occupation to the
sick sailors for several days, and sentiments of loyalty to the Queen
and the Royal Family were abundantly displayed, together with
portraits of members of the Royal Family which had been drawn from

The officers and nurses had dedicated to them some specimens of real
sailor poetry, combining the names of the staff. With grim humour, the
"operation room" bore above it "Nil desperandum"; and the decorated
walls of the hospital told the onlookers that "small vessels should
keep in shore," that "windmills are not turned by a pair of bellows,"
that "good things are not found in heaps," that "hasty people fish in
empty ponds," that "plenty, like want, ruins many," &c.

The dinner at one o'clock was a great success. All who could get out
of bed made it a point of honour to be present. But for adverse winds
keeping ships from entering the Thames, the guests would have been
more numerous. But, as it was, the patients under the roof numbered
179. There were, of course, difficulties of language; but no "Jack"
ever ploughed the sea who does not understand a Christmas dinner; and,
besides, the hospital in its nurses and staff possesses the means of
conversing in seventeen different languages.

The scene was a thoroughly Christmas one; and many other festive
scenes, almost as interesting, were seen in all parts of England.
Whether recorded or unrecorded, who does not rejoice in such efforts
to promote "goodwill amongst men," and long for the time--

 "When peace shall over all the earth
    Its ancient splendours fling,
  And the whole world send back the song,
    Which now the angels sing."


One of the popular institutions inseparable from the festivities of
Christmastide has long been the "cracker." The satisfaction which young
people especially experience in pulling the opposite ends of a gelatine
and paper cylinder is of the keenest, accompanied as the operation is by
a mixed anticipation--half fearful as to the explosion that is to
follow, and wholly delightful with regard to the bonbon or motto which
will thus be brought to light. Much amusement is afforded to the lads
and lassies by the fortune-telling verses which some of the crackers
contain. But the cracker of our early days was something far different
from what it is now. The sharp "crack" with which the article exploded,
and from which it took its name, was then its principal, and, in some
cases, its only feature; and the exclamation, "I know I shall scream,"
which John Leech, in one of his sketches, puts into the mouth of two
pretty girls engaged in cracker-pulling, indicated about the all of
delight which that occupation afforded. Since then, however, the cracker
has undergone a gradual development. Becoming by degrees a receptacle
for bon-bons, rhymed mottoes, little paper caps and aprons, and similar
toys, it has passed on to another and higher stage, and is even made a
vehicle for high art illustrations. Considerable artistic talent has
been introduced in the adornment of these novelties. For instance, the
"Silhouette" crackers are illustrated with black figures, comprising
portraits of well-known characters in the political, military, and
social world, exquisitely executed, while appropriate designs have been
adapted to other varieties, respectively designated "Cameos,"
"Bric-a-brac," "Musical Toys," &c.; and it is quite evident that the
education of the young in matters of good taste is not overlooked in the
provision of opportunities for merriment.


  Hang up the baby's stocking! Be
   sure you don't forget! The dear
    little dimpled darling, she never
     saw   Christmas   yet!   But   I've
     told her all about it, and she opened
     her  big  blue  eyes; and I'm sure
     she understood it--she  looked so
     funny and wise. * * *  Dear, what
    a tiny stocking!  It doesn't take
   much to hold such little pink toes
  as baby's away from the frost and
 cold.  But then,  for  the baby's
 Christmas, it will never do at all.
  Why! Santa wouldn't be looking
   for    anything    half   so
    small.  * * *  I know what
     will do for the baby. I've
      thought of the very best
       plan.   I'll  borrow  a
        stocking  of Grandma's,
         the longest that ever
          I can.  And  you'll
          hang  it  by  mine,
          dear mother, right
         here in the corner,
        so!   And  leave  a
       letter to Santa, and
      fasten   it on to the
     toe. * * * Write--this
    is the baby's stocking,
   that hangs in the corner
    here.  You  never have
     seen her, Santa, for
      she only came this
       year.   But  she's
        just the blessed'st
         baby.   And  now
          before  you  go,
           just  cram  her
            stocking  with
            goodies, from
             the top clean
               down to


The Christmastide of 1885-6 was marred by two fatal accidents which
again illustrate the danger of dressing for entertainments in
highly-inflammable materials. In the first case a London lady, on
Boxing Night, was entertaining some friends, and appeared herself in
the costume of _Winter_. She was dressed in a white robe of thin
fabric, and stood under a canopy from which fell pieces of cotton wool
to represent snowflakes, and in their descent one of them caught light
at the candelabra, and fell at deceased's feet. In trying to put it
out with her foot her dress caught fire, and she was immediately
enveloped in flames. So inflammable was the material that, although
prompt assistance was rendered, she was so severely burnt as to become
unconscious. A medical man was sent for, and everything possible was
done for her; but she sank gradually, and died from exhaustion. The
second of these tragical incidents plunged a Paris family in deep
sorrow. The parents, who lived in a beautiful detached house in the
Rue de la Bienfaisance, had arranged that their children and some
youthful cousins were to play before a party of friends on New Year's
Night on the stage of a little theatre which had just been added to
their house. The play was to represent the decrepit old year going out
and the new one coming in. The eldest daughter, a charming girl of
fourteen, was to be the good genius of 1886, and to be dressed in a
loose transparent robe. On the appointed evening, after the company
had assembled, she donned her stage costume and ran into her mother's
bedroom to see how it became her. While looking at herself in a mirror
on the toilette table her loose sleeve came in contact with the flame
of a candle and blazed up. She screamed for help and tried to roll
herself in the bed clothes; but the bed, being covered with a lace
coverlet and curtained with muslin was also set on fire, and soon the
whole room was ablaze. By the time help arrived the girl's clothes
were all burning into the flesh; but such was her vitality that, in
spite of the dreadful state in which every inch of her body was, she
survived the accident many hours.

Similar disasters occurred at Christmas festivities in 1889, at
Detroit, and in 1891, at Wortley, Leeds. In the former several little
children were fatally burnt, and in the latter fifteen children were
set on fire, eleven of them fatally.



is too large a subject to enter upon at length, for a bulky volume
would scarcely suffice to describe the numerous Christmas annuals,
illustrated Christmas numbers, newspaper supplements and variety
papers which have become popular at Christmastide since the first
appearance of Dickens's "Christmas Stories." The development of the
Christmas trade in this light literature has been marvellous, and it
is increasing year by year. And the same may be said of the charming
gift-books which are published annually just before Christmas.


Through the various letter missions that have been established
thousands of Christmas letters and illustrated missives, bright with
anecdote, are despatched annually to the inmates of convalescent homes
and hospitals, and are heartily welcomed by the recipients, for every
one likes to be remembered on Christmas Day.


have, however, been very heavily weighted with these new Christmas
customs. They have inflicted upon postmen and letter-sorters an amount
of extra labour that is almost incredible. The postal-parcel work is
also very heavy at the festive season.


 "Home for the holidays, here we go;
  Bless me, the train is exceedingly slow!
  Pray, Mr. Engineer, get up your steam,
  And let us be off, with a puff and a scream!
  We have two long hours to travel, you say;
  Come, Mr. Engineer, gallop away!"[92]

This familiar verse recalls the eagerness of the schoolboy to be home
for the Christmas holidays. And adults are no less eager to join their
friends at the festive season; many travel long journeys in order to
do so. Hence the great pressure of work on railway employés, and the
congested state of the traffic at Christmastide. Two or three days
before Christmas Day the newspapers publish what are called "railway
arrangements," detailing the privileges granted by this and that
company, and presenting the holiday traveller with a sort of
appetising programme; and any one who will spend an hour at any of the
great termini of the metropolis at this period can see the remarkable
extent to which the public avail themselves of the facilities offered.
The growth of railway travelling at Christmastide has, indeed, been
marvellous in recent years, and it becomes greater every year. The
crowded state of the railway stations, and the trains that roll out of
them heavily laden with men, women, and children, wedged together by
parcels bursting with good cheer, show most unmistakably that we have
not forgotten the traditions of Christmas as a time of happy
gatherings in the family circles of Old England.

*     *     *     *     *

But, as there is also much Christmas-keeping in other parts of the
world, we pass now to--

    [79] Huish's "Life of George the Third."

    [80] _Gentleman's Magazine_, 1790.

    [81] Copied from an undated leaflet inserted in the
    British Museum copy of Brand's "Antiquities," by the late
    Mr Joseph Hazlewood.

    [82] Hone's "Every-day Book," 1826.

    [83] Herbert H. Adams.

    [84] "A black Christmas makes a fat kirk-yard." A windy
    Christmas and a calm Candlemas are signs of a good year.

    [85] 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.

    [86] F. Lawrence.

    [87] "Old English Customs and Charities," 1842.

    [88] "Biographical Lectures."

    [89] "History of Berks," vol. xxv.

    [90] "Grim, King of the Ghosts."

    [91] "Old Times and Distant Places," 1875.

    [92] Eliza Cook.





"The bluejackets are generally better hands than the red-coats at
improvising a jollification--Jack, at any rate, does not take his
pleasures sadly. The gallant bands that have from time to time gone
forth to a bloodless campaign in the icy north, have always managed to
keep their Christmas right joyously. Certainly they could not complain
of uncongenial skies or unseasonable temperatures; while, so far as
snow and ice are necessary to thorough enjoyment, the supply in the
Arctic regions is on a scale sufficient to satisfy the most ardent
admirer of an old-fashioned Christmas. The frozen-in Investigators
under McClure kept their first Arctic Christmas soberly, cheerfully,
and in good fellowship, round tables groaning with good cheer, in the
shape of Sandwich Island beef, musk veal from the Prince of Wales's
Strait, mince-meat from England, splendid preserves from the Green
Isle, and dainty dishes from Scotland. Every one talked of home, and
speculated respecting the doings of dear ones there; and healths were
drunk, not omitting those of their fellow-labourers sauntering
somewhere in the regions about, but how near or how far away none
could tell. When the festival came round again, the _Investigator_ and
_Enterprise_ were alone in their glory, and they were separated by
miles of frozen sea; but they had solved the great problem.[93] On
board the _Investigator_, frost-bound in the Bay of Mercy, things went
as merry as the proverbial marriage-bell. After divine service,
everybody took a constitutional on the ice until dinner-time; then the
officers sat down to a meal of which the _pièce de résistance_ was a
haunch of Banks' Island reindeer, weighing twenty pounds, with fat two
inches thick, and a most delicious flavour; while the crew were
regaling upon venison and other good things, double allowance of grog
included; and dinner discussed, dancing, singing, and skylarking
filled up the holiday hours till bedtime; the fun being kept up with
unflagging humour, and with such propriety withal as to make their
leader wish the anxious folks at home could have witnessed the scene
created amidst so many gloomy influences, by the crew of a ship after
two years' sojourn in those ice-bound regions upon their own
resources. Another Christmas found the brave fellows still confined in
their snowy prison; but their table boasted plum-pudding rich enough
for Arctic appetites, Banks' Land venison, Mercy Bay hare-soup,
ptarmigan pasties, and musk-ox beef--hung-beef, surely, seeing it had
been dangling in the rigging above two years. The poets among the men
wrote songs making light of the hardships they had endured; the
painters exhibited pictures of past perils; comic actors were not
wanting; and the whole company, casting all anxiety to the winds,
enjoyed themselves to the utmost."[94]

In the spring of 1870, before the breaking out of the Franco-German
war, Germany sent out two ships, the _Germania_ and the _Hansa_, with
the hope of reaching the North Pole. As is usually the case in Arctic
expeditions, little could be done during the first season, and the
ships were obliged to take up their winter-quarters off the east coast
of Greenland. They had already been separated, so that the crew of one
vessel, had no idea of the condition of the other. An officer upon the
_Germania_ gives the following interesting account of their Christmas
festivities in the Arctic regions:--

"To the men who have already lived many weary months among the
icebergs, Christmas signifies, in addition to its other associations,
that the half of their long night--with its fearful storms, its
enforced cessation of all energy, its discomfort and sadness--has
passed, and that the sun will soon again shed its life and
warmth-giving beams on the long-deserted North. From this time the
grim twilight, during which noon has been hardly distinguishable from
the other hours, grows daily lighter, until at length all hearts are
gladdened, and a cheerful activity is once again called forth by the
first glimpse of the sun. Christmas, the midnight of the Arctic
explorer, thus marks a period in his life which he has good cause to
consider a joyful one.

"For days before the festival, an unusual activity was observable all
over the ship; and as soon as the severe storm which raged from
December 16th to the 21st had abated, parties were organised, under
our botanist, Dr. Pansch, to certain points of Sabine Island, near to
which we were anchored, where, in a strangely sheltered nook, several
varieties of a native Greenland evergreen plant, _Andromeda
tetragona_, were to be found. A great quantity of this plant was
conveyed on board, to be converted into a Christmas-tree. Under the
orders of Dr. Pansch, the Andromeda was wound round small pieces of
wood, several of which were attached, like fir-twigs, to a large
bough; and when these boughs were fastened to a pole, they formed a
very respectable fir-tree.

"After dinner on Christmas Day, the cabin was cleared for the
completion of the preparations; and on our recall at six o'clock, we
found that all had assumed an unwontedly festive appearance. The walls
were decorated with the signal-flags and our national eagle; and the
large cabin table, somewhat enlarged to make room to seat seventeen
men, was covered with a clean white cloth, which had been reserved for
the occasion. On the table stood the 'fir' tree, shining in the
splendour of many little wax-lights, and ornaments with all sorts of
little treasures, some of which, such as the gilded walnuts, had
already seen a Christmas in Germany; below the tree was a small
present for each of us, provided long beforehand, in readiness for
the day, by loving friends and relatives at home. There was a packet
too for each of the crew, containing some little joking gift, prepared
by the mirth-loving Dr. Pansch, and a useful present also; while the
officers were each and all remembered.

"When the lights burned down, and the resinous Andromeda was beginning
to take fire, the tree was put aside, and a feast began, at which full
justice was done to the costly Sicilian wine with which a friend had
generously supplied us before we left home. We had a dish of roast
seal! Some cakes were made by the cook, and the steward produced his
best stores. For the evening, the division between the fore and aft
cabins was removed, and there was free intercourse between officers
and men; many a toast was drunk to the memory of friends at home, and
at midnight a polar ball was improvised by a dance on the ice. The
boatswain, the best musician of the party, seated himself with his
hand-organ between the antlers of a reindeer which lay near the ship,
and the men danced two and two on their novel flooring of hard ice!

"Such was our experience of a Christmas in the north polar circle; but
the uncertainties of Arctic voyaging are great, and the two ships of
our expedition made trial of the widely different fates which await
the travellers in those frozen regions: and while we on the _Germania_
were singularly fortunate in escaping accidents and in keeping our
crew, in spite of some hardships, in sound health and good spirits,
the _Hansa_ was crushed by the ice, and her crew, after facing
unheard-of dangers, and passing two hundred days on a block of ice,
were barely rescued to return home."

Yet even to the crew of the ill-fated _Hansa_ Christmas brought some
festivities. The tremendous gale which had raged for many days ceased
just before the day, and the heavy fall of snow with which it
terminated, and which had almost buried the black huts that the
shipwrecked men had constructed for themselves upon the drifting
icebergs from the _débris_ of the wreck, had produced a considerable
rise in the temperature, and there was every indication that a season
of calm might now be anticipated.

The log-book of the _Hansa_ thus describes the celebration of the
festival:--"The tree was erected in the afternoon, while the greater
part of the crew took a walk; and the lonely hut shone with wonderful
brightness amid the snow. Christmas upon a Greenland iceberg! The tree
was artistically put together of firwood and mat-weed, and Dr. Laube
had saved a twist of wax-taper for the illumination. Chains of
coloured paper and newly-baked cakes were not wanting, and the men had
made a knapsack and a revolver case as a present for the captain. We
opened the leaden chests of presents from Professor Hochstetter and
the Geological Society, and were much amused by their contents. Each
man had a glass of port wine; and we then turned over the old
newspapers which we found in the chests, and drew lots for the
presents, which consisted of small musical instruments such as fifes,
jew's-harps, trumpets, &c., with draughts and other games, puppets,
crackers, &c. In the evening we feasted on chocolate and gingerbread."

"We observed the day very quietly," writes Dr. Laube in his diary. "If
this Christmas be the last we are to see, it was at least a cheerful
one; but should a happy return home be decreed for us, the next will,
we trust, be far brighter. May God so grant!"


The Christmas of 1854 was a dismal one for the soldiers in the Crimea,
witnessing and enduring what Lord John Russell spoke of as "the
horrible and heartrending scenes of that Crimean winter."

"Thanks to General Muddle," says a journal of the period, "the Crimean
Christmas of 1854 was anything but what it ought to and might have
been; and the knowledge that plenty of good things had been provided
by thoughtful hearts at home, but which were anywhere but where they
were wanted, did not add to the merriment of our poor overworked,
underfed army; and although some desperate efforts were made to be
jolly on dreary outpost and in uncomfortable trenches, they only
resulted in miserable failure. The following Christmas was doubly
enjoyable by comparison. The stubborn fortress (Sebastopol) had fallen
at last to its more stubborn assailants; habit had deprived frost and
snow of their terrors, and every hut ran over with hams, preserves,
vegetables, and mysterious tins, till it resembled a grocer's store.
The valleys of Miscomia, too, were rich in mistletoe, to be had for
the trouble of gathering; but few cared to undergo that trouble for
the sake of what only reminded them of unattainable sweets, and made
them sigh for the girls they had left behind them."

In 1855, Messrs. Macmillan & Co. published a poem by H. R. F.,
entitled "Christmas Dawn, 1854," in which the writer pictures the
festivities marred by war:--

                    "A happy Christmas!
  Happy! to whom? Perchance to infancy,
  And innocent childhood, while the germ of sin,
  Yet undeveloped, leaves a virgin soil
  For joy, and Death and Sorrow are but names.
  But who, that bears a mind matured to thought,
  A heart to feel, shall look abroad this day
  And speak of happiness? The church is deckt
  With festive garlands, and the sunbeams glance
  From glossy evergreens; the mistletoe
  Pearl-studded, and the holly's lustrous bough
  Gleaming with coral fruitage; but we muse
  Of laurel blent with cypress. Gaze we down
  Yon crowded aisle? the mourner's dusky weeds
  Sadden the eye; and they who wear them not
  Have mourning in their hearts, or lavish tears
  Of sympathy on griefs too deeply lodged
  For man's weak ministry.
                           A happy Christmas!
  Ah me! how many hearths are desolate!
  How many a vacant seat awaits in vain
  The loved one who returns not! Shall we drain
  The cheerful cup--a health to absent friends?
  Whom do we pledge? the living or the dead?"

Thus did the poet, "sick at heart," explore "the realm of sorrow"; and
then again he mused:

 "In humbler mood to hail the auspicious day,
  Shine forth rejoicing in thy strength, O sun,
  Shine through the dubious mists and tearful show'rs
  That darken Hope's clear azure! Christ is born,
  The life of those who wake, and those who sleep--
  The Day-spring from on high hath looked on us;
  And we, who linger militant on earth,
  Are one in Him, with those, the loved and lost,
  Whose early graves keep the red field they won
  Upon a stranger shore. Ah! not in vain
  Went up from many a wild Crimean ridge
  The soldier's pray'r, responsive to the vows
  Breathed far away in many an English home.
  Not vain the awakened charities, that gush
  Through countless channels--Christian brotherhoods
  Of mercy; and that glorious sister-band
  Who sow by Death's chill waters!--Not in vain,
  My country! ever loved, but dearest now
  In this thine hour of sorrow, hast thou learnt
  To bow to Him who chastens. We must weep--
  We may rejoice in weeping"


Wherever Englishmen are on the 25th of December, there is Christmas.
Whether it be in the icy regions of the Arctic zone, or in the
sweltering heat of tropical sunshine, the coming round of the great
feast brings with it to every Englishman a hearty desire to celebrate
it duly. And if this cannot be done in exactly home-fashion, the
festival is kept as happily as circumstances will allow. In this
spirit did our soldiers keep Christmas in Abyssinia, in 1867, with the
thermometer at seventy-five in the shade, and even here the edibles
included at least one traditional dish--a joint of roast beef. There
was also an abundance of spur-fowls, guinea-fowls, venison, mutton,
&c., and the place in which the festive board was spread was decorated
with branches of fir and such other substitutes for holly and
mistletoe as could be found.


at different periods shows the same determination of our British
soldiers to honour the Christmas festival.

In 1857, the saviours of our Indian Empire very nearly lost their
Christmas. The army was encamped at Intha, within sight of Nepaul,
waiting for the rain to clear off and the tents to dry, ere it moved
on to drive the Sepoys into the Raptee. The skies cleared on Christmas
morning, and Lord Clyde was for marching at once, but relented in time
to save the men's puddings from being spoiled--not only relented, but
himself gave a Christmas banquet, at which the favoured guests sat
down to well-served tables laden with barons of beef, turkeys, mutton,
game, fish, fowls, plum-puddings, mince-pies, &c. To allay the thirst
such substantial fare created, appeared beakers of pale ale from
Burton and Glasgow; porter from London and Dublin; champagne, moselle,
sherry, and old port, 'rather bothered by travelling twenty miles a
day on a camel back.' Following the chief's example, each regiment had
a glorious spread, and throughout the wide expanse of tents sounds of
rejoicing were heard, for the soldiers kept Christmas right merrily.



did their best to observe the Christmas festival in good old English
style, even during the sieges of Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking,
when provisions were to be had only at famine prices. The ingenious
Tommy Atkins, in distant lands, has often found sylvan substitutes for
mistletoe and holly, and native viands to take the place of
plum-puddings and mince-pies, but it is not so easy to find
substitutes for the social circles in old England, and when the time
comes round for the Christmas dance Tommy's thoughts "Return again to
the girl I've left behind me."

Moreover, it sometimes falls to the lot of soldiers and war
correspondents to spend their Christmas in most outlandish places. Mr.
Archibald Forbes has left on record (in the _English Illustrated
Magazine_, 1885) an interesting account of his own Christmastide in
the Khyber Pass.

In his graphic style the intrepid war correspondent describes the
"ride long and hard" which Kinloch and he had through the Khyber to
Jelalabad plain to fulfil "the tryst they had made to spend Christmas
Day with the cheery comrades of Sir Sam Browne's headquarter staff."
They had an adventurous journey together from the Dakka camp to
Jumrood, where Forbes left Kinloch with Maude's division.

Further on, Mr. Forbes says: "I am not prepared to be definite, after
five years, as to the number of plum-puddings forming that little
hillock on the top of my dâk-gharry between Jhelum and Peshawur, on
the apex of which sat the faithful John amidst a whirl of dust. At
Peshawur the heap of Christmas gifts were loaded into the panniers of
a camel, and the ship of the desert started on its measured solemn
tramp up through the defiles of the Khyber." Then Mr. Forbes tells us
how he joined Kinloch again at General Maude's headquarters at
Jumrood. Kinloch "had not forgotten his tryst, but meanwhile there
were military duties to be done." After the discharge of these
"military duties," which included a night march to surprise a
barbarous clan called Zukkur-Kehls, Forbes and Kinloch joined General
Tytler's column on its return march to Dakka, because at Dakka they
would be nearer to their friends of Sir Sam Browne's headquarters.
"Tytler determined to make his exit from the Zukkur-Kahl Valley by a
previously unexplored pass, toward which the force moved for its
night's bivouac. About the entrance to the glen there was a fine
forest of ilex and holly, large, sturdy, spreading trees, whence
dangled long sprays of mistletoe; the mistletoe bough was here indeed,
and Christmas was close, but where the fair ones whom, under other
circumstances, the amorous youth of our column would have so
enthusiastically led under that spray which accords so sweet a
license? The young ones prattled of those impossible joys; but the
seniors, less frivolous, were concerned by the increasing narrowness
of the gorge, and by the dropping fire that hung on our skirts as we
entered it. However, there was but one casualty--a poor fellow of the
17th Regiment had his thigh smashed by a bullet--and we spent the
night under the ilex trees without further molestation.... It was
Christmas Eve when we sat chatting with young Beatson in his lonely
post by the Chardai streamlet; but a few hours of morning riding would
carry us to Jellalabad whither Sir Sam Browne's camp had been
advanced, and we were easy on the score of being true to tryst. As in
the cold grey dawn we resumed our journey, leaving the young officer
who had been our host to concern himself with the watchfulness of his
picquets and the vigilance of his patrols, there was a sound of
unintentional mockery in the conventional wish of a 'Merry Christmas'
to the gallant lad, and there was a wistfulness in his answering
smile.... The road to the encampment, the white canvas of whose
tents showed through the intervening hills, was traversed at a hand
gallop; and presently Kinloch and myself found ourselves in the street
of the headquarter camp, shaking hands with friends and comrades, and
trying to reply to a medley of disjointed questions. The bugles were
sounding for the Christmas Day Church Parade as we finished a hurried
breakfast. Out there on the plain the British troops of the division
were standing in hollow square, the officers grouped in the centre....
The headquarter street we found swept and garnished, the flagstaff
bedecked with holly, and a regimental band playing 'Home, Sweet Home.'
Dear old Sir Sam Browne did not believe in luxury when on campaign,
but now for the first time I saw him at least comfortable.... The mess
anteroom was the camp street outside the dining tent; and at the
fashionable late hour of eight we 'went in' to dinner, to the strains
of the _Roast Beef of Old England_. It was a right jovial feast, and
the most cordial good-fellowship prevailed. He would have been a
cynical epicurean who would have criticised the appointments; the
banquet itself was above all cavil. Rummaging among some old papers
the other day, I found the _menu_, which deserves to be quoted:
'Soup--Julienne. Fish--Whitebait (from the Cabul River).
Entrées--Cotelettes aux Champignons, Poulets à la Mayonaise.
Joints--Ham and fowls, roast beef, roast saddle of mutton, boiled
brisket of beef, boiled leg of mutton and caper sauce. Curry--chicken.
Sweets--Lemon jelly, blancmange, apricot tart, plum-pudding. Grilled
sardines, cheese fritters, cheese, dessert.' Truth compels the avowal
that there was no table-linen, nor was the board resplendent with
plate or gay with flowers. Table crockery was deficient, or to be more
accurate, there was none. All the dishes were of metal, and the soup
was eaten, or rather drunk, out of mugs and iron teacups. But it
tasted none the worse on this account, and let it be recorded that
there _were_ champagne glasses, while between every two guests a
portly magnum reared its golden head. Except 'The Queen,' of course,
there were but two toasts after the feast--one was 'Absent Friends,'
drunk in a wistful silence, and the other, the caterer's health,
greeted with vociferous enthusiasm. A few fields off the wood had been
collecting all day for the Christmas camp-fire of the 10th Hussars,
and by ten o'clock the blaze of it was mounting high into the murky
gloom. A right merry and social gathering it was round the bright glow
of this Yule log in a far-off land. The flames danced on the wide
circle of bearded faces, on the tangled fleeces of the postheens, on
the gold braid of the forage caps, on the sombre hoods of beshliks....
The songs ranged from gay to grave; the former mood in the ascendency.
But occasionally there was sung a ditty, the associations with which
brought it about that there came something strangely like a tear into
the voice of the singer, and that a yearning wistfulness fell upon the
faces of the listeners. The bronzed troopers in the background shaded
with their hands the fire-flash from their eyes; and as the familiar
homely strain ceased that recalled home and love and trailed at the
heart strings till the breast felt to heave and the tears to rise,
there would be a little pause of eloquent silence which told how
thoughts had gone astraying half across the globe to the loved ones in
dear old England, and were loath to come back again to the rum and the
camp fire in Jellalabad plain. Ah, how many stood or sat around that
camp fire that were never to see old England more? The snow had not
melted on the Sufed Koh when half a squadron of the troopers were
drowned in the treacherous Cabul river. No brighter soul or sweeter
singer round that fire than Monty Slade; but the life went out of
Monty Slade with his face to the foe and his wet sword grasped in a
soldier-grip; and he lies under the palm trees by the wells of El


In Canada the severe and long-continued frosts convert a good deal of
land and water into fields of ice, and skating is a very popular
amusement of Christmastide. Sleighing is also very fashionable, and
the large tracts of country covered with snow afford ample scope for
the pastime. The jingle of the sleigh bells is heard in all the
principal thoroughfares which at the season of the great winter
festival present quite an animated appearance. The ears of the sleigh
drivers are usually covered either by the cap or with a comforter,
which in very cold weather is also wrapped over the mouth and nose.

"Christmas Day," says an English Colonist, "is spent quietly in our
own houses. New Year's Day is the day of general rejoicing, when every
one either visits or receives their friends: and so, thinking of the
merry times we have had in Old England, and comparing them with the
quietness of to-day, we feel more like strangers in a strange land
than ever before.

"As a special treat, we are to have a real English Christmas dinner
to-day, and our housekeeper has made a wonderful plum-pudding. The
turkey is already steaming upon the table, and we soon fall to work
upon him. He is well cooked, but there seems to be something wrong
with his legs, which are so tough and sinewy that we come to the
conclusion that he must have been training for a walking match. The
rest of the dinner passes off very well, with the exception of the
plum-pudding, which has to be brought to the table in a basin, as it
firmly refuses to bind.

"After dinner we retire to the sitting-room, and sit round the stove
talking, while those of us addicted to the fragrant weed have a quiet
smoke. Thus passes Christmas afternoon.

"Tea-time soon comes round, and after we have refreshed ourselves, we
resolve to end the day by paying a visit to a neighbour who possesses
an American organ, and Christmas evening closes in to the music of
those sweet old carols which that evening are heard over the whole
world wherever an English colony is to be found."


Christmas festivities in Australia are carried on in what we should
call "summer weather." There is no lack of good cheer and good living,
but cold and snow are at this season unknown, and skating and
snowballing, as a consequence, are sports unheard of at Christmastide
by the youth in the Antipodes. Large parties and excursions are often
arranged for spending a short time in the parks and fields, and
Christmas picnics partake much of the character of English
"gipsy-parties." The inhabitants being chiefly English, many of the
ceremonies customary in English homes are observed, and the changes
that are made are enforced for the most part by the difference in
climate, and by the altered circumstances under which the various
festivities are arranged.

In "A Summer Christmas," Douglas B. W. Sladen thus describes the
Australian festivities:--

 "The Christmas dinner was at two,
  And all that wealth or pains could do
  Was done to make it a success;
  And marks of female tastefulness,
  And traces of a lady's care,
  Were noticeable everywhere.
  The port was old, the champagne dry,
  And every kind of luxury
  Which Melbourne could supply was there.
  They had the staple Christmas fare,
  Roast beef and turkey (this was wild),
  Mince-pies, plum-pudding, rich and mild,
  One for the ladies, one designed
  For Mr. Forte's severer mind,
  Were on the board, yet in a way
  It did not seem like Christmas day
  With no gigantic beech yule-logs
  Blazing between the brass fire-dogs,
  And with 100° in the shade
  On the thermometer displayed.
  Nor were there Christmas offerings
  Of tasteful inexpensive things,
  Like those which one in England sends
  At Christmas to his kin and friends,
  Though the Professor with him took
  A present of a recent book
  For Lil and Madge and Mrs. Forte,
  And though a card of some new sort
  Had been arranged by Lil to face
  At breakfast everybody's place.
  When dinner ended nearly all
  Stole off to lounges in the hall.

  *     *     *     *     *

  All save the two old folks and Lil,
  Who made their hearts expand and thrill
  By playing snatches, slow and clear,
  Of carols they'd been used to hear
  Some half a century ago
  At High Wick Manor, when the two
  Were bashful maidens: they talked on,
  Of England and what they had done
  On byegone Christmas nights at home,
  Of friends beyond the Northern foam,
  And friends beyond that other sea,
  Yet further--whither ceaselessly
  Travellers follow the old track,
  But whence no messenger comes back."


In 1887, we received a letter from Mr. W. M. Stanton, of Nelson, New
Zealand, giving the following interesting account of the colonists'
observance of Christmas:--

"And now, as to Christmas, I wish I could express all I feel on this
peculiarly English season of 'peace and goodwill.' I remember the
picturesque snow (seen here only on the distant blue mountain tops),
the icy stalactites pendant from the leafless branches, the twitter of
the robin redbreast, the holly, and the mistletoe, decorated homes,
redolent with the effects of the festive cooking, and the warm blazing
firelight, the meeting of families and of friends, the waits, the
grand old peals from the belfries; but, alas, here these childhood
associations are dispelled, half broken, and we acclimatised denizens
adapt our festivities to other modes--not that we forget the Christmas
season, but enjoy it differently, as I will briefly tell you, as you
ask, 'how we spend Christmas in New Zealand.' First, our ladies
decorate the churches for the Christmas services, not with the
evergreens of old exclusively; they do indeed affect the holly, ivy,
and (New Zealand) mistletoe, but they make up with umbrageous and rich
ferns, lachipoden, lauristinas, Portugal laurels, and our own
beautiful evergreen, Ngaio, and with all the midsummer flowers at
command; then the clerk, the storeman, the merchant, and the mechanic
indulge in 'trips,' or day excursions, in small steamboats, to the
neighbouring bays surrounding small townships, and villages on the
coast. Others again, take the train for a day's outing and play
quoits, rounders, lawn tennis, and the like; the sportsman, perhaps,
preferring his gun and his dog; families, again, are picnic-mad, for
your colonist can rival the Cockney any day for making his holiday in
the country. It may be to 'the rocks' he goes to watch his youngsters
paddling in the rolling tide, or to the toil of clambering up the 'dim
mountain,' which seems to suit their hardy lungs better than the shade
of the 'fern glen,' and a journey of eighteen miles to the Maori Pa is
as nothing. The Union Company's fine coasting steamships run
passengers at half fares at this season, and the result is an
interchange of visits between the dwellers in Nelson, Wellington,
Marlboro', and Wanjani, amongst whom there is much rivalry and more
friendship. Then there is the Christmas regatta, the performance of
the 'Messiah' by the musical societies, and the inevitable evening
dances, and thus the New Zealand Christmas is spent.

"I am reminded, by my young clerk, that the mail is about closing, and
that this letter must also close, if it is to go to-day, and thus I
must omit the mention of the new year's festivities, which properly
belong to our numerous Scottish fellow settlers who in their own
country ignore Christmas as a popish superstition; they are, however,
now becoming anglicised ('Englified' they call it) in their habits,
and similarly the Midland county men of England enter into their
Caledonian custom, from the harmless orgies of 'Hagmenae' to the
frantic capers of 'Gillie Cullum,' to the skirl of the panting piper."


In "A Voyage in the _Sunbeam_," Lady Brassey gives an interesting
account of the keeping of Christmas, 1876, on the Sandwich Islands. We
quote the following extracts:--

"Twenty minutes' hard riding brought us to the door of the 'Volcano
House,' from which issued the comforting light of a large wood fire,
reaching half way up the chimney.

"Everything at this inn is most comfortable, though the style is rough
and ready. The interior is just now decorated for Christmas, with
wreaths, and evergreens, and ferns, and branches of white plumes, not
unlike _reva-reva_, made from the path of the silver grass.

"The grandeur of the view in the direction of the volcano increased as
the evening wore on. The fiery cloud above the present crater grew in
size and depth of colour; the extinct crater glowed red in thirty or
forty different places; and clouds of white vapour issued from every
crack and crevice in the ground, adding to the sulphurous smell with
which the atmosphere was laden. Our room faced the volcano: there were
no blinds, and I drew back the curtains and lay watching the splendid
scene until I fell asleep.

"_Sunday, December 24th (Christmas Eve)_--I was up at four o'clock to
gaze once more on the wondrous spectacle that lay before me. The
molten lava still glowed in many places, the red cloud over the fiery
lake was bright as ever, and steam was slowly ascending in every
direction over hill and valley, till, as the sun rose, it became
difficult to distinguish clearly the sulphurous vapours from the
morning mists. We walked down to the Sulphur Banks, about a quarter of
a mile from the 'Volcano House,' and burnt our gloves and boots in our
endeavours to procure crystals, the beauty of which generally
disappeared after a very short exposure to the air. We succeeded,
however, in finding a few good specimens, and, by wrapping them at
once in paper and cotton-wool and putting them into a bottle, hope to
bring them home uninjured.

"_Monday, December 25th (Christmas Day)_--Turning in last night was
the work of a very few minutes, and this morning I awoke perfectly
refreshed and ready to appreciate anew the wonders of the prospect
that met my eyes. The pillar of fire was still distinctly visible,
when I looked out from my window, though it was not so bright as when
I had last seen it, but even as I looked it began to fade and
gradually disappeared. At the same moment a river of glowing lava
issued from the side of the bank we had climbed with so much
difficulty yesterday, and slowly but surely overflowed the ground we
had walked over. You may imagine the feelings with which we gazed upon
this startling phenomenon, which had it occurred a few hours earlier,
might have caused the destruction of the whole party.

*     *     *     *     *

"It would, I think, be difficult to imagine a more interesting and
exciting mode of spending Christmas Eve than yesterday has taught us,
or a stranger situation in which to exchange our Christmas greetings
than beneath the grass roof of an inn on the edge of a volcano in the
remote Sandwich Islands.

*     *     *     *     *

"The ride down to Hilo was as dull and monotonous as our upward
journey had been. At last we reached the pier, where we found the
usual little crowd waiting to see us off. The girls who had followed
us when we first landed came forward shyly when they thought they were
unobserved, and again encircled me with _leis_ of gay and fragrant
flowers. The custom of decorating themselves with wreaths on every
possible occasion is in my eyes a charming one, and I like the
inhabitants of Polynesia for their love of flowers.

"The whole town was _en fête_ to-day. Natives were riding about in
pairs, in the cleanest of bright cotton dresses and the freshest of
_leis_ and garlands. Our own men from the yacht contributed not a
little to the gaiety of the scene. They were all on shore, and the
greater part of them were galloping about on horseback, tumbling off,
scrambling on again, laughing, flirting, joking, and enjoying
themselves generally after a fashion peculiar to English sailors. As
far as we know the only evil result of all this merriment was that the
doctor received a good many applications for diachylon plaster in the
course of the evening, to repair various 'abrasions of the cuticle,'
as he expressed it.

"I think at least half the population of Hilo had been on board the
yacht in the course of the day, as a Christmas treat. At last we took
a boat and went off too, accompanied by Mr. Lyman. The appearance of
the 'Sunbeam' from the shore was very gay, and as we approached it
became more festive still. All her masts were tipped with sugar-canes
in bloom. Her stern was adorned with flowers, and in the arms of the
figurehead was a large bouquet. She was surrounded with boats, the
occupants of which cheered us heartily as we rode alongside. The whole
deck was festooned with tropical plants and flowers, and the
decorations of the cabins were even more beautiful and elaborate. I
believe all hands had been hard at work ever since we left to produce
this wonderful effect, and every garden in Hilo had furnished a
contribution to please and surprise us on our return.

"The choir from Hilo came out in boats in the evening, sang all sorts
of songs, sacred and secular, and cheered everybody till they were
hoarse. After this, having had a cold dinner, in order to save
trouble, and having duly drunk the health of our friends at home, we
all adjourned to the saloon, to assist in the distribution of some
Christmas presents--a ceremony which afforded great delight to the
children, and which was equally pleasing to the elder people and to
the crew, if one may judge from their behaviour on the occasion.

"Then we sat on deck, gazing at the cloud of fire over Kilauea, and
wondering if the appearance of the crater could ever be grander than
it was last night, when we were standing on its brim.

"So ended Christmas Day, 1876, at Hilo, in Hawaii. God grant that
there may be many more as pleasant for us in the future!"


                "The wind is chill,
  But let it whistle as it will
  We'll keep our Christmas merry still."

In "Sunshine and Storm in the East, or Cruises to Cyprus and
Constantinople," Lady Brassey gives an interesting account of the
celebration of Christmas on board the _Sunbeam_, between Malta and
Marseilles, December 25, 1879:--"We had service early and then spent a
long busy morning in arranging all the presents for the children,
servants, and crew, and in decorating the cabin. We could not manage
any holly, but we had carefully preserved one bough of mistletoe from
Artaki Bay, and had brought on board at Malta baskets full of flowers,
so that all the pictures, lamps, and even walls, were wreathed with
festoons of bougainvillæa, ivy, and other creeping plants; while in
every available corner were placed, vases, bowls, and soup-plates,
containing flowers. If not exactly 'gay with holly-berries,' so dear
to English hearts from their association with yule-tide at home, the
general appearance of the cabins was highly satisfactory. In the
meantime they had been busy in the kitchen and pantry departments,
preparing all sorts of good things for dinner, and pretty things for
dessert, in order that the crew and servants might enjoy a more
sumptuous repast than usual. A Christmas tree, a snow man, or an ice
cave, for the distribution of presents, was not within the limit of
our resources; but we decorated our tables and sideboards with bright
shawls and scarves, and wreathed and divided the surface of each with
garlands of flowers, placing in every division a pretty Christmas
card, bearing the name of the recipient of the present, which was
hidden away among the flowers beneath.... For the men there was plenty
of tobacco, besides books and useful things; for the children toys;
and for ourselves, slippers and little remembrances of various kinds,
some sent from home to meet us, others recent purchases. The
distribution over, one or two speeches were made, and mutual
congratulations and good wishes were exchanged. Then the crew and
servants retired to enjoy the, to them, all-important event of the
day--dinner and dessert. After our own late dinner, we thought of
those near and dear to us at home, and drank to the health of 'absent


In a letter from Tsing Cheu Fu Chefoo, December 24, 1887, the Rev. A.
G. Jones, Baptist missionary, says:--

"Mr. Dawson asks how Englishmen spend Christmas in China. Well, it
depends. Some spend it at the ports dog-racing and eating
pudding--having a night of it. The missionaries generally take no
notice of it. In our mission we hold one of the semi-annual
dedication-of-children services on Christmas. We think it a very
appropriate day for the recognition of the sacredness of the gift of
trust of children. The idea is a Chinese one, originating with one of
our Christians, and we adopted it as the day for the custom.
Tomorrow will be Christmas Day, and I have come out twenty miles
this evening to hold a service of that kind with the semi-annual
communion as it happens. It will be a cold, cheerless room in a
clay-built cabin down in the corner of a bare valley in a trap and
basalt district with sparse vegetation and a bare aspect. A cold spot
with a handful of Christians, bearing their testimony alone out on the
margin of our field of work. I hope to see 40 or 50 patients up to
sundown, and then have worship with them at night. That will be my
Christmas. This evening--in the city--all the children and our wives
are having a Christmas tree in the theological lecture-room, and on
Tuesday next I guess we'll have our dinner. John Bull, Paddy, Sandy,
and Taffy all seem to agree in _that_ feature. My Sunday will only be
a sample of others. So it goes--working away. Now I must say goodbye.
Many thanks and many good wishes."


Letters were received in December, 1887, from H.M.S. _Egeria_,
Commander Pelham Aldrich, containing particulars of a visit she had
recently made to Christmas Island, which she was ordered to explore
for scientific purposes. Christmas Island is situated in the Indian
Ocean, in latitude 11° south, longitude 105° 30' east; it is 1,100
feet above the sea, is twelve miles long and eight miles broad. The
officers and men told off for exploring purposes found that the whole
place was composed of coral and rock; notwithstanding this, however,
it is covered almost completely with trees and shrubs, the trees,
which are of large dimensions, seeming to grow literally out of the
rock itself, earth surfaces being conspicuous by their absence. It is
uninhabited by human beings, nor could any traces of animals be
discovered, but seabirds swarm over every part of the island, and
about four hundred wood pigeons were shot by the explorers while they
remained there. No fruits or vegetable matter fit for consumption
could, however, be found, nor the existence of any supply of fresh
water, and the belief is that the vegetation of the island is
dependent for nourishment on the dews and the heavy rains that fall.


Writing just before the Christmas festival of 1855, Mr. Howard Paul
says the general manner of celebrating Christmas Day is much the same
wherever professors of the Christian faith are found; and the United
States, as the great Transatlantic offshoot of Saxon principles, would
be the first to conserve the traditional ceremonies handed down from
time immemorial by our canonical progenitors of the East. But every
nation has its idiocratic notions, minute and otherwise, and it is not
strange that the Americans, as a creative people, have peculiar and
varied ways of their own in keeping this, the most remarkable day in
the calendar. Now and then they add a supplemental form to the
accepted code--characteristic of the mutable and progressive spirit of
the people--though there still exists the Church service, the
conventional carol, the evergreen decorations, the plum-puddings, the
pantomime, and a score of other "demonstrations" that never can
legitimately be forgotten.

Society generally seems to apportion the day thus: Church in the
morning, dinner in the afternoon, and amusements in the evening. The
Christmas dinners concentrate the scattered members of families, who
meet together to break bread in social harmony, and exchange those
home sentiments that cement the happiness of kindred. To-day the
prodigal once more returns to the paternal roof; the spendthrift
forsakes his boon companions; the convivialist deserts the wine-cup.
The beautiful genius of domestic love has triumphed, and who can
foresee the blessed results?

Parties, balls, and fêtes, with their endless routine of gaieties, are
looked forward to, as pleasures are, the wide world over; and all
classes, from highest to lowest, have their modes of enjoyment marked
out. Preparation follows preparation in festal succession. Sorrow
hides her Gorgon head, care may betake itself to any dreary recesses,
for Christmas must be a gala!

There is generally snow on the ground at this time; if Nature is
amiable, there is sure to be; and a Christmas sleigh-ride is one of
those American delights that defy rivalry. There is no withstanding
the merry chime of the bells and a fleet passage over the snow-skirted
roads. Town and country look as if they had arisen in the morning in
robes of unsullied white. Every housetop is spangled with the bright
element; soft flakes are coquetting in the atmosphere, and a pure
mantle has been spread on all sides, that fairly invites one to
disport upon its gleaming surface.

We abide quietly within our pleasant home on either the eve or night
of Christmas. How the sleighs glide by in rapid glee, the music of the
bells and the songs of the excursionists falling on our ears in very
wildness. We strive in vain to content ourselves. We glance at the
cheerful fire, and hearken to the genial voices around us. We
philosophise, and struggle against the tokens of merriment without;
but the restraint is torture. We, too, must join the revellers, and
have a sleigh-ride. Girls, get on your fur; wrap yourselves up warmly
in the old bear-skin; hunt up the old guitar; the sleigh is at the
door, the moon is beaming. The bells tinkle and away we go!

An old English legend was transplanted many years ago on the shores of
America, that took root and flourished with wonderful luxuriance,
considering it was not indigenous to the country. Probably it was
taken over to New York by one of the primitive Knickerbockers, or it
might have clung to some of the drowsy burgomasters who had forsaken
the pictorial tiles of dear old Amsterdam about the time of Peter de
Laar, or Il Bombaccia, as the Italians call him, got into disgrace in
Rome. However this may be, certain it is that Santa Claus, or St.
Nicholas, the kind Patron-saint of the Juveniles, makes his annual
appearance on Christmas Eve, for the purpose of dispensing gifts to
all good children. This festive elf is supposed to be a queer little
creature that descends the chimney, viewlessly, in the deep hours of
night, laden with gifts and presents, which he bestows with no sparing
hand, reserving to himself a supernatural discrimination that he seems
to exercise with every satisfaction. Before going to bed the children
hang their newest stockings near the chimney, or pin them to the
curtains of the bed. Midnight finds a world of hosiery waiting for
favours; and the only wonder is that a single Santa Claus can get
around among them all. The story goes that he never misses one,
provided it belongs to a deserving youngster, and morning is sure to
bring no reproach that the Christmas Wizard has not nobly performed
his wondrous duties. We need scarcely enlighten the reader as to who
the real Santa Claus is. Every indulgent parent contributes to the
pleasing deception, though the juveniles are strong in their faith of
their generous holiday patron. The following favourite lines
graphically describe a visit of St. Nicholas, and, being in great
vogue with the young people of America, are fondly reproduced from
year to year:--

"'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
  Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
  The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
  In the hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
  The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
  While visions of sugar plums danced through their heads;
  And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
  Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,
  When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
  I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
  The way to the window, I flew like a flash,
  Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash;
  The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
  Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
  When what to my wondering eyes should appear
  But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer;
  With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
  I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
  More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
  And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name--
  Now Dasher! now Dancer! Now Prancer! now Vixen!
  On Comet! on Cupid! on Donder and Blixen!
  To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!
  Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!'
  As the leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
  When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
  So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
  With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
  And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof,
  The prancing and pawing of each little hoof;
  As I drew in my head and was turning around,
  Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
  He was dressed all in furs from his head to his foot
  And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
  A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
  And he looked like a pedlar just opening his pack.
  His eyes, how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
  His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
  His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
  And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
  The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
  And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
  He had a broad face and a little round belly
  That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
  He was chubby and plump--a right jolly old elf;
  And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
  A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
  Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
  He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
  And filled all the stockings--then turned with a jerk,
  And laying his finger aside of his nose,
  And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
  He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
  And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
  But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
  'Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!'"

A curious feature of an American Christmas is the egg-nogg and free
lunch, distributed at all the hotels and cafés. A week at least
before the 25th fanciful signs are suspended over the fountains of the
bars (the hotel-keepers are quite classic in their ideas) announcing
superb lunch and egg-noggs on Christmas Day. This invitation is sure
to meet with a large response from the amateur epicures about town,
who, ever on the _qui vive_ for a banquet gratis, flock to the festive
standard, since it has never been found a difficult matter to give
things away, from the time old Heliogabalus gastronomed in Phoenicia
up to the present hour. A splendid hall in one of the principal
hotels, at this moment, occurs to us. A table, the length of the
apartment, is spread and furnished with twenty made dishes peculiar to
the Christmas _cuisine_. There are _chorodens_ and _fricassees_,
_ragoûts_ and _calipee_, of rapturous delicacy. Each dish is labelled,
and attended by a black servant, who serves its contents on very small
white gilt-edged plates. At the head of the table a vast bowl,
ornamented with indescribable Chinese figures, contains the
egg-nogg--a palatable compound of milk, eggs, brandy, and spices,
nankeenish in colour, with froth enough on its surface to generate any
number of Venuses, if the old Peloponnesian anecdote is worth
remembering at all. Over the egg-nogg mine host usually officiates,
all smiles and benignity, pouring the rich draught with miraculous
dexterity into cut-glass goblets, and passing it to the surrounding
guests with profuse hand. On this occasion the long range of fancy
drinks are forgotten. Sherry-cobblers, mint-juleps, gin-slings, and
punches, are set aside in order that the sway of the Christmas draught
may be supreme. Free lunches are extremely common in the United
States, what are called "eleven o'clock snacks" especially; but the
accompaniment of egg-nogg belongs unequivocally to the death of the

The presentation of "boxes" and souvenirs is the same in America as in
England, the token of remembrance having an inseparable alliance with
the same period. Everybody expects to give and receive. A month before
the event the fancy stores are crowded all day long with old and young
in search of suitable _souvenirs_, and every object is purchased, from
costliest gems to the tawdriest _babiole_ that may get into the
market. If the weather should be fine, the principal streets are
thronged with ladies shopping in sleighs; and hither and thither sleds
shoot by, laden with parcels of painted toys, instruments of mock
music and septuagenarian dread, from a penny trumpet to a sheepskin

Christmas seems to be a popular period among the young folk for being
mated, and a surprising number approach the altar this morning.
Whether it is that orange-flowers and bridal gifts are admirably
adapted to the time, or that a longer lease of happiness is ensured
from the joyous character of the occasion, we are not sufficiently
learned in hymeneal lore to announce. The Christmas week, however, is
a merry one for the honeymoon, as little is thought of but mirth and
gaiety until the dawning New Year soberly suggests that we should put
aside our masquerade manners.

In drawing-room amusements society has a wealth of pleasing indoor
pastimes. We remember the sententious Question _réunions_, the
hilarious Surprise parties, Fairy-bowl, and Hunt-the-slipper. We can
never forget the vagabond Calathumpians, who employ in their bands
everything inharmonious, from a fire-shovel to a stewpan, causing more
din than the demons down under the sea ever dreamed of.

What, then, between the sleigh-rides, the bell-melodies, old Santa
Claus and his fictions, the egg-nogg and lunches, the weddings and the
willingness to be entertained, the Americans find no difficulty in
enjoying Christmas Day. Old forms and new notions come in for a share
of observances; and the young country, in a glow of good humour, with
one voice exclaims, "Le bon temps vienara!"


Writing from New York on December 22, 1891, a correspondent says:
"President Harrison was seen by your correspondent at the White House
yesterday, and was asked what he thought about Christmas and its
religious and social influences. The President expressed himself
willing to offer his opinions, and said: 'Christmas is the most sacred
religious festival of the year, and should be an occasion of general
rejoicing throughout the land, from the humblest citizen to the
highest official, who, for the time being, should forget or put behind
him his cares and annoyances, and participate in the spirit of
seasonable festivity. We intend to make it a happy day at the White
House--all the members of my family, representing four generations,
will gather around the big table in the State dining-room to have an
old-fashioned Christmas dinner. Besides Mrs. Harrison, there will be
her father, Dr. Scott, Mr. and Mrs. M'Kee and their children, Mrs.
Dimmick and Lieutenant and Mrs. Parker. I am an ardent believer in the
duty we owe to ourselves as Christians to make merry for children at
Christmas time, and we shall have an old-fashioned Christmas tree for
the grandchildren upstairs; and I shall be their Santa Claus myself.
If my influence goes for aught in this busy world let me hope that my
example may be followed in every family in the land.'

"Christmas is made as much of in this country as it is in England, if
not more. The plum-pudding is not universal, but the Christmas tree is
in almost every home. Even in the tenement districts of the East side,
inhabited by the labouring and poorer classes, these vernal emblems of
the anniversary are quite as much in demand as in other quarters, and
if they and the gifts hung upon them are less elaborate than their
West side congeners, the household enthusiasm which welcomes them is
quite as marked. As in London, the streets are flooded with Christmas
numbers of the periodicals, which, it may be remarked, are this year
more elaborate in design and execution than ever. The use of Christmas
cards has also obtained surprising proportions. A marked feature of
this year's Christmas is the variety and elegance of offerings after
the Paris fashion, which are of a purely ornamental and but slight
utilitarian character. There are bonbonnières in a variety of forms,
some of them very magnificent and expensive; while the Christmas cards
range in prices from a cent to ten dollars each. These bonbonnières,
decked with expensive ribbon or hand-painted with designs of the
season, attain prices as high as forty dollars each, and are in great
favour among the wealthy classes. Flowers are also much used, and,
just now, are exceedingly costly.

"While the usual religious ceremonies of the day are generally
observed here, the mass of the community are inclined to treat the
occasion as a festive rather than a solemn occasion, and upon
festivity the whole population at the present time seems bent."


A journalist who has been amongst the negroes in the Southern States
of America thus describes their Christmas festivities:--

"Christmas in the South of the United States is a time-honoured
holiday season, as ancient as the settlement of the Cavalier colonies
themselves. We may imagine it to have been imported from 'merrie
England' by the large-hearted Papist, Lord Baltimore, into Maryland,
and by that chivalric group of Virginian colonists, of whom the
central historical figure is the famous Captain John Smith, of
Pocahontas memory. Perhaps Christmas was even the more heartily
celebrated among these true Papist and Church of England settlers from
the disgust which they felt at the stern contempt in which the Natal
Day was held by 'stiff-necked Puritans' of New England. At least,
while in New England the pilgrims were wont to work with exceptional
might on Christmas Day, to show their detestation of it, traditions
are still extant of the jovial Southern merrymaking of the festival.
Christmas, with many of the Old England customs imported to the new
soil, derived new spirit and enjoyment from customs which had their
origin in the Colonies themselves. Above all was it the gala
season--the period to be looked forward to and revelled in--of the
negroes. Slavery, with all its horrors and wickedness, had at least
some genial features; and the latitude which the masters gave to the
slaves at Christmas time, the freedom with which the blacks were wont
to concentrate a year's enjoyment into the Christmas week, was one of
these. In Washington, where until the war slavery existed in a mild
and more civilised form, the negro celebrations of Christmas were the
peculiar and amusing feature of the season. And many of these customs,
which grew up amid slavery, have survived that institution. The
Washington negroes, free, have pretty much the same zest for their
time-honoured amusements which they had when under the dominion of the
oligarchy. Christmas is still their great gala and occasion for
merry-making, and the sable creatures thoroughly understand the art of
having a good time, being superior, at least in this respect, to many
a _blasé_ Prince and Court noble distracted with _ennui_. Those who
have seen the 'Minstrels' may derive some idea, though but a slight
one, of the negro pastimes and peculiarities. They are, above all, a
social, enthusiastic, whole-souled race; they have their own ideas of
rank and social caste, and they have a humour which is homely, but
thoroughly genial, and quite the monopoly of their race. They insist
on the whole of Christmas week for a holiday. 'Missus' must manage how
she can. To insist on chaining them down in the kitchen during that
halcyon time would stir up blank rebellion. Dancing and music are
their favourite Christmas recreations; they manage both with a will.
In the city suburbs there are many modest little frame-houses
inhabited by the blacks; now and then a homely inn kept by a dusky
landlord. Here in Christmas time you will witness many jolly and
infectiously pleasant scenes. There is a 'sound of revelry by night.'
You are free to enter, and observe near by the countless gyrations of
the negro cotillon, the intricate and deftly executed jig, the rude
melody of banjos and 'cornstalk fiddles.' They are always proud to
have 'de white folks' for spectators and applauders, and will give
you the best seat, and will outdo themselves in their anxiety to show
off at their best before you. You will be astonished to observe the
scrupulous neatness of the men, the gaudy and ostentatious habiliments
of 'de ladies.' The negroes have an intense ambition to imitate the
upper classes of white society. They will study the apparel of a
well-dressed gentleman, and squander their money on 'swallow-tail'
coats, high dickeys, white neckties, and the most elaborate arts of
their dusky barbers. The women are even more imitative of their
mistresses. Ribbons, laces, and silks adorn them, on festive
occasions, of the most painfully vivid colours, and fashioned in all
the extravagance of negro taste. Not less anxious are they to imitate
the manners of aristocracy. The excessive chivalry and overwhelming
politeness of the men towards the women is amazing. They make gallant
speeches in which they insert as many of the longest and most learned
words as they can master, picked up at random, and not always
peculiarly adapted to the use made of them. Their excitement in the
dance, and at the sound of music, grows as intense as does their furor
in a Methodist revival meeting. They have, too, dances and music
peculiar to themselves--jigs and country dances which seem to have no
method, yet which are perfectly adapted to and rhythmic with the
inspiring abrupt thud of the banjo and the bones. As they dance, they
shout and sing, slap their hands and knees, and lose themselves in the
enthusiasm of the moment. The negroes look forward to Christmas not
less as the season for present-giving than that of frolicking and
jollity. Early in the morning they hasten upstairs, and catch 'massa'
and 'missus' and 'de chillun' with a respectful but eager 'Merry
Christmas,' and are sure to get in return a new coat or pair of boots,
a gingham dress, or ear-rings more showy than expensive. They have
saved up, too, a pittance from their wages, to expend in a souvenir
for 'Dinah' or 'Pompey,' the never-to-be-forgotten belle or


The following account of Christmas in France, in 1823, is given by an
English writer of the period:--

"The habits and customs of 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
day by the appearance of the capital. It is indeed set down as a _jour
de fête_ in the calendar, but all the ordinary business 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 much attention to the outward rites of

"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 a 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 in 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 restaurateurs, wishing to
appear extraordinary, have _plomb-pooding_ upon their cartes, but in
no instance is it ever ordered by a Frenchman. Everybody has heard the
story of St. Louis--Henri Qautre, or whoever else it might be--who,
wishing to regale the English ambassador on Christmas Day with a
plum-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 particulars. The weight of the ingredients,
the size of the copper, the quantity of water, the duration of time,
everything 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."

In his "Year Book, 1832," Hone says that at Rouen, after the _Te
Deum_, in the nocturnal office or vigil of Christmas, the
ecclesiastics celebrated the "office of the shepherds" in the
following manner:--

"The image of the Virgin Mary was placed in a stable prepared behind
the altar. A boy from above, before the choir, in the likeness of an
angel, announced the nativity to certain canons or vicars, who entered
as shepherds through the great door of the choir, clothed in tunicks
and amesses. Many boys in the vaults of the church, like angels, then
began the '_gloria in excelsis_.' The shepherds, hearing this,
advanced to the stable, singing '_peace, goodwill_,' &c. As soon as
they entered it, two priests in dalmaticks, as if women (quasi
obstetrices) who were stationed at the stable, said, 'Whom seek ye?'
The shepherds answered, according to the angelic annunciation, 'Our
Saviour Christ.' The women then opening the curtain exhibited the boy,
saying, 'The little one is here as the Prophet Isaiah said.' They then
showed the mother, saying, 'Behold the Virgin,' &c. Upon these
exhibitions they bowed and worshipped the boy, and saluted his mother.
The office ended by their returning to the choir, and singing,
Alleluia, &c."[95]


"Christmas, Paris,
"_Sunday, Dec. 25, 1870, 98th day of the Siege._

"Never has a sadder Christmas dawned on any city. Cold, hunger, agony,
grief, and despair sit enthroned at every habitation in Paris. It is
the coldest day of the season and the fuel is very short; and the
government has had to take hold of the fuel question, and the
magnificent shade-trees that have for ages adorned the avenues of this
city are all likely to go in the vain struggle to save France. So says
the Official Journal of this morning. The sufferings of the past week
exceed by far anything we have seen. There is scarcely any meat but
horse-meat, and the government is now rationing. It carries out its
work with impartiality. The omnibus-horse, the cab-horse, the
work-horse, and the fancy-horse, all go alike in the mournful
procession to the butchery shops--the magnificent blooded steed of the
Rothschilds by the side of the old plug of the cabman. Fresh beef,
mutton, pork are now out of the question. A little poultry yet remains
at fabulous prices. In walking through the Rue St. Lazare I saw a
middling-sized goose and chicken for sale in a shop-window, and I had
the curiosity to step in and inquire the price (rash man that I was).
The price of the goose was $25, and the chicken $7."[96]


The Paris correspondent of the _Daily Telegraph_ writes:--"Although
New Year's Day is the great French festival, the fashion of
celebrating Christmas something after the English custom is gaining
ground in Paris every year. Thus a good deal of mistletoe now makes
its appearance on the boulevards and in the shop windows, and it is
evident that the famous Druidical plant, which is shipped in such
large quantities every year to England from Normandy and Brittany, is
fast becoming popular among Parisians. Another custom, that of
decorating Christmas trees in the English and German style, has
become quite an annual solemnity here since the influx of Alsatians
and Lorrainers, while it is considered _chic_, in many quarters, to
eat approximate plum-pudding on the 25th of December. Unfortunately,
the Parisian 'blom budding,' unless prepared by British hands, is
generally a concoction of culinary atrocities, tasting, let us say,
like saveloy soup and ginger-bread porridge. In a few instances the
'Angleesh blom budding' has been served at French tables in a soup
tureen; and guests have been known to direct fearful and furtive
glances towards it, just as an Englishman might regard with mingled
feelings of surprise and suspicion a fricassee of frogs. But
independently of foreign innovations, Parisians have their own way of
celebrating Noël. To-night (Christmas Eve) for instance, there will be
midnight masses in the principal churches, when appropriate canticles
and Adam's popular 'Noël' will be sung. In many private houses the
_boudin_ will also be eaten after the midnight mass, the rich
baptising it in champagne, and the _petit bourgeois_, who has not a
wine cellar, in a cheap concoction of bottled stuff with a Bordeaux
label but a strong Paris flavour. The feast of Noël is, however, more
archaically, and at the same time more earnestly, celebrated in
provincial France. In the south the head of the family kindles the
yule-log, or _bûche-de-Noël_, which is supposed to continue burning
until the arrival of spring. Paterfamilias also lights the _calen_, or
Christmas lamp, which represents the Star of Bethlehem, and then all
repair to the midnight mass in those picturesque groups which painters
have delighted to commit to canvas. The inevitable _baraques_, or
booths, which are allowed to remain on the great boulevards from
Christmas Eve until the Feast of the Kings, on January 6, have made
their appearance. They extend from the Place de la Madeleine to the
Place de la République, and are also visible on some of the other
boulevards of the metropolis. Their glittering contents are the same
as usual, and, despite their want of novelty, crowds of people lounged
along the boulevards this afternoon and inspected them with as much
curiosity as if they formed part of a Russian fair which had been
temporarily transported from Nijni Novgorod to Paris. What was more
attractive, however, was the show of holly, mistletoe, fir-trees,
camellias, tea-roses, and tulips in the famous flower-market outside
the Madeleine. A large tent has been erected, which protects the
sellers of winter flowers from the rain, and this gives the market a
gayer and more brilliant appearance than usual. What strikes one more
than anything else, however, is the number of French people whom one
sees purchasing holly bushes and mistletoe, which they carry home in
huge bundles, after the good old English fashion. Notwithstanding the
dampness and gloom of the weather, which hovers between frost and
rain, the general aspect of Paris to-day is one of cheerful and
picturesque animation, and the laughing crowds with whom one jostles
in the streets are thoroughly imbued with the festive character of the


In describing the old-custom-loving people of Lower Normandy, a writer
on "Calvados," in 1884-5, thus refers to the season of Christmas and
Twelfth-tide: "Now Christmas arrives, and young and old go up to greet
the little child Jesus, lying on his bed of straw at the Virgin
Mother's feet and smiling to all the world. Overhead the old cracked
bell clangs exultant, answering to other bells faint and far on the
midnight air; a hundred candles are burning and every church window
shines through the darkness like the gates of that holy New Jerusalem
'whose light was as a stone most precious--a jasper-stone clear as
crystal.' With Twelfth-tide this fair vision suffers a metamorphosis,
blazoning out into the paganish saturnalia of bonfires, which in
Calvados is transferred from St. John's Eve _le jour des Rois_. Red
flames leap skyward, fed by dry pine fagots, and our erstwhile devout
peasants, throwing moderation to the winds, join hands, dance, and
leap for good luck through blinding smoke and embers, shouting their
rude doggerel:

"'Adieu les Rois
  Jusqu'a douze mois,
  Douze mois passes
  Les _bougelées_.'"



Heinrich Heine delighted in the infantile childishness of a Provençal
Christmas. He never saw anything prettier in his life, he said, than a
Noël procession on the coast of the Mediterranean. A beautiful young
woman and an equally lovely child sat on a donkey, which an old
fisherman in a flowing brown gown was supposed to be leading into
Egypt. Young girls robed in white muslin were supposed to be angels,
and hovered near the child and its mother to supply to him sweetmeats
and other refreshments. At a respectful distance there was a
procession of nuns and village children, and then a band of vocalists
and instrumentalists. Flowers and streaming banners were unsparingly
used. Bright sunshine played upon them, and the deep blue sea formed a
background. The seafaring people who looked on, not knowing whether to
venerate or laugh, did both. Falling upon their knees they went
through a short devotional exercise, and then rose to join the
procession and give themselves up to unrestricted mirth. In the
chateaux of the South of France _crèches_ are still exhibited, and
_crèche_ suppers given to the poorer neighbours, and to some of the
rich, who are placed at a table "above the salt." There are also
"Bethlehem Stable" puppet-shows, at which the Holy Family, their
visitors, and four-footed associates are brought forward as _dramatis
personæ_. St. Joseph, the wise men, and the shepherds are made to
speak in _patois_. But the Virgin says what she has to say in
classical French. In the refinement of her diction, her elevation
above those with her is expressed. At Marseilles an annual fair of
statuettes is held, the profits of which are spent in setting up
Bethlehem _crèches_ in the churches and other places. Each statuette
represents a contemporaneous celebrity, and is contained in the hollow
part of the wax bust of some saint. Gambetta, Thiers, Cavour, Queen
Victoria, Grévy, the Pope, Paul Bert, Rouvier (who is a Marseillais),
the late Czar and other celebrities have appeared among the
_figurines_ hidden within the saintly busts.


"A Winter in Corsica," by "Two Ladies," published in 1868, contains an
interesting account of the celebration of Christmas in that
picturesque island of the Mediterranean which is known as the
birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte--"One day shortly before Christmas
our hostess, or landlady, was very busy with an old body in the
kitchen, who had come to make sundry cakes in preparation for that
festive season. We were all called down to see what was going on, and
our attention was particularly directed to the great oven which was
heated on purpose to bake them. One kind of cake was made of chesnut
flour, another of eggs and _broche_ (a kind of curds made from goats'
milk), but the principal sort was composed chiefly of almonds,
extremely good and not unlike macaroons, but thicker and more
substantial. For several days previously, everybody in the house had
been busy blanching and pounding almonds; not only the two servants,
but Rose and Clara, the young work-women who were so often staying in
the house, and who, indeed, at one time seemed to form part of the
establishment. The old cook herself, a stout and dumpy person, was
worth looking at, as she stood surrounded by these young women, who
did very little but watch her operations; and the whole formed quite
an animated picture of a foreign _ménage_, which one rarely has the
opportunity of seeing.

*     *     *     *     *

"Towards Christmas, considerable preparations began to be made in the
shops for the coming season, but chiefly, perhaps, for New Year's Day,
which is kept throughout France as a grand _fête_ day. Sweetmeats in
great variety filled the windows, and especially what were called
_pralines_--an almond comfit covered with rough sugar, and of a
peculiar flavour. They are very good, and cost three francs per pound.

*     *     *     *     *

"It seemed strange writing to friends at home wishing them 'a happy
Christmas,' when we seemed scarcely to have done with summer.

"There was certainly a good deal of novelty in our mode of passing
Christmas-time in Ajaccio.

"We had expressed the wish to be present at midnight mass, in the
cathedral, on Christmas Eve, and our kind hostess readily promised to
take us, and also said we should have a _petit souper_ with her on our
return. She told us afterwards that she had spoken to the organist,
and obtained permission for us to go into the organ-loft, where we
should have a good view over the church, and not be inconvenienced by
the crowd. Accordingly, a little before eleven o'clock, we all went
downstairs, and, accompanied by madame, as well as by a gentleman and
his daughter, friends of hers, proceeded to the cathedral.

"As there is no gas in Ajaccio, the church of course is lighted only
with candles, and very dim and gloomy it looked, especially at first,
and during a dull monotonous kind of chanting, which we were told were
the offices to the Virgin.

"By and by, as midnight drew near, and the mass was about to commence,
a great number of candles were lighted on the high altar and in the
side chapels, and the scene became more brilliant and animated. We
looked down upon a perfect sea of heads, the women all wearing the
national handkerchiefs, many of these of bright colours, and making
them conspicuous among the men, of whom there were also a very large

"At length the organ struck up, the higher priests entered, wearing
their richest robes, followed by numerous attendants. Each bowed and
knelt as he passed the altar, and took his allotted place, and then
the service began. At one point, supposed to be the moment of our
Saviour's birth, there was quite an uproar. The people clapped their
hands, and stamped, and shouted, trumpets sounded, and the organ
pealed forth its loudest tones.

"Then there was a very sweet hymn-tune played, and some beautiful
voices sang Adeste Fideles, which was by far the most pleasing part of
the service to our minds. Next came the reading of the Gospel, with
much formality of kissing and bowing, and incensing; the book was
moved from side to side and from place to place; then one priest on
his knees held it up above his head, while another, sitting, read a
short passage, and a third came forward to the front of the enclosed
space near the altar, flinging the censer round and about. Then the
little bell tinkled, and all that mass of heads bowed down lower, the
Host was raised, the communion taken by the priests, and at one
o'clock all was over.

"We gladly regained the fresh air, which, though rather cold, was much
needed after the close atmosphere of the crowded cathedral. The moon
was very bright, and we hastened home with appetites sharpened by our
walk, for what proved to be a handsome dinner, rather than a _petit

*     *     *     *     *

"For ourselves, we did not forget the old home custom of Christmas
decorations, and took some pains to dress our _salon_ with evergreens,
which we brought down from the hills the previous day. Although we had
neither holly nor mistletoe, we found good substitutes for them in the
elegant-leaved lentiscus, the tree heath and sweetly perfumed myrtle;
while round the mirror and a picture of the Virgin on the opposite
wall we twined garlands of the graceful sarsaparilla. The whole looked
extremely pretty, and gave quite a festive appearance to the room.

"On Christmas Day we joined some English friends for a walk, about
eleven o'clock. It was a charming morning, bright and hot, as we
strolled along the shore to the orange-garden of Barbacaja, where we
gathered oranges fresh from the trees.

"On returning home to dinner no plum-pudding or mince-pies awaited us
certainly, but we had tolerably good beef, for a wonder, and lamb,
_merles_, and new potatoes.

*     *     *     *     *

"Christmas Day in Corsica is observed by the people as a religious
festival, but not as a social one; and there are no family gatherings
as in England and Germany. This arises, no doubt, from that
non-existence of true domestic life which must strike all English
taking up a temporary residence in France.

"There was a succession of _fête_ days throughout Christmas week, when
the shops were shut and the people dressed in holiday attire. But the
great day to which every one seems to look forward is the first of the
year, _le Jour de l'An_. Presents are then made by everybody to
everybody, and visits of congratulation, or merely of ceremony,
received and expected. The gifts are sometimes costly and handsome,
but generally they are trifling, merely valuable as works of
remembrance, consisting chiefly of bonbons, boxes of crystallised
fruits, and other confectionery."


[Illustration: From an ivory, Byzantine. British Museum ]

The preceding illustration of Eastern art belongs to the same period
as many of the Christmas customs which have survived in Chios, and it
carries our thoughts back to the time when Byzantium was the capital
of the Greek Empire in the east. From an interesting account by an
English writer in the _Cornhill Magazine_, for December, 1886, who
spent a Christmas amongst the Greeks of this once prosperous isle of
Chios, it appears that, two days before Christmas, he took up his
quarters at "the village of St. George, a good day's journey from the
town, on the slopes of a backbone of mountains, which divides Chios
from north to south." On the morning following the arrival at St.
George, "echoes of home" were heard which caused the writer to
exclaim: "Surely they don't have Christmas waits here." Outside the
house stood a crowd of children singing songs and carrying baskets.
From the window, the mistress of the house was seen standing amongst
the children "talking hard, and putting handfuls of something into
each basket out of a bag." "On descending," says the writer, "I
inquired the cause of this early invasion, and learnt that it is
customary on the day before Christmas for children to go round to the
houses of the village early, before the celebration of the liturgy,
and collect what is called 'the luck of Christ'--that is to say,
walnuts, almonds, figs, raisins, and the like. Every housewife is
careful to have a large stock of these things ready overnight, and if
children come after her stock is exhausted she says, 'Christ has taken
them and passed by.' The urchins, who are not always willing to accept
this excuse, revile her with uncomplimentary remarks, and wish her
cloven feet, and other disagreeable things."

The writer visited the chief inhabitants of St. George, and was
regaled with "spoonfuls of jam, cups of coffee, and glasses of mastic
liquer"; and, in a farmyard, "saw oxen with scarlet horns," it being
the custom, on the day before Christmas, for "every man to kill his
pig, and if he has cattle to anoint their horns with blood, thereby
securing their health for the coming year.

"It is very interesting to see the birthplace of our own Christmas
customs here in Greece, for it is an undoubted fact that all we see
now in Greek islands has survived since Byzantine days. Turkish rule
has in no way interfered with religious observances, and during four
or five centuries of isolation from the civilised world the
conservative spirit of the East has preserved intact for us customs as
they were in the early days of Christianity; inasmuch as the Eastern
Church was the first Christian Church, it was the parent of all
Christian customs. Many of these customs were mere adaptations of the
pagan to the Christian ceremonial--a necessary measure, doubtless, at
a time when a new religion was forced on a deeply superstitious
population. The saints of the Christian took the place of the gods of
the "Iliad." Old customs attending religious observances have been
peculiarly tenacious in these islands, and here it is that we must
look for the pedigree of our own quaint Christian habits. We have seen
the children of St. George collecting their Christmas-boxes, we have
spoken of pig-killing, and we will now introduce ourselves to Chiote
Christmas-trees, the _rhamnæ_, as they are called here, which take the
form of an offering of fruits of the earth and flowers by tenants to
their landlords.

"The form of these offerings is varied: one tenant we saw chose to
make his in the shape of a tripod; others merely adorn poles, but all
of them effect this decoration in a similar fashion, more gaudily than
artistically. The pole is over a yard in height, and around it are
bound wreaths of myrtle, olive, and orange leaves; to these are fixed
any flowers that may be found, geraniums, anemones, and the like, and,
by way of further decoration, oranges, lemons, and strips of gold and
coloured paper are added.

"On Christmas morning the tenants of the numerous gardens of Chios
proceed to the houses of their landlords, riding on mules and carrying
a _rhamna_ in front of them and a pair of fowls behind. As many as
three hundred of these may be seen entering the capital of Chios on
this day, and I was told the sight is very imposing. At St. George we
had not so many of them, but sufficient for our purpose. On reaching
his landlord's house the peasant sets up the trophy in the outer room,
to be admired by all who come; the fowls he hands over to the
housewife; and then he takes the large family jars or _amphoræ_, as
they still call them, to the well, and draws the drinking water for
his landlord's Christmas necessities.

"In the afternoon each landlord gives 'a table' to his tenants, a good
substantial meal, at which many healths are drunk, compliments
exchanged, and songs sung, and before returning home each man receives
a present of money in return for his offerings. A Greek never gives a
present without expecting an equivalent in return."

Another Christmas custom in Chios which reminded the writer of the
English custom of carol-singing is thus described: "There are five
parishes in the village of St. George, each supplied with a church,
priests, acolytes, and candle-lighters, who answer to our vergers, and
who are responsible for the lighting of the many lamps and candles
which adorn an Eastern church. These good people assemble together on
Christmas Day, after the liturgy is over, and form what is called 'a
musical company'; one man is secured to play the lyre, another the
harp, another the cymbals, and another leads the singing--if the
monotonous chanting in which they indulge can be dignified by the
title of singing. The candle-lighter, armed with a brass tray, is the
recognised leader of this musical company, and all day long he
conducts them from one house to another in the parish to play, sing,
and collect alms. These musicians of St. George have far more
consideration for the feelings of their fellow-creatures than English
carol-singers, for the candle-lighter is always sent on ahead to
inquire of the household they propose to visit if there is mourning in
the house, or any other valid reason why the musicians should not
play, in which case the candle-lighter merely presents his tray,
receives his offering, and passes on. Never, if they can help it, will
a family refuse admission to the musicians. They have not many
amusements, poor things, and their Christmas entertainment pleases
them vastly.

"The carols of these islands are exceedingly old-world and quaint.
When permission is given the troupe advance towards the door, singing
a sort of greeting as follows: 'Come now and open your gates to our
party; we have one or two sweet words to sing to you.' The door is
then opened by the master of the house; he greets them and begs them
to come in, whilst the other members of the family place chairs at one
end of the room, on which the musicians seat themselves. The first
carol is a genuine Christmas one, a sort of religious recognition of
the occasion, according to our notions fraught with a frivolity almost
bordering on blasphemy; but then it must be remembered that these
peasants have formed their own simple ideas of the life of Christ, the
Virgin, and the saints, to which they have given utterance in their
songs. A priest of St. George kindly supplied me with the words of
some of their carols, and this is a translation of one of the
prefatory songs with which the musical company commence:--

"'Christmas, Christmas! Christ is born;
  Saints rejoice and devils mourn.
  Christmas, Christmas! Christ was fed
  On sweet honey, milk, and bread,
  Just as now our rulers eat
  Bread and milk, and honey sweet.'

After this the company sing a series of songs addressed to the various
members of the family, to the father, to the mother, to the daughters,
to the sons; if there chances to be a betrothed couple there, they are
sure to be greeted with a special song; the little children, too, are
exhorted in song to be good and diligent at school. Of these songs
there are an infinite number, and many of them give us curious
glimpses into the life, not of to-day, but of ages which have long
since passed away.

"The following song is addressed to the master of the house, and has
doubtless been sung for centuries of Christmases since the old
Byzantine days when such things as are mentioned in the song really
existed in the houses. This is a word-for-word translation:--

"'We have come to our venerable master;
  To his lofty house with marble halls.
  His walls are decorated with mosaic;
  With the lathe his doors are turned.
  Angels and archangels are around his windows,
  And in the midst of his house is spread a golden carpet
  And from the ceiling the golden chandelier sheds light.
  It lights the guests as they come and go.
  It lights our venerable master.'

On the conclusion of their carols the musicians pause for rest, the
cymbal-player throws his cymbal on the floor, and the candle-lighter
does the same thing with his tray, and into these the master of the
house deposits his gifts to his parish church, and if they are a
newly-married couple they tie up presents of food for the musicians in
a handkerchief--figs, almonds, &c., which the cymbal-player fastens
round his neck or ties to his girdle.

"Before the musicians take their departure the housewife hurries off
to her cupboard and produces a tray with the inevitable jam thereon.
Coffee and mastic are served, and the compliments of the season are
exchanged. Whilst the candle-lighter is absent looking for another
house at which to sing, the musicians sing their farewell, 'We wish
health to your family, and health to yourself. We go to join the

"In villages where the singing of carols has fallen into disuse the
inhabitants are content with the priestly blessing only. To distribute
this the priest of each parish starts off on Christmas morning with
the candle-lighter and his tray, and an acolyte to wave the censer; he
blesses the shops, he sprinkles holy water over the commodities, and
then he does the same by the houses; the smell of incense perfumes the
air, and the candle-lighter rattles his tray ostentatiously to show
what a lot of coppers he has got."


"Swan's Journal of a Voyage up the Mediterranean, 1826," gives the
following account of Christmas in a Greek Church:--

"Thursday, January 6th, this being Christmas Day with the Greek
Catholics, their 'churches are adorned in the gayest manner. I entered
one, in which a sort of raree-show had been set up, illumed with a
multitude of candles: the subject of it was the birth of Christ, who
was represented in the background by a little waxen figure wrapped up
in embroidery, and reclining upon an embroidered cushion, which rested
upon another of pink satin. This was supposed to be the manger where
he was born. Behind the image two paper bulls' heads looked
unutterable things. On the right was the Virgin Mary, and on the left
one of the eastern Magi. Paper clouds, in which the paper heads of
numberless cherubs appeared, enveloped the whole; while from a
pasteboard cottage stalked a wooden monk, with dogs, and sheep, and
camels, goats, lions, and lambs; here walked a maiden upon a stratum
of sods and dried earth, and there a shepherd flourishing aloft his
pastoral staff. The construction of these august figures was chiefly
Dutch: they were intermixed with china images and miserable daubs on
paper. In the centre a real fountain, in miniature, squirted forth
water to the ineffable delight of crowds of prostrate worshippers."


Hone[97] states that after Christmas Day, during the remainder of
December, there is a Presepio, or representation of the manger, in
which our Saviour was laid, to be seen in many of the churches at
Rome. That of the Ara Coeli is the best worth seeing, which church
occupies the site of the temple of Jupiter, and is adorned with some
of its beautiful pillars. On entering, we found daylight completely
excluded from the church; and until we advanced, we did not perceive
the artificial light, which was so managed as to stream in fluctuating
rays, from intervening silvery clouds, and shed a radiance over the
lovely babe and bending mother, who, in the most graceful attitude,
lightly holds up the drapery which half conceals her sleeping infant
from the bystanders. He lies in richly embroidered swaddling clothes,
and his person, as well as that of his virgin mother, is ornamented
with diamonds and other precious stones; for which purpose, we are
informed, the princesses and ladies of high rank lend their jewels.
Groups of cattle grazing, peasantry engaged in different occupations,
and other objects, enliven the picturesque scenery; every living
creature in the group, with eyes directed towards the Presepio, falls
prostrate in adoration. In the front of this theatrical representation
a little girl, about six or eight years old, stood on a bench,
preaching extempore, as it appeared, to the persons who filled the
church, with all the gesticulation of a little actress, probably in
commemoration of those words of the psalmist, quoted by our blessed
Lord--"Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected
praise." In this manner the Scriptures are _acted_; not "read, marked,
and inwardly digested." The whole scene had, however, a striking
effect, well calculated to work upon the minds of a people whose
religion consists so largely in outward show. [From "A Narrative of
Three Years in Italy."]

(_From Hone's "Every-day Book_," 1826)]

As at the beginning, so in the latter part of the nineteenth century,
the church celebrations of Christmas continue to be great Christmas
attractions in the Eternal City.

From the description of one who was present at the Christmas
celebration of 1883, we quote the following extracts:--

"On Christmas morning, at ten o'clock, when all the world was not only
awake, but up and doing, mass was being said and sung in the principal
churches, but the great string of visitors to the Imperial City bent
their steps towards St. Peter's to witness the celebration of this the
greatest feast in the greatest Christian Church.

"As the heavy leather curtain which hangs before the door fell behind
one, this sacred building seemed indeed the world's cathedral; for
here were various crowds from various nations, and men and women
followers of all forms of faiths, and men and women of no faith at
all. The great church was full of light and colour--of light that came
in broad yellow beams through the great dome and the high eastern
windows, making the candles on the side altars and the hundred
ever-burning lamps around the St. Peter's shrine look dim and yellow
in the fulness of its radiance; and of colour combined of friezes of
burnished gold, and brilliant frescoes, and rich altar pieces, and
bronze statues, and slabs of oriental alabaster, and blocks of red
porphyry and lapis lazuli, and guilded vaulted ceiling, and walls of
inlaid marbles.

"In the large choir chapel, containing the tomb of Clement IX., three
successive High Masses were celebrated, the full choir of St. Peter's
attending. In the handsomely carved old oak stalls sat bishops in
purple and rich lace, canons in white, and minor canons in grey fur
capes, priests and deacons, and a hundred acolytes wearing
silver-buckled shoes and surplices. This chapel, with its life-size
marble figures resting on the cornices, has two organs, and here the
choicest music is frequently heard.

"Of course the choir chapel was much too small to hold the great
crowd, which, therefore, overflowed into the aisles and nave of the
vast church, where the music could be heard likewise. This crowd broke
up into groups, each worthy of a study, and all combining to afford an
effect at once strange and picturesque. There are groups of Americans,
English, French, Germans, and Italians promenading round the church,
talking in their respective native tongues, gesticulating, and now and
then pausing to admire a picture or examine a statue. Acquaintances
meet and greet; friends introduce mutual friends; compliments are
exchanged, and appointments made. Meanwhile masses are being said at
all the side altars, which are surrounded by knots of people who fall
on their knees at the sound of a little bell, and say their prayers
quite undisturbed by the general murmur going on around them.

"Presently there is a stir in the crowd surrounding the choir chapel;
the organ is at its loudest, and then comes a long procession of
vergers in purple and scarlet facings, and cross and torch bearers,
and censer bearers, and acolytes and deacons and priests and canons
and bishops, and a red-robed cardinal in vestments of cloth of gold
wrought and figured with many a sacred sign, and, moreover, adorned
with precious stones; and High Mass at St. Peter's, on Christmas Day,
is at an end.

"During the day most of the shops and all the Government offices were
open. Soldiers were drilled all day long in the Piazza Vittorio
Emanuele, and were formally marched to their various barracks, headed
by bands discoursing martial music; whilst the postmen delivered their
freight of letters as on ordinary days of the week. In the afternoon
most of those who were at St. Peter's in the morning assembled to hear
Grand Vespers at the handsome and famous church of San Maria Maggiore,
one of the oldest in Christendom, the Mosaics on the chancel arch
dating from the fifth century. The church was illuminated with
hundreds of candles and hung with scarlet drapery, the effect being
very fine; the music such as can alone be heard in Rome. On the high
altar was exhibited in a massive case of gold and crystal two staves
said to have been taken from the manger in which Christ was laid, this
being carried round the church at the conclusion of Vespers. Almost
every English visitor in Rome was present."


"Every one has heard of the tiny principality of Monaco, with its six
square miles of territory facing the Mediterranean, and lying below
the wonderful Corniche-road, which has been for ages the great highway
south of the Alps, connecting the South of France with Northern Italy.
Of course many visitors come here to gamble, but an increasing number
are attracted by the beauty of the scenery and the charm of the
climate; and here some hundreds of Englishmen and Englishwomen spent
their Christmas Day and ate the conventional plum-pudding. Christmas
had been ushered in by a salvo of artillery and a High Mass at the
cathedral at eleven on Christmas Eve, and holly and mistletoe (which
seemed strangely out of place amongst the yellow roses and hedges of
geraniums) were in many hands. As illustrating the mildness of the
climate and the natural beauty of the district, the following flowers
were in full bloom in the open air on Christmas Day: roses of every
variety, geraniums, primulas, heliotropes, carnations, anemones,
narcissus, sweetwilliams, stocks, cactus, and pinks; and to these may
be added lemon trees and orange trees laden with their golden fruit.
As evening wore on a strong gale burst upon the shore, and Christmas
Day closed amongst waving foliage and clanging doors and clouds of
dust, and the fierce thud of angry surf upon the sea-shore below.

"January 2, 1890.      J. S. B."


In "The German Christmas Eve," 1846, Madame Apolline Flohr recalls her
"childish recollections" of the Christmas festivities in the "happy
family" of which she was a member. They met amid the glare of a
hundred lights, and according to an old-established custom, they soon
joined in chaunting the simple hymn which begins:--

 "Now let us thank our God;
    Uplift our hands and hearts:
  Eternal be His praise,
    Who all good things imparts!"

After the singing (says the writer), I ventured for the first time, to
approach the pile of Christmas gifts intended for my sisters, my
brothers, and myself.

The Christmas tree, always the common property of the children of the
house, bore gilded fruits of every species; and as we gazed with
childish delight on these sparkling treasures our dear parents wiped
away the tears they had plentifully shed, while our young voices were
ringing out the sweet hymn, led by our friend, Herr Von Clappart, with
such deep and solemn emotion.

Now, as the dear mother led each child to his or her own little
table--for the gifts for each were laid out separately, and thus
apportioned beforehand--all was joy and merriment.

A large table stood in the midst, surrounded by smaller ones,
literally laden with pretty and ingenious toys, the gifts of friends
and kindred. We liked the toys very much indeed. We were, however, too
happy to endure quiet pleasure very long, and all prepared to assemble
around the Christmas tree. After a delightful dance around the tree,
and around our dear parents, our presents were again examined; for the
variety of offerings made on these occasions would much exceed the
belief of a stranger to our customs. Every article for children's
clothing was here to be found, both for ornament and use; nor were
books forgotten. It was then I received my first Bible and
Prayer-book; and at the moment the precious gift was placed in my
hand, I resolved to accompany my parents to church the following
morning at five o'clock. (This early attendance at public worship on
Christmas morning is a custom observed in Central Germany, and is
called Christ-Kirche.)

The ceremony of withdrawing, in order to attire ourselves in some of
our new dresses, having been performed, we re-entered the apartment,
upon which the great folding-doors being thrown open, a second
Christmas tree appeared, laden with hundreds of lights. This effect
was produced by the tree being placed opposite some large
looking-glasses, which reflected the lights and redoubled their

Here hung the gifts prepared by the hands of the children for their
beloved parents.

My eldest sister, Charlotte, had knitted for her mother a beautiful
evening cap, and a long purse for her father.

Emily presented each one of the family with a pair of mittens; and the
little Adolphine made similar offerings of open-worked stockings, her
first attempt.

Our parents were also surprised and delighted to receive some
drawings, exceedingly well executed, by my brothers, accompanied by a
letter of thanks from those dear boys, for the kind permission to take
lessons which had been granted to them during the last half-year.

The great bell had called us together at five o'clock in the
afternoon, to receive our Christmas gifts; and though at eleven our
eyes and hearts were still wide awake, yet were we obliged to retire,
and leave all these objects of delight behind us. All remembered that,
at least, the elder branches of the family must rise betimes the next
morning to attend the Christ-Kirche, and to hear a sermon on the birth
of the Saviour of Mankind.

The great excitement of the previous evening, and the vision of
delight that still hovered around my fancy, prevented my sleeping
soundly; so that when the others were attempting to steal away the
next morning to go to church, I was fully roused, and implored so
earnestly to be taken with the rest of the family, that at length my
prayer was granted; but on condition that I should keep perfectly
still during the service.

Arrived at the church we found it brilliantly illuminated, and
decorated with the boughs of the holly and other evergreens.

It is quite certain that a child of five years old could not
understand the importance, beauty, and extreme fitness of the sublime
service she so often witnessed in after life; yet I can recollect a
peculiarly sweet, sacred, and mysterious feeling taking possession of
me, as my infant mind received the one simple impression that this was
the birthday of the Saviour I had been taught to love and pray to,
since my infant lips could lisp a word.

Since early impressions are likely to be permanent, it is considered
most important in my fatherland to surround, Christmas with all joyous
and holy associations. A day of days, indeed, it is with us--a day
never to be forgotten.

So far is this feeling carried, that it is no uncommon pastime, even
at the beginning of the new year, to project plans and presents, happy
surprises, and unlooked-for offerings, to be presented at the far-off
time of Christmas festivity.

*     *     *     *     *

Another writer, at the latter end of the nineteenth century, gives the
following account of the Christmas festivities at the German Court,
from which it appears that the long-cherished Christmas customs are
well preserved in the highest circle in Germany:--


In accordance with an old custom the Royal Family of Prussia celebrate
Christmas in a private manner at the Emperor William's palace, where
the "blue dining-hall" on the first floor is arranged as the Christmas
room. Two long rows of tables are placed in this hall, and two smaller
tables stand in the corners on either side of the pillared door
leading to the ballroom. On these tables stand twelve of the finest
and tallest fir-trees, reaching nearly to the ceiling, and covered
with innumerable white wax candles placed in wire-holders, but without
any other decoration.

In the afternoon of the 24th great packages are brought into this room
containing the presents for the members of the Imperial household, and
in the presence of the Emperor his Chamberlain distributes them on the
tables under the trees. The monarch always takes an active part in
this work, and, walking about briskly from one table to the other,
helps to place the objects in the most advantageous positions, and
fastens on them slips of white paper on which he himself has written
the names of the recipients. The Empress is also present, occupied
with arranging the presents for the ladies of her own household. The
two separate tables still remain empty, until the Emperor and the
Empress have left the room, as they are destined to hold the presents
for their Majesties.

At four o'clock the entire Royal Family assemble in the large
dining-hall of the Palace for their Christmas dinner. Besides all the
Princes and Princesses without exception, the members of the Imperial
household, the chiefs of the Emperor's military and civil Cabinets,
and a number of adjutants are also present.

Shortly after the termination of the dinner the double doors leading
to the blue hall are thrown wide open at a sign from the Emperor, and
the brilliant sight of the twelve great fir-trees bearing thousands of
lighted tapers is disclosed to view. This is the great moment of the
German Christmas Eve celebration. The Imperial couples then form in
procession, and all proceed to the Christmas room. The Emperor and the
Empress then personally lead the members of their households to the
presents which are grouped in long rows on the tables, and which
comprise hundreds of articles, both valuable and useful, objects of
art, pictures, statuary, &c. Meanwhile, the two separate tables still
remain hidden under white draperies. In other rooms all the officials
and servants of the palace, down to the youngest stable-boy, are
presented with their Christmas-boxes. At about nine o'clock the
Imperial Family and their guests again return to the dining-room,
where a plain supper is then served. According to old tradition, the
menu always includes the following dishes: "Carp cooked in beer" (a
Polish custom), and "Mohnpielen," an East Prussian dish, composed of
poppy-seed, white bread, almonds and raisins, stewed in milk. After
the supper all return once more to the Christmas room, where the
second part of the celebration--the exchange of presents among the
Royal Family--then comes off.

The Emperor's table stands on the right side of the ballroom door, and
every object placed on it bears a paper with an inscription intimating
by whom the present is given. The presents for the Empress on the
other table are arranged in the same manner. Among the objects never
missing at the Emperor's Christmas are some large Nuremberg ginger
cakes, with the inscription "Weihnachten" and the year. About
half-an-hour later tea is taken, and this terminates the Christmas Eve
of the first family of the German Empire.


it may be added, is similarly observed in the year 1900. From the
Imperial palace to the poor man's cottage there is not a family in
Germany that has not its Christmas tree and "Weihnachts
Bescheerung"--Christmas distribution of presents. For the very poor
districts of Berlin provision is made by the municipal authorities or
charitable societies to give the children this form of amusement,
which they look forward to throughout the year.


are similar to those in Germany, the prominent feature being the
beautifully-adorned and splendidly-lighted Christmas-tree. At one of
these celebrations, a few years ago, the numerous presents received by
the young Princess Elizabeth included a speaking doll, fitted with a
phonograph cylinder, which created no small astonishment. Among other
things, the doll was able to recite a poem composed by the Archduchess
Marie Valerie in honour of Christmas Eve.

The poor and destitute of Vienna are not forgotten, for, in addition
to the Christmas-tree which is set up at the palace for them, a large
number of charitable associations in the various districts of Vienna
have also Christmas-trees laden with presents for the poor.


You go into the Duomo late on Christmas Eve, and find the time-stained
alabasters and dark aisles lit up with five hundreds of wax candles
over seven feet high. The massive silver lamps suspended across the
choir have the inner lamps all ablaze, as is also the graceful
Byzantine chandelier in the centre of the nave that glitters like a
cluster of stars from dozens of tiny glass cups with wick and oil
within. In the solemn and mysterious gloom you pass figures of men and
women kneeling in devotion before the many shrines. Some are
accompanied by well-behaved and discreet dogs, who sit patiently
waiting till their owners' prayer shall be over; whilst others less
well trained, run about from group to group to smell out their friends
or growl at foes. You slowly work your way through the throng to the
high altar. That unique reredos, brought from Constantinople in early
times--the magnificent "Pala d'Ora," an enamelled work wrought on
plates of gold and silver, and studded with precious stones--is
unveiled, and the front of the altar has a rich frontispiece of the
thirteenth century, which is of silver washed with gold, and embossed
figures. Numbers of ponderous candles throw a glimmer over the
treasures with which St. Mark's is so richly endowed, that are
profusely displayed on the altar. Bishops, canons and priests in full
dress are standing and kneeling, and the handsome and much-beloved
Patriarch of Venice officiates, in dress of gorgeous scarlet and
cream-coloured old lace, and heavy-brocaded cope, that is afterwards
exchanged for one of ermine, and flashing rings and jewelled cross.
There is no music, but a deep quiet pervades the dim golden domes
overhead and the faintly-lighted transepts. Stray rays of light catch
the smooth surface of the mosaics, which throw off sparkles of
brightness and cast deeper shadows beyond the uncertain radiance.
After the midnight mass is celebrated you pass out with the stream of
people into the cold, frosty night, with only the bright stars to
guide you through the silent alleys to your rooms, where you wish each
other "A Merry Christmas!" and retire to sleep, and to dream of the
old home in England.--_Queen_.

museum naples]


An English writer who spent a Christmas in Naples a few
years ago, says:--

"In the south Christmas is bright and gay, and in truth noisy. The
_festa natalizie_, as it is called in Naples, is celebrated by fairs
and bonfires and fireworks. In the Toledo, that famous street known
to all the world, booths are erected beside the shops, flaming in
colour, and filled with all sorts of tempting wares. Throughout
Christmas Eve an immense crowd of men, women, and children throng this
street, nearly a mile in length. The vendors shriek at the top of
their voice, praising themselves and their goods, and then, with merry
peals of laughter, exhibit with Neapolitan drollery all the arts of
their trade. The crowd catch the contagious spirit of fun, and toss
witticisms to and fro, until the welkin rings with shouts and
laughter. A revolution in Paris could not create greater excitement,
or greater noise, than the Christmas fair at Naples, the largest, and
certainly the merriest, in the world. As night draws on the mirth
grows uproarious; improvisations abound. Pulcinello attracts laughing
crowds. The bagpipes strike with their ear-piercing sounds, and arise
shrill above the universal din. Fireworks are let off at every street
corner, flaming torches carried in procession parade the streets;
rockets rise in the air, coloured lamps are hung over doorways, and in
the midst of the blaze of light the church bells announce the midnight
Mass, and the crowd leave the fair and the streets, and on bended knee
are worshipping."

[Illustration: Luis de Vargas 1502-1568 Seville Cathedral]


Spain in winter must be divided into Spain the frigid and Spain the
semi-tropic; for while snow lies a foot deep at Christmas in the
north, in the south the sun is shining brightly, and flowers of spring
are peeping out, and a nosegay of heliotrope and open-air geraniums is
the Christmas-holly and mistletoe of Andalusia. There is no chill in
the air, there is no frost on the window-pane.

When Christmas Eve comes the two days' holiday commences. At twelve
the labourers leave their work, repair home, and dress in their best.
Then the shops are all ablaze with lights, ribbons and streamers, with
tempting fare of sweets and sausages, with red and yellow serge to
make warm petticoats; with cymbals, drums, and _zambombas_. The chief
sweetmeats, peculiar to Christmas, and bought alike by rich and poor,
are the various kinds of preserved fruits, incrusted with sugar, and
the famous _turrni_. This last, which is of four kinds, and may be
called in English phraseology, "almond rock," is brought to your door,
and buy it you must. A coarse kind is sold to the poor at a cheap
rate. Other comestibles, peculiar to Christmas, are almond soup,
truffled turkey, roasted chestnuts, and nuts of every sort.

Before the _Noche-buena_, or Christmas Eve, however, one or two good
deeds have been done by the civil and military authorities. On the
twenty-third or twenty-fourth the custom is for the military governor
to visit all the soldier prisoners, in company with their respective
defensores, or advocates; and, _de officio_, there and then, he
liberates all who are in gaol for light offences. This plan is also
pursued in the civil prisons; and thus a beautiful custom is kept up
in classic, romantic, Old-world Spain, and a ray of hope enters into
and illuminates even the bitter darkness of a Spanish prisoners' den.

It is Christmas Eve. The poor man has his relations round him, over
his humble _puchero_ (stew): the rich man likewise. _Friends_ have not
come, "for it is not the custom." In Spain only blood relations eat
and drink in the house as invited guests. Families meet as in England.
Two per cent. of the soldiers get a fortnight's leave of absence and a
free pass; and there is joy in peasant homes over peasant charcoal
pans. The dusky shades of evening are stealing over olive grove and
withering vineyard, and every house lights up its tiny oil lamp, and
every image of the Virgin is illuminated with a taper. In Eija, near
Cordova, an image or portrait of the Virgin and the Babe new-born,
hangs in well-nigh every room in every house. And why? Because the
beautiful belief is rooted in those simple minds, that, on Christmas
Eve, ere the clock strikes twelve, the Virgin, bringing blessings in
her train, visits every house where she can find an image or portrait
of _her Son_. And many a girl kneels down in robes of white before her
humble portrait of the Babe and prays; and hears a rustle in the room,
and thinks, "the Virgin comes: she brings me my Christmas Eve
blessing;" and turns, and lo! it is _her mother_, and the Virgin's
blessing is the mother's kiss!

In Northern Andalusia you have the _zambomba_, a flower-pot perforated
by a hollow reed, which, wetted and rubbed with the finger, gives out
a hollow, scraping, monotonous sound. In Southern Andalusia the
_panderita_, or tambourine, is the chief instrument. It is wreathed
with gaudy ribbons, and decked with bells, and beaten, shaken, and
tossed in the air with graceful abandon to the strains of the
Christmas hymn:

 "This night is the good night,
  And therefore is no night of rest!"

Or, perhaps, the Church chant is sung, called "The child of God was

Then also men click the castanet in wine-shop and cottage; and in such
old-world towns as Eija, where no railway has penetrated, a
breast-plate of eccentrically strung bones--slung round the neck and
played with sticks--is still seen and heard.

The turkeys have been slaughtered and are smoking on the fire. The
night is drawing on and now the meal is over. Twelve o'clock strikes,
and in one moment every bell from every belfrey clangs out its
summons. Poltroon were he who had gone to bed before twelve on
_Noche-buena_. From every house the inmates hurry to the gaily-lit
church and throng its aisles, a dark-robed crowd of worshippers. The
organ peals out, the priests and choir chant at this midnight hour the
Christmas hymn, and at last (in some out-of-the-way towns) the
priests, in gaudiest robes, bring out from under the altar and expose
aloft to the crowds, in swaddling-clothes of gold and white, the Babe
new-born, and all fall down and cross themselves in mute adoration.
This service is universal, and is called the "Misa del Gallo," or
Cock-crow Mass, and even in Madrid it is customary to attend it. There
are three masses also on Christmas Day, and the Church rule, strictly
observed, is that if a man fail to attend this Midnight Mass he must,
to save his religious character, attend all three on Christmas Day. In
antique towns, like Eija, there are two days' early mass (called "Misa
di Luz") anterior to the "Misa del Gallo," at 4 a.m., and in the raw
morning the churches are thronged with rich and poor. In that strange,
old-world town, also, the chief dame goes to the Midnight Mass, all
her men-servants in procession before her, each playing a different

Christmas Eve is over. It is 1.30 a.m. on Christmas morning, and the
crowds, orderly, devout, cheerful, are wending their way home. Then
all is hushed; all have sought repose; there are no drunken riots; the
dark streets are lit by the tiny oil lamps; the watchman's monotonous
cry alone is heard, "Ave Maria purissima; las dos; y sereno."

The three masses at the churches on Christmas Day are all chanted to
joyous music. Then the poor come in to pay their rent of turkeys,
pigs, olives, or what not, to their landlord, and he gives them a
Christmas-box: such as a piece of salt fish, or money, or what may be.
Then, when you enter your house, you will find on your table, with the
heading, "A Happy Christmas," a book of little leaflets, printed with
verses. These are the petitions of the postman, scavenger, telegraph
man, newsboy, &c., asking you for a Christmas-box. Poor fellows! they
get little enough, and a couple of francs is well bestowed on them
once a year. After mid-day breakfast or luncheon is over, rich and
poor walk out and take the air, and a gaudy, pompous crowd they form
as a rule. As regards presents at Christmas, the rule is, in primitive
Spain, to send a present to the _Cura_ (parish priest) and the doctor.
Many Spaniards pay a fixed annual sum to their medical man, and he
attends all the family, including servants. His salary is sent to him
at Christmas, with the addition of a turkey, or a cake, or some fine

On Christmas Eve the provincial hospitals present one of their most
striking aspects to the visitor. It is a feast-day, and instead of the
usual stew, the soup called _caldo_--and very weak stuff it is--or the
stir-about and fried bread, the sick have their good sound meats,
cooked in savoury and most approved fashion, their tumbler of wine,
their extra cigar. Visitors, kindly Spanish ladies, come in, their
hands laden with sweets and tobacco, &c., and the sight of the black
silk dresses trailing over the lowly hospital couches is most human
and pathetic. At last _night_--the veritable Christmas Eve comes. The
chapels in these hospitals are generally on the ground floor, and
frequently sunk some feet below it, but open to the hospital; so that
the poor inmates who can leave their beds can hobble to the railing
and look down into the chapel--one mass of dazzling lights, glitter,
colour, and music: and thus, without the fatigue of descending the
stairs, can join in the service. At half-past eleven at night the
chapel is gaily lit up; carriage after carriage, mule-cart after
mule-cart rattles up to the hospital door, discharging crowds of
ladies and gentlemen in evening dress; thus the common people, chiefly
the young, with their tambourines and zambombas, pour into the chapel
from _Campo_, and alley, and street, and soon the chapel is filled;
while above, sitting, hobbling, lying all round the rails, and gazing
down upon the motley and noisy throng below, are the inmates of the
hospital. The priest begins the Midnight Mass, and the organs take up
the service, the whole of which, for one hour, is chanted. Meanwhile,
the tambourines and other musical instruments are busy, and join in
the strains of the organ; and the din, glitter, and excitement are
most exhilarating. And thus the occupants of the Spanish provincial
hospitals join in the festivities of Christmastide, as seen by one
who has dwelt "_Among the Spanish People_."


A writer who knows the manners and habits of the people of Norway, and
their customs at Christmastide, says:--

"At Christiania, and other Norwegian towns, there is, or used to be, a
delicate Christmas custom of offering to a lady a brooch or a pair of
earings in a truss of hay. The house-door of the person to be
complimented is pushed open, and there is thrown into the house a
truss of hay or straw, a sheaf of corn, or a bag of chaff. In some
part of this "bottle of hay" envelope, there is a "needle" as a
present to be hunted for. A friend of mine once received from her
betrothed, according to the Christmas custom, an exceedingly large
brown paper parcel, which, on being opened, revealed a second parcel
with a loving motto on the cover. And so on, parcel within parcel,
motto within motto, till the kernel of this paper husk--which was at
length discovered to be a delicate piece of minute jewellery--was
arrived at."

One of the prettiest of Christmas customs is the Norwegian practice of
giving, on Christmas Day, a dinner to the birds. On Christmas morning
every gable, gateway, or barn-door, is decorated with a sheaf of corn
fixed on the top of a tall pole, wherefrom it is intended that the
birds should make their Christmas dinner. Even the peasants contrive
to have a handful set by for this purpose, and what the birds do not
eat on Christmas Day, remains for them to finish at their leisure
during the winter.

On New Year's Day in Norway, friends and acquaintances exchange calls
and good wishes. In the corner of each reception-room is placed a
little table, furnished all through the day with wine and cakes for
the refreshment of the visitors; who talk, and compliment, and flirt,
and sip wine, and nibble cake from house to house, with great

Between Christmas and Twelfth Day mummers are in season. They are
called "Julebukker," or Christmas goblins. They invariably appear
after dark, and in masks and fancy dresses. A host may therefore have
to entertain in the course of the season, a Punch, Mephistopheles,
Charlemagne, Number, Nip, Gustavus, Oberon, and whole companies of
other fanciful and historic characters; but, as their antics are
performed in silence, they are not particularly cheerful company.


With Christmas Eve begins the festive season known in Russia as
_Svyatki_ or _Svyatuie Vechera_ (Holy Evenings), which lasts till the
Epiphany. The numerous sportive ceremonies which are associated with
it resemble, in many respects, those with which we are familiar, but
they are rendered specially interesting and valuable by the relics of
the past which they have been the means of preserving--the fragments
of ritual song which refer to the ancient paganism of the land, the
time-honoured customs which originally belonged to the feasts with
which the heathen Slavs greeted each year the return of the sun. On
Christmas Eve commences the singing of the songs called _Kolyadki_, a
word, generally supposed to be akin to _Kalendæ_, though reference is
made in some of them to a mysterious being, apparently a solar
goddess, named Kolyada. "Kolyada, Kolyada! Kolyada has come. We
wandered about, we sought holy Kolyada in all the courtyards,"
commences one of these old songs, for many a year, no doubt, solemnly
sung by the young people who used in olden times to escort from
homestead to homestead a sledge in which sat a girl dressed in white,
who represented the benignant goddess. Nowadays these songs have in
many places fallen into disuse, or are kept up only by the children
who go from house to house, to congratulate the inhabitants on the
arrival of Christmas, and to wish them a prosperous New Year. In every
home, says one of these archaic poems, are three inner chambers. In
one is the bright moon, in another the red sun, in a third many stars.
The bright moon--that is the master of the house; the red sun--that is
the housewife; the many stars--they are the little children.

The Russian Church sternly sets its face against the old customs with
which the Christmas season was associated, denouncing the "fiendish
songs," and "devilish games," the "graceless talk," the "nocturnal
gambols," and the various kinds of divination in which the faithful
persisted in indulging. But, although repressed, they were not to be
destroyed, and at various seasons of the year, but especially those of
the summer and winter solstice, the "orthodox," in spite of their
pastors, made merry with old heathenish sports, and, after listening
to Christian psalms in church, went home and sang songs framed by
their ancestors in honour of heathen divinities. Thus century after
century went by, and the fortunes of Russia underwent great changes.
But still in the villages were the old customs kept up, and when
Christmas Day came round it was greeted by survivals of the ceremonies
with which the ancient Slavs hailed the returning sun god, who caused
the days to lengthen, and filled the minds of men with hopes of a new
year rich in fruits and grain. One of the customs to which the Church
most strongly objected was that of mumming. As in other lands, so in
Russia it was customary for mummers to go about at Christmastide,
visiting various homes in which the festivities of the season were
being kept up, and there dancing, and performing all kinds of antics.
Prominent parts were always played by human representatives of a goat
and a bear. Some of the party would be disguised as "Lazaruses," that
is, as the blind beggars who bear that name, and whose plaintive
strains have resounded all over Russia from the earliest times to the
present day. The rest disguised themselves as they best could, a
certain number of them being generally supposed to play the part of
thieves desirous to break in and steal. When, after a time, they were
admitted into the room where the Christmas guests were assembled, the
goat and the bear would dance a merry round together, the Lazaruses
would sing their "dumps so dull and heavy," and the rest of the
performers would exert themselves to produce exhilaration. Even among
the upper classes it was long the custom at this time of year for the
young people to dress up and visit their neighbours in disguise. Thus
in Count Tolstoy's "Peace and War," a novel which aims at giving a
true account of the Russia of the early part of the present century,
there is a charming description of a visit of this kind paid by the
younger members of one family to another. On a bright frosty night the
sledges are suddenly ordered, and the young people dress up, and away
they drive across the crackling snow to a country house six miles off,
all the actors creating a great sensation, but especially the fair
maiden Sonya, who proves irresistible when clad in her cousin's hussar
uniform and adorned with an elegant moustache. Such mummers as these
would lay aside their disguises with a light conscience, but the
peasant was apt to feel a depressing qualm when the sports were over;
and it is said that, even at the present day, there are rustics who do
not venture to go to church, after having taken part in a mumming,
until they have washed off their guilt by immersing themselves in the
benumbing waters of an ice-hole.

Next to the mumming, what the Church most objected to was the
divination always practised at Christmas festivals. With one of its
forms a number of songs have been associated, termed _podblyudnuiya_,
as connected with a _blyudo_, a dish or bowl. Into some vessel of this
kind the young people drop tokens. A cloth is then thrown over it, and
the various objects are drawn out, one after another, to the sound of
songs, from the tenor of which the owners deduce omens relative to
their future happiness. As bread and salt are also thrown into the
bowl, the ceremony may be supposed to have originally partaken of the
nature of a sacrifice. After these songs are over ought to come the
game known as the "burial of the gold." The last ring remaining in the
prophetic bowl is taken out by one of the girls, who keeps it
concealed in her hand. The others sit in a circle, resting their hands
on their knees. She walks slowly round, while the first four lines are
sung in chorus of the song beginning, "See here, gold I bury, I bury."
Then she slips the ring into one of their hands, from which it is
rapidly passed on to another, the song being continued the while. When
it comes to an end the "gold burier" must try to guess in whose hand
the ring is concealed. This game is a poetical form of our "hunt the
slipper." Like many other Slavonic customs it is by some archæologists
traced home to Greece. By certain mythologists the "gold" is supposed
to be an emblem of the sun, long hidden by envious wintry clouds, but
at this time of year beginning to prolong the hours of daylight. To
the sun really refer, in all probability, the bonfires with which
Christmastide, as well as the New Year and Midsummer is greeted in
Russia. In the Ukraine the sweepings from a cottage are carefully
preserved from Christmas Day to New Year's Day, and are then burnt in
a garden at sunrise. Among some of the Slavs, such as the Servians,
Croatians, and Dalmatians, a _badnyak_, or piece of wood answering to
the northern Yule-log, is solemnly burnt on Christmas Eve. But the
significance originally attached to these practices has long been
forgotten. Thus the grave attempts of olden times to search the
secrets of futurity have degenerated into the sportive guesses of
young people, who half believe that they may learn from omens at
Christmas time what manner of marriages are in store for them.
Divinings of this kind are known to all lands, and bear a strong
family likeness; but it is, of course, only in a cold country that a
spinster can find an opportunity of sitting beside a hole cut in the
surface of a frozen river, listening to prophetic sounds proceeding
from beneath the ice, and possibly seeing the image of the husband who
she is to marry within the year trembling in the freezing water.
Throughout the whole period of the _Svyatki_, the idea of marriage
probably keeps possession of the minds of many Russian maidens, and on
the eve of the Epiphany, the feast with which those Christmas holidays
come to an end, it is still said to be the custom for the village
girls to go out into the open air and to beseech the "stars, stars,
dear little stars," to be so benignant as to

 "Send forth through the christened world
  Arrangers of weddings."

W. R. S. Ralston, in _Notes and Queries_, Dec. 21, 1878.


"A certain young man about town" (says _Chambers's Journal_, December
25, 1869), "once forsook the sweet shady side of Pall Mall for the
sake of smoking his cigar in savage Africa; but when Christmas came,
he was seized with a desire to spend it in Christian company, and this
is how he did spend it: 'We English once possessed the Senegal; and
there, every Christmas Eve, the Feast of Lanterns used to be held. The
native women picked up the words and airs of the carols; the custom
had descended to the Gambia, and even to the Casemanche, where it is
still preserved. A few minutes after I had ridden up, sounds of music
were heard, and a crowd of blacks came to the door, carrying the model
of a ship made of paper, and illuminated within; and hollowed pumpkins
also lighted up for the occasion. Then they sang some of our dear old
Christmas carols, and among others, one which I had heard years ago
on Christmas Eve at Oxford:

  Nowel, Nowel, the angels did say,
  To certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay--
  In fields as they lay keeping their sheep,
  One cold winter's night, which was so deep.
          Nowel, Nowel, Nowel, Nowel,
          Born is the King of Israel.

You can imagine with what feelings I listened to those simple words,
sung by negresses who knew not a phrase of English besides. You can
imagine what recollections they called up, as I sat under an African
sky, the palm-trees rustling above my head, and the crocodiles moaning
in the river beyond. I thought of the snow lying thick upon the
ground; of the keen, clear, frosty air. I thought of the ruddy fire
which would be blazing in a room I knew; and of those young faces
which would be beaming still more brightly by its side; I thought
of--oh, of a hundred things, which I can laugh at now, because I am in
England, but which, in Africa, made me more wretched than I can well

"Next day, sadness and sentiment gave way, for a while at least, to
more prosaical feelings. When Mr. Reade sat down to his Christmas
dinner, he must have wished, with Macbeth, 'May good digestion wait on
appetite,' as he contemplated the fare awaiting discussion, and to
which a boar's head grinned a welcome. Snails from France, oysters
torn from trees, gazelle cutlets, stewed iguana, smoked elephant,
fried locusts, manati-breasts, hippopotamus steaks, boiled alligator,
roasted crocodile eggs, monkeys on toast, land crabs and Africa soles,
carp, and mullet--detestable in themselves, but triumphant proof of
the skill of the cook--furnished forth the festival-table, in company
with potatoes, plantains, pine-apples, oranges, papaws, bananas, and
various fruits rejoicing in extraordinary shapes, long native names,
and very nasty flavours; and last, but not least, palm-cabbage stewed
in white sauce, 'the ambrosia of the gods,' and a bottle of good
Bordeaux at every's man's elbow. When evening came, Mr. Reade and a
special friend sought the river: 'The rosy wine had rouged our yellow
cheeks, and we lay back on the cushions, and watched the setting sun
with languid, half-closed eyes. Four men, who might have served as
models to Appelles, bent slowly to their stroke, and murmured forth a
sweet and plaintive song. Their oars, obedient to their voice, rippled
the still water, and dropped from their blades pearls, which the sun
made rubies with its rays. Two beautiful girls, who sat before us in
the bow, raised their rounded arms and tinkled their bracelets in the
air. Then, gliding into the water, they brought us flowers from
beneath the dark bushes, and kissed the hands which took them, with
wet and laughing lips. Like a dark curtain, the warm night fell upon
us; strange cries roused from the forest; beasts of the waters plunged
around us, and my honest friend's hand pressed mine. And Christmas
Day was over. We might seek long for a stranger contrast to an
Englishman's Christmas at home, although--to adapt some seasonable

  An English heart exists to do and dare,
  Where, amid Afric's sands, the lion roars,
  Where endless winter chains the silent shores,
  Where smiles the sea round coral islets bright,
  Where Brahma's temple's sleep in glowing light--
  In every spot where England's sons may roam,
  Dear Christmas-tide still speaks to them of Home!"

    [93] The discovery of the North-West Passage for
    navigation from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, by the
    northern coasts of the American continent; first
    successfully traversed by Sir R. McClure in 1850-1.

    [94] _Chambers's Journal_, December 25, 1869.

    [95] Fosbroke's "British Monachism."

    [96] "Reminiscences of the Siege and Commune of Paris," by
    Ex-Minister E. B. Washburne.

    [97] "Year Book."



_Luke_ 11 25-32]



Now, returning from the celebrations of Christmas in distant parts of
the world, we conclude our historic account of the great Christian
festival by recording the pleasure with which we attended the


at a fine old English cathedral--the recently restored and beautiful
cathedral at Lichfield, whose triple spires are seen and well known by
travellers on the Trent valley portion of the London and North Western
main line of railway which links London with the North.

(_By permission of Mr. A. C. Lomax's Successors

Christmas carols have been sung at Lichfield from long before the time
of "the mighty Offa," King of the Mercians, in whose days and by whose
influence Lichfield became for a time an archiepiscopal see, being
elevated to that dignity by Pope Adrian, in 785. And, in the
seventeenth century, the Deanery of Lichfield was conferred upon the
Rev. Griffin Higgs, the writer of the events connected with the
exhibition of "The Christmas Prince" at St. John's College, Oxford, in
1607, whose authentic account of these interesting historical events
will be found in an earlier chapter of this work.

The Christmas carols at Lichfield Cathedral, sung by the full choir at
the special evening service on St. Stephen's Day (December 26th),
have, for many years, attracted large and appreciative congregations,
and the last of these celebrations in the nineteenth century (on
December 26, 1900) was well sustained by the singers and attended by
many hundreds of citizens and visitors. Eight Christmas Carols and an
anthem were sung, the concluding Carol being "The First Nowell"; and
the organist (Mr. J. B. Lott, Mus. Bac., Oxon) played the Pastoral
Symphony from Sullivan's "Light of the World," Mendelssohn's March
("Cornelius"), the Pastoral Symphony from Handel's "Messiah," and
other exquisite voluntaries. From the anthem, E. H. Sears's beautiful
verses beginning

 "It came upon the midnight clear,
  That glorious song of old,"

set to Stainer's music and well sung, we quote the concluding
predictive stanza:

 "For lo, the days are hast'ning on,
    By prophet-bards foretold,
  When with the ever-circling years
    Comes round the age of gold;
  When peace shall over all the earth
    Its ancient splendours fling,
  And the whole world give back the song
    Which now the angels sing."




Abbot of Misrule, 95 (_see_ also Lord of Misrule)

Abbot of Westminster, 80

Abdication of Richard Cromwell, 213

Abingdon, 51, 208

Aboard the _Sunbeam_, 307

Abolition of Christmas celebration attempted, 206

Abraham, 29

Abyssinia, 298

"Adam Bell," 195

Adam's _Noël_, 319

Adams, Herbert H., 227, 249

Addison, 227

_Adeste Fideles_, 323

_Adieu les Rois_, 320

Adrian, Pope, 350

Advent of Christ, the, 5;
  season of the, 12;
  date of the, 14

Advertisement, curious, 232

"Aerra Geola" (December), 28

Africa, 345

Africa, South, 299

Agincourt, 81

Agrippina, wife of Claudius, 24

Aidan, Columbian Monk, 27

Ajaccio, 322

Alban, St., 20

Albert, Prince Consort, 261

Albemarle, Lady, 241

Aldrich, Commander Pelham, 308

Ale, 26, 55, 57, 231, 251, 258, 259

Alexander, King of the Scots, 64

Alexander Severus, 29

Alexandria, 54

Alfred the Great, King, 36

All Hallowtide, 73, 131

Almaine accoutrements, 120

"Almes" at Christmas, 148, 257-8

Almoner, Lord High, 260

Alsatians, 319

Alwyn, Walter, 95

Amadas, Rob, 100

Ambassadors, foreign, 152

Ambleteuse, Brittany, 220

Ambrose, St., 21

America, 309-316

Amours of Henry VIII., 106

Amusements, 33, 153, 195, 246-9

Ancaster Heath, 153

Andalusia, 339

Andrew, St., 283

Andrewes, Bishop, 193

_Andromeda tetragona_, 295

Angel, the, appears unto Joseph, 5;
  unto the shepherds, 7

Angels' Song, 10, 12

Anger, 13

"Angleesh blom-bodding," 319

Angles, King of the, 34

Anglo-Norman language, 57

Anglo-Saxon Kings, 29

Anglo-Saxons, 25, 28

Angouleme, Duchess, 317

Angus, Scotland, 242

Anjou wine, 57

Annan, Dumfriesshire, 71

Anne, daughter of Frederick III., King of Denmark, 197

Anne, Queen, 226

Anne, wife of Richard III., 93

Annunciation, the, 13, 15

Anointing cattle, 325

Anselm, Archbishop, 49

Antioch, 59;
  the church at, 11;
  Prince of, 52

Antiochus Epiphanes, 17

Antipodes, 303

Ara Coeli, Church of, 328

"Archæologia," 200

Archbishops' Quarrel, 48

Archduchess Marie Valerie, 335

Arctic regions, 294-6

Aristophanes, 286

Armenian Church, the, 12

Armour under robes, 118

Arnot, S., 284

"Arraignment of Christmas," the, 209

Artaki Bay, 307

Arthur, King, and his Knights, 30, 67, 195

Arthur, Prince of Wales, 99

Arundel, Earl of, 190, 193, 194

Astley, Sir John, 201

Aston, near Birmingham, 243

Athelney, 36

Attainder, 222

Attire, magnificent, 99

Attorney-General, 199

Aubrey, 142, 201, 243

Audley, Lord, 82

Augusta, Princess, 241

Augustine, St., 26, 28

Australia, 303

Austria, 288, 335

Austria, Archduke of, 35;
  Duke of, 58


"Babe Cake," 273

Babingley, 263

Babylon, 54, 59

_Bacchanalia_, 13, 15, 19

Bacchus, 19

Bacon, Lord, 93, 94, 152

Baden, Marquis of, 139

Bagpipes, 220

Baker, Chronicler, 105

Balancing, feats of, 229

Balliol, Edward, 71

Balls, 249, 250, 309

Baltimore, Lord, 314

Banks Island reindeer, 294

Banquetings, 31, 88, 126, 146-9, 219, 220, 232

Banqueting-night ceremonies, 135

_Barabrith_, 281

Barbadoes, 288

Barclay Alexander, 104

Barne, Sir George, 117

"Baron of Beef," 273

"Baron's Yule Feast," 266

Barons, 55, 60

Barriers, at, 189

Barristers singing and dancing, 137

Barrow, Isaac, 204

Barry, Sir Charles, 46

Barthe, Master George, 88

"Batt upon Batt," 221

Bay of Mercy, 294

Beamonde, Lord of, 70

Bear-baiting, 119, 229

Beatrice, Princess, 262

Beaufitz, John, 93

Beaumont, 152

Beauties, Court, 99

Becket, St. Thomas, 52

Bedchambers, fifteenth century, 88

Bede, the Venerable, 24

Bedford, 64

Bellman, the, 224

Bells, Christmas, 270, 271

Belshazzar, 78

Belton, Mr., 219

Belvoir Castle, 224, 266

Benevolence, 260-6

Bengel, 13

Berkeley, 69, 146;
  Lord Henry, 146

Berkshire, 276

Berlin, 335

Bermondsey, 52

Berners, Lord, 69, 88

Berri, Duchess, 317

Bertha, Queen, 27

Berwick, 68

Besieged Paris, 318

Bethlehem, 7, 14

Betterton, 218

Bevis of Southampton, 195

Billiards, 195

Bills of fare, fifteenth century, 82

Bird, 140

Birds' dinner, 342

Birth of Christ, 5;
  date of, 14

Blackborough Priory, 85

Blackburn, Mr. Francis, 238

Black Prince, 149

Blake, Mr. Andrew, 262

Blanchard, Laman, 268

Blenheim Mansion, 226

Blessington, Countess of, 266

Blindman's Buff, 236, 248, 249

Blue Jackets, 294

Boar, wild, 32, 33, 45, 110

Boar's Head ceremony, 109-11, 125, 167

Bocking, John, 86

Bohemia, Queen of, 193

"Bold Slasher," 284

Boleyn, Anne, 106

Bolingbroke, Henry of, 80

Bonbonnieres, 314

Bonfires, 320, 336

Bonner, Bishop, 122

Boswell, 241

Bosworth Field, 93, 101

Bountifulness, 96, 260

Bounty Royal, 260

Bourchier, Archbishop, 94

Bourchier, John, 69

Bouvines, battle of, 60

Bowyer, Richard, 141

Boy Bishop, 68, 119, 156

Boyhood's Christmas breaking-up, 242

Boy-king taken to Tower, 92

Brabant, States of, 154

Brahmins, 28

Brand, 221, 232, 243, 244

Brandon, Charles, 101

Brandon, Sir William, 101

Brant, Sebastian, 104

Brassey, Lady, 305

Brave, blood of the, 73, 99, 190

Brawn, 96, 232

Brazil, 288

Breda, 214

Breton, Nicholas, 199

Bridgewater, 242

Bridgewater, Earl of, 200

Brill, Vale of Aylesbury, 60

Brilliant episodes, 59, 73, 84, 93, 99

Brinsford, 219

Bristol, 68, 242

British India, 288

British Museum, 114, 145, 210, 211, 232, 241, 244, 324

Brito, Richard, 53

Britons, Ancient, 23, 28

Brittany, 318

Brompton, 274

Brooke, George, 192

Brothers, Royal, at the Tower, 92

Browne, General, 207

Brown, Sir Sam., 300

Browning, Robert, 66, 270

Bruges, 116, 271

Buchan, 285

_Buche-de-Noël_, 319

Buckeridge, Bishop, 195

Buckhurst, Lord, 154

Buckingham, Duke of, 88

Buckingham, Lord, 191

Buckinghamshire peasants, 238

Bull, Dr., 140

Bull-baiting, 229

Bunbury, Mrs., 241

Bun-loaf, 281

Burford Downs, 218

Burgundy, Duke of, 88

Burgundy, House of, 154

Burlesque Court, 126

Burney, 140

Burnham, Buckinghamshire, 257

Burton, Robert, 195

Bury, 68, 84

Bushell, Sir Edward, 153

Buttry, William, 100

Bydnyak, or Yule-log, 345

Byzantium, 324


Cabul River, 302

Cade, John, 85

Caer Caradoc, 24

Cæsars, the, 35

Cæsarea, the Church at, 11

Cakes, 36, 265, 321

Calais, 72, 81, 109

Calathumpians, the Vagabond, 313

Caledonian custom, 305

"Caliburne," the "gude sword," 58

Caludon, near Coventry, 146

Calvados, 320

Cambridge, 204

Camden Society, 219

Camp fire, 301

Campion, 154

Camulodunum, Bishop of, 25

Canada, 288, 302

Candle illuminations 168, 322, 331

Candlemas, 80, 138, 178

Canning, W., 143

Canons of Christchurch, 177

Canterbury, 63, 86, 210;
  monks of, 56

Canterbury Cathedral, 53

Canterbury, Archbishop of, 60, 82, 99, 139

Canute, King, 37

Cape de Verd Islands, 288

Cape Finisterre, 226

Caradoc (called Caractacus), 24

Card-playing, 87, 91, 97, 98, 108, 195, 237, 241, 247, 256, 313

Carew, 152

Carleton, Sir Dudley, 154, 191

Carlisle, 68

Carminow, John, 113

Carnival, 286

Carols, 57, 204, 327

Carol service, 349, 350

Carol-singer Luther, 106

Carol-singing, 326

Caroline, Queen, 241

Car, or Ker, Robert, 155

Carvell, Sir Henry, 194

Cary, Sir Robert, 154

Casemanche, 345

Cassel, Dr., Germany, 16

Castanet, 340

Castellated mansion, 148

Castles, 52, 55, 57, 58

Catacombs of Rome, 19

Catches, 195

Catesby, 93

Cawarden, Sir Thomas, 116, 124

Cecil, Sir William, 143

Celebrations in times of persecution, 18

Central Germany, 333

Ceremonies for Christmas Day, 167

Ceremonies for Grand Christmas, 132

Cern, 264

Chaldeans, 28

Challon, 67

Challoner, Thomas, 154

Chamberlain to the King, 88

Chamberlain to the Queen, 88

Chamberlaine, John, 153, 154, 191

Chambers of Pleasance, 88

Chamber of Presence, 139

Champions of Diana, 102

Channel Islands, 288

Chapel Royal, 138, 140, 241

Chardai, 300

Charibert, King, 28

Charlemagne, Emperor, 34, 342

Charles Augustus, Emperor, 35

Charles I., 152, 195, 197, 212, 213

Charles II., 214

Charles, Prince, hiding in an oak, 215

Charles V. of Spain, 118

Charter, The Great, signed, 61

Chaucer, 9, 33, 73, 99

Cheetle, 142

Cherwell, 109

Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, 214

Chess, 33, 91, 195

Chester, Earl of, 64

Cheu Fu Chefoo, 308

Chevalier, Rev. W. A. C, 71

Chichester, Bishop of, 64, 193

Childermas Day, 112, 135

Children of the Chapel Royal, 100, 140, 141

Children's Treat, 264, 265

Chili, 288

China, 308

Chios, 324-8

Chippenham, 35

Chit-chat, 268, 269

Chivalric usages, 59, 84, 155, 190

Christiania, 342

_Christ-Kirche_, 333

Christmas--the origin and associations of, 5;
  the word "Christmas," its orthography and meaning, 8;
  words in Welsh, Scotch, French, Italian, and Spanish representing
    Christmas, 9;
  an acrostic spelling Christmas, 9;
  the earlier celebrations of, 10;
  fixing the date of, 12;
  Christmas the _Festorum omnium metropolis_, 12;
  its connection with ancient festivals, 14;
  Christmas-boxes and presents, 15, 29, 30, 89, 90, 96, 148, 257, 258,
    260-6, 300, 312, 325, 334-5, 341;
  candles, 168, 322, 331;
  cards, 271;
  ceremonies, 132, 167;
  customs depicted in a carol, 204;
  Eve, 125, 131, 250-1, 286, 332-5;
  "Grand," 125;
  Island, 308;
  Lord, 95, 100, 109, 112, 115, 126, 198, 200;
  Prince, 155;
  at sea, 95, 96, 218, 307;
  Tree, 106, 261, 263, 264, 296, 313, 325, 332
  (see also other items in the index arranged alphabetically).

Chrysostom, St., 12

Church Parade, 301

Church reforms of Cardinal Wolsey, 106

Church shows, 316

Cicilie, Ladie, 139

Cider, 55

Cinque Ports, Barons of, 64

City and country feasts compared, 112

Civil war, 156

Clappart, Herr Von, 332

Clarence, Duke of, 86, 89

Classical and Christian elements, 19

Claudius, fourth Roman Emperor, 23

Clement of Alexandria, 12

Clement IX., tomb of, 330

Clerical players, 77

Cleves, Anne of, 108

Clifford, Lord, 82, 86

Closheys (ninepins), 88

Clothing, 265

Cloth of gold, 88

Clyde, Lord, 299

Clymme of Clough, 195

Cnut, King, 37

Cobham, Lord, 81

"Cob-loaf stealing," 243

Cockpit, 153

Collar-day at Court, 240

Colebrooke, Mr., 279

Coleridge, S. T., 274

Colleges' festivities, 109, 110, 111, 155

Collier, 124, 201

Colonist, English, 302

Columbine, 230

Columbus, Christopher, 95

Combats, inspiriting, 99

Comedies and Tragedies, Latin, 110

Comedies, 112

Comically cruel incident, 75

Commonwealth, 197

Communicants apprehended, 211

"Complaint of Christmas," 206

_Concilium Africanum_, 22

Conger, 96

Conjurors, 237

Consort, Prince, 261-2

Conspiracy against the King, 80

Constable Marshal, 125

Constantine the Great, 21;
  Church of St. Constantine, 16

Constantinople, 52, 54, 307;
  Emperor of, 80

Cooper, Sir Astley, 316

Cooper, T., 233

Cooper, Thomas, 266

Corbeuil, Archbishop, 48

Cordova, 339

Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, 23

Cornhill, London, 210

Corniche Road, 331

Cornisse, Mr., 100

Cornwall, 113, 156

Cornwall, the Duchy of, 188

Cornwall, Barry, 272

Cornwall, Sir Gilbert, 194

Cornwallis, Sir Charles, 188

Coronation of Edward III., 69

_Corpus Christi_, festival of, 93

Corsica, 321

Costly garments, 116

Costumes ablaze, 291

Cottage Christmas-keeping, fourteenth century, 71

Cotterell, Sir Clement, 194

Cotton, 152

Cotton MSS., 136

Council of Arles, 25

Council of Auxerre, 22

Councils, Great, 41

Country festivities, 219, 226, 227

Courrieres, Lord of, 118

Court entertainments, 151, 197. (See other items under Sovereigns' names.)

Court Fool, 77, 113, 116

Court Leet and Baron, 187

Court Masques, 151-2

Coventry, 85, 89, 93, 148, 198

Cox, Captain, 197

Crackers, 289

Cranbourne, Ralph, 276

Cranes' flesh, 55

Cranmer, Archbishop, 117

Crecy, 72

Creighton, 74

Crimean Christmas, 297

Croatians, 345

Cromwell, Oliver, 213

Cromwell, Richard, 213

Cromwell, Thomas, 107, 108

Crowne, 218

_Croyland Chronicler_, 87, 93

Crusades, The, 58, 59

Cuba, 96

_Cuisine_, 312

Cumberland, 256

Cumberland, Earl of, 143

Cumnor Custom, 251

Cupids, 119

_Cyflath_, 281

Cymbals, 339

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, 22

Cyprus, 307;
  King of, 74

Cyril, St., of Jerusalem, 12


Dacre, Lord, 86

Dakka, 300

Dalmatians, 345

"Damon and Pythias," 140

Dancers, 32, 49;
  dancing, 74, 132, 195, 224, 236, 249, 250, 261, 294, 296

Dane, a firework artificer, 154

Danes, 29, 35, 36, 38

Danube, 226

Darey, Sir Thomas, 190

David, City of, 7

David, King of Scotland, 72, 74

David, St., 284

Dawson, Mr. George, 274

Day, John, Aldersgate, 136

Days of "Good Queen Bess," 148

De Beauchamp, William, 64

De Broc, The family of, 53

December, 28, 29, 33

Decking, 15, 204, 227, 273, 282, 305, 318

Decline of Christmas, 217

De Comines, Philip, 93

Decorations, 323. (_See also_ "decking.")

D'Egville, 316

"Delights of Christmas," 243

Dellegrout, 55

De Molis, Sir Nicholas, 64

Demonology, 152, 196

De Montfort, Simon, 65

Denby, 219

Denison, Hon. Mr. and the Misses, 273

Denis, St., 53, 283

Denmark, 284, 288

De Patteshall, Hugh, 64

Dependents feasting, 202

Deposition of Edward II., 69

_De Præfecto Ludorum_, 110

Deptford Dockyard, 223

Derby, Countess Dowager of, 200

Dersingham, 263

Desborough, 213

De Tracy, William, 53

Detroit, 291

Devon, Earl of, 87

Devonshire, 213, 278

De Worde, W., 91

Diana, 102

Diana Hunting, a masque, 120

Dice, 195, 237

Dickens, Charles, 274, 292

Dieppe, 43

Dimmick, Mrs., 313

Dinah, 316

Dingwell, Lord, 190

Dinners to 5,000 poor, 264

Diocletian's atrocities, 20

Dionysius Exiguus, 13

Dipmore End, 276

Disguisings, 75, 76, 91, 95, 100

D'Israeli, 151

"Dissipation and Negligence," 112

Dissolution of Monasteries, 108

Distributions to the poor, 257, 260, 264

Diversions, 76, 91, 95, 101, 119, 153, 205, 246-7, 251

Diverting ditties, 233-7

Divinings, 345

"Doctor," 284;
  medical, 341

"Domesday Book," 45

Donne, 152

Doran, Dr., 209, 210

Dorset, Countess of, 211

Dorset, Marquis of, 101

Dover, 63, 81

Dragon's heads, &c, 73

Dramatic displays, 123, 136-7, 140-2, 153

Dramatist, England's greatest, 142

Drinkhail, 58

Drinks, 55 (see "Ale," "Mead," &c.)

Druidical plant, 228, 318

Druidism, 15, 28, 228

Drums, 220, 339

Dryden, 196

Dublin, 52

Dudley, Lord Robert, 126

Dugdale, Sir William, 112, 125, 138, 146

Dunn, Harriett, 316

Dunois, 84

Dunstan's Churchyard, St., 136

Durham, 43

Durham, Bishop of, 241

Dutchmen display fireworks, 154

Dwarfs, 195


Ealdred, Archbishop, 39

Earl Marshal, 82

Early celebrations in Britain, 23

Eastern Churches, the, 11, 12, 325

Edgar, King, 36

Edinburgh, the late Duke of, 263

Edmondes, Sir Thomas, 192

Edmund, Archbishop, 63

Edmundsbury, St., 60

Edmund, son of Ethelred, 37

Edric, the Saxon, 37

Edric, Earl of Northumberland, 37

Edward the Confessor, 38

Edward, Prince, 241

Edward, St., 86

Edward I., 67

Edward II., 68

Edward III., 69

Edward IV., 86, 87, 88, 89

Edward V., 92

Edward VI., 108, 115, 116, 117

Edward the Black Prince, 74

Edwards, Richard, 137, 140

Edwin's Chiefs, King, 30

Effect of Season, 282

"Egeria," H.M.S., 308

Egg-nogg, 311

Egg Saturday, 183

Egmont, Count of, 118

Eija, 339, 340

Eisenach, 106

Eisleben, 106

Eleanor of Aquitane, 58

Eleanor of Castile, 68

Eleanor of Provence, 62

Eleutherius, Bishop of Rome, 24

Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward IV. 88

Elizabeth, Princess (afterwards Queen), 119, 120

Elizabeth, Princess of Austria, 335

Elizabeth, Queen, 122, 138, 140, 142, 150

Elizabeth of York, 93

Ellis, 105

El Teb, 302

Eltham, 78, 80, 81, 89, 104

Ely, Bishop of, 193

Ely, Monks of, 37

Emma, the Lady, 37, 38

England, 288

English Court, 38

English exiles, 93

Entertainments, 30, 77, 112, 218, 233, 294

Epiphany, 11, 60, 93, 97, 192, 345

Episcopal cautions, 22

Ernalton of Spayne, 75

Errant, Knights, 195

Essex, Earl of, 143

Ethelbert, King of Kent, 28

Ethelred, King, 36, 37, 38

Ethelwine, Bishop, 43

Eusebius, 13

Evelyn, John, 201, 211, 223

Evelyn, Richard, 200

Ewald, 13

Excursionists, 310

Exeter, 232

Exeter Cathedral, 280

Exeter Chapel, 211

Exeter, Duchess of, 88

Excesses, Anglo-Saxon, 33;
  Norman, 56

Expenditure for Christmas-keeping, 100-1

Experiences, Christmas, 287


Fabian, 81

"Fabliau of Sir Cleges," 69

Fair, Christmas, 337

Fairies, 195, 237

Fairy-bowl, 313

Fallow, Mr. T. M., F.S.A., 282-3

Fare, enormous, 65

Farnaby, 140

Farrar, Dean, 7

Fatally Burnt in Christmas Costumes, 291

"Father Christmas," 284

Favourites of James I., 155

Feast in the hall, 148

Feats of arms, 59, 67, 72, 73, 81, 99, 188

Fenwick, Sir John, 153, 222

Ferrers, George, 115, 116

"Ferrex and Porrex," 136

_Festa Natalazie_, 336

Festival in Scotland, the, 191

Festivities in the seventeenth century, 199

Fêtes, 309

Finland, 288

Fire, the all-attracting, at Christmas, 201, 217, 253, 259

Fire at King's Palace, 96

Fire in middle of halls, 30, 201

First English Tragedy, 125

First Footing in Scotland, 285

"First Nowell," the, 346, 350

Fitzstephen, 45

Fitz Urse, Reginald, 53

Fitzwilliam, Lord Admiral, 109

Fitzwilliam, Sir William, 122

Five Articles of James I., 191

"Five Bells of Magdalen Church," 182

Fleet, the, 112

Fleetwood, 213

Flemings, 52

Fletcher, 152

Flodden Field, 98

Flohr, Madame Appoline, 332

_Florentine, Old,_ 249

Flowers, 306, 307

Foiz, Erle of, 75

"Fool's Dance," the, 116

Fool, or Jester, 77, 113, 116, 284

Forbes, Mr. Archibald, 299

Forest of Dean, 43

Foresters, Lady, 75

Foresters and huntsmen in play, 100, 102

Forfeits, 246-7

Forte, Mr., 303

Fosse, the, 267

Foster, Birket, illustrations by, 2, 32, 44, 57, 111, 202, 234, 240,
  250, 257, 271

"Foula Reel," the, 286

France, 63, 72, 108, 288, 316-321

Francis II., Emperor, 35

Franco-German War, 35

"Franklin's Tale," the, 33

Fraser, Sir Simon, 71

Free-lunches at hotels, 311

Freeman, William, 25, 37, 43, 45

French Embassy, 101

Fretevel, 53

Friars, 195, 271

Friday Street Tavern, 152

Friscobald, Leonard, 100

Froissart, Sir John, 31, 69, 75

Frost, hard, of 1564, 138

Frozen regions, 296

Fuller, 94

Fur-clad revellers, 310


Gairdner, Mr. James, 86

Gaities, 309

Gala, 309

Galerius, 20

Gambia, 345

Gambols, 213, 221, 228, 247, 251

Games, 33, 88, 98, 102, 154, 205, 246

Garden of pleasure, 88

Garrard, Rev. G., 156

Garret, Mr. Edward, 284

Garrick, David, 219, 230, 237

Gascoigne, 140

Gascon wine, 57

Gaul, 28

Gaunt, John of, 94

Gay, John, 229

Geikie, Dr., 12

Generosity, 31, 263

Gentlemen of the Chapel Royal, 136, 141

_Gentleman's Magazine_, 243

Gentry, 55, 91. (_Also see_ items under names of "Gentry.")

Geoffrey of Monmouth, 31, 49, 136

Geological Society, 297

George I., 229

George II., 231

George II., costumes, 286

George III., 240

George IV., 258

George's Chapel, St., Windsor, 140

George, King of Bohemia, 89

George, Prince, 225

George, St., village of, 324

George, St., and the Dragon, 59, 284

Germans, 33, 35, 288, 332, 333, 334

Germany, Emperor and Empress of, 334

"Germania," 295

_Gesta Grayorum_, 142

Ghost Stories, 33, 237, 274, 276

Giants, 195

Gifford, 152, 197

Gifts, 30, 42, 69, 89, 96, 148, 170, 300, 323

Giles, 140

Giles's Christian Mission, St., 265

Giles Fields, St., London, 81

"Gillie Cullum," 305

Gipps, Mr. Richard, 218

Giraldus Cambrensis, 49

Gleemen, 31, 69 (_Also see_ "Minstrels.")

"_Gloria in Excelsis_," 317

Gloucester, 38, 45

Gloucester, Duke of, 92

Gloucestershire, Sheriff of, 65

Goblins of the "Iliad," 325

Goddesses and huntresses, 119

Godwin, House of, 38

Goffe, 212

Gold Coast, 288

Golden play at Court, 154

Goldsmith, Oliver, 241

"Good old fashion," 146

Googe, Barnaby, 121

Goose-pie, 256

"Gorboduc," 125, 136

Gorgeous apparelling, 101

Gosford Street, Coventry, 148

Gospatric, 38

Gourdon, Sir Robert, 190

"Governance Lord," 112

"Gracious time," a, 34

Graduals, 22

Grand entertainments, 99, 100-2

"Grand Christmas" ceremonies, 132

Grand Guiser, 286

Grant, 254

Granthuse, Lord of, 87

Grape gathering, 16

Grattan, 59

Gray's Inn, 111, 112, 142, 143, 144, 145, 193, 218

Gray's Inn List of Performers, 143-5

Great houses, 111

Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop, 22

Gregory the Great--His _Antiphonary_, 22;
  his story about English slaves, 27;
  sends Augustine to England, 28

Greek Church show, 328

Greek Empire, 324

Green, J. R., 122, 200

Greenland, 295, 296

Greenwich, 100, 108, 115, 119

Greenwich Hospital Gathering, 288

Grey de Ruthyn, Lord, 82

Grey, Lady Jane, and her husband, 117

Grey, Lord Richard, 92

Griffiths, William, 136

"Grimston, Young," 273

Groceries, 265

Grose, 227

Guildford, 60, 73

Guising, 286

Gunhild, 37

Gunning, Mr., 211

Gustavus, 342

Guy of Warwick, 195

Gybson, Richard, 100


"Hackin, the," 216, 235

Haddon Hall, 224, 225

_Hagmenae_, 305

"Halig monath" (Holy month), 29

Hallam, 223

Hall, chronicler, 100, 104

Hall, a gentleman's, 30, 201

Halstead, 93

Hamilton, Marquesse of, 192

"Hamlet," 34, 142

Hampton Court, 108, 139

Handel, 350

Hanover, 229

"Hansa," the, 295

"Happy Land," the, 286

Harefield, 200

Harefleur, 93

Hare soup, 295

Harleian, MS., 30, 95

Harlequin, 230

"Harlequin Sorcerer," 230

Harold I., son of Canute, 37

Harold II., son of Godwin, 39

Harpers, 31, 41, 91

Harrison, President, and Mrs., 313

Harthacnut, 37

Haselrig, 213

Haslewood, Mr. Joseph, 232, 241, 244

Hastings, battle of, 39

Hastings, Lord, 87, 88

Hatfield House, 119, 120

Hat of Estate, royal, 96

Hatton, Lady, 211

Hawaii, 307

Hawking, 32, 154

Hay, Lord, 190

Heathenish practices, 26

Hebrew and Hellenic elements, 19

Heine, Henrich, 321

Helena of York, 21

Heliogabalus, 312

Helmes, Mr. Henry, 143

Hemans, Mrs., 47

Hems, Mr. Harry, 278

Hengest, 28

Henley-on-Thames, 157

Henrietta Maria, 214

Henry, Cardinal of Winchester, 82

Henry I., 47

Henry II., 52, 56

Henry III., 62, 64

Henry IV., 79

Henry V., 80;
  widow of, 94

Henry VI., 83, 85, 86, 87

Henry of Richmond, 93

Henry VII., marries Elizabeth of York, 94

Henry VIII., 98;
  becomes head of Church, 107

Henry V. of Germany, 47

Henry, Prince, Son of James I., 152, 188

"Henry, Prince of Purpoole," 142

Herald Angels, the (a poem), 3

Heralds and pursuivants, 89

Herbert, Sir Philip, 153

Hereford, Duke of, 78

Herod, King, 7

Herons, 96

Herrick, Robert, 202, 279

"Hesperides," the, 203, 279

Heton, 68

Heynalte, Syr John, 70

Heywood, a player, 108

Higgs, Griffin, writer of the "Christmas Prince," 157, 350

High Festival at Court, 240

Highgate, 122

Highlands, 254

Hilary's Day, St., 73

Hilo, 306

Hinds' and maids' festivities, 213

Hippodrome, 52

Hobbyhorse, the, 197

Hobgoblins, 237

Hochstetter, Professor, 297

Hogges, village of, 52

Holbein, Hans, 109, 114

Holinshed, 100, 115, 122

Holland, Governor of, 87

Holland, Lord, 156

Hollington, near Hastings, 284

Hollis, Sir William, 220

Holst, Duke of, 153

Holt, Sir, 243

Holly, 273, 282

"Holly Bough, under the," 274

Holy evenings, 342

Holy Land, 67

Homage in the fifteenth century, 90

Hone, 66, 241, 317

Honey and wine, 55

Hood, Thomas, 274

Hoop and hide, 237

Hooton Roberts, 220

Horses gaily caparisoned, 99

Hospitality, 30, 124, 145, 146, 220, 256, 260-6, 278

Hostilities suspended for Christmas-day, 81, 84

Hot cockles, 229, 247, 252

Houghton Chapel, 220

Household Book of Henry VII., 95

Household Book of Henry VIII., 100

Housekeeping, Christmas, 232

House of Commons, 207

House of Peers, 226

Howard family, 101

Howard, Frances, Countess of Essex, 155

Howitt, Mary, 276

"Hue and Cry after Christmas," 208

Huet, Sir John, 153

Huish, 241

Humber, the, 43

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, 82

Hungary, 153;
  King of, 35

Hunting, 32, 54

Huntingdon, Earl of, 79;
  Countess of, 82

Hunt the Slipper, 247, 313

Hussars, 10th, 301

Hussey, Sir Richard, 153

Hypocras, 55


Iceberg, Christmas upon an, 297

Ice-bound regions, 295

Ice sports, 45, 138, 154-5

Ideler, 13

Illuminations at Hampton Court, 120

Immanuel, 5, 6

India, 299

Indian Ocean, 308

Ingenuities and devices, 63

Inner Temple, 125, 136, 138

Innocents' Day, 38, 119, 169

Inns of Court, 111, 112, 137, 201, 218

Interludes, 103, 112

Interruptions of festivities, 85, 206

"Investigator," the, 294

Iona, the monks of, 27

Ipomydon, Romance of, 33

Ipswich, 68, 210

_Ira Seu Tumulus Fortune_, 183

Ireland, 52, 288

Irish customs, 251

Irish Princes and Chieftains, 55

Irving, Washington, 241, 258

Isabel, Queen of France, 78

Isabella, daughter of Edward III., 75

Isaiah, the Prophet, 5

Italy, 288

Italian characters, 230

Italian Masque, 100


"Jack Straw," a masque, 112

Jacobites, 237

Jade, a charming, 252

Jamaica, 288

James I., 138, 150, 191, 193, 196

James II., 220, 225

James III. of Scotland, 98

James IV. of Scotland, 98

James's, St., 241

"Jane the Fool," 108

Jellalabad Plain, 302

Jermyn, Sir Isaac, 153;
  Sir Robert, 153

Jerome, St., 13, 21

Jerusalem, the church at, 11

Jerusalem Chamber, 207

"Jesus, the Nazarene," 52

Jhelum, 300

Jinks, high, 285

Joan of Arc, 84

Joan of Kent, 76, 149

Jocund holiday, 266

John's College, St., Oxford, 111

John III., Duke of Cleves, 109

John's Day, St., 86, 134, 153, 219, 320

John, King, 59

John of Gaunt, 74

John of Salisbury, 54

John the Baptist, 13

Joints of meats, 265

Jones, Rev. A. G., 308

Jones, Mr. Charles C., 102

Jones, Mrs. Herbert, 85, 263

Jones, Inigo, 151

Jones, Mary, 280

Jonson, Ben, 86, 141, 148, 149, 151, 152, 190, 197

Jordan, 19

Joseph, 5, 6

Jousts, 32, 120

Judas Maccabæus, 17

Judæan origin of Christmas, supposed, 17

Jugglers, 31

Jule (_see_ Yule)

"Julebukker," 342

Julius Agricola, 25

Julius I., Bishop of Rome, 12

Jupiter, 152

Justin Martyr, 7

Justiciars' extravagance, 59


Katherine of Arragon, 99

Katherine, wife of Henry V., 81

Kalends of January, 22

Karumpie, 55

Ken, Bishop, 11

Kenilworth Castle, 67, 68, 69, 84, 93, 197

Kent, 118

Kent, earldom of, 46

Kent, Countess of, 82;
  Fair Maid of, 149

"Kepe Open Court," 69

"Kepe open thy door," 30, 146, 220

Kilaue, 307

Kimberley, 299

King and Council, 117

King at Lord Buckingham's, 192

King, Josiah, 233

King of Christmas, 112

"King of the Cockneys," 112

"King of the Peak," 224

King of Egypt and his daughter, 284

King's deer, 75

King's Lynn, 85

King's players, 151, 153

King's singing men, 89

King's train-bearer, 96

"Kingdome's Weekly Intelligencer," 208

Kinloch, 300

Kirke, George, 201

Kissing Bush, 250, 281

Kitts, St., 288

Knevet, Sir Thomas, 101

Knights and Ladies, playing at, 252

Knights of the Round Table, 30

Knights in armour, 99

Knight Templars, 60

Knipton, 266

Kyrie Eliesons, 22, 28


_La Blanche Nef,_ 47

Ladies-in-waiting, 263

Lady-bells ring, 267

Lady-Mass, 88

"Lady Public Weal," 112

Ladysmith, 299

Lalain, Count of, 118

Lamb, Charles, 200, 244-6

Lambeth, 38, 138

"Lamentation," 145

Lancastrians, 85, 86

Lanfranc, Archbishop, 46, 49

Lanterns, Feast of, 345

"Largess," a, 129

Latimer, Hugh, 113

Latin and Greek verse, 111

Laube, Dr., 297

Laud, Dr. (Archbishop), 191, 195

Launcelot, Sir, 32

Laurel, 273, 282

Laurel blent with cypress, 298

Lavaine, Sir, 32

Lavish entertainments, 59

Law, Christmas, ancient, 35

Lawes, Henry, 151

Leaping, 32, 229

Leech, John, 289

Lee's "Mithridates," 218

Leeds, 283, 291

Legend of St. Nicholas, 310

Leicester, Earl of, 66, 139

Leigh, Gerard, 127

Leland, 95

Lenox, Duke of, 190

Leo, Pope, 35

Leon, King of Armenia, 78

Leon von Rozmital, 89

Leonard's chime, St., 267

Lerwick, 286

Letter Missions, 292

Leyden, 157

Library, St. John's College, 156

Lichfield Cathedral, 349, 350;
  Deanery of, 157, 350

Lincoln, 51, 68

Lincoln, Earl of, 64

Lincoln's Inn, 111, 112, 138

Lincolnshire, 266

Linlithgow, 68

Lion and antelope as performers, 102

Lions' heads, 119

Lisbon, 226

Lists of combat, 101

Literature, 292, 313

Llanfairpyllycrochon, 280

Llewellyn, Prince of Wales, 67

Log-fires, 32, 301

Lollards, 80

London, 36, 38, 43, 45, 51, 60, 63, 71, 78, 138

London, Bishop of, 25, 79

Longchamps, William, Bishop of Ely, 59

Longe, John, 71, 72

Longfellow, 26, 43, 44, 271

Lord Chamberlain, 87, 139

Lord Chamberlain's players, 151

Lord Mayor of London, 116

Lord Mayor and Lord of Misrule at loggerheads, 198

Lord of Misrule, 74, 95, 100, 105, 109, 112, 115, 125, 126, 198, 200,

Lord President of Wales, 200

Lord Treasurer, 192

Lorrainers, 319

Loseley, Surrey, 122

Lott, Mr. J. B., 350

Louis of France, 62

Lambert, 213

Louis, St., 317

"Love's Triumph," 198

Lucius Verus, 24

"Luck of Christ," the, 325

Ludlow, 92, 200

Luke, St., 6, 7

Luther, Martin, 106

"Lying Valet," 237

Lyly's Plays, 141

Lyson's "Magna Britannia," 251


Macaulay, Lord, 40

Machinists, ingenious, 151

Mackay, Dr. Charles, 274

Madden, Sir Frederick, 87

Madeley, Shropshire, 255, 284

Mafeking, 299

Magdalen College, Oxford, 109, 110

Magdalene College, Cambridge, 145

Magi, the, 11, 19, 28

_Magna Charta_, 60

Magnificence, 40, 87

Magnus, St., 49

Maid of Kent, Fair, 76, 149

Maid Marians, 286

Mainard, John, 117

Mallard, John, 114

Malory, Sir Thomas, 32

Malta, 307

Manger, superb substitutes for, 328

Manners, Lord and Lady John, 266

Manners, Sir John, 224

Manor, ancient, 148, 149

Mansfeld, 106

Mansions, 55

Manuel, Emperor, 52

Maori Pa, 304

March, Earl of, 82

Marcus Aurelius Antonius, 24

Margaret, daughter of Henry III., 64

Margaret of Anjou, 85, 86

Margaret, daughter of Henry VII., 97

Mark's, St., Venice, 336

Marlboro', 304

Marlborough, Duchess of, 225;
  Duke of, 225

"Marmion," 36

Marriage festivities, 62, 63, 64, 81, 99, 151-2

Marseilles, 307

Marteaux (a game with balls), 88

Martial music, 84

Martigny, George, 88

Martin, 152

Martin's, St., Canterbury, 24

Martyn, John, 231

Martyrs, British, 20

Mary, the mother of Jesus, 5, 6,

Mary, St., 53

Mary, Princess (afterwards Queen), 105;
  her accession, 117;
  Queen, 119, 136

Maryland, 314

Mary, Queen, wife of William III., 221

Mason, 251

Masquerade, 100, 102, 236

Masques, 52, 99, 119, 120, 143, 151, 152, 153, 154, 168, 192, 195,
  197, 201;
  rustic masque, 272

Massacres of Christians, 20

Massinger, Philip, 112, 193

"Master Christmas," 206

Master of the Children, the, 136

Master of the Revels, 74, 112, 125, 218 (_see also_ Lord of Misrule)

Matilda, Empress, daughter of Henry I., 47, 51

Matilda, Queen of Henry I., 49

Matins, 88

Matthew, St., 6

Maud, General, 300

Maupigyrum, 55

Mauritius, 288

Mayor and Aldermen of London, 74, 96

Mayor of Canterbury mobbed, 210

McClure, Sir R., 294

Mead, 55

Meade, Mr., 192, 198

Mediterranean, 307, 321, 331

Medley of Nymphs, savages, &c., 102

Melbourne, 303

"Meliades," 189

Melrose, 98

Memphis, 59

Mendelssohn, 350

Men of Kent, 210

Mephistopheles, 342

Mercia, 34, 35

"Merciless Parliament," 78

"_Mercurius Academicus_," 207

"_Mercurius Civicus_," 208

Mermaid Inn, 152

"Merry Boys of Christmas," 215

Merry Disports, Lord of, 117 (_see also_ Master of the Revels)

"Merry in the hall," 235

Merry tales, 195

Merton College, Oxford, 237

"Messiah," 304, 350

Metrical Romance, 69

Mexborough, 219

Michell, Sir Francis, 194

Middle Temple, 156, 192

Middleton Tower, Norfolk, 84

Midnight Mass, 316, 323

Midwinter Customs in the north, 284

Mildmay, Sir Henry, 192

Milford Haven, 93

Millbrook, Southampton, 265

Miller, Thomas, 248

Mills, 148

Milner, Dr., 31

Milton, 13, 200, 253

Mimics, 69

"Mince-pie," 273

Minerva, the Goddess, 102

Minstrels, 31, 41, 42, 43, 44, 58, 69, 315

Miracles at Becket's Sepulchre, 54

Miracle Plays, 52, 77

"_Misa del Gallo_," 340

"_Misa di Lux_," 340

Miscomia, 297

Misrule (_see_ "Lord of Misrule")

Missionary's Christmas, 308

Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, 286

Mistletoe, 28, 228, 250, 273, 282, 307, 318, 319

M'Kee, Mr. and Mrs., 313

Modern Christmases at home, 240

Modern Christmases abroad, 294

"Modern Intelligencer," The, 208

Mohnpielen, 335

Monk, General, 214

Monks, merry, 37, 56

Monson, Sir William, 192

Monstrelet, 81

Monte Carlo, 331

Montegele, Lord, 154

Montgomery, 154, 190

Morat, 55

Moray, Earl of, 71

More, Mr., of Loseley, 122

Morley, Lady, 91

Morley, Professor Henry, 69, 125, 136, 193, 229

Morrice Dance, 102

Mortimer, Anne, 86

Morville, Hugh de, 53

Mosaics, 16, 331

Mother of the maids, 139

Motley throng, 286

Mowbrays, 148

Moyle, Thomas, 112

Muddle, General, 297

Mumming, 52, 80, 121, 234, 236, 267

Murray, Sir Andrew, 71

Muschamp, Sir Thomas, 153

Music, 195

Musicians, 129

Musk veal, 294

Mysteries, 77


"_Naogeorgus_," 121

Naples, 336

Napoleon Bonaparte, 321

Naseby, 209

Nativity, place of the, 7;
  Church and Convent of the, 7;
  feast of the, 15;
  massacres at the, 20;
  sermons on the, 193-5

Navarre, 63

Navidad discovered, 96

Negroes' merry Christmas, 314

Negro minstrels, 286

Neighbours and Tenants, 146, 220

Nelson, New Zealand, 304

Nero, 15, 20

Netherlands, 288

Neville's Cross, 74

Neville, Sir Richard, 82

Nevil, Lord, 86, 101

Newark-on-Trent, 62

New Brunswick, 288

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 68

New England Puritans, 314

New Forest, 47

Newmarket, 194, 218

New style, 237

Newton, Sir Isaac, 14, 204

New Year's Day, 93, 95, 96, 100, 130, 135, 169, 170, 189, 199, 203,
  260, 263, 271, 284, 286, 291, 323, 342

New Zealand, 304

Nicholas's Day, St., 119

Nichols, 120, 124, 126, 153, 155, 191, 192, 193-5

Nicomedia, 20

Nigellus, 53

Novgorod, 319

Nip, 342

"Nippin Grund," the, 286

Noblemen, 99, 124
  (see others named)

_Noche-buena_, 340

Nocturnal Office, 317

Noël or Nowell, 9, 33, 319, 321, 346, 350

Nonconformists, 207

Norfolk, 143, 146, 218

"Norman Baron," the, 43-4

Norman celebrations, 40, 41

Norman Conquest helped, 37

Norman-French customs, 38

Normandy, dukedom of, 47

Normandy, 42, 318, 320

Northampton, Marquis of, 139

Northamptonshire, 284

North, Mr. Thomas, 232

Northern nations, 15

North Pole, 295

North Sea fishermen, 286

North West Passage, 294

Northumberland, 43, 255

Northumberland, Earl of, 37, 86;
  earldom of, 43;
  Duke of, 117

Northumberland Household Book, 103

Northumbrians, 27, 38

Norton, Thomas, 125

Norway, 288, 342

Nottingham, 68, 189

Nova Scotia, 288

Nuns, 267, 271, 321


Oberon, 342

Odo, Bishop, 46

Offa, "the mighty," 34, 350

Officers of "Grand Christmas," list of, 126;
  of Christmas Prince, 165-6-7;
  officers, Royal, of Arms, 139

Oglethorpe, Bishop, 123

Olaf, King, 26

"Old Christmas," 145, 230, 273, 276

"Old and Young Courtiers," 217

Oldisworth, Michael, 201

"Open Court" of Cardinal Wolsey, 104

"Open House," 113, 220

Opera, the, 228

Order of the Garter instituted, 72

Ordinances of the Puritans, 207

Orkney Isles, 287

Orleans, 84

Orpheus, 19, 29, 152

Osborne House, 261-3

Othbert, 49

Ovation to Henry V., 81

Overbury, Sir Thomas, 155

Ovid, 230

Oxford, 38, 51, 68, 109, 140, 210


Paganism, 19, 20, 22, 28

Pageantry, 31, 63, 122

Paget, Lord, 120

Palatine, marriage of, 151

"Palemon and Arcite," 140

Palestine, 54

"Pallas, Knights of," 102

Palmer, Mr., Lord of Misrule, 198

Pansch, Dr., 295

Panting Piper, 305

Pantomime, 229, 230

Papal Legate, 64

Pappa Westra, 287

Paris, 35, 291, 316, 317, 318

Paris, Matthew, 54, 63

Paris Tournament, 78

Parker, Lieutenant and Mrs., 313

"Parlement," 45

Parliamentarians, 206

Parliament, new Houses of, 46

Parliament, the first English, 65

Parson makes merry with parishioners, 113

Parties, 309

"Paston Letters," 86, 91

Pastoral, "Calisto," 218

Patriarch of Venice, 336

Patrick, St., 284

_Paulinus_, Missionary, 30

Paul, Mr. Howard, 309

Paul's Cathedral, St., 140

Paul's Church, St., 119

Paul's Cross, St., 92

Paul St., Earl of, 79

Paul's School, St., 77

Paupers, merry, 288

Pavy, Salathiel, 142

Peacocks, 96, 97

Pegasus, 198

Pembroke, the Regent, 62

Pembroke, Countess of, 241

"Penelope's Wooer," 187

Penshurst, Kent, 148-9

Pepys, Samuel, 145, 218

Perche, Countess of, 47

Peres, William, 103

Performers, various, 41, 77

"Periander," a tragedy, 185

Periodicals, 292, 313

Period of Christmas, 12, 35, 111, 135, 227

Perrers, Alice, 74, 75

Perth, 274

Perry, 55

Peshawur, 300

Petavius, 13

Peter of Blois, 56

Peter, St., 283

Peter the Great, of Russia, 223

Peter's, St., Rome, 330

_Pétit Souper_, 322

Petworth, 225

Philip of Spain, 118

Philip and Mary, 119

Philippa, Queen, 72

"Philomathes," 176

"Philomela," a tragedy, 169

Philosopher's game, 195

Phoenicia, 55

Picnics, 304

Picts and Scots, 26, 31

"Picturesque Europe," 224

_Pièce de résistance_, 294

Piers Gaveston, 68

Pigment, 55

Pilgrims, 59

Pires Barnard, 68

Pipers, 31, 89

_Place de la Madeline_, 319

_Place de la République_, 319

Plague, the, 139

Plantagenets, 68

Plato's Dialogue, 17

Plays, Christmas, 76-7, 84, 91, 95, 102, 112, 125, 136-7, 142, 284,

Playing Cards, 90

Plum-pudding, 245, 263, 265, 273, 317, 319

Pocahontas, 314

_Poculum charitatis_, 237

Poetic pictures of Christmas, 33, 34, 43-4, 69, 203, 204-5, 217,
  221-2, 227, 250, 258, 274, 276-8, 288, 298, 350

Poictiers, 74

Pointer, 237

Poleaxes for Pensioners, 156

Pole, Cardinal, 118, 119

"Pompey," 36

Pontefract, 87, 92

"Poor Robin's Almanack," 217, 222, 223, 230

Pope, poet, 46, 230

"Popish Customs," so called, 109

Popple, John, 257

Popular festivities, 242

Portugal, 226, 288

Post and Pair, 247, 250

Post-office and postmen, 292

Poverty at Court, 86

Prayer Books of Edward VI., 117

Presbytery, 109

Presents, 15, 42, 69, 88, 312, 323, 326, 335

Presentation in the Temple, 348

_Presepio_ (manger), 328

Preston, Sir Richard, 190

Priestess, Druid, 228

Priests bearing relics, 90

Priestly practices, 121, 317, 328

Primate's cruelty, 200

Primitive celebrations, 19

"Prince Charlie," 237

Prince of Wales, 85, 225, 263

Prince of Wales's Strait, 294

Princes of Germany, 35, 109

Princes play in masques, 152, 197

Privy Council, 117

Prolongation of Revels, 201

Promethus, 152

Protectorate, the, 213

Protestantism of Queen Elizabeth, 122

Provençal Plays, 320-1

Provence, 320, 321;
  Eleanor of, 62-4

Provision for the poor, 257-8, 260-6

Prowess, 67, 72, 73, 84, 99, 190

Prussian Royal Family, 334

Prynne, William, 199

Psyche, 19

Ptarmigan pasties, 295

_Punch_, 282, 342

Puppet shows, 227, 321, 328

Purification, the, 73

Puritan Directory, 207

Puritanism, 109

Purposes, 195

Puss-in-the-Corner, 236

Pynson, printer, 104


Quadrangle, Royal, 88

"Quartette" cards, 272

Queen's College, Oxford, 109

Queen's Gentlewomen, 88

Questions and Commands, 195, 236

Quintin, 45, 59


Races, 218

Railways, the, 292

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 152

Rampini, Sheriff, 286

Ratcliffe, 93

Rathbertus, a priest, 49

Reade, Mr., 346

"Read's Weekly Journal," 232

"Recollections of old Christmas," 272

Recreations, 195, 315

Redcoats, 294

Redmile, 266

Roedwald, 29

Reformation, 106, 109

Regatta, the Christmas, 304

"_Regis Orator et Calamo_," 114

Regulations for a grand Christmas, 112

Reindeer-sleigh of St. Nick, 311

Rejoicings on French battle ground, 72

Relics, sacred, 90, 331

Religious matters, 117

Rennes cloth, 88

Reresby, Sir John, 219

Restoration, the, 215

Reunions, 313

Revels resembling _Saturnalia_, 18

Revels, called a Maskelyn, 100

Revels, Master of the, 112 (_see also_ "Lord of Misrule")

Revels, 132, 153, 180, 181, 192, 193, 218, 315

Revolution, 220

_Rex Fabarum_, 109

Rhedon, 93

Rheims Cathedral, 94

Rhosllanerchrugog, 264

Rhosymedre, Denbighshire, 264

Rhys, brother of Gruffydd, 38

Richard I. ("_Coeur de Lion_"), 58

Richard II., 76

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, 92

Richard III., 93, 101

Richard, Duke of York, 86, 87

Richard the Good, of Normandy, 38

Rich, Christopher, 229

Rich, John, 229

Richmond, 96, 98, 99, 102, 108, 119

Richmond, Duke of, 105

"Richemond Manor," open house at, 104

Riding School, Windsor, 260

Riddles, 252

Rigden, Mr., 219

Ripon, 242

Rivers, Lady, 88;
  Earl, 92

Rivet, Andrew, 157

"Roast Beef of Old England," 301

Robert of Comines, 43

Robes, costly, 75

Robin Hood, 66

Robin Hood and his foresters depicted, 100, 286

Rochester, 118

Rochester, Bishop of, 139

Roe, Sergeant, 112

Roger de Coverley, Sir, 227

Roger Mortimer, 68

Roland, Captain of Charlemagne, 41

Roman Church, 62

Roman Catholic reaction, 118

Roman Empire, 35

Roman invasion of Britain, 23

Romantic days, 31

Rome, early Church at, 11

Rome, 328

Romish priestly practices, 121

Rooke, Sir George, 226

Rope-dancing, 229

Roses united in marriage, 94

Rotterham, 220

Rouen, 81, 317

"Round about our Coal Fire," 201, 233

Round Table, 30, 67, 73

Royalists, 206, 215

Royal Bounties, 258, 260

Royal festivities, 54, 94, 99, 141, 261 (_see also_ other festivities
  recorded under the names of different Sovereigns)

Rowbotham, 28

Rowe, 142

Rowse, Sir John, 153

Royston, 153

Roxburgh Collection (British Museum), 145

Ruabon, 264

Rufus's revelries, 47

Rump, the, 213, 217

Running, 32

Runnymede, 60

Russell, Lord John, 297

Russia, 284, 288, 342

Rutland, Duke of, 224, 266;
  Janetta, Duchess of, 225;
  Lord, 80, 87


Sabine Island, 295

Sackville, Thomas, 125

Sailors' gathering, 288

Salisbury, Earl of, 87, 154, 156

Salom Moss, 101

Sanctuary at Westminster, 92

Sandal Castle, 87

Sandhurst, Berkshire, 276

Sandringham, 85, 263

Sandwich Island, 294

Sandwich Islands, 305

Sandys, William, F.S.A., 15, 104, 137, 201, 206

San Maria Maggiore Church, 331

Saracens, 59

Santa Claus, 290, 310

"Saturday Review," 207

_Saturnalia_, 13, 15, 19, 29, 168, 191, 320

Saxon chiefs, 43

Saxon sports, 44

Scales, Lord and Lady, 84, 85

Scaliger, 13

"Scalloway Lasses," 286

Scandinavianism, 285

Scenic magnificence, 152

Schomberg, Duke of, 226

Scottish annals, 48, 68, 71, 82, 98, 154, 191, 207, 242, 254, 284-8

Scotch first-footing, 285

Scott, Dr., 313

Scott, Sir Walter, 36, 98, 250

Scripture history plays, 77

Sea celebrations, 95, 218, 307

Sears, E. H., 350

Sectaries, 207

Segraves, 148

Selden, 152

Seleucus Nicator, 13

Senegal, 345

Senlac, battle of, 39

"Seven Champions of Christendom," 283

"Seven Dayes of the Weeke," the, 174

Sermons, Christmas, 193

Servants' feasts, 202, 212-3, 263

Servians, 345

Settlers, English, 314

Seville Cathedral, 338

Seymour, Jane, 108

Shaftesbury, 37

Shakespeare, 34, 80, 81, 141, 142, 151, 152, 153, 263

Shaw, Dr., 92

Shene, 75, 96

Shepherds, 7, 317

Sherwood Forest, 66

Shetland, 285

"Shewes," triumphant, 190

Shipwreck on Christmas-day, 287

Shopping in sleighs, 312

Shovelboard, 195

Shrewsbury, Earl of, 139

Shrine of St. Peter, 330

Shropshire, 24, 118, 255, 284

Shrove Tuesday, 183

Sicily, King of, 59

Sidney, Sir Philip, 148

Sieur de Nigry, 118

Silurians, King of, 24

Simeon, 348

Sinclair, Rev. John, 287

Singing, 140, 195, 294, 326, 350

Sirloin of roast beef, 231

Siward, Sir Richard, 64

Skating, 45 (see "Ice Sports")

Skeleton at bed foot, 276

Skinner's Wells, 76

Skylarking, 294

Slade, Monty, 302

Sladen Douglas, B. W., 303

Slavs, 345

Sleighing, 302, 310

Smith, Captain John, 314

Smith, Dr. Walter, 285

Smith, Sir Thomas, 139

Smithfield, London, 79

Smyth, John, court fool, 116

Smyth, Matthew, 143

"Snap" cards, 272

Snapdragon, 247

Social festivities, 252

Society Islands, 288

Somerset, Duke of, 87, 115, 225

Somerset, Earl of, 155

Somerset, Sir Thomas, 190

Somersetshire, 31

Somers, Will, king's jester, 113

"Sonsy haggis" 255

"_Sonya_," 344

Southampton, Earl of, 190

Southern merrymaking, 314

Southey, 257

Souvenirs, 312

Spain, 75, 108, 120, 190, 212, 225, 288, 338

Spanish cavaliers, 286

Spectacular entertainments, 52, 99

"Spectator," the, 227

Speech from the throne, 87

Spenser, 149

Spithead, 225

Sports, 33, 54, 154, 169, 198, 203, 247, 252

Stacy, Louis, 88

Staffordshire, 284, 349, 350

Stained glass, modern, 348

Stainer, 350

Stanley, Dean, 17

Stanton, Mr. W. M., 304

Stapleton, Lady, 91

Star of Bethlehem, 319

Star Chamber, 156

State meetings, 29, 38, 45, 54;
  State worship, 96-7

Steele, 227

Stephen, King, 51

Stephen's Day, St., 120, 126, 130, 133, 168, 219, 350

Steward's Department, Lord, 260

Steward, Sir John, 82

"Still Christmas" of Henry VIII., 104

Stoke Abbat, 157

Stony Stratford, 92

Stories of Christmastide, 48, 49, 237, 274, 275, 276, 287

Stowe, 66, 74, 102, 112, 116

Strafford papers, 156

Strange, Lady, 139

Stratford-upon-Avon, 218

Strutt, 44, 76, 103, 119, 218

Strype, 119

Sturgeon, 96

Stuteville, Sir Martin, 192, 198

Subtleties, 83, 97

Sufed Koh, 302

Suffolk, 146

Suffolk, Earl of, 84, 189

Sullivan, 350

Sumptuous feasts of Normans, 54

Superstitions, 33, 34, 285

Sussex, Earl of, 139

Sussex, Sheriff of, 65

Swans, 96

Sweden, 288

Sweetmeats, 322

Swegen, King, 36

Swein, King of Denmark, 43

Swithin, St., Winchester, 56

Sword-dance, 229, 255

Sword actors, 282-4

Sword of King Arthur, 58

Swynford Catherine, 94

"Synod of Westminster," 208

Synod of Whitby, 27

Syria, 55


Tacitus, 24, 33

Taillefer, Norman minstrel, 41

Talbot, Sir John, 84

Tallard, Marshal, 226

Tales, weird, 274-5

Tallis, 140

Tambourine, 340

Tancred, King, 58

"Tatler," the, 228

Taverner, Edmund, 201

Taylor, John, 206

_Te Deum_, 317

Telesphorus, St., Bishop of Rome, 13

Tempest, great, 74

Templars' sports, 198

Temple-horn winded, 198

Temple of Minerva, 184

Temples, the, 111

Tenants' and labourers' feast, 231

Tennyson, 31, 270

Teonge, Rev. Henry, 218

Tetzel, 89

Teuton forefathers, our, 26

Teuton kinsmen, 34

Tewkesbury, 94

Thackeray, Mr., 229

Thames, 108, 127

Thanet, Isle of, 28

Theatrical exhibitions, 141, 229, 230

Thelluson, Hon. Mr. and Miss, 273

Theobald, Archbishop, 53

Theobalds, 154, 193, 194

Theodosius the younger, 22

Thewlis, St., 284

Thomas, St., 54

Thomas, St. (a place), 288

Thomas's Day, St., 130, 164, 265

Thomas, Thomas, 280

Thomas, the Misses, 262

Thor, 15, 26, 29

Thorold, Sir Wilfrid de, 267

Thunder (_see_ Thor), 29

Thurstan, Archbishop, 48

Thrybergh, 219

Tilting, 155 (_see also_ Tournament)

"Time's Alteration," 217

"Time's Complaint," 170

"Time's Telescope," 251

Tobacco, 259, 278

Toffee, 281

Tommy Atkins, 299

Torchlight procession, 286

Torksey Hall, 266

Tostig, Earl, 38

Tournaments, 32, 52, 67, 73, 78, 99, 101, 155, 189, 190

Tower of London, 79, 92, 117, 123, 223, 226

Towton, 87

Toys, 265

Tragedy of "Gowry," the, 153

Traill, Mr., 287

Transatlantic Saxons, 309

Transvaal, 288

Travelling, ancient, 31

"Treason! treason!" cried James I., 193

Tricks by animals, 229

Trinity College, Cambridge, 110

Trinity Term, 131

Triphook, Robert, 155

Tripoli, 55

Triumphs of the tournament, 101

Trumpeters, 89

Trumpets, 220, 261

Trunks, small, 195

"Truth," in pageantry, 122

Tucker, Thomas, the elected Prince, 156

Tudela, Benjamin of, 52

Tudor, Edmund, Jasper, Owen, 94

Tumbling, 119, 228

Turkeys, 246, 340

"Turkish Knight," 284

"Turkish Magistrates," 119

Turnham Green, 284

Tusser, Thomas, 124, 140, 146

Twelfthtide, 15, 35, 95, 97, 100, 102, 125, 135, 153, 154, 188, 190,
  193, 198, 201, 241, 320, 342

Twelve days of Christmas, 35, 111, 125, 227

Tyrrel, Sir Walter, 47

Tytler, General, 300


Udall, Nicholas, 119

Ukraine, 345

Ule (_see_ Yule)

Uniformity, Act of, 117

United States, 288, 309-316

_Uphelya_, 286

"Ups and Downs of Christmas," the, 209

"_Ursa Minor_," 273

Usher, 13

Ushers, Gentlemen, 139

Uvedale, Lord of Wickham Manor, 71


Valorous deeds, 59

Vane, 213

Variety of players, 63

Vaughan, Master, 88

Vawce, Sergeant, 117

"Venetian Senators," 119

Venice, 190, 336

Vere, Earl of Oxford, 75

Vere, Lady Susan, 153

Vernon, Dorothy, 224

Versailles, 35

Vespers, 331

Viands, 55

Victoria, Queen, 258, 260-3

Victoria's grandchildren, Queen, 262

Vienna, 336

Vigil of Christmas, 49, 317

Vigilate, a, 178

"Vindication of Father Christmas," the, 212

Vineyard of pleasure, 88

Vintage, the, 16

Violins, 220

Virgil's _Eclogues_, 17

Virginian Colonists, 314

Virgin Mary, image of the, 317

Visors depicted in verse, 104

Vivian, Sir Francis, 156;
  Mr. Vivian, 156

Volcano, 305


Waits, 44, 240

Wakefield, battle of, 86

Wales, 38, 188, 200, 280, 288

Wales, Prince and Princess of, 85, 225, 263

Wallingford, 51, 68

Wanjani, 304

Ward, Rev. John, 218

Warning shots, 127

Warren, Earl of, 64

Warrior-King (Edward III.), 74

Warriors rewarded, 42

Wars of Barons, 65

Wars of Roses, 85

Wars of Roses ended, 93

War suspended for Christmas, 81, 84

Warton, author, 110

Warwick, Earl of, 87, 93, 139, 192

Warwick muses, 198

Warwickshire, 146, 284

Wash, the, 62

Wassail, 15, 58, 97, 181

"Wassail Bowl," 15, 273

Wassailing the apple-trees, 278-9

Washburn, Ex-Minister E. B., 318

Washington negroes, 314

Wattewille, Monsieur Robert, 68

"Weekly Account," the, 208

"_Weihnacten_," 335

"_Weihnactt's Bescheerung_," 335

"Welcome to Christmas," 276

Welcome to all comers, 30, 148, 220, 256

Wellington, 304

Welsh border, 38, 43

Welsh Christmas, 280-2

Western Church, the, 12

West Kington, 113

Westminster, 46, 62, 64, 74, 87, 89, 123

Westminster Abbey, 38, 51, 123, 140, 193

Westminster Hall, 46, 60, 64, 68, 78, 93, 118, 123, 226

Weston, Dr., 118

West Riding of Yorkshire, 282-4

West Newton, 263

Whalley, Colonel, 212

Wheatley, Mr. W. M., 265

Whippingham, 262

White, Sir Thomas, 118

Whitehall, 118, 154

Whitelock, 207

"White Rose of York," 85

Whittier, J. G., 37

Wild Boar, 32, 33, 45, 110

William, Prince of Orange, 220

William and Mary, 221

William IV., 258

William the Almoner, 64

William the Conqueror, 39

William, King of Prussia, 35

William Rufus, 46

William, son of Henry I., 47

William of Malmesbury, 49

William of Ypres, 52

Williams, 99

Willoughby, Lord, 82

Winchester, 31, 34, 37, 47, 65;
  monks of, 56

Winchester, Bishop of, 195

Winchester Palace, 62, 65

Winchester School, 71

Windsor, 31, 47, 48, 54, 62, 75, 80, 87, 225, 261

Wine and honey, 55

Winer, 13

Winters, hard, 67, 138, 154-5

Winter solstice, 15, 29, 295

Winwood, Mr., 153

Wise Men (Magi), 11, 19, 28

Wise Men (the King's), 29, 38, 45

Witches, 195, 237

"Wit-combats," 153

Witenagemot, 29

Wither, George, 190, 204

Wizard of Christmas, 310

Woden, 25, 29

Wolf, 45

Wolferton, 263

Wolley, Sir Francis, 154

Wolsey, Cardinal, 104, 106, 112

Women masks, 119

Wood, Mr., 109, 140, 157

Woodstock, 226

Woodville, Elizabeth, 89

Woodville family, 92

Woolsthorpe, 204, 266

Worcester, 52, 60, 67;
  Earl of, 82, 189

Workhouse, Christmas at, 288

Worksop, 87

Worship in State, 96-7

Wortley, near Leeds, 291

Wotton, 200

Wrestling, 32

Wright, Thomas, F.S.A., 90

Wyatt, Sir Thomas, 118

Wykeham, William of, 71

Wynh, Lady Williams, 264

Wynn, Sir W. W., Bart., 264

Wynnstay Park, 264

_Wyrcester, William_, 87, 89


Xtemas, 9


Yeoman, 124

Yew, 282

York, 31, 36, 43, 64, 68, 86

York, Archbishop of, 65, 240

York, Bishop of, 25

York, Duchess of, 82

York, Duke of, the young, 92

York, wars of, 85

Yorkshire, 251, 282-4

Yule, Jule, or Ule, 9, 15, 195, 285

Yule-log, 1, 268, 302, 319, 345

"Yuletide," 177, 227, 267, 285


_Zambombas_, 339

Zanzibar, 288

Zukkur Kehls, 300

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