페이지 이미지

the extreme poor participated in Christmas festivities, beyond the small dole of food and flannel, which is still given to them by the Lady Bountifuls of the parish, as the "mellis dulci flavoque liquore," which induces the recipients to swallow their pious tracts and controversial discourses. To conciliate the rude but joyous festivity of the "olden times,” with the every-day comforts and with the habits of calm reflection of the present age, is clearly impossible. The worn senses and practised imaginations of the civilized man will not lend themselves to periodical rejoicings, and to stated statutable amusement. We may observe the same fact in the different degrees of excitement produced by the carnival in the different Catholic countries where that festival is celebrated. The wretched populace of Rome still indulge in their old frantic extravagances; while in Paris the whole effort of the police can scarcely command the attention of the populace to the season, by the lifeless draggle-tailed masks that it disperses through the streets for their amusement.

It is a curious circumstance that while Mr. Leigh Hunt, in the Examiner, published his papers on Christmas in the interest of the humbler classes, Mr. Washington Irvine took the opposite side of the question. Mr. Irvine thinks Christmas admirable as a real saturnalia, as the season in which the feudal lord practises his well-simulated condescensions, the epoch of a cold and ostentatious charity, the time when the favourites of fortune sacrifice to Nemesis, and purchase the submission and gratitude of the poor by alleviating a little of that evil which the wisdom of the age now calls upon them to prevent in toto. Political economy does not exclaim to a race of degraded vassals, "age, libertate Decembri utere," take as a gift what you ought to obtain as the reward of your industry; it teaches not the poor to depend upon gratuitous pleasures and eleemosynary feastings; but demands that unrestricted freedom of labour which enables every man to provide for his own wants, and reduces abject poverty within the narrowest possible limits.

In this view of the thing Mr. Irvine is right, and Mr. Hunt clearly wrong. It would indeed be "a merrie time in Olde Englande" for the ultra-party, if they could but succeed in persuading the people to return to that ignorance and privation which once gave such a charm to Christmas festivities, and made a fortnight's hilarity a great and important feature in the history of life. The lord of misrule, licentious and satirical as he might have been, was by no means so dangerous to legitimacy, as the president of a debating society; and the morricedancing fool with his bauble, was nothing near so expensive a means of amusing the people into quietness and subjection as many that exist for that purpose. But that the restoration is clearly impossible, it would have been doubtless attempted by our Ultras and Jacobites to bring in these ancient doings, with the rest of the old church and state machinery dragged from the dusty lumber of the property-room of the Holy Alliance; but, alas! like royal lyings-in-state, royal buryings, royal coronations, and all other pageants prepared for the people to "shew their eyes and grieve their hearts," Christmas has lost its hold of the popular affections. So little indeed remains of these established fooleries, that very lately in Ireland (a Catholic nation too) when a parcel of morrice-dancers escaped from an isolated part of the country inhabited by the descendants of the Danes, and ventured into a civilized district, they were so

little known or understood, that they were taken up by the magistrates as Captain Rock's men, and committed to prison with as vigorous an activity as if they had been in reality a useful innovation.

This is much perhaps to be lamented. "Springes to catch woodcocks" was ever a favourite device with the partisans of legitimacy. "The Popes," says Selden, "in sending relics to princes, do as wenches do by their wassels on new year's tide. They present you with a cup, and you must drink of a slabby stuff; but the meaning is, you must give them money ten times more than it is worth." All this (mutatis mutandis) might be said in favour of the revival of Christmas: the people would gain a fortnight's frolic, and pay for it with a twelvemonth's subjection. It may, however, be some consolation to the parties affected, to know that there is no use without its abuse, and to learn that these convenient mystifications were sometimes turned against their authors. In Fabian's Chronicle we learn that in Henry the Fourth's time, upon such an occasion, "the Dukys of Aumarle, of Surrey, and of Exetyr, with the Earlys of Salesbury and of Gloucetyr, with other of their affynytie, made provysyon for a disguysynge, or a mummynge, to be shewyd to the kynge, upon twelfethe nyght; and the tyme was nere at hande and all thynge redy for the same. Upon the sayd twelfethe day, came secretlye unto the kynge the Duke of Aumarle, and shewyd him, that he with the other lordys aforenamed were appointed to sle him in the tyme of the foresayde disguysynge, &c." This, it must be confessed, was no joke: and nothing can be harder than if the Emperor of Austria, escaping from the revolutionary propensities to science of his own subjects, and the Carbonari invasions of British tourists, political and literary, should some day fall a victim to an aristocratical disguysynge! Only conceive an Esterhazy and a Metternich engaged, not in the ordinary mummery of their calling, but going up and down the country concealing themselves, as Punch and Pantaloon. Fancy the "durchlauchtigste Fürst," that most transparent Prince Schwartzenburgh, obscured beneath the garb of Pailiasse, in a conspiracy to quicken the succession of the House of Hapsburg, or levying arms against his master under the semblance of Harlequin's sword. Such things, we have seen, in time past, and such things may be again; and if so, God give his imperial extinguishership "a good deliverance!" In the mean time, let the consideration have its weight and temper the repinings of all lovers of legitimacy after "mummynges and disguysynges." For my own part at least, I would not give a pin to choose, whether I fell by the arm of a Jacobin, or was pinked through the lungs by an aristocratic conspirator; and if I was a king, much as I might regret the good old times, I should very readily dispense with the Dukys and Earlys who have disappeared with them.



* M. Pons, the astronomer, in Lucca, has been turned adrift in the Emperor's zeal for the suppression of science. He quitted Marseilles only at the urgent entreaties of Maria Louisa, to be astronomical professor at Lucca. He is well known in England. No charge of any kind has been made against this clever man: his removal is part of the Austrian system for preventing the progress of knowledge.

VOL. IX. No. 50.-1825.


Magno veluti cum flamma sonore
Virgea suggeritur costis undantis aheni,
Exultantque æstu latices; furit intus aquæ vis,
Fumidus atque altè spumis exuberat amnis:
Nec jam se capit unda: volat vapor ater ad auras.

A Sors Virgiliana, drawn on board a Steam-boat, in the passage from Dover to Boulogne, in 1823.

NEVER did wight, in ancient days,

Of such sublime discoveries dream
As Watt-be his, then, all the praise
Who taught us first the power of Steam.

The hundred-hand Briareus' power

To us no power at all would seem;
Watt's hundred-horse one, in an hour,

Can do the work of years with Steam.
Would Archimedes, or Alphonso*

(Whose science led him to blaspheme,)
So long with levers have gone on so,

If they had guess'd the strength of Steam?

Up comes a river from the mine,

Exhausted its obstructing stream,
And metals glow, and diamonds shine-
The rich and rare results of Steam.

On Delia's arm, on Chloe's breast,

Gems, cheap as Bristol stones, will beam;
O'erflowing be the miser's chest,

With gold produced, and coin'd by Steam.

Profoundest speculators puzzling,

Well might it cause surprise extreme
To learn that Hindoos wear our muslin,
Wove, and embroider'd too, by Steam.

To India in two months you'll sail,

Should not the world-contracting scheme,
For want of funds or fuel fail,

The primum mobiles of Steam.

What did the awkward ancients know
Of navigation? Their Trireme
Three knots an hour could scarcely row;
A dozen we can run with Steam.

That Frenchmen vapour well we know ;
But, in that faculty supreme,
We clearly our advantage show,

By vapouring, as we do, with Steam.
Brunel performs his tasks with ease,

Though woefully his engines scream;
Iron and blocks he cuts like cheese-

Such wonders does he work with Steam!

Five hundred balls, per minute, shot,

Our foes in fight must kick the beam;
Let Perkins only boil his pot,

And he'll destroy them all by Steam.


Alphonso the Tenth, King of Castile and Leon, who said, "Give me matter and motion, and I'll make you a world."

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


The Horse Bazaar.


It is lucky for all parties, my dear Frank, that the proposed family visit to our Wen, as Cobbet calls it, is to be deferred for a year or so; for the inevitable consequence of your coming up just now could scarcely fail to be fatal to the sight-seeing propensities of all of us, since it would assuredly have the effect of restricting our daily rambles to the following routine-namely, from the hotel in the Adelphi, to King Street, Portman Square, and back again. I have always understood that you have no objection to your own way, whatever the matter may be. But in an affair of horses, I have good reason to know that you will have it. In short, where two or three horses are congregated, you must be in the middle of them; and here, on the above-named spot, we have just established a Mart for horses, and all other matters thereunto belonging, which will, I think, satisfy even your notions of the comparative claims of that noblest of animals. They say England is the hell of horses." If I concede this proposition, it must be in return for another which shall admit that, if it is the hell of horses, it includes (like the hell of the ancients) their Elysium also for if there is no country in the world where horses (as well as every other living thing) are occasionally treated so cruelly, there is none where so many and such well-adapted means are taken to make them comfortable and happy. Sir Philip Sidney, in relating an interview he once had with an Italian professor of the art of riding on horseback, (as if, Frank, an Italian, or any but an Englishmansome would say a Yorkshireman-could by possibility know any thing about the matter!) describes this gentleman as so extremely eloquent on the merits of his and your favourite quadruped, that he (Sir Philip) "if he had not been a piece of a logician, should have wished himself a horse." Now this I will venture to predict, Frank,-that if you, not being "a piece (even the smallest) of a logician," should venture into London but one day before you arrive at “ years of discretion,” and should once set your foot within the gates of the new Horse Bazaar,

« 이전계속 »