British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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Aug. 24.]               st. Bartholomew's day.                         365
same might be prevented, and what damages would occur to the city by laying down the same." This is the first hint of suppression that arises in the history of the fair, and its arising is almost simultaneous with the decay of the great annual gathering as a necessary seat of trade. In 1685 the fair was leased by the city to the sword-bearer for three years at a clear rent of £100 per year. At the expiration of two years a committee having reported that the net annual profit for those years had amounted to not more than £68, the city fair, then lasting fourteen days, was, on his application, leased to the same sword-bearer for twenty-one years at the same rent. As time went on, however, the Corporation of London was still setting daily against the evil that was in the fair. In 1691, and again in 1694, a reduction to the old term of three days was ordered, as a check to vice, and in order that the pleasures of the fair might not choke up the avenues of the traffic. In 1697, the Lord Mayor, on St. Bartholomew's Day, published an ordinance recorded in the Postman " for the suppression of vicious practices in Bartholomew Fair, as obscene, lascivious, and scandalous plays, comedies and farces, unlawful games and interludes, drunkenness, etc., strictly charging all constables and other officers to use their utmost diligence in persecuting the same." But there was no suppression of the puppet-theatres. Jephthah's Bash Vow was performed that year at Blake's Booth, as in the following years at Blake and Pinkethman's. Again on the 18th of June, 1700, stage-plays and interludes at the fair were for that year prohibited: they were again prohibited by the mayor who ruled in the year 1702. In 1698, a French≠man, Monsieur Sorbi&re, visiting London, says, "I was at Bartholomew Fair. It consists most of toy-shops, also fiacres and pictures, ribbon shops, no books; many shops of con≠fectioners, where any woman may be commodiously treated. Knavery is here in perfection, dextrous cut-purses and pick≠pockets. I went to see the dancing on the ropes, which was I admirable. Coming out, I met a man that would have took off my hat, but I secured it, and was going to draw my sword, crying out "Begar! damn'd rogue! morbleu!" &c, when on a sudden I had a hundred people about me, crying, " Here, monsieur, see Jephthah's Bash Vow;" "Here, monsieur, see
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