British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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462                                    CHRISTMAS DAY.                        [DEC. 25.
with great success. The arrival, in the year 1717, in London of a troupe of French pantomimists with performing dogs, gave an impetus to this kind of drama, which was further developed in 1758 by the arrival of the Grimaldi family, the head of which was a posture-master and dentist. Under the auspices of this family the art of producing pantomimes was greatly cultivated, and the entertainment much relished. Joseph Grimaldi, the son of the dentist, was clever at in­venting tricks and devising machinery, and Mother Goose, and others of his harlequinades, had an extended run. At that time the wit of the clown was the great feature, but, by-and-by, as good clowns became scarce, other adjuncts were supplied, such as panoramas or dioramic views; and now the chief reliance of the manager is on scenic effects, large sums of money being lavished on the mise en scene. This is particularly the case as regards the transformation scene—i.e., the scene where the characters are changed into clown, harlequin, &c, as much as 1000Z. being frequently spent on this one effort. In London alone a sum of 40,000/. is annually expended at Christmas time on pantomimes. The King of the Peacocks, a pantomime produced at the London Lyceum Theatre during the management of Madame Vestris, cost upwards of £3000. Even provincial theatres, such as those of Manchester or Edinburgh, consider it right to go to considerable expense in the production of their Christmas pantomime.—Chambers' Encyclopaedia, 1874, vol. vii. p. 237; see Disraeli's Curiosities of Literature, 1858, pp. 116-130; N.&Q. tih S. vol. v. pp. 193-95.
Plum-Porridge.—This, says Misson, was a "sort of soup with plumbs, which is not at all inferior to the pye." Dr. Rimbault says, was not this the same as plum-pudding f Pudding was formerly used in the sense of stuffing or force­meat, as we now say black-puddings. Porridge, on the other hand, was used in the sense of our pudding. Thus Shakspeare talks of " porridge after meat," meaning pudding after meat.—N. & Q. 2nd S. vol. xii. p. 489.
Snapdragon.—A very favourite pastime at this season. Although so prevalent in England, it is almost unknown in Scotland.—See Book of Days, vol. ii. p. 738.
A writer in the Pantalogia (1813, vol. x.) thus describes
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