THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. 33
for disbursements connected with the Christmas diversions, in proof of this fact.
The reign of Henry VIII. was a reign of justs and pageants, till it became a reign of blood ; and accordingly the Christmas pageantries prepared for the entertainment of that execrable monarch, were distinguished by increased pomp, and furnished at a more profuse expenditure. The festivities of Eltham and Greenwich figure in the pages of the old chroniclers ; and the account books at the chapter-house abound in payments made in this reign, for purposes connected with the revels of the season.
We shall, by-and-by, have occasion to present our readers with some curious particulars, illustrative of the cost and pains bestowed upon this court celebration, during the short reign of the young monarch Edward VI.
Not all the gloom and terror of the sanguinary Mary's reign, was able entirely to extinguish the spirit of Christmas rejoicing throughout the land,—though the court itself was too much occupied with its auto-da-fe spectacles to have much time for pageants of less interest.
Our readers, we think, need scarcely be told that the successor of this stern and miserable queen (and, thank God ! the last .of the bad family) was sure to seize upon the old pageantries,— as she did upon every other vehicle which could, in any way, be made to minister to her intolerable vanity, or by which a public exhibition might be made, before the slaves whom she governed, of her own vulgar and brutal mind. Under all the forms of ancient festival observance, some offering was presented to this insatiable and disgusting appetite ;—and that, too, by men entitled to stand erect, by their genius or their virtues, yet whose knees were rough with kneeling before as worthless an idol as any wooden god that the most senseless superstition ever set up, for worship. From all the altars which the court had reared to old Father Christmas, of yore, a cloud of incense was poured into the royal closet, enough to choke anything but a woman—that woman a queen—and that queen a Tudor. The festival was preserved, and even embellished ; but the saint, as far as the court as concerned, was changed. However, the example of the fes-lvity to the people was the same ; and the land was a merry 4