BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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10
THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
heavy cost at which that victory was to be secured. Most curi­ous particulars on these subjects are furnished by the accompt-books of the houses,—by the " Gesta Grayorum" (which was published for the purpose of describing a celebrated Christmas kept at Gray's Inn, in 1594, and had its title imitated from the then popular work called the " Gesta Romanorurft"),—by Dug-dale, in his " Origines Juridiciales,"—and by Nichols, in his " Progresses of Queen Elizabeth." For some time, Lincoln's Inn appears to have carried it all its own way,—having been first on the ground. The Christmas celebrations seem to have been kept by this society from as early a period as the reign of Henry VI. ; although it was not until the reign of Henry VIII. that they began to grow into celebrity,—or, at least, that we have any ac­count of their arrangements. When, however, the societies of the two Temples, and that of Gray's Inn, began, with a laudable jealousy, to contest the palm of splendor, the necessary expendi­ture appears, occasionally, to have "given them pause." Ac­cordingly, they held anxious meetings, at the approach of the season, to decide the important question—whether Christmas should be kept that year or not ?—and one of the registers of the society of Lincoln's Inn, bearing date the 27th of November, in the twenty-second year of Henry VIII.'s reign, contains the fol­lowing order :—" Yt is agreed, that, if the two Temples do kepe Chrystemas, then Chrystemas to be kept here ; and to know this, the Steward of the House ys commanded to get knowledge, and to advertise my master by the next day at night."
There is a curious story told in Baker's Chronicle, of an awk­ward predicament into which the society of Gray's Inn brought themselves by a play which they enacted amongst their Christ­mas revels of 1527. The subject of this play was to the effect that " Lord Governance was ruled by Dissipation and Negli­gence ; by whose evil order Lady Public-Weal was put from Governance." Now, if these gentlemen did not intend, by this somewhat delicate moral, any insinuation against the existing state of things (which, being lawyers, and therefore courtiers, there is good motive to believe they did not) it is, at.all events, certain that, as lawyers, they ought to have known better how to steer clear of all offence to weak consciences. That respectable mm-
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