BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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THE CHRISTMAS SEASON.                               43
wise compromise of their disputes for supremacy :—for in the eighth year thereof, the four Inns of Court provided a Christ­mas masque in conjunction, for the entertainment of the court, which cost the startling sum of £24,000, of the money of that day ; and in return, King Charles invited one hundred and twenty gentlemen of the four Inns to a masque at Whitehall, on the Shrove Tuesday following.
That our readers may form some idea of the kind of sports which furnished entertainment to men of no less pretension than Hatton, and Coke, and Crewe, we will extract for them a few more of the ceremonies usually observed at the grand Christ-mases of the Inner Temple,—before quitting this part of the subject.
In the first place, it appears that on Christmas-Eve there was a banquet in the hall, at which three masters of the revels were present; the oldest of whom, after dinner and supper, was to sing a carol, and to command other gentlemen to sing with him ;—and in all this we see nothing which is not perfectly worthy of all imitation now. Then on each of the twelve nights, before and after supper, were revels and dancing;—and if any of these revels and dancing were performed in company with the fair sex (which, on the face of the evidence, doth not appear), then we have none of the objections to urge against them which we have ventured to insinuate against the solemn buffooneries, to which the bar was fined for refusing to surrender itself, in the time of James I. Neither do we find anything repugnant to our modern tastes, in the announcement that the breakfasts of the following mornings were very substantial ones, consisting of brawn, mustard, malm­sey,—which the exhaustion of the previous night's dancing might render necessary; nor that all the courses were served with mu­sic—which we intend that some of our own shall be, this coming Christmas. But against most of that which follows we enter our decided protest,—as not only very absurd in itself, but eminently calculated to spoil a good dinner.
On St. Stephen's day, we learn that, after the first course was served in, the constable marshal was wont to enter the hall (and we think he had much better have come in, and said all he had to say beforehand), bravely arrayed, with " a fair rich compleat
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