THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. 45
enough, as -yet, from getting anything to eat, as a consequence: —and the next ceremony is one which strikingly marks the rudeness of the times. "A huntsman cometh into the hall, with a fox, and a purse net with a cat, both bound at the end of a staff, and with them nine or ten couple of hounds, with the blowing of hunting-horns. And the fox and the cat are set upon by the hounds, and killed beneath the fire." " What this ' merry disport ' signified (if practised) before the Reformation," says a writer in Mr. Hone's Year-Book, " I know not. In Ane com-pendiouse boke of godly and spiritual songs, Edinburgh, 1621, printed from an old copy,' are the following lines, seemingly referring to some such pageant:—
'The hunter is Christ that hunts in haist, The hunds are Peter and Pawle, The paip is the fox, Rome is the Rox That rubbis us on the gall.' "
After these ceremonies, the welcome permission to betake themselves to the far more interesting one of an attack upon the good things of the feast, appears to have been, at length, given ; but at the close of the second course, the subject of receiving the officers who had tendered their Christmas service, was renewed. Whether the gentlemen of the law were burlesquing their own profession, intentionally, or whether it was only an awkward hit, like that which befell their brethren of Gray's Inn, does not appear. However, the common serjeant made what is called " a plausible speech ;" insisting on the necessity of these officers, " for the better reputation of the Commonwealth:" and he was followed, to the same effect, by the king's serjeant-at-law ; till the lord chancellor silenced them, by desiring a respite of further advice,— which it is greatly to be marvelled he had not done sooner;— and thereupon he called upon the " ancientest of the masters of the revels" for a song, a proceeding to which we give our unqualified approbation.
So much for the dinner. After supper, the constable marshal again presented himself, if possible finer than before; preceded by drums,—as so fine a man ought to be,—and mounted on a scaffold borne by four men. After again going thrice round the