46 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
hearth, he dismounted from his elevation, and having set a good example, by first playing the figurant himself, for the edification of the court, called upon the nobles, by their respective Christmas-names, to do the same. Of the styles and titles which it was considered humorous to assume on such occasions and by which he called up his courtiers to dance, our readers may take the following for specimens :—
" Sir Francis Flatterer, of Fowlehurst, in the county of Buckingham."
" Sir Randle Rackabite, of Rascall Hall, in the county of Rabchell."
" Sir Morgan Mumchance, of Much Monkery, in the county of Mad Popery;"—
And so on, with much more of the same kind, which we are sure our readers will spare us,—or rather thank us for sparing them. The ceremonies of the St. John's day were, if possible, more absurd than those by which St. Stephen was honored : but, that we may take leave of the lawyers, on good terms, and with a word of commendation, we will simply add, that the concluding one is stated to be, that, on the Thursday following, " the chancellor and company partook of a dinner of roast beef and venison pasties, and at supper of mutton and hens roasted;" which we take to have been not only the most sensible proceeding of the whole series, but about as sensible a thing as they, or anybody else, could well do.
So important were these Christmas celebrations deemed by our ancestors, and such was the earnestness bestowed upon their preparation, that a special officer was appointed for that purpose, and to preside over the festival, with large privileges, very considerable appointments, and a retinue which in course of time came to be no insignificant imitation of a prince's. We are, of course, speaking at present of the officer who was appointed to the superintendence of the Christmas ceremonials at court. The title by which this potentate was usually distinguished in England, was that of" Lord of Misrule," " Abbott of Misrule," or " Master of Merry Disports;" and his office was, in fact, that of a temporary " Master of the Revels" (which latter title was formerly that of a permanent and distinguished officer attached to the household