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.
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made much sport, and did right well his office." Henry the Seventh's " boke of pay mentis," preserved in the Chapter-house, is stated by Sandys, to contain several items of disbursement to the Lord of Misrule (or Abbot, as he is therein sometimes called), for different years, " in rewarde for his besynes in Christenmes holydays," none of which exceeded the sum of £6. 13s. Ad. This sum (multiplied, as we imagine it ought to be, by something like fifteen, to give the value thereof in our days), certainly affords no very liberal remuneration to an officer whose duties were of any extent; and we mention it that our readers may contrast it with the lavish appointments of the same functionary in after times. Henry, however, was a frugal monarch, though it was a part of his policy to promote the amusements of the people ; and from the treasures which that frugality created, his immediate successors felt themselves at liberty to assume a greater show. In the sub­sequent reign, the yearly payments to the Lord of Misrule had already been raised as high as £15. 6s. 8d.; and the entertain­ments over which he presided were furnished at a proportionably increased cost.
It is not, however, until the reign of the young monarch, Ed­ward the Sixth, that this officer appears to have attained his high­est dignities; and during the subsequent reign we find him play­ing just such a part as might be expected from one whose busi­ness it was to take the lead in revels such as we have had occa­sion to describe,—viz. that of arch-buffoon.
In Hollinshed's Chronicle, honorable mention is made of a certain George Ferrers, therein described as a " lawyer, a poet, and an historian," who supplied the office well, in the fifth year of Edward VI.; and who was rewarded by the young king with princely liberality. This George Ferrers was the principal author of that well-known work, the " Mirror for Magistrates;" and Mr. Kempe, the editor of the recently published " Loseley Manuscripts," mentions his having been likewise distinguished by military services in the reign of Henry VIII. It appears that the young king having fallen into a state of melancholy, after the condemnation of his uncle, the Protector, it was determined to celebrate the approaching Christmas festival wjth more than usual splendor, for the purpose of diverting his mind ; and this
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