BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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64                             THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
dom in all this; and the result*vas well worth producing, even at the cost of much more folly than our ancestors expended on it. We deny that spectacles and a wig are the inseparable symbols of sapience :—and we hold that portion of the world to be greatly mistaken which supposes that wisdom may not occasionally put on the cap and bells,—and, under that disguise, be wisdom still! The ancient custom which made what was called a fool, a part of the establishment of princes, and gave him a right, in virtue of his bauble, to teach many a wise lesson and utter many a wholesome truth, besides its practical utility, contained as excel­lent a moral, and was conceived in as deep a spirit, as the still more ancient one of the skeleton at a feast. " Cucullus nanfacit monachum" says one of those privileged gentry,—in the pages of one who, we are sure, could have enacted a Christmas foolery, with the most foolish ; and yet had " sounded all the depths and shallows" of the human mind, and was himself the wisest of modern men.—" Better a witty fool than a foolish wit." There is a long stride from the wisdom of that sneering philosopher who laughed at his fellows, to his who, on proper occasions, can laugh with them :—and, in spite of all that modern philosophy may say to the contrary, there was, in the very extravagance of Coke and Hatton, and other lawyers and statesmen of past times,—if they aimed at such a result as that which we have mentioned, and in so far as they contributed thereto,—more real wisdom than all which they enunciated in their more solemn moods, or have put upon record in their books of the law.
In the same excellent spirit, too, everything was done that could assist in promoting the same valuable effect:— and, while the pageantries which were prepared by the court, and by other governing bodies, furnished a portion of the entertainments by which the populace tasted the season in towns, and sanctioned the rest:—care was taken, in man? ways, that the festival should be spread over the country, and provision made for its maintenance in places more secluded and remote. A set of arrangements sprang up, which left no man without their influence ; and, figuratively and literally,-the crumbs from the table of the rich man's festival were abundantly enjoyed Dy the veriest beggar at his gate. The kindly spirit of Boaz was
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