BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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132                            THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
that more copious collections are not made, by the lovers of old customs, ere it be too late. Brand speaks of an hereditary col­lection of ballads, almost as numerous as the Pepysian collection, at Cambridge, which he saw, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the printing-office of the late Mr. Saint,—amongst which were several carols for the Christmas season. Hone, in his " Ancient Myste­ries," gives a list of eighty-nine carols in his possession, all in present use (though likely soon to become obsolete), and exclusive of the modern compositions printed by religious societies, under the denomination of carols. He furnishes a curious proof of the attachment which the carol-buyers-extend, from the old carols themselves, to the old rude cuts by which they are illustrated. " Some of these," he says, " on a sheet of Christmas carols, in 1820, were so rude in execution, that I requested the publisher, Mr. T. Batchelar, of 115 Long Alley, Moorfields, to sell me the original blocks. I was a little surprised by his telling me that he was afraid it would be impossible to get any of the same kind cut again. When I proffered to get much better engraved, and give them to him in exchange for his old ones, he said, " Yes, but the better are not so good. I can get better myself: now these are old favorites, and better cuts will not please my customers so well." We have before us several of the sheets for the present season, issued from the printing-office and toy warehouse of Mr. Pitts, in the Seven Dials; and we grieve to say that, for the most part, they show a lamentable improvement in the embellishments, —and an equally lamentable falling-off in the literary contents. One of these sheets, however, which bears the heading title of " Divine Mirth," contains some of the old carols,—and is adorned with impressions from cuts, rude enough, we should think, to please even the customers of Mr. Batchelar.
Amongst the musical signs of the season, we must not omit to place that once important gentleman, the bellman; who was ancient­ly accustomed, as our excellent friend, Mr. Hone, says, at this time, " to make frequent nocturnal rambles, and proclaim all tidings which it seemed fitting to him that people should be awakened out of their sleep to hearken to." From that ancient collection " The Bellman's Treasury,"—which was once this now-decayed officer's Vade Mecum,—we shall have, occasion to extract, here
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