BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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THE CHRISTMAS DAYS.
133
and there, in their proper places, the announcements by which, of old, he broke in upon the stillness of the several nights of this period. In the meantime, our readers may take the following example of Bell-man verses,—written by Herrick, and which we extract from his " Hesperides."
" From noise of scare-fires rest ye free, From murders Benedicite; From all mischances that may fright Your pleasing slumbers in the night; Mercie secure ye all, and keep The goblin from you while ye sleep. Past one aclock, and almost two*, My masters all, ' Good day to you.' "
The bell of this ancient officer may still be heard, at the mid­night hour of Christmas Eve (and perhaps on other nights), in the different parishes of London, performing the overture to a species of recitative, in which he sets forth (amongst other things) the virtues of his patrons (dwelling on their liberality), and offers them all the good wishes of the season. The printed papers con­taining the matter of these recitations he has been busy circulating amongst the parishioners, for some time; and, on the strength thereof, presents himself as a candidate for some expression of their good-will in return,—which, however, he expects should be given in a more profitable form. These papers, like the carol-sheets, have their margins adorned with wood-cuts, after scriptural subjects. One of them now lies before us; and we grieve to say, that the quaint ancient rhymes are therein substituted by meagre modern inventions,—and the wood-cuts exhibit a most ambitious pretension to be considered as specimens of improved art. There is a copy of Carlo Dolce's " Last Supper" at the foot.
The beadle of to-day is, in most respects, changed for the worse, from the bellman of old. Still, we are glad to hear his bell—which sounds much as it must have done of yore—gifting up its ancient voice amongst its fellows, at this high and general season of bells and bob-majors.
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