BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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the members of the Common Council, and other officers of the re­spective city wards.
The civil government of the City of London is said to bear a general resemblance to the legislative power of the empire :—the Lord Mayor exercising the functions of monarchy, the Aldermen those of the peerage, and the Common Council those of the legis­lature. The principle difference is, that the Lord Mayor him­self has no negative. The laws for the internal regulation of the City are wholly framed by these officers, acting in Common Coun­cil.—A Common-Council-man is, therefore, a personage of no mean importance.
Loving Christmas and its ceremonies with antiquarian venera­tion, we must profess likewise our profound respect for wards of such high sounding names as Dowgate, and Candlewick, and Cripplegate, and Vintry, and Portsoken,—the last of which, be it spoken with due courtesy, has always reminded us of an Alder­man's nose ;—and for such distinguished callings as those of Cord-wainers, and Lorimers, and Felt makers, and Fishmongers, and Plasterers, and Vintners, and Barbers,—each of whom we be­hold, in perspective, transformed into what Theodore Hook calls " a splendid annual,"—or, in less figurative language, Lord Mayor of London!—There is a pantomimic magic in the word, since the memorable days of Whittington. But to our theme.—
Pepys, the gossiping secretary of the Admiralty, records, in his curious diary, his having gone, on Saint Thomas's-day (21st December, 1663), " to Shoe Lane, to see a cocke-fighting, at the new pit there, a spot," he adds, " I was never at it in my life : but, Lord ! to see the strange variety of people, from parliament-man (by name Wildes, that was deputy governor of the Tower, when Robinson was lord mayor), to the poorest 'prentices, bakers, brewers, butchers, draymen, and what not; and all these fellows, one with another, cursing and betting. I soon had enough of it. It is strange to see how people of this poor rank, that look as if they had not bread to put into their mouths, shall bet three or four pounds at a time, and lose it, and yet as much the next battle, so that one of them will lose £10 or £20 at a meeting."
Now the cock-fighting of our times, under the immediate pa­tronage of Saint Thomas, and those of Pepys's, differ little, except
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