BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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138                           THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
in the character of the combatants. In his (comparatively speak­ing) barbarous days, it was sufficient to pit two birds, one against the other, to excite the public, or amuse the spectators. But a purer taste prevails among the present citizens of London ; for our modern " fighting-cocks," as the candidates for civic honors are called, seem on this day to be fully occupied with the morn­ing exhibition of their own foul tongues,—and bets often run as high as parties, on these occasions.
" Saint Thomas's birds,"—another name for these civic fight­ing-cocks,—have been trained in various ale-house associations, such as the " Ancient and honorable Lumber Troop,"—the vene­rable " Society of Codgers,"—" the free and easy Johns,"—the " Councillors under the Cauliflower," and other well-known clubs; where politics,—foreign and domestic,—night after night are dis­cussed, and mingle with the smoke of tobacco, inhaled through respectable clay pipes, and washed down with nips full of amber ale, or quarts of frothy-headed porter. Indeed the qualification for admission into the Lumber Troop is, we have been told, the power of consuming a quart of porter at a draught, without once pausing to draw breath,—which must be performed before that august assembly. We once visited the head-quarters of this porter-quaffing troop; and found the house, with some difficulty, near Gough Square,—which lies in that intricate region between Holborn Hill and Fleet Street. It was a corner house; and an inscription upon the wall, in letters of gold, informed the passen­ger that this was the plate of meeting of the Lumber Troop. The room in which they met is small, dark, and ancient in ap­pearance ; with an old-fashioned chimney-piece in the centre, and a dais or raised floor at one end,—where, we presume, the officers of the troop take their seats. Above their heads, upon a shelf, some small brass cannon were placed as ornaments; and the walls of the room were decorated with the portraits of distin­guished troopers,—among whom Mr. Alderman Wood, in a scar­let robe, and Mr. Richard Taylor, were pointed out to our notice Over the fire-place hung the portrait of an old gentleman, in the warlike costume of Cromwell's time, who was, probably,
" Some Fleet Street Hampden."
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