BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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ST. THOMAS'S DAY.
139
The obscurity which conceals the origin of many interesting and important institutions hangs over the early history of the Lumber Troop. Tradition asserts that, when Henry VIII. went to the siege of Boulogne, he drained the country of all its soldiers ; and the citizens of London who remained behind, inspired with martial ardor, formed themselves into a troop, for the protection of old England. In the grotesque and gouty appearance of these troopers, their name of the Lumber Troop is said to have origi­nated. Their field-days, as may be expected, were exhibitions of merriment; and their guards and midnight watches scenes of feasting and revelry. The " Lumber-pye " was formerly a dish in much repute,—being composed of high-seasoned meats and savory ingredients, for the preparation of which receipts may be found in the old cookery books. Recently, it has been corrupted into Lombard Pie, on account, as is said, of its Italian origin ; —but we profess allegiance to the more ancient name.
Let those who hold lightly the dignity of a Lumber Trooper,— and who perhaps have smiled at the details here given,—inquire of the representatives of the city of London, in the parliament of England, their opinion of the matter. We have been assured that these jolly troopers influence every city election to such an extent that, without an understanding with these worthies, no candidate can have a chance of success. In the same way, the codgers, in Codger's Half, Bride Lane (said to have been " insti­tuted in 1756, by some of the people of the Inner Temple,—who imagined their free thoughts and profound cogitations worthy of attention, and charged half-a-crown for the entree), and other ale­house clubs, exert their more limited power. Hone, in his Every-Day Book, observes that " these societies are under cur­rents that set in strong ; and often turn the tide of an election in favor of some good fellow,' who is good nowhere but in ' sot's-hole.' " And he adds, commenting upon St. Thomas's-day, " Now the ' gentlemen of the inquest,' chosen ' at the church' in the morning, dine together, as the first important duty of their office ; and the re-elected ward-beadles are busy with the fresh chosen constables ; and the watchmen [this was before the days of the police] are particularly civil to every ' drunken gentleman ' who happens to look like one of the new authorities. And now
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