212 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
maids, knights, serpents, and innumerable other forms, in snow-white confectionary, painted with variegated colors."—" This paradise of dainty devices,'" he continues, " is crowded by successive, and successful, desirers of the seasonable delicacies ; while alternate tappings of hammers and peals of laughter, from the throng surrounding the house, excite smiles from the inmates." This last observation requires explanation, for our country readers.
Let all the idle gazers, then, in the streets of London, beware of Twelfth-night! There is, then, that spirit of mischievous fun abroad, which—carried on without the superintending power of a Lord of Misrules-exhibits itself in transfixing the coat-skirts of the unconscious stranger to the frame of the door or window, at which he may have paused, to stare and wonder. Once fairly caught, lucky is the wight who can disengage himself, without finding that, in the interim, his other skirt has been pinned to the pelisse or gown of some alarmed damsel—whose dress is perhaps dragged, at the same moment, in opposite directions ; so that he can neither stand still, nor move, without aiding the work of destruction. These practical facetiae are the performances of that class of nondescript lads, " perplexers of Lord Mayors and irritators of the police," whose character Mr. Leigh Hunt has as
truly drawn as our artist has depicted their persons : "------those
equivocal animal-spirits of the streets, who come whistling along, you know not whether thief or errand-boy,—sometimes with a bundle and sometimes not,—in corduroys, a jacket, and a cap or bit of hat, with hair sticking through a hole in H. His vivacity gets him into scrapes in the street; and he is not ultra-studious of civility in his answers. If the man he runs against is not very big, he gives him abuse for abuse, at once ; if otherwise, he gets at a convenient distance, and then halloos out, ' Eh, stupid !' or c Can't you see before you V or ' Go and get your face washed !' This last is a favorite saying of his, out of an instinct referable to his own visage. He sings 4 Hokee-Pokee,' and ' A shiny Night,'—varied, occasionally, wilh an uproarious ' Rise, gentle Moon,' or ' Coming through the Rye.' On winter evenings, you may hear him indulging himself, as he goes along, in a singular undulation of yowl;—a sort of gargle—