BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

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

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TWELFTH DAY AND NIGHT.
215
lowing letter, respecting the manufacture of Twelfth-night characters ;—which document was handed to us by the artist to whom it was addressed.—
" Sir, " As I am given to understand that you are an artist of celebrity, I will thank you to make me a hundred and forty-four different characters, for Twelfth-night, the entire cost not to exceed two shillings and sixpence each, say three plates at two pounds ten shillings a plate, including the poetry, which you can, I am told, get plenty of poets to write for nothing, though I should not mind standing a trifle—say twopence more, if the verses gave satisfaction. You will please do your best for me, and, trusting to your speedy attention to this order, I will remain your well-wisher and obedi­ent servant, who will furnish the coppers."
Though we publish this letter, that is no reason why we should publish the writer's name. It is evident, he was a young hand in the trade; and desirous to rival the graphic and literary talent displayed in Langley's and Fairburn's characters,—of which we have preserved specimens, in our portfolio. Mr. Sandys speaks rather disparagingly of the merit of these productions ; and this, considering that gentleman's antiquarian zeal, we must confess, surprises us. In the copy of Langley's characters which we possess, the same love of alliteration, upon which we have already commented, as encouraged in the Court of Misrule, is observable. We have, for instance, " Bill Bobstay,"—" Prudence Pumpkin," —" Percival Palette,"—"Judy Juniper,"—"Peter Puncheon," —" Simon Salamander,"—" Countess Clackett,"—" Leander Lackbrain,"—" Nelly Nester,"—" Felicia Frill," &c, &c.
Where the monarch of the evening and his queen are not de­termined by this kind of pictorial lottery, a bean and a pea are put into the cake ; and whoever finds them, in the pieces they take, become the king and queen of the evening. Other matters —such as a small coin, a ring, &c.—are often introduced into Twelfth-night cakes; and give to the finders characters to be supported for the evening. In some countries, says Sandys, a co:n was put " instead of- the bean ; and portions of the cake assigned to the Virgin Mary, and Ihe Three Kings, which
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