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“The king drinks!"
And—thus is Twelfth-night spent in France.
« L'HIVER. Epiphany.- Oid Christmas-day.
Les Divertissements du Roi-boil.
Loin dicy mille soins facheux,
Que porte avec soy la coronne; It is only in certain rural parts of Celle quá table Bacchus donne France that the merriments represented Ne fit jamais de malheureux." above still prevail. The engraving is from an old print, “ I. Marriette ex." This print may be regarded a fai!ful inscribed as in the next column.
picture of the almost obsoic usage.
During the holidays, and especially on moment, until when “the master's chair" Twelfth-night, school-boys dismiss "the is only remembered to be forgotten." cares and the fears” of academic rule; or There is entire suspension of the autho they are regarded but as a passing cloud, rity of that class, by whom the name of intercepting only for an instant the sun- “ Busby” is venerated, till “Black Mon. shine of joy wherewith their sports are day" arrives, and chaises and stages conbrightened. Gerund-grinding and pars- vey the young Christmas-keepers to the ing are usually prepared for at the last “seat of government."
The name of Busby!- not the musical morning, fell asleep in his memento ; and doctor,but a late magisterial doctor of West- when he awoke, added, with a loud voice, minster school-celebrated for severe dis- The king drinketh.” This mal-apropos cipline, is a “word of fear” to all living exclamation must have proceeded from a who know his fame! It is perpetuated foreign ecclesiastic: we have no account by an engraved representation of his of the ceremony to which it refers having chair, said to have been designed by sir prevailed in merry England. Peter Lily, and presented by that artist to king Charles II. The arms, and each
An excellent pen-and-ink picture of arm, are appalling ; and the import of the
“ Merry England"* represents honest other devices are, or ought to be, known by
old Froissart, the French chronicler, as every tyro. Every prudent person lays
saying of some English in his time, that in stores before they are wanted, and Dr.
“ they amused themselves sadly after the Busby's chair may as well be “in the
fashion of their country ;" whereon the house” on Twelfth-day as on any other;
portrayer of Merry England observes, not as a mirth-spoiler, but as a subject
“ They have indeed a way of their own. which we know to-day that we have “by,
Their mirth is a relaxation from gravity, us," whereon to inquire and discuss at a
a challenge to · Dull Care' to be gone;' more convenient season. Dr. Busby was a severe, but not an ill-natured man. It
and one is not always clear at first, whe
ther the appeal is successful. The cloud is related of him and one of his scholars,
may still hang on the brow; the ice may that during the doctor's absence from his
not thaw at once. To help them out in study, the boy found some plums in it,
their new character is an act of charity. and being moved by lickerishness, began
Any thing short of hanging or drowning to eat some; first, however, he waggishly
is something to begin with. They do not cried out, “ I publish the banns of matri
enter into their amusements the less mony between my mouth and these
doggedly because they may plague others, plums; if any here present know just
They like a thing the better for hitting cause or impediment why they should not
them arap on the knuckles, for making their be united, you are to declare it, or here
blood tingle. They do not dance or after hold your peace;" and then he ate.
sing, but they make good cheer- eat, But the doctor had overheard the procla.
drink, and are merry. No people are mation, and said nothing till the next
fonder of field-sports, Christmas gambols, morning, when causing the boy to be
or practical jests. Blindman's · buff, s brought up," and disposed for punish
hunt the-slipper, hot-cockles, and snapment, he grasped the well-known instru
dragon, are all approved English games, ment, and said, “I publish the banns of
full of laughable surprises and hairmatrimony between this rod and this boy:
breadth 'scapes,' and serve to amuse the if any of you know just cause or impedi
winter fireside after the roast beef and ment why they should not be united, you are to declare it.”—The boy nimself call
plum-pudding, the spiced ale and roasted
crab, thrown (hissing-hot) into the foamed out, “I forbid the banns !” “ For
ing tankard. Punch (not the liquor, but what cause ?" inquired the doctor. “ Because," said the boy, “ the parties are not
the puppet) is not, I fear, of English oriagreed!”
gin ; but there is no place, I take it, where The doctor enjoyed the vali
he finds himself more at home or meets a dity of the objection urged by the boy's wit, and tbe ceremony was not performed.
more joyous welcome, where he collects Ti.is is an instance of Dr. Busby's admi
greater crowds at the corners of streets, ratrum of talent: and let us hope, in be
where he opens the eyes or distends the cits seasonableness here, that it was
cheeks wider, or where the bangs and at Christmas time.
blows, the uncouth gestures, ridiculous anger and screaming voice of the chief
performer excite more boundless merriThe King drinks.
ment or louder bursts of laughter among We recur once more to this subject, for all ranks and sorts of people. An Engthe sake of remarking that there is an ac
lish theatre is the very throne of pantochint of a certain curate, “ who having mime ; nor do I believe that the gallery taken to preparations oser evening, when and boxes of Drury-lane or Corent-gar 211 L-CT'as the manner is) The king driakihcarting his masse the next
* Inibe Nep Monthly Magazine, Dec. 1825
den filled on the proper occasions with prince Henry was in the 16th year of his holiday folks (big or litile) yield the palm age, and therefore arrived to the period for undisguised, tumultuqus, inextinguish- for claiming the principality of Wales and able laughter to any spot in Europe. I the duchy of Cornwall, it was granted to do not speak of the refinement of the him by the king and the high court of mirth (this is no fastidious speculation) parliament, and the 4th of June following but of its cordiality, on the return of these appointed for his investiture : “the Christlong-looked-for and licensed periods; and mas before which,” sir Charles Cornwallis I may add here, by way of illustration, says, “his highnesse, not onely for his that the English common people are a owne recreation, but also that the world sort of grown children, spoiled and sulky, might know what a brave prince they perhaps, but full of glee and merriment, were likely to enjoy, under the name of when their attention is drawn off by some Meliades, lord of the isles, (an ancient sudden and striking object.
title due to the first-borne of Scotland,) “ The comfort, on which the English lay did, in his name, by some appointed for 80 much stress, arises from the same the same purpose, strangely attired, acsource as their mirth. Both exist by con- companied with drummes and trumpets, trast and a sort of contradiction. The in the presence, before the king and English are certainly the most uncomfort- queene, and in the presence of the whole able of all people in themselves, and court, deliver a challenge to all knights of therefore it is that they stand in need of Great Britaine.” The challenge was to every kind of comfort and accommoda- this effect, “ That Meliades, their noble tion. The least thing puts them out of master, burning with an earnest desire to their way, and therefore every thing must trie the valour of his young yeares in be in its place. They are mightily of foraigne countryes, and to know where fended at disagreeable tastes and smells, vertue triumphed most, had sent them and therefore they exact the utmost neat- abroad to espy the same, who, after their ness and nicety. They are sensible of long travailes iu all countreyes, and rebeat and cold, and therefore they cannot turne,” had nowhere discovered it, “ save exist, unless every thing is snug and in the fortunate isle of Great Britaine : warm, or else open and airy, where they which ministring matter of exceeding joy are. They must have all appliances to their young Meliades, who 'as they and means to boot.' They are afraid of said) could lineally derive his pedegree interruption and intrusion, and therefore from the famous knights of this isle, was they shut themselves up in in-door enjoy- the cause that he had now sent to present ments and by their own firesides. It is the first fruits of his chivalrie at his manot that they require luxuries (for that jesties' feete; then after returning with a implies a high degree of epicurean indulg- short speech to her majestie, next to the ence and gratification,) but they cannot earles, lords, and knights, excusing their do without their comforts ; that is, what- lord in this their so sudden and shor ever tends to supply their physical wants, warning, and lastly, to the ladies; they, and ward off physical pain and annoy after humble delivery of their chartle conance. As they have noi a fund of ani- cerning time, place, conditions, number mal spirits and enjoyments in themselves, of weapons and assailants, tooke their they cling to external objects for support, leave, departing solemnly as they entered.” and derive solid satisfaction from the ideas Then preparations brgan to be made of order, cleanliness, plenty, property, for this great fight, and each was happy and domestic quiet, as they seek for di- who found himself admitted for a defend version from odd accidents and grotesque ant, much more an assailant. “ At last surprises, and have the highest possible to encounter his highness, six assailants, relish not of voluptuous softness, but of and fifty-eight defendants, consisting of hard knocks and dry blows, as one means earles, barons, knights, and esquires, were of ascertaining their personal identity.” appointed and chosen ; eight defendants
to one assailant, every assailant being to Twelfth-day, in the times of chivalry, fight by turnes eight severall times fightwas observed at the court of England by ing, two every time with push and pike grand entertainments and tournaments. of sword, twelve strokes at a time ; after The justings were continued till a period which, the barre for separation was to be Little favourable to such sports,
let downe until a fresh onset.” The suinLa tbe reign of James 1., when his son nions ran in these words :
“ To our verie loving good ffreind sir the several showes and devices of each
Gilbert Houghton, knight, geave theis combatant." Every challenger fought with speed :
with eight several defendants two several “ After our hartie commendacions unto combats at two several weapons, viz. at you. The prince, his highnes, hath push of pike, and with single sword, comanded us to signifie to you that whereas “ The prince performed this challenge with he doth intend to make a challenge in his wonderous skill and courage, to the great owne person at the Barriers, with sixe joy and admiration of the beholders," he other assistants, to bee performed some “ not being full sixteene yeeres of age tyme this Christmas; and that he hath untill the 19th of February." These feats, made choice of you for one of the defend- and other “ triumphant shewes," began ants (whereof wee have comandement to before ten o'clock at night, and continued give you knowledge), that theruppon you until three o'clock the next morning, may so repaire hither to prepare yourselfe, “being Sonday.” The speeches at « the as you may bee fitt to attend him. Here- barriers” were written by Ben Jonson, unto expecting your speedie answer wee The next day (Sunday) the prince rode in rest, from Whitehall this 25th of Decem- great pomp to convoy the king to St James', ber, 1609. Your very loving freindes, whither he had invited him and all the Notingham. | T.Suffolke. | E.Worcester.” court to supper, whereof the queen alone
On New-year's Day, 1610, or the day was absent; and then the prince bestowed afrer, the prince's challenge was pro- prizes to the three combatants best declaimed at court, and “ his highnesse, in serving; namely, the earl of Montgomery, his own lodging, in the Christmas, did sir Thomas Darey (son to lord Darey), feast the earles, barons, and knights, as- and sir Robert Gourdon. In this way sailants and defendants, untill the great the court spent Twelfth-night in 1610. Twelfth appointed night, on which this great fight was to be performed."
On Twelfth-night, 1753, George II. On the 6th of January, in the evening, played at hazard for the benefit of the “ the barriers" were held at the palace of groom porter. All the royal family who Whitehall, in the presence of the king and played were winners, particularly the queen, the ambassadors of Spain and duke of York, who won 30001 The l'enice, and the peers and ladies of the most considerable losers were the duke land, with a multitude of others assembled of Grafton, the marquis of Hartington, in the banqueting-house: at the upper the earl of Holderness, earl of Ashburnend whereof was the king's chair of state, hain, and the earl of Hertford. The prince and on the right hand a sumptuous pa- of Wales (father of George III.) with vilion for the prince and his associates, prince Edward and a select company. from whence, « with great bravery and danced in the little drawing room till ingenious devices, they descended into eleven o'clock, and then withdrew.t che middell of the roome, and there the prince performed his first feats of armes,
Old Christmas-day. that is to say, at Barriers, against all According to the alteration of the commers, being assisted onlie with six style, OLD Christmas-day falls on others, viz. the duke of Lenox, the earle Twelfth-day, and in distant parts is even of Arundell, the earle of Southampton, kept in our time as the festival of the nathe lord Hay, sir Thomas Somerset, and tivity. In 1753, Old Christmas-day was sir Richard Preston, who was shortly after observed in the neighbourhood of Worcreated lord Dingwell."
cester by the Anti-Gregorians, full as To answer these challengers came fifty- sociably, if not so religiously, as formerly six earles, barons, knights, and esquiers. In several villages, the parishioners so They were at the lower end of the roome, strongly insisted upon having an Oldwhere was erected “ a very delicat and style nativity sermon, as they term it, pleasant place, where in privat manner that their ministers could not well avoid they and their traine reniained, which preaching to them : and, at some towns, was so very great that no man imagined where the markets are held on Friday. that the place could have concealed halfe not a butter basket, nor even a Goose, so many." From thence they issued, in was to be seen in the market-place the comely order, to the middell of the roome, whole day.I where sate the king and the queene, and
Mr. Nichols's Progresses of James I. the court, " to behoid the barriers, with + Gentleman's Magazine.