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In London, the waits are remains of the
musicians attached to the corporation of The musicians who play by night in the the city under that denomination. They streets at Christmas are called waits. It cheer the hours of the long nights before has been presumed, that waits in very Christmas with instrumental music. To ancient times meant watchmen; they denote that they were “ the lord mayor's were minstrels at first attached to the music," they anciently wore a cognizance, king's court, who sounded the watch or badge on the arm, similar to that repre-, every night, and paraded the streets during sented in the engraving below, from a winter to prevent depredations. picture by A. Bloemart.
Preparatory to Christmas, the bellman calls with his bell, and hopes he shall be of every parish in London rings his bell “remembered.” at dead midnight, that his “worthy masters and mistresses " may listen, and be assured by his vocal intonation that he is At the good town of Bungay, in Suffolk, reciting - a copy of verses " in praise of the "watch" of the year 1823 circulated their several virtues, especially their liber. the following, headed by a representation ality; and, when the festival is over, he of a moiety of their dual body :
A COPY OF CHRISTMAS VERSES,
BY THEIR HUMBLE
John Pye and
YOUR pardon, Gentles, while we thus implore,
'Tis said by some, perchance, to mock our toil,
Henceforth let riot and disorder reign,
To brighter scenes we now direct our view
May each New Year new joys, new pleasures bring,
To you, kind Sirs, we next our tribute pay :
Thus, whether Male or Female, old or Young,
J. and R. Childs, Printers, Bungay.
Previous to Christmas 1825, a trio of the reports of those who publish accounts foreign minstrels appeared in London, of their adventures. The three now spoken ushering the season with melody from of took up their abode in London, at the instruments seldom performed on in the King's-head public-house, in Leather-lane, streets. These were Genoese with their from whence ever and anon, to wit, daily, guitars. Musicians of this order are com- they sallied forth to “ discourse most exmon in Naples and all over Italy; at the cellent music.” They are represented in carnival time they are fully employed, the engraving below, from a sketch hastily and at other periods are hired to assist taken by a gentleman who was of a dinner in those serenades whereof English ladies party, by whom they were called into the hear nothing, unless they travel, save by house of a street in the suburbs.
There was much of character in the And dogs thence with whole shoulders run, men themselves. One was tall, and had So all things there aboupdeth. that kind of face which distinguishes the The country folks, themselres advance, Italian character ; his complexion a clear With crowdy-muttons out of France; pale cream colour, with dark eyes, black And Jack shall pipe and Jyll shall dance,
And all the town be merry. hair, and a manner peculiarly solemn: the second was likewise tall, and of more Ned Squash hath fetcht his hands from pawi, cheerful feature; but the third was a short And all his best apparel ; thick-set man, with an Oxberry counte- Brisk Nell hath bought a ruff of lawn nance of rich waggery, heightened by With dropping of the barrel. large whiskers : this was the humourist. And those that hardly all the year With a bit of cherry-tree held between Had bread to eat, or rags to wear, the finger and thumb, they rapidly twirled Will have both clothes and dainty fare,
And all the day be merry. the wires in accompaniment of various airs, which they sung with unusual feeling Now poor men to the justices and skill. They were acquainted with
With capons make their errants; every foreign tune that was called for. That And if they hap to fail of these, Italian minstrels of this class should venture
They plague them with their warrants : here for the purpose of perambulating our But now they feed them with good cheer, streets, is evidence thai the refinement in And what they want, they take in beer, our popular manners is known in the For Christmas comes but once a year, “ land of song," and they will bear testi And then they shall be verry. mony to it from the fact that their perforinances are chiefly in the public-houses Good farmers in the country nurse of the metropolis, from whence thirty
The poor, that else were undone ; years ago such aspirants to entertain John Some landlords spend their money worse, Bull would have been expelled with ex
On lust and pride at London.
There the roysters they do play, pressions of abhorrence.
Drab and dice their lands away,
Which may be ours another day,
The client now his suit forbears,
The prisoner's heart is eased;
The debtor drinks away his cares, So now is come our joyfulst feast;
And for the time is pleased. Let every man be jolly ;
Though others' purses be more fat, Each room with ivy leaves is drest,
Why should we pine, or grieve at that? And every post with holly.
Hang sorrow! care will kill a cat,
Hark! now the wags abroad do call,
Each other forth to rambling;
Anon you'll see them in the ball, Now all our neighbours' chimnies smoke,
For nuts and apples scrambling. And Christmas blocks are burning;
Hark! how the roofs with laughter sound, Their ovens they with baked meat choke, And all their spits are turning.
Anon they'll think the house goes round, Without the donr let sorrow lye;
For they the cellar's depth have found,
And there they will be merry.
The wenches with their wassel bowls
About the streets are singing; Now every lad is wond'rous trim,
The boys are come to catch the owls, And no man minds his labour;
The wild mare in it bringing. Our lasses have provided them
Our kitchen boy liath broke his box, A bagpipe and a tabor;
And to the dealing of the ox,
And here they will be merry.
Now kings and queens poor sheepcotes have,
And mute with every body;
And wise men play the noddy.
Some youths will now a mumming go, the next oldest to him in regular succesSome others play at Rowland-bo,
sion. In order to add the more to the And twenty other game boys mo,
spirit of the exercise, it is a common pracBecause they will be merry.
tice with the person in the swing, and
the person appointed to swing him, to Then, wherefore, in these merry daies,
enter into a very warm and humorous Should we, I pray, be duller?
As the swinged person apo No, let us sing some roundelayes, To make our mirth the fuller.
proaches the swinger, he exclaims, Ei mi And, while we thus inspired sing,
tu chal, “I'll eat your kail.” To this the Let all the streets with echoes ring;
swinger replies, with a violent shove, Cha Woods and hills, and every thing,
ni u mu chal, “You shan't eat my kail.” Bear witness we are merry.
These threats and repulses are sometimes carried to such a height, as to break down
or capsize the threatener, which generally From Mr. Grant's “ Popular Supersti- puts an end to the quarrel. tions of the Highlands," we gather the As the day advances, those minor following account:
amusements are terminated at the report
of the gun, or the rattle of the ball-clubs Highland Christmas.
-the gun inviting the marksman to the As soon as the brightening glow of the the latter to “ Luchd-vouil,” or the ball
“ Kiavamuchd," or prize-shooting, and eastern sky warns the anxious housemaid combatants—both the principal sports of of the approach of Christmas-day, she the day. Tired at length of the active rises full of anxiety at the prospect of her
amusements of the field, they exchange morning labours. The meal, which was steeped in the sowans-bowie a fortnight of the table. Groaning under the “sonsy
them for the substantial entertainments ago, to make the Prechdachdan sour, or sour scones, is the first object of her haggis,"* and many other savoury dainattention. The gridiron is put on the ties, unseen for twelve months before,
the relish communicated to the fire, and the sour scones are soon follow
company, ed by hard cakes, soft
appearance of the festive board, is
kes buttered cakes, brandered bannocks, and pannich The dinner once despatched, the flowing
more easily conceived than described. perm. The baking being once over, the bowl succeeds, and the sparkling glass sowans pot succeeds the gridiron, full of new sowans, which are to be given to the flies to and fro like a weaver's shuttle.
As it continues its rounds, the spirits of family, agreeably to custom, this day in the company become the more jovial and their beds. The sowans are boiled into
happy. Animated by its cheering influthe consistence of molasses, when the Lagan-le-vrich, or yeast-bread, to distin: his habitual pains the fire of youth is in
ence, even old decrepitude no longer feels guish it from boiled sowans, is ready. It his eye, as he details to the company the is then poured into as many bickers as there are individuals to partake of it, and exploits which distinguished him in the presently served to the whole, old and days of auld lang syne;" while the
young, with hearts inflamed with “ love young. It would suit well the pen of a Burns, or the pencil of a Hogarth, to lively scenes of mirth, to display their
and glory," long to mingle in the more paint the scene which follows. The ambrosial food is despatched in aspiring archs to finish those professions of friend
prowess and agility. Leaving the patridraughts by the family, who soon give slip for each other, in which they are so evident proofs of the enlivening effects of devoutly engaged, the younger part of the the Lagan-le-urich. despatches his bicker, he jumps out of company will shape their course to the bed the elder branches to examine the dividual inclinations suggest; and the
ball-room, or the card-table, as their inominous signs of the day,* and the remainder of the evening is spent with younger to enter on its amusements.
the greatest pleasure of which human Flocking to the swing, a favourite amuse
nature is susceptible. ment on this occasion, the youngest of the family get the first “shouder," and
*The“ savoury haggis" (from hag to chop) is a
dish commonly made in a sheep's maw, of its lungs, " A black Christmas makes a fat kirk-yard.” A heart, and liver, mixed with suet, onions, salt and windy Christmas and a calm Candlemas are signs of pepper;or of oatmeal mixed with the latter, without a good year.
any animal food,