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at twelve. Here coarse, litigious cases are tried, after the manner of the Eng. lish law process, and the contrast between the accused and the seriousness of the actors, who appear in the attire of the English Bar, renders the scene most amusing, and, in a certain sense, instructive. For this is only possible in a country where public life is so thoroughly well known to all, that the entire comicality of the contrast is felt by everybody. The earnestness with which the English nation regards all its public institutions is required in order for these coarse jests to be comprehended as such. Even in this dingy hole, where every man smokes his cigar and drinks his beer, a species of reverence is shown to the actors who represent the authority, and when the man who performs the part of usher to the court shouts “Respect for the Lord Chief Baron Nicholson !" the whole company rise, and with bare heads greet the fat man, who takes his seat on the bench, and opens the proceedings by calling for a glass of brandyand-water and a spill; then he orders the attorney-general to open the case, and nods his judicial head in gentle sleep. Here and there he makes some ludicrous remark, or lights a cigar, while a witness is under examination. Extraordinary fellows in the most eccentric costumes make their appearance, the judge sums up, and a species of public entertainment concludes with the heartiest applause, which, among ourselves, would neither be tolerated by the public, nor obtain the sanction of the police.
We might cull many significant passages from M. Rodenberg's work, but, regarding the present season, we prefer devoting the remainder of our paper to his account of merry Christmas. A merry
Christmas and a happy new year! Such words send a thrill through every heart, and we quite agree with our author, that the foreigner who has not seen London in its Christmas garb knows its splendour not. He is ignorant how gloriously happy, how immeasurably jolly two million five hundred thousand human beings can be for one day in the year. The German Christmas is a festival for the children, and for the grown-up, who become children once again for the nonce. In England, moreover, the whole population rejoices; the richest and the poorest are equal on that occasion only. It may be, as M. Rodenberg remarks, that the greater portion of the Christian festivities date from the Druidical period: we call it Yule, in remembrance of the old Pagan festival held in honour of the December sun, which then held its solstice, and began to turn its “ Iuil,” or cyclus, nearer to the earth : the Yule log, too, is an old heathen reminiscence. But, what then ?” Were we to listen to all this, we should be forced to abolish our mistletoe, because it was held in reverence by the Druids. No; let our good old Christmas customs be maintained, no matter where they came from; and, above all, let us sedulously resist the encroachments of the insidious Christmas-tree. We have no liking for this foreign importation; it has done away with our old friend snap-dragon, and “ hunt the slipper" is now pronounced low. Before long, we dare say that mistletoe will be scouted from respectable society, and then, we ask, what will become of Christmas ? In the words of the orator, we pause for a reply. No Christmas-trees, say we; and the only transient grudge we ever bore our beloved queen was for their introduction among us; we had a prevision of the melancholy state of things to which they must lead.
We are not surprised at finding M. Rodenberg speaking so enthusiastically as he does about our Christmas, for it is really a wonderful sight for a foreigner. Let him visit Leadenhall-market for a week prior to the great event, and he must form a true idea of the nature of our glorious country. Were it our lot to conduct an intelligent foreigner
about London at that sanctified season of the year, we should take him in the first instance to the market at the back of the India House. We visited it this very Christmas, and were astounded at the display. Here were swans, and fine birds, too, probably shot by a silver bullet: they were not worth eating, but went to swell the show. Here we saw an albatross, a peacock, a bittern or so, a brace of herons, and other rare birds. But if you want to see the solidities, there is abundance to satisfy you : ten thousand geese on their way from Norfolk—and they will arrive, too, and be eaten on Christmas-day. Turkeys by thousands, pigs by droves, glorious beef—all collected for this one gobbling day of the nation. It is not surprising that the intelligent foreigner wonders where the money comes from to pay for all these luxuries. But that is not all: let the foreigner regard the purchasers, and his wonderment must be increased. These worn-looking men are our mechanics, who have come to lay in their Christmas dinner. See! oh, intelligent foreigner! we have another class besides the extreme rich and extreme poor. Stay! we will inquire of one of these men, but politely, an it please you, for he has all the pride of the Briton. You hear what he says; he is engaged in a foundry, and earns his thirty shillings a week; he and his old woman mean a goose for Christmas-day, and why shouldn't they? Go back to your countrymen, worthy foreigner, and tell them that they must not listen to the fables about the English proletariat with which partisan writers stuff them. England is not degenerated yet, whatever rumours may be afloat as to Waterloo being speedily avenged. M. Rodenberg will serve as a good guide to his own countrymen so long as he writes in the following sensible manner :
Christmas in England has only one day, but the Christmas pleasures begin earlier, and last longer than among us. In the early days of December, London shops are adorned with the green branches of holly and mistletoe, two bushes little known and regarded among us, but which play a most prominent part in English Christmas festivities. They play the same character there as the fir-tree among us, but with this difference, that by the time Christmas arrives, every room is decorated with them-nay, the very food placed on the table—so that London is converted into an evergreen forest, in which the red and white berries and the million lights of the metropolis glisten. It is a glorious, incomparable sight to see the City of mist thus decorated-house after house displaying the fresh symbol of the universal joy! Holly and mistletoe precede the Christmas festivities, and accompany them faithfully to the last. A painted garland of bolly, with the words “ A merry Christmas and a happy new year!” adorns every letter written at this merry season, and a mistletoe-bough is suspended from the ceiling of every room. And happy the man who meets a pretty girl beneath it: he may venture to kiss her, even if mother and father and half a dozen aunts were present. Heavenly, privilege! blessed pleasure! magic bush which subjugates even the prudish hearts of English girls! Would that there were mistletoe among us, that we miglit wave it over the heads of beloved maidens, and exclaim,“ Sub hoc signo !”
We have not been able to extract one tithe of the remarks M. Rodenberg makes about our happy country; still we think we have shown how impartial a critic he is. We are glad to greet any foreigner who imparts useful information about us, for only in this way can the errors in circulation be removed. We therefore hope that his little work will meet with a hearty reception at home, in which case it will tend to correct a great deal of that acidity which Germans have recently displayed in writing about England.
O MERRY steered the snow-white swans
Under the chesnut-trees, Between
dells where dun fawns cropped The crisp grass at their ease. I lay down in the seeding-grass,
That was rich and ripe with June, And dozed asleep with listening
To the lark's exulting tune.
Dimmed all the outer sounds,
Rising to heaven's bounds.
With one dead long ago
Where the cowslips used to blow.
Where cataracts of song
Upon us fast and long.
Again leaped through the air,
Flew semicircling there.
The swans abreast did go,
Soft pacing in a row.
Those swans bore down in sail,
The canvas in a gale.
They puffed and panted on,
Late for the even song.
To see that swan fleet pass,
Half hidden in June grass.
So lordly in their pride!
Seven on either side;
Bound on some fairy enterprise,
beaks in line;
With silvery-spangled shine.
And drove adown the stream,
Or like sweet thoughts through a dream.
The summer had kissed away;
In a region far away.
Toys dazzling silvery white;
That strange and royal sight.
Down a fairy river.-See!
The dun deer on the lea.
A mainmast ’mong the trees,
Green streamers to the breeze.
Like snow-drifts borne away.
The young fawns bound and play.
Broke through green tides of leaves ;
Under the brown fern's eaves.
Rose up among the briars,
Burned with unquenching fires.
The guelder-rose was lagging;
The sluggish rook--was-flagging.
And every flowering weed
Opal and the diamond's seed.
Was on the dark fir-tree,
O merrily floated they ;
Bearing from Cadiz bay.
The trees shook down their silver, dear,
As my swans with the orange and black Came steering blind and sullenly,
With their cygnets at their back. White mists ran brightening up the hill,
Where the antlered deer were feeding;
The summer grass was seeding.
Marched, ranked in file and file. It was O for the mottle of grey-winged cloud,
And O for the mottle of blue, And 0 for the orange that burnt to gold,
Till fire crimson smouldered through. “O fear nor time nor tide, dearest;
Till snow fly back to heaven,
Till six times six are seven.
The knave kings fade away, But never, while heart and brain beat true,
Shall this love for thee decay.”
Appears the old church tower,
like a summer goldfinch, dear, As we watched the swans go by, But woke from that fairy summer dream
To see you were not nigh.
I woke and found my love
I heard the cooing dove.
Sleep's dark veil was upfurled,
The glory of the world.