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lia, or New Zealand. In our village, as in most others of our country side, it is called the Cross Hill, and there are yet the steps and part of the shaft of the cross, which no doubt stood there long before the church was thought of, and formed the nucleus of the village. On the left of the cross is the well, the “town well,” so called to distinguish it from the “holy well,” which is nearer the church, and probably supplied the piscina and font. Opposite the stocks there, with the portentous effigy of an owl in extremis, is the Red Eagle, much noted for superlative October; and farther on, at the corner, is the less aristocratic Chequers, where they brew beer very small indeed, which, as I once heard a habitué plaintively asseverate, "wets where it goes and no farther. Three roads branch out of the Cross Hill, one to the church, and two to outlying homesteads. And now the reader knows as much of Newton Prodgers as I do.
When I first knew Newton Prodgers, old John Gibbs was the great man for burning Guys and keeping up the old Christmas customs. He was the OLDBUCK Of Newton--the OLDBUCK without the Prætorium--the fogie without the ghastly tie. On working days Jack was not to be distinguished from his laborers; but on Sundays, when he donned his black velvet smalls and leather leggings all tied in true-lovers' knots, he looked a "warm" man every inch of him.
It was a treat to see him lead his dame up the aisle of the church, and to watch his demeanor during the sermon, trying to look as though he understood it. John was by no means partial to literature, and his reading was wholly confined to the Family Bible, and the enlivening feats of the "Seven Champions," of which honest John swallowed every morsel—the dragon included. Upon scientific subjects generally, Master Gibbs was very considerably behind the age. His notions of cosmogony and planetary affairs were opposed to those of Humboldt and Herschel, presenting indeed many points of remarkable similarity to the Ptolemeian doctrines of my friend Moravanjee, who lately filled with so much credit the astronomical chair at Benares, modified, however, to some extent, by the theories of the late Dr. Francis Moore, as yearly perpetuated by the Worshipful Company of Stationers. In politics Jack was a thorough-going Church and King man, and stoutly swore to the last day of his life that tea and pantaloons had ruined England, and worked between them the fall of the corn laws. A more honest, thickheaded, open-hearted, and prejudiced old booby never drew breath. He was the last man for miles round our place who kept open house to all comers; and, I regret to add, he was the identical old rascal who set the bells ringing when the lamented news of the death of the late Sir Robert Peel reached Newton Prodgers. If you took a peep into his stone-floored house-room on Christmas Eve, you would see Misrule redivivus. Hodge senior smokes long pipes, plays at cards, and looks on. Adolescent Agriculture dances quaint old country dances not found in the Ball-roor Monitor, and sings rough old songs in rough old measure that would scandalize Sims Reeves; while the younger fry are wild and dripping at duck-apple, snap-apple, and half a score of other equally intellectual amusements. But the mumming is the great fun of the night. With us this consists of a kind of rude drama, which formerly represented the adventures of St. George and the Dragon; but of late years St. George has given place to George III., and the Dragon been supplanted by Napoleon. In the last scene the emperor indulges in such strong vituperation against Mr. Pitt, and insinuates such unpleasant things about Mr. Pitt's mamma, as to induce that placid gentleman to give him a blow on the nose; whereupon a fight ensues, in which the pilot gets decidedly the worst of it, and is about to receive the coup-de-grâce, when up comes George III. with a socked-hat and broadsword, and the royal asseveration
As sure as I am England's king, I'll break a threat which, after a severe encounter, he manages to accomplish, and the Corsican tyrant is finally carried off by Beelzebub, who, I should say, is a leading member of the company. He was a bold genius, whoever he was, who conceived the idea of making George III. a hero. The fool, whose principal duty is to blow flour into the emperor's eyes, is a relic of the older drama, and carries a stick with a bladder tied to it by way of bauble. He still performs the old legerdemain tricks described by Ben Jonson. When the fun was at its height, the Christmas block used to be brought in and put on the fire, to be taken off again when only half burnt, and preserved in the cellar or some other safe place till next year. This precious piece of charred wood old Jack used to look upon as a sovereign amulet against fire during the ensuing year, and as safe as a fire policy. And this is still the usual custom in our neighborhood.
It is a grand old superstition that, which represents the powers of darkness as more than usually active on the anniversary of the last day of Pagandom--dim echo through the ages of that first Nativity which silenced the oracles and drove the nymphs from their ancient haunts. Old Smudgers, the rat-catcher, was quite Miltonic, although he didn't know it, when he told me “No good Christian would even turn a dog out” on Christmas Eve. All our ghosts have holiday on that night, and we have lots of ghosts of all grades at Newton Prodgers; from that old-established aristocratic old ghost, Sir Miles Prodgers, who drives about the lanes in the same old coach that took him to St. Paul's after Ramillies, down to Mary Potts, who drowned herself in Sludgepond, and is a mere parvenu ghost-a spirit of no pretensions whatever. It is the Walpurgis of the witches and demons on the wold and in the woods. Ghosts of suicides hold high carnival at dreary crossroads, and he who has courage enough to watch in the churchyard with an ash stick in his hand, will see the fetches of those who are to die during the next year. Sometimes, also, the wayfarer sees lights and hears solemn music in lonely churches-another fine old idea which has haunted mau's mind ever since Reginald of Durham's friend, the Yorkshire monk, fell asleep and dreamed of the ghostly mass at Farne. But all this diablerie terminates at the first sound of the midnight bells; and the spirit or demon, wherever he is, must hie him back instanter. Old Smudgers, who knows more legends than the brothers Grimm, and has killed incomparably more rats, tells a tale of a dissipated young fellow who, loveworn and morose, wandered out one Christmas eve instead of joining the carol singers—how, full of evil thoughts, he sauntered through the common field, and was accosted by the enemy in the guise of (probably his nearest prototype) a Yorkshire horsedealer, who tried all manner of ways to get hold of him, by engaging him in some game of chance, but all without success; till he offered to drink him for a "bag of gold,” which our thirsty rustic could not find it in his heart to refuse, and proposed an instantaneous adjournment to the "Red Eagle.” “No time like the present," said the old gentleman, drawing out a bottle and a couple of horns; and so they sat down on the hill-side, and drank as though for their lives. Dick held out manfully for some time, but felt the liquor gradually stealing away his senses. He sees his adversary's eyes glaring with triumph, and feels a burning grasp at his throat, when suddenly, borne by the breeze over the hills and fens, comes the merry sound of the midnight chimes-ringing out from every tower and steeple down the country side. With a shriek that woke every one up at Mud Wallingham, twenty-one miles off, the Yorkshireman abandoned his prey; and next morning Dick was found with his gold at the bottom of the hill. But the ill-gotten riches never made Dick thrive. His favorite son left him alone in his old age, and he became a miser, and barred himself up in the old house near the church-still called the " Miser's House." One wintry Christmas eve, when all was wind and storm without, there was a knock, and a supplication for relief at his door; but all the beggar got was a curse. Next morning the body of his long-lost son was found frozen on the step, and that day the old man died—but not to rest : for, at a certain hour on Christmas eve, the wretched old miser unbars the window with his bony hands, and showers down, from between the old stanchions, coins of a date and coinage long passed away: of late years, probably because of the unhappy scarcity of specie, he has been less liberal; but Smudgers watched once, a long time ago, and picked up a penny, which he has still carefully wrapped up in silver paper, beneath the false bottom of his old chest.
N. B.--Smudgers is indisputably the biggest liar in our vil lage.
WHIPPING-BOYS OF PRINCES.
An allusion to the practice of whipping a young prince by proxy, when he did not know his lessons, is to be found in a very scarce old play, in which the whipping-boy was knighted, entitled When You see Mee You know Mee, as it was played by the High and Mighty Prince of Wales his Servants, by Samuel Rowley, London, 1632:
Prince. (Ed. VI.) Why, how now, Browne; what's the matter ?
Browne. Your Grace loyters, and will not plye your booke, and your tutors have whipt me for it.
Prince. Alas, poore Ned! I am sorrie for it. I'll take the more paines, and entreate my tutors for thee; yet, in troth, the lectures they read me last night out of Virgil and Ovid I am perfect in, onely I confesse I am behind in my Greeke authors.
Will (Summers). And for that speech they have declined it uppon his breech, &c.-Pages 48-53.
The subject is also noticed by Sir Walter Scott, Fortunes of Nigel, ch. vi. p. 114, vol. xxvi. of Waverley Novels, Edinburgh, 1833, 8vo.; and also by Burnet in The History of his own Time. The latter, in speaking of Elizabeth, Countess of Dysart,