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So now stir the fire, let business retire,
The door shut on Mammon, we 'll have none of him!
Mr. Bosky trimmed the lamp, drew the curtains, wheeled round the sofa, opened the morocco-bound manuscript, and began. But Mr. Bosky's beginning must stand at the head of our next chapter.
GARRICK never introduced a hero upon the scene without a flourish of trumpets, nor shall we.
'Bid Harlequino decorate the stage
For St. Bartholomew makes his first bow in The Merrie Mysteries of his Fair, or the Ancient Records of the Rounds.
The learned need not be told that a fair was originally a market for the purchase and sale of all sorts of commodities; and what care the unlearned for its derivation? For them it suffices that 'tis a market for fun, where laughter has its pennyworth. Our merry Prior of St. Bartholomew (rest his soul!) knowing the truth of the old proverb, that 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,' mingled pastime with business, and put Momus into partnership with Mammon. For many years they jogged on together, somewhat doggedly, to be sure, for Momus was a fellow of uproarious merriment; and while Mammon, with furred gown and gold chain, was weighing atoms and splitting straws, Momus split the sides of his customers, and so entirely won them over to his jocular way of doing business, that Mammon was drummed out of the firm and the fair. But Mammon has had his revenge, by causing Momus to be confined to such narrow bounds, that his lions and tigers lack space to roar in, and his giants are pinched for elbow room. Moreover, he and his sly bottle-holder, Mr. Cupidity Cant (who from the time of Prynne to the present has been a bitter foe to good fellowship), threaten to drive poor Momus out of house and home. Out upon the ungracious varlets! let them sand their own sugar,† not ours! and leave Punch alone. Let them be content to rant in their rostrums, and peep over their particular timber, lest we pillory the rogues, and make them peep through it!
Father Rahére founded the Priory, Hospital, and Church of St.
The American giant refuses to come over to England this summer, because the twenty-first of June is not long enough for him to stand upright in! And the Kentucky dwarf is so short, that he has not paid his debts these five years!
Have you sanded the sugar, good Sandy,
Have you smuggled the element into the brandy?'
'Yes, master. Then come in to prayer!'
Bartholomew in Smithfield, at the instigation ('tis said) of the saint himself, who appeared to him in Rome, whither he had repaired on a pilgrimage. We learn from the Cottonian MS. that he often hawnted the Kyng's palice, and amo'ge the noysefull presse of that tumultuous courte, enforsed hymselfe with jolite and carnal suavite: ther yn spectaclis, yn metys, yn playes, and other courtely mokkys and trifyllis, intruding he lede forth the besynesse of alle the daye.' Doubtless he was a pleasant witted gentleman,' and an especial favourite; for he filled the post of minstrel to King Henry the First, which comprehended musician, improvisatore, jester, &c.; and Henry the Second granted to the monastery of St. Bartholomew (of which he was the first prior) the privilege of a three days' fair for the drapers and clothiers: hence Cloth Fair. The ashes of Rahére rest under a magnificent tomb in the church of St. Bartholomew the Great. This beautiful shrine is still most carefully preserved. How different has been the fate of the desecrated sepulchre of the 'moral Gower,' which the Baotian Borough brawlers would have pounded, with their Ladye Chapel, to macadamise the road!
'It is worthy of observation,' (says Paul Hentzer, 1598) that every year when the Fair is held, it is usual for the Mayor to ride into Smithfield, dressed in his scarlet gown, and about his neck is a golden chain, besides that particular ornament that distinguishes the staple of the kingdom. He is followed by the Aldermen in scarlet gowns, and a mace and a cap are borne before him. Where the yearly fair is proclaimed a tent is placed, and after the ceremony is over the mob begin to wrestle before them, two at a time, and conquerors are rewarded by them by money thrown from the tent. After this, a parcel of live rabbits are turned loose among the crowd, and hunted by a number of boys, with great noise, &c. Before this time, also, there was an old custom, for the Scholars of London to meet at this festival, at the Priory of St. Bartholomew, to dispute in logic and grammar, and upon a bank, under a tree, (!) the best of them were rewarded with bows and silver arrows.' Bartholomew Fair, until about 1743, was held a fortnight; and the spacious area of Smithfield was entirely filled with booths for drolls and interludes, in which many of the most popular comedians of the time performed, from the short and merry reign of Mat Coppinger to the laughing days of Ned Shuter. Sir Samuel Fludyer, in 1762, and Mr. Alderman Bull, (not John Bull!) in 1774, enforced some very stringent regulations that amounted almost to an abolition.
And now, my merry masters! let us take a stroll into the ancient fair of St. Bartholomew, vulgo Bartlemy, with John Littlewit, the uxorious proctor; Win-the-fight Littlewit, his fanciful wife; Dame Purecraft, a painful sister: Zeal-of-the-land Busy, the puritan Banbury man; and our illustrious cicerone, rare Ben Jonson.
In the year 1614, and long before, one of the most delicious city dainties was a Bartholomew roast pig." A cold turkey-pie and a
*Now London's Mavor, ou saddle new,
Rides to the Fair of Bartlemew;
He twirls his chain, and looketh big,
As if to fright the head of pig,
That gaping lies on every stall.'-DAVENANT.
Shakspeare, in the First Part of King Henry the Fourth, speaks of an ox being roasted at Bartholomew Fair.
glass of rich malmsey were creature comforts' not to be despised even by such devout sons of self-denial as Mr. Zeal-of-the-land Busy, who always popped in at pudding-time.* But Bartholomew pig, 'a meat that is nourishing, and may be longed for,' that may be eaten, very exceeding well eaten,' but not in a fair, was the ne plus ultra of savoury morsels: therefore Win-the-fight Littlewit, with a strawberry breath, cherry lips and apricot cheeks, the better half (not in folly!) of one of the pretty wits of Paul's,' shams Abram, and pretends to long for it, in order to overcome the scruples and qualms of Dame Purecraft and the Banbury man, who, but for such longing, would have never consented to her visiting the fair. The rabbi being called upon by the dame to legalize roast pig proposes that it shall be eaten with a reformed mouth, and not after the profane fashion of feeding; and, that the weak may be comforted, himself will accompany them to the fair, and eat exceedingly, and prophesy!
Among the minor delicacies of Ursula's† cuisine, Ursula 'uglye of cheare,' the pig-woman and priestess of St. Bartle, 'all fire and fat !'-are tobacco, colts-foot, bottle-ale, and tripes; and a curious picture of Smithfield manners is given in her instructions to Mooncalf to froth the cans well, jog the bottles o' the buttock, shink out the first glass ever, and drink with all companies, we have an irruption of other popular characters into the fair, all in high keeping with time and place:-a costard-monger; a gilt gingerbread woman; a mountebank; à corn-cutter; wrestler; cutpurse (a babe of booty, or child of the horn-thumb!); a gamester; balladsinger; an 'ostler, trade-fallen ;' a roarer (a swash-buckler, in latter times a mohock); puppet-show keepers and watchman; Bartholomew Cokes, a natural born fool and squire; Waspe, his shrewder serving-man; Overdo, a bacchanalian justice; a gang of gypsies, and their hedge-priest patriarch of the cut purses, or Patrico to the Abrammen and their prickers and prancers; and lastly, Mr. Lanthorn Leatherhead, a supposed caricature of Inigo Jones, with whom Ben Jonson was associated in some of his magnificent court masques. All these characters exhibit their humours, and present a living picture of what Bartholomew fair was in 1614. We have the exact dress of the flaunting City Madam—a huge velvet custard, or three-cornered bonnet; for these pretenders to sanctity not only adorned their outward woman with the garments of vanity, but were the principal dealers in feathers (another fashionable part of female dress in the days of Elizabeth and James I.) in the Blackfriars. All the merchandise of Babylon (i. e. the fair!) is spread out to our view;
* "I ne'er saw a parson without a good nose,
But the devil's as welcome wherever he goes.'-Swift.
+ Her face all bɔwsy,
With a croked backe.'-SKELTON.
Jew's-trumps, rattles, mousetraps, penny ballads, purses, pin-cases, Tobie's dogs, comfortable bread,' (spiced gingerbread,) hobby horses, drums, lions, bears, Bartholomew whistling birds, (wooden toys,) dolls,† and Orpheus and his fiddle in gin-work! We have its cant phrases, mendacious tricks, and practical jokes; and are invited into a sweet delicate booth,' with boughs, to eat roast pig with the fire o' juniper and rosemary branches; and it were great obstinacy, high and horrible obstinacy, to decline or resist the good titillation of the famelic sense,' and not enter the gates of the unclean for once with the liquorish Rabbi. The sound beating of Justice Overdo, Waspe's elevation of Cokes on pick-back, and the final confutation of Zeal-of-the-land Busy, complete the humours of, and give the last rampant finishing-touches to this unique, authentic, and curious picture of ancient Bartholomew Fair.
Bravo, Ben Jonson! Not the surly, envious, malignant old Ben, but the rare, chère Bartlemy Fair Ben! the prince of poets! the king of good fellows the learned oracle of the Falcon and the Devil: the chosen companion of the gallent Raleigh; the poetical father of many worthy adopted sons: and, to sum up emphatically thy various excellences, the friend, fellow,' and elegiast of Shakspeare! Yes, thou didst behold him face to face. Great and glorious privilege! Thou his detracter! What a beauteous garland hast thou thrown upon his tomb! O for the solemn spirit of thy majestic monody, ( Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother,') the imagination of thy green Underwoods,' to sing of thee, as thou hast sung of him!
The death of James I. (for Jamie was much addicted to sports, and loved the Puritans, as the Puritans and Lucifer love holywater!) was
a heavy blow, and a great discouragement' to the nation's jollity: and the troubles and treasons of the succeeding unhappy reign indisposed men's hearts to merriment, and turned fair England into a howling wilderness. Bartholomew Fair in 1641 exhibits a sick and sorry shadow of its joyous predecessor-Tis Fat Jack, mountain of mirth! dwindled into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon! Zeal-of-the-land Busy had become rampant; and Dame Ursula, if the old lady yet lived, was most probably a reformed sister, and
* Gifford says, 'In Jonson's time, scarcely any ballad was printed without a woodcut illustrative of its subject. If it was a ballad of "pure love," or of "good life," which afforded no scope for the graphic talents of the Grub Street Apelles, the portrait of" good Queen Elizabeth," magnificently adorned, with the globe and sceptre, formed no unwelcome substitute for her loving subjects.'
The following was the costume of a Bartlemy Fair doll, or baby:
'Her petticoat of sattin,
Her gown of crimson tabby,
Laced up before, and spangled o'er,
The Comedian's Tales; or, Jests, Songs, and Pleasant Adventures of several Famous Players. 1729.
Variety of fancies, where you may find
A faire of wares, and all to please your mind.
With the severall enormityes and misdemeanours which are there seene and acted. London: Printed for Richard Harper, at the Bible and Harpe, in Smithfield. 1641.'
purveyor of roast pig to the Rabbi at home! As a picture, it wants the vivid colouring of the former great painter. It seems to have been limned by a wet, or parcel puritan, a dead wall between pantile and puppet-show! Our first move into Christ Church cloisters, which are hung so full of pictures, that you would take that place, or rather mistake it, for St. Peter's in Rome. And now, being arrived through the long walke, to Saint Bartholomew's hospitall,' he draws a ludicrous picture of a 'handsome wench' bartering her good name for a moiety of bone lace; a slight silver bodkin; a hoop-ring, or the like toye.' Proceeding into the heart of the fair, it becomes necessary that while one eye is watching the motion of the puppets, the other should look sharp to the pockets. 'Here's a knave in a foole's coat, with a trumpet sounding, or on a drumme beating, invites you, and would fain persuade you to his puppets; there is a rogue like a wild woodman, or in an antickship, like an incubus, desires your company to view his motion, On the other side, Hocus Pocus, with three yards of tape, or riband in 's hand, shewing his legerdemaine to the admiration and astonishment of a company of cockoloaches. Amongst these you shall see a grey goose-cap (as wise as the rest) with a "what do ye lacke ?" in his mouth, stand in his boothe, shaking a rattle, or scraping on a fiddle, with which children are so taken that they presently cry out for these fopperies. And all these together make such a distracted noise that you would think Babel was not comparable to it. Here there are also your gamesters in action; some turning off a whimsey, others throwing for pewter, who can quickly dissolve a round shilling into a three-halfpenny saucer. Long Lane at this time looks very faire, and puts on her best cloaths with the wrong side outward, so turn'd for their better turning off; and Cloth Faire is now in great request: well fare the ale-houses therein; yet better may a man fare (but at a dearer rate) in the Pig-market, alias Pastynooke, or Pye corner, where Pigges are al houres of the day on the stalls, piping hot, and would cry (if they could speak) "come eat me." The chronicler calls over the coals a 'fat greasie hostesse' for demanding an additional shilling for a pig's head when a lady's longing is in the case; inveighs against the unconscionable exactions, and excessive inflammations of reckonings, and concludes with a reiterated and rhyming caution:
'Now farewell to the Faire; you who are wise,
'Legerdemain is an art whereby one may seem to work wonderful, impossible, and incredible things, by agility, nimbleness, and sleight of hand.
'An adept must be one of an audacious spirit, with a nimble conveyance and a voca bulary of cabalistic phrases to astonish the beholder,-as Hey! Fortuna! Furia! Nunquam credo! Saturnus, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, &c., &c.
He must throw himself into such odd gestures as may divert the eyes of the spectators from a too strict observation of his manner of conveyance.'
Then follow certain rules for concealing balls and money in the hand, and other secrets worth knowing to students in the art and mystery of conjuration. From 'The Merry Companion; or, Delights for the Ingenious. By Richard Neve' (whose jocular physiognomy, with the exhibition of one of his hocus-pocus tricks, graces the title). 1721.
The historian has forgot to describe the wonderful performances of Francis Battalia, the Stone-Eater.