The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Beadle - An Appearance of the Season

William Hone, The Every Day Book, 2 Vols. London: William Tegg, 1825, 1827.

Volume 2

January 28

An Appearance of the Season.

Apology will scarcely be required for introducing a character, who at this season of the year comes forth in renovated honours, and may aptly be termed one of its ever-blues


The great image of authority !“


The Beadle is not a peculiar of either Farringdons, nor of Cripplegate, or St. Giles in the Fields, or of any ward or precinct within the bills: not this or that “good man” — the universal parish beadle. “How Christmas and consolatory he looks! How How redolent of good cheer is he! He is a cornucopia an abundance. What pudding sleeves! what a collar, red, and like a beef steak, is his! He is a walking refreshment! He looks like a whole parish, full, important — but untaxed. The children of charity gaze at him with a modest smile. The straggling boys look on him with confidence, They do not pocket their marbles. They do not fly from their familiar gutter. This is a red-letter day; and the cane is reserved for to-morrow.”

For the pleasant verbal description we are indebted to an agreeable writer in the “London Magazine;”1 his corporal lineaments are “borrowed” (with permission) from a new caricature, 2 if it may be given so low a name, wherein this figure stands out, the very gem and jewel, in a grouping of characters of all sorts and denominations assembled with “infinite fancy” and “fun,” to illustrate the designer’s views of the age. It is a graphic satire of character rather than caricatura; mostly of class-characters, not persons; wherein the ridicule bears heavily, but is broad and comprehensive enough to shift from one neighbour to another.


The print, wherein our beadle is foremost, though not first, is one of the pleasantest “drolls” of the century, and seems to hit at all that is. In this whimsical representation, a painted show-board, at the window of a miserable garret, declares it to be “The Office of the Peruvian Mining Company.” On the casement of the first floor, in the same hereditament of poverty, is a bill of “Eligant rooms to let.” Wigs in the shop-window illustrate the punning announcement above it — “Nature improved by Rickets,” which is the name of the proprietor, a capital barber, who stands at the door, and points to a ragged inscription depending from the parti-colotired pole of his art, from whence we learn that “Nobody is to he saved during diine service, by command of the magistracy.” He enforces attention to this fact on an unshaved itinerant, with “Subscription for putting down Bartlemy fair” placarded on his back. This fellow has a pole in his right hand for “The preservation of public morals,” and a puppet of punch lolling from his left coat pocket. An apple-stall is taken care of by a fat body with a screaming child, whose goods appear to be coveted by two little beings untutored in the management of the eye. We gather from the “New Times,” on the ground, that the fruit woman is Sarah Crumpage, and that she and Rickets, the former for selling fruit, and the latter for shaving on the Sunday, “were convicted on the oath of the notorious Johnson, and fined ten shillings each.” Next to the barber’s is “the Star eating-house,” with “Ladies School” on the first-floor casement, and “Mangleing took in.” At the angle of the penthouse roofs of these dwellings “an angel’s head in stone with pigeon’s wings” deceives a hungry cat into an attempt to commit an assault upon it from the attic window. Opposite the cook’s door an able-bodied waggoner, with a pennon from his whip, inscribed “Knowledge is Power,” obscures part of another whereon all that remains is “NICK’S INSTITUTION.” A “steeled butcher,” his left hand resting at ease within his apron, cleaver hung, and carelessly capped, with a countenance indicating no other spirit than that of the still, and no disposition to study deeper than the bottom of a porter pot, carries the flag of the “London University:” a well-fed urchin, his son, hangs by his father’s sleeve, and drags along a wheeled toy, a lamb — emblem of many a future “lamb his riot dooms to bleed.” A knowing little Jew-boy, with the flag of the “Converted Jews,” relieves the standard-bearer of the “School for Adults” from the weight of his pocket handkerchief, and his banner hides the letter “d” on another borne by a person of uneven temper in canonicals, and hence for “The Church in danger,” we read “The Church in anger.” Close at the heels of the latter is an object almost as miserable, as the exceedingly miserable figure in the frontispiece to the “Miseries of Human Life.” This rearward supporter of “the church in danger,” alias in “anger,” is a poor, undersized, famine-worn, badged charity boy with a hat abundantly too large for its hydrocephalic contents, and a coat to his heels, and in another person’s shoes, world too wide for his own feet — he carries a crooked little wand with “No Popery”on it; this standard is so low, that it would be lost if the standard-bear were not away from the procession. A passionate person in a barrister’s wig, with a shillelagh, displays “ Catholic Claims.” Opposite to a church partly built, is a figure clearly designating a distinguished preacher of the established church of Scotland in London, planting the tallest standard in the scene upright on the ground, from whence is unfurled “No Theatre” — the flag_bearer of “The Caledonian Chapel,” stands behind, in the act of tossing up a halfpenny with the standard bearer of “ No more State Lotteries.” A black mask bears the “Liberty 0f the Press.” A well-fed man with bands beneath his chin, rears a high pole, inscribed “No fat Livings,” and “The cause of Greece” follows. A jovial undertaker in his best grave-clothes, raises a mute’s staff, and “No Life in London:” this character looks as if he would bury his wife comfortably in a country church-yard, get into the return-hearse with his companions, and crack nuts and drink wine all the way to town. A little personage, booted and buttoned up, carries a staff in his pocket, surmounted by a crown, and a switch to his chin, the tip whereof alone is visible, his entire face and head being wholly concealed by the hat; this is “The great Unknown” — he has close behind him “Gall and Spurs-him.” “No Treadmill” is exhibited by a merry rogue, half disarmed, with a wooden leg. At a public house, “The Angel and Punch Bowl,—T. Moore,” the “ United Sons of Harmony” hold wassail; their flag is hung at one of the windows, from whence many panes are absent, and themselves are fighting at the door, and heartily cheered by the standard bearer of “No Pugilism.” A ferocious looking fellow, riding on a blind horse, elevates “Martin for Ever,” and makes cruel cuts with his whip on the back of a youth who is trying to get up behind him with the banner of “No climbing Boys.” ‘We are now at a corner messuage, denominated “Prospect House Establishment for Young Ladies, by the Misses Grace and Prudence Gregory.” The corner opposite is “Seneca House Academy for Young Gentlemen, by Dr. Alex. Sanderson.” Prospect House has an “Assurance” policy, and from one of its windows one of the “young ladies” drops a work by “H. More” — in eager regard of one of the “young gentlemen” of Seneca-house, who addresses her from his room, with a reward of merit round his neck. This Romeoing is rendered more scenical by a tree, whereon hangs a lost kite, papered with a “Prospectus” of Seneca-house, from whence it appears that pupils bringing a “knife and fork,” and paying “Twenty Guineas per ann,” are entitled to “Universal Erudition,” and the utmost attention to their “Morals and Principles.” Near this place, the representative of “ United Schools” fells to the earth the flag-bearer of “Peace to the World;“ while the able supporter of Irish Conciliation,” endeavours to settle the difference by the powerful use of his pole; the affray being complacently viewed by a half-shod, and half-kilted maintainer of “ Scotch Charity.” A demure looking girl is charged with Newgatory Instruction.” At her elbow, a female of the order of disorder, so depicted that Hogarth might claim her for his own, upholds “Fry for ever.” and is in high converse with a sable friend who keeps “Freedom for the Blacks.” Hopeless idiocy, crawling on its knees by the aid of crutches, presents the “March of Mind.” An excellent slippered fruiterer with a tray of apples and pears, beguiles the eyes of a young Gobbleton, who displays “Missionary penny subscriptions,” and is suffering his hand, to abstract wherewithal for the satisfaction of his longings. Here too are ludicrous representations of the supporters of “White-field and Wesley,” “Reform,” &c. and a Jewish dealer in old clothes, covered in duplicate, with the pawnbroker’s sign upside down, finds wind for “The Equitable Loan.” A wall round Seneca-house is “contrived a double debt to pay” — proffring seeming security to the “sightless eyeballs” of over-fond and over-fearful parents, and being of real use to the artist for the expression of ideas, which the crowding of his scene does not leave room to picture. This wall is duly chalked and covered by bills in antithesis. A line of the chalkings, by an elision easily supplied, reads, “Ask for War.” One of the best exhibitions in the print is a youth of the “Tract Society,” with a pamphlet entitled “Eternity,” so rolled as to look like a pistol, which he tenders to a besotted brute wearing candidates’ favours in his hat, and a scroll “Purity of Election.” The villainous countenance of the intoxicated wretch is admirable — a cudgel under his arm, his tattered condition, and a purse hanging from his pocket, tell that he has been in fight, and received the wages of his warfare; in the last stage of drunkenness he drops upon a post inscribed “under Government.” Among books strewed on the ground are “Fletcher’s Appeal,” “Family Shakspeare,” “Hohenlohe,” &c.; at the top is a large volume lettered “Kant,” which, in such a situation, Mr. Wirgman, and other disciples of the German philosopher, will only quarrel or smile at, in common with all who conceive their opinions or intentions misrepresented. In truth it is only because the print is already well known among the few lynx-eyed observers of manners that this notice is drawn up. Its satire, however well directed in many ways, is too sweeping to be just every way, and is in several instances wholly undeserved. The designer gives evidence however of great capability, and should he execute another it will inevitably be better than this, which is, after all, an extraorditiary production. — In witness whereof, and therefrom, is extracted and prefixed the “Beadle” hereinbefore mentioned.

Notes from Hone:

1. For December, 1822. Return

2. The Progress of Cant; designed and etched by one of the authors of “Odes and Addresses to Great People;” and published by T. Maclean, Haymarket, L. Relfe, Cornwall, and Dickenson, New Bond Street. Return

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