The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

December 17 - The Season

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

Volume 1

The Season.

By this time all good housewives, with an eye to Christmas, have laid in their stores for the coming festivities. Their mincemeat has been made long ago, and they begin to inquire, with some anxiety, concerning the state of the poultry market, and especially the price of prime roasting beef.

"O the roast beef of old England,
And O the old English roast beef!"

——————

Manner of Roasting Beef anciently.

A correspondent, who was somewhat ruffled in the dog-days by suggestions for preventing hydrophobia, let his wrath go down before the dog-star; and in calm good nature he communicates a pleasant anecdote or two, which, at this time, may be deemed acceptable.

To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.

Dear Sir,

As an owner of that useful class of animals, dogs, I could not but a little startle at the severity you cast on their owners in your "Sirius," or dog-star of July 3d. In enumerating their different qualities and prescribing substitutes, you forgot one of the most laborious employments formerly assigned to a species of dogs with long backs and short legs, called "Turnspits."

The mode of teaching them their business was more summary than humane: the dog was put in a wheel, and a burning coal with him; he could not stop without burning his legs, and so was kept upon the full gallop. These dogs were by no means fond of their profession; it was indeed hard work to run in a wheel for two or three hours, turning a piece of meat which was twice their own weight. As the season for roasting meat is fast approaching, perhaps you can find a corner in your Every-Day Book for the insertion of a most extraordinary circumstance, relative to these curs, which took place many years ago at Bath.

It is recorded, that a party of young wags hired the chairmen on Saturday night to steal all the turnspits in the town, and lock them up till the following evening. Accordingly on Sunday, when every body desires roast meat for dinner, all the cooks were to be seen in the streets, — "Pray have you seen our Chloe?" says one. "Why," replies the other, "I was coming to ask you if you had seen our Pompey;" up came a third while they were talking, to inquire for her Toby,—and there was no roast meat in Bath that day. It is recorded, also, of these dogs in this city, that one Sunday, when they had as usual followed their mistresses to church, the lesson for the day happened to be that chapter in Ezekiel, wherein the self-moving chariots are described. When first the word "wheel" was pronounced, all the curs pricked up their ears in alarm; at the second wheel they set up a doleful howl; and when the dreaded word was uttered a third time, every one of them scampered out of church, as fast as he could, with his tail between his legs.

Nov. 25, 1825.                     JOHN FOSTER.

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