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mas dinner provision on the previous Saturday, than he would of retiring to rest on Christmas Eve without having a lusty stir' at the pudding stuff in the pan. Beef so bought, would not be Christmas' beef. He knows as well as any man that the poultry for Christmas consumption are immolated and exposed for sale several days before the festival, and he cannot be blind to the fact that if he took a quiet stroll to the rendezvous of the goose and turkey merchants on the evening before Christmas Eve his opportunities of choice would be more extended, and as likely as not he would save a shilling in purchase money; nevertheless he would scorn to avail himself of such advantages. He has friends coming to dinner, and he is the last man in the world to treat them shabbily. With what countenance could he reply to the inquiry of a guest who, with the privileged familiarity of an old acquaintance, might require to know when and where the bird was purchased? It would scarcely be worth his while to tell a falsehood about it, but how could he find words to confess that it was not a Christmas goose at all, having been bought last week.' His character for joviality and hospitality would suffer from that moment. A suspicion would creep into the breast of each guest that the dinner was one contrived on economical principles. Whether it


true or no, when the mince pies appeared, the pie-shop in the High Street would be privately assigned as their birthplace, and the berry brownness of the hostess's pudding, while it was audibly commended and its complexion ascribed to natural richness, in secret would be attributed to some of the penny-a-packet colouring trash manufactured by that great champion of the washing-tub and deadly enemy of pulex irritans, Fiddler Dozensticks. It wouldn't do at all. Very possibly evidence of their dissatisfaction might not be found in a falling off of the appetite of the guests, but it would be talked of afterwards, undoubtedly.

And in case that Jones reading these lines should imagine that I am holding up this weakness of his to ridicule, let me hasten to set myself right in his eyes. Your weakness, Jones, is laudable, proper, and I have a great mind to say Christian. You act on the simple belief-although like many another Christian belief of yours, you are content to enjoy it in your heart's warm depths and without declaring it from the summit of an upturned tub-that the season of Christmas Eve is a sancti

fying season, and that to buy and prepare for the feast during the hallowed time, is like asking a blessing on it. You don't think of this, Jones, as you are cheapening a turkey or investing twopence in horse-radish as a garnish for your roast beef (how is it that you never eat horse-radish at any other time of year, Jones?), but reverence for the glad season is in you, and you are governed by it in all your actions. The good influence shines in your face, Jones, as you may convince yourself if you will take a peep at it in the draper's plate-glass, as you wait outside for your good lady who is proudly within the shop investing that unexpected three-and-sixpence of yours in a new cap with cherry bows. Nay, Mr. Cynic, you are quite wrong when you cry bosh! twaddle! cant! You never will convert me to your opinion that the cheerful serenity of Jones's countenance on this particular evening is due not to any sort of mystic influence,' but simply to Jones's rare prospect of a feed off turkey and rich pudding, and a merry evening of pipes and grog to follow. I don't deny that Jones is a man with an animal appetite, and with a hankering after the fleshpots, and that the weight of the viands with which his basket is crammed is considerably mitigated by the buoyant properties of much of his soul there too. But you must know that Jones has bought other goods than will come to the spit or the pot. He has the worth of threepence in holly and the same in mistletoe. You may see that he has, for there it dangles by the side of his basket. And there, I am landed high and dry again on the ground on which I take my stand, Mr. Cynic, when you broke in with your unpleasant observations. How is it that Jones incommodes himself by carrying home that bulky, prickly bush, when he has so much else to carry? You know-I know-everybody knows, that holly and mistletoe has been seen hanging in the shops of the greengrocers for a week past-it has been hawked and bawled about the streets by costermongers ever since last Wednesday. Why then did not Jones, since he must spend his money in such nonsense-why didn't he make his holly purchase any day as he came home to dinner or returned at night any time during the past week? Why! for the best of all reasons-he didn't believe in holly or mistletoe till this evening. He has seen lots of it about, but he had no mind for it-no more than he would for plucking green apples growing within reach. He is

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glad to see so fair a prospect, but ripe fruit for his money. Holly, with him, is not ripe until this 'eve.' The ruddy berries have now an interest for him they possessed not in the morning. Had he, then, by accident, pricked his hand with the holly thorns, he would probably have exclaimed blow' or bother it, or may be-for he is a hasty man and not over choice of words when put out-he would have used a stronger expletive than either; but should such a calamity befall him now, I'd wager as much spirits as would serve to make Jones's snapdragon to-morrow, that he bears the scratch without the use of any naughty words whatever. You may laugh, Mr. Cynic; perhaps I know Jones better than you.

If any one doubts whether Christmaseve marketing is an institution amongst the poorer sort of people, let him go to Leadenhall, or Newgate, or Newport, or Spitalfields, especially the two former, at the time in question. Take Newgate Market. One night a week-on a Saturday night-some business is done by gaslight, but by comparison not more than a penny to a pound with the amount of trade done there on Christmas Eve. Barter is not at a standstill all through the day, but it is strictly confined to big and little meat merchants. Ordinarily betwixt these two classesthe consignees and salesmen, and the shopkeeper who comes there for his goods, there exists a comfortable amount of cordiality; money and meat change hands smoothly, and all is harmony and content. But on the day before Christmas Day it is slightly different. Once a year the wholesale ones of the market find it profitable to go into the retail trade, and the regular retailer very naturally does not like it. He sulks and grumbles at the wholesale one's prices. The wholesale one, however, takes his unkind remarks in perfect good-humour. Never mind about five and eight being a cruel price,' he says; 'if you don't like to give it, you may leave it-that's the figure; it'll fetch it and a good deal more for the trouble of cutting up between this and twelve o'clock. They'll be swarming here like flies soon as the gas is lit.'

By 'they' he means the Christmaseve marketers, and he is quite correct in his prognostication. By the time

the gas is lit the market is laid out;' the covered ways are roofed and arched with meat, the narrow lanes are hedged with it; there are groves of pork, thickets of mutton, and, allowing four of the huge quarters to every bullock, -an ordinary and reasonable allowance

-more animals of that kind than in life could have found browsing on Mitcham Common. All cuts of prime parts too. At ordinary times are freely exposed for sale every part of a beast, from his tail to his snout; you may see the heads of sheep and sheep's 'trotters," and heels of the bovine species in heaps hip high, the tails of oxen in bunches, and the intestinal parts of sheep, pigs, oxen, and calves burdening by the hundred-weight mighty hooks screwed into posts and beams. There is none of this on Christmas-eve; all is cleanliness and propriety. There is sawdust on the market stones and white cloths on the butchers' boards, and clean aprons and sleeves on the butchers' selves, and the butchers are rosy and the meat is rosy, and the gas spouts out with a jolly hum. There are three or four hole-and-corner taverns attached to the market. One of them, a low-crowned-looking edifice, the red-curtained doors of which are approached by three downward steps-a greasy, murky-looking hostel enough in general, but this evening all alive and beaming with extra gas-jets, and holly festooning the frowsy ceiling, and a big bunch of mistletoe, impaled to the middle post behind the bar to which the Old Tom' tap is attached, and against which the barmaid leans and chats with the customers in the intervals of business. Egg-hot from five till twelve' is the legend on the wall, and it being now five and past, frequently the red-curtained door swings to and fro, and with watering mouths sly butcher men slip in, and with satisfied mouths sly butcher men slip out, brushing their lips with their blue sleeves, and hurrying back to their stalls. They'd nap it if their masters caught them at it, only the best of it is, the masters take care not to catch 'em at it, so long as they take no more than is good for them, knowing the sort of evening's work they have before them.

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And now the trade begins. Swarming in at the lanes and alleys come the buyers, in some few cases singly, but in pairs, as a rule, man and wife; and the number of their children may be esti mated with tolerable accuracy from the size of the market-basket the latter carries-hundreds of them, thousands of them, until there is scarcely elbow room, and for safety the butcher men carry their knives, when not in use, in their mouths.

All very well, but it must be confessed that Newgate Market or Leadenhall are not, undoubtedly, the best places to purchase the primest and

cheapest. Jones is in this respect no weaker than his well-to-do brother; we are all alike, all anxious to fill our little tin pots at Niagara. If I want a pen'orth of plums I prefer them out of a bushel; if I have fifty pounds to bank, I lodge it with the Grand Westminster and Middlesex, capital seventeen millions. So it is with Jones and his wife. They have ten shillings to spend in butchers' meat, and they must needs hanker after the 'wholesale.' Any well-conditioned bullock is capable of supplying four times more sirloin than they are likely to want, but they prefer to pick their sirloin out of the produce of a hundred and fifty bullocks. There is no denying, Mrs. Jones, that you are a tolerable judge of meat, and may save a penny a pound by coming here-perhaps three halfpence, and so you ought, considering that you have trudged a mile and a half, had the crown of your bonnet stove in by collision with a meat-tray, and suffered agonies from the trampling of hobnailed boots on your corns. How much better now it would have been to have gone quietly to Wiggins, who is not extensive in trade, but invariably civil and obliging, and given him your Christmas custom. It would have been better for various reasons. In the first place, you are well acquainted with Wiggins, and stand in no awe of him. If he asked you tenpence a pound for sirloin, and you thought that ninepence was a plenty for it, you would have no scruples about telling him so to his head, and declining to purchase unless he bated; but would you dare do as much by Silverside and Co.? The meat merchants who are in such a tremendous way of business make no more of your purchase of sixteen pounds of beef than Wiggins would of your demand for two pen'orth of suet! That in the first place; and then, pray, how about your knowledge of the arithmetic of wholesale meat dealing? You may readily enough comprehend what a joint will cost, the price per pound of which is ninepence or ninepence halfpenny, but when the talk is of six and four' and 'five and eight,' it is questionable if you are not somewhat abroad. You may have some inkling of the fact that the figures mentioned represent the price required for a stone of eight pounds of the joint you have fixed on; still your bating tactics are thrown altogether out of gear, and whether to bid five and sevenpence' or five and twopence,' you have not the least idea. The probability is that you will yield without a struggle, or allow the bargain to escape you, while you

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turn away to reckon how many eightpences there are in five and fourpence.

But flatter not thyself, good Jones, because of your scholarship in figures that it only requires you to undertake the meat buying, and all will go well. You know all about 'six and eight' and 'five and four,' but you don't know everything. Pardon me, Jones, if I tell you that your great weakness lies in your prodigious confidence in your strength of mind, in your sound and cool judgment, and your complete invincibility to trade tricks and dodges of every manner and kind. 'I knowevery one knows,' say you, 'how women are gammoned and wheedled by shopkeepers; they should have men to deal with; I'd like to see the butcher who would come the old soldier over me!'

Take the market-basket, Jones, mix in the crowd this blessed Christmas Eve, and you shall see all that you ask. You silly fellow! do you imagine that you are the first Jones that ever came to Newgate Market? As there is one bait for roach, and another for chub, and a third for gudgeon, so is there ways of angling for customers. The butcher before whose shop you pause, my good Jones, has already taken your measure,' as the saying is. He sees the independent manner in which your hands are thrust into your trouser-pockets, and the determination not to be imposed on or wheedled, visible in every line of your expressive countenance, and so far from being intimidated thereat, he regards you as one of the easiest of victims. He would rather deal with three of your sort than with one of your good lady's any day in the week, but on a Christmas Eve especially. With the air of a man who knows what meat should be, you cast your eye along the rows of ribs and sirloins, and presently he catches your eye. He doesn't rush out on you, however; he preserves his calmness and nods towards you as recognising in you an old and worthy customer. That is your impression, and meanly availing yourself of his apparent mistake-he is in an extensive way and highly respectable-you nod affably in return. He comes forward in a friendly way, and says, 'Good evening, sir; selecting your Christmas roast?' just as though it was a matter of course that you should come to his highly respectable estab. lishment to select it.

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Well, yes, I was thinking about it, Mr. Butcher,' says you, in a patronising sort of way.

'Let us see, then; you don't like it over fat, if I recollect, sir (as though


you had dealt with him for years). What do you say to that cut, now?'

'Oh, well, we won't have a dozen words about price-say six and four. Weigh this, Jim, carefully.'

One of the best butchers in England, Sarah,' you remark to Mrs. J-, as, having paid for your eighteen pounds of beef, you walk off with it. Very gentlemanly fellow, too, as you must have observed.'

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