The Complaint of Christmas: A Serialised Christmas Tale. Part 2

The Usurer, perhaps an ancestor of Mr Scrooge?

The story of Christmas’ journey continues (Part 1 here)


The Buttery

No beer and bread

From the Hall, I made a step into the Buttery, but the thirsty Butler could not make me drinke; he could not entertaine me as a man would doe a dogge, which is with a crust. But the Servingman told me, because his Master would not be thought prodigall, bought his Beere and Bread at the next Alehouse. Instead of Plate, I saw a company of old Pewterpots, which (though they had no leakes) very seldome did hold any Beere in them. The Bynne [bread bin?] grew musty for want of use, and the Chipping-knife rusty for want of exercise. The Butler was not many crums the better for all the Bread that came into the house in a weeke, for he had not so many chippins to his fees, as would breakfast a Mouse; or so much waste Beere, as would dround a flye. As for Cards and Dice that were wont to be as good to the Butler as a ten pound Coppy-hold, the Master held prophane: for hee held the one were the Divels Bookes, the other Witches bones; therefore unlawfull to be read, or followed. I was going downe into the Celler, but I thought it in vaine to descend so loe, seeing so little drinke stirring above.

The Kitchen

A much altered cook

Seeing I could not quench my thirst in the Buttery, I made bold to see if I could breake my fast in the Kitchin, which had not so many Seacoles or Wood mit as would rost three ribbes of a racke of Mutton: then saw I the Master Cooke (that now was not able to licke his owne fingers) turne the leane spit; so that now he was both Cooke and Scullion. The Dripping pannes and Kettles […]apt many a scouring, which indeede was good husbandry in their owner, for too much use would make the Kettles looke thinne, and too much scouring the Spits to sharpe. The Oven that had wont to looke as blacke in the mouth as a Tobacco pipe, and as hot as a [illeg.] Maquanella that drinkes nothing but Aquavitae, was now coole enough; hee could not now complaine of any hart-burning, or of the unkindnesse of the Cooke that oftentimes did surfet him with filling his belly to full, and cramming him up to the mouth with Pasties, and bak’d meats. The Dresser-boord look’d as leane as a cookes shop in the time of the forty fasting dayes.

The Collericke Cooke that in times past would out of his fury scald the breakfast beggers, as they stood cutting slices of roast Beefe off from the Spit, and boyld out of the pot, now was as tame as a Water-man in a great frost, as a Player in a great plague. Hee told me that hee had not one quarter of Beefe in the Kitchin, for a quarter of a yeare together; so that now he could not be beholding to the Butler for his Ladle of Beere, or the Butler to him for a trencher of meat: for the one was almost chok’d for want of liquor, and the other starv’d for want of meat.

The Jacke on the Mantle

The familiar person of the ‘Jack’ replaced with a mechanical device

There was one sight did much afflict mee, and that was the jacke, which in former times did rule the roast, and hindred many poore mens children from the warme office of turne-broches. It never was a bountifull time since a Dogge in the wheele, and the Jacke in the Mantletree began to turne the Spit; for they began first to turne Hospitality out of doores. But the fault is in our English Brewers, that Dutch-men have such devices in their sconces, for if they did not tunne up so many barrels of our Brittanian Barly-broth in their buckingtub- bellies, their Geometricall pates could never finde out such uncharitable Engines.

The Larder

Being weary of the Kitcken, I tooke Lazanello de Coquo by the fingers and bad him be of good cheere (if hee could get any meate to his dinner) and I went into the Larder, that was wont to looke as fat as a Tripe-wife; but now, the coppy of that lovely complexion was changed, for I have knowne when the smell of it (as a man past by) would have given him his breakfast, but now would not yeeld so much as would stay a

mans stomacke while dinner time: It was falne much away since I saw it last, by reason of his thin dyet: so I forsooke the Larder, and went into the Dairie,

The Dairy

As soone as I came in I saw the Boles whelm’d upon each other backes, like so many men that lay heapt up in one grave in a time of Pestilence: They lay on the ground as if they mourn’d for their emptinesse. The Cherme stood behinde the doore, as if it were asham’d of it selfe; for whereas hee was wont to have his mouth butter’d more then any Flemmings, now he was as leane as any Spaniards. The Cheese-presse, that like a Cockney loved to feede on Curds and congeal’d milke into Welchmens roastmeate, stood close against the wall, as if it had beene loath I should have seene it: and to be plaine with you, there was not so much Cheese to be seene as would baite a Moustrap, or so much Butter as would make a toste for a Citizens sonne. There was not a timerous fearefull Custard to be seene, whose nature is to quake if your teeth doe but water at him.

Christmas meets the old Userer upstairs

Surely an ancestor of Mr Scrooge himself 

Thus looking into every corner of the house beloe staires (as narrowly as if I had beene some enquiring Constable, and had warrant for the search) but finding no such thing as I expected, up staires went I and all my

sorrowfull associates, and looking into a withdrawing Chamber I saw the old Mammon himselfe sitting over a few Cinders to warme his gowtie tooes, for no other part did neede the comfort of a fire, for from head to foot, he was furr’d like a Muscovite. Instead of a Bible he had a Bond in his hand, which hee was diligently perusing to see if it were forfeit or no: his face very seldome did looke upward, for his dull melancholy eyes was most commonly fix’d on the earth, as if he were looking out for a Myne: He kept his keyes continually tack’d at his girdie, one hand alwayes on them, as if he feard they would runne from him and unlocke his Chest for those that would doe more good with his bagges, than he himselfe ever had.

He was like the Poets Euclio that feard euery man that did but looke towards his house, came to rob it: for he no sooner cast his Ospray eyes on me and my company, but hee cried, Theeues, Theeues, as lowd as his hoarse throat could creake it out, braving his poore servants, telling them they had let in fellowes to rob him: so to stop this Hell-hounds mouth, I spake to him as followeth.

“Sir, feare not, there are none here that intend to hurt you: if you catch any it must be your selfe that must doe it to your selfe, and not we. My name is Christmas, these gray hair’d men that are with me, are men of my

neere and deere acquaintance, these poore men in their patch’d cloaks, poore people that wish well to me: all true men, though poore men; and we come to you for a few daies, hoping of a free entertainment: if it is not your pleasure to welcome us as your Guests, it is not our part to force it.”

This old Penny-father look’d as sowre on me, as if I had brought him a Privy-Seale to borrow money of him, or a Subpaena out of the Exchequer for extortion: and in briefe told me, that I was an imposture, and onely came to entice the people to prodigality and expence: and as for the poore, he had nothing to doe with them, for he was poore himselfe.

Christmas to the Curmudgion.

“Poore your selfe,” said I, “’tis true; for how can you be  rich, that never thinke you have enough. In this you shew your selfe most unnaturall, for Nature is content with a little, but you with never so much. Therefore covetous rich men may well bee called the sonnes of the Earth because they hunt after nothing but earth. What need you be covetous? Hath not God given you himselfe, what need you have any more? If God cannot suffice you, what can satisfie you? As for externall riches they are more fugitive than Chymists Quicksilver, or the most notorious Vagabond. He inherits nothing that loseth Christ, hee loseth nothing that possesseth Christ.”

“Will you possesse him, let the poore possesse some of your wealth? Wilt thou lose nothing, then put it to a spirituall interest, let the poore borrow some of thee? Here on earth thou hast but eight for a hundred, which is most sinfull use; but with the poore thou shalt have a hundred for eight, which is a most heavenly interest. He that doth bestow his benevolence on the poore, doth not lose, but get; and by scattering his bread on the waters, doth gather and increase. By keeping them you doe not possesse them, or by dispersing them, lose them. Gold and silver are good, not that they can make you good, but that you may doe good. How can money be better lent than to the poore, for my Lord and Master will be bound to see it payd in againe but he is a surety few Userers will take. What is gold, but yellow rubbish? What is silver, but white drosse? and nothing makes them precious but covetousnesse. Gold is a matter of labour, his perill that doth possesse it: It is an ill master, a worse servant. Bee not a slave then to your estate, but entertaine mee with some part of it, releeve those that follow me, cover your boords and load them with well-fild dishes a so shall you crowne your selfe with all our blessings.”

My Oratory would doe no good, my Physicke would not worke; blessings he regarded as much as a true Protestant will the Anathema of the holy Father the Pope for without any verball answer hee thrust mee and my company out of doores without saying Farewell.


Next Instalment – Christmas encounters no greater hospitality at the prodigal mans house


4 thoughts on “The Complaint of Christmas: A Serialised Christmas Tale. Part 2

  1. Pingback: The Complaint of Christmas: A Serialised Christmas Tale. Part 1 « In Pursuit of History

  2. Pingback: The Complaint of Christmas: A Serialised Christmas Tale. Part 3 « In Pursuit of History

  3. Pingback: The Complaint of Christmas: A Serialised Christmas Tale. Part 4 « In Pursuit of History

  4. Pingback: The Complaint of Christmas: A Serialised Christmas Tale. Part 5 « In Pursuit of History

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