Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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xix
in favour at this time, the king having two years previously escaped a dangerous conspiracy through the timely notice of the Lord Mayor.* The Earls of Huntingdon and Kent, (then recently degraded from the dukedoms of Exeter and Surrey,) together with the Earl of Salisbury and others, in order to effect the restoration of Richard the Second, and the recovery of their own titles and possessions, had proposed, under colour of a Christmas mum­ming, to gain access to Windsor Castle, and kill the king and princes. In such esteem was this feast held, that it even hushed the voice of war. During the siege of Orleans in 1428, " the solemnities and festivities of Christmas gave a short interval of re­pose. The English lords requested of the French commanders, that they might have a night of min­strelsy, with trumpets and clarions. This was granted, and the horrors of war were suspended by melodies, that were felt to be delightful."f
About the middle of the fifteenth century, Mora­lities were introduced, consisting of allegorical per­sonifications ; and these may also be included in the list of Christmas amusements. At this period, in­deed, these public diversions were in general con­fined to certain great feasts, (of which Christmas was the principal,) when entertainments of all kinds were resorted to with avidity, to compensate for the previous want of them. A case somewhat parallel may be observed in the eagerness with which country people flock in to their central or market town, during fair-time. Nor is the cha­racter of the entertainments provided for them in
* Or rather of the Earl of Rutland (degraded from Duke of Albemarle), one of the conspirators.—Humes Hist, qf England, vol. iii. p. 63.
f Turner's Hist. England, 4to. vol. iii. pp. 34-5.

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