Home Site Map Back
Source: The Illustrated London News, Dec. 29, 1855, p.764
Christmas this year has no associations with frost and snow. On Saturday last the earth was frostbound, on Sunday night it rained violently, and on Christmas-eve the roads and pathways, especially in the suburbs of London, were converted into a hopeless slough of despond; indeed, a most miserable, dark, damp, dismal, and depressing day than Tuesday it has seldom been our fate to behold even in December. The sun, as if ashamed not to show his face on Christmas day, did shine, for a brief space between one and two o'clock, but clouds soon obscured the sky, and darkness visible prevailed till the shutters were closed, and the Christmas candles lent their artificial light. Yet the traffic in the streets was immense. To obtain a seat in an omnibus, penny or sixpenny, was out of the question, unless the rash traveller was content to sit on the "knifeboard," exposed to the rain and wind, and likely to contract a catarrh to last him his life. All the public vehicles were crammed, and the pedestrians on the footways were often jostled by the crowds that, bent on exercise, or about to "visit the relations," contentedly waded through the slush which defiled the pavements. Many the shops, not forgetting the druggists', were open, and attracted the gaze, if not the money, of the passers-by. Those useful members of society, the red-coated shoeblacks, had their hands full of business, and the cry of "Clean your boots?" was assuredly not raised in vain. The tobacconists and grogshops did a roaring trade, in defiance of the Maine-law and the advocates of the temperance and anti-smoking associations; and although—as Englishmen always do—the seekers of pleasure seemed to go after it with a very grave face, as if "keeping the feast" were a matter of business as well as enjoyment, it was manifest to a careful observer that every one was resolved, with true John Bull determination, to spend a merry Christmas. The weather was the only drawback.